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Extramural Update

January 2009

Duwamish River
The Duwamish River ( Exit NIEHS near Seattle is one of the sites that UW SRP researchers will study with the renewed grants. (Photo courtesy of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition)

Brown University's innovative community
The SRP at Brown has been recognized for its innovative community outreach and involvement programs. (Photo courtesy of Brown University)

The SRP Announces 2009 New Awards

In April 2009 the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) announced three new multi-year program grant awards: Brown University, the University of Washington (UW) and Oregon State University (OSU). Each of these grants is comprised of complementary projects, which are thematically related around an environmental health hazard of interest.

The SRP is a network of university grants designed to seek solutions to the complex health and environmental issues associated with the nation's hazardous waste sites. The research conducted by the SRP is a coordinated effort with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is the federal entity charged with cleaning up the worst hazardous waste sites, designated as Superfund sites, in the country.

These projects encompass the spectrum of environmental health research, including field studies and site remediation, exposure assessment, toxicology and human health studies, and remediation technology development. In addition, each grant funds "cores," supporting auxiliary functions that include grant administration, student training and development, and community outreach and research translation.

OSU will be studying the effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on human health, with an emphasis on special populations that experience higher rates of exposure. Researchers will also be conducting atmospheric fate and transport studies to determine the origins of PAHs found on the west coast of the United States. Light and heat stable, PAHs are capable of attaching themselves to other particles and traveling thousands of miles in the air to settle in lakes and rivers as far as continents away from their origin. Researchers will collect samples from China, Japan and Oregon to determine personal exposure loading and the origins of PAH exposure in the United States.

Brown University's program will continue to examine land reuse and complex exposures in the densely populated state of Rhode Island. Researchers will address further the theoretical and practical aspects of disease mechanisms and potential biomarkers associated with exposures to complex mixtures, as well as the identification, separation and remediation of these mixtures in the environment. Brown's program features a cooperative academic-government-community effort to address scientific and research translation issues (see archived story. ( In its previous grant, the Brown researchers made a significant contribution to the passage of state legislative measures to protect people from exposure.

UW investigators will continue their research of biomarkers to determine early indicators of damage and exposure to neurotoxicants and pesticides. They are developing and validating biomarkers for characterizing neurotoxicity mechanisms and risk to humans, animals and the environment. In addition, they are studying methods for modifying exposure/risk relations and implementing phytoremediation techniques (see archived story. (

The SRP congratulated Brown University and the University of Washington (UW) on their successful recompetition and welcomed Oregon State University (OSU) as a newly funded program.

William Suk, Ph.D. director, SRP

New Name for Superfund

Beginning June 1, 2009, the NIEHS Superfund Basic Research Program will have an updated and shorter name: "Superfund Research Program (" The new URL is Please take a moment to bookmark this new web address.

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