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Superfund Research Program Continues Strategic Planning Process

By Thaddeus Schug
January 2010

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As part of a comprehensive strategic planning effort( aimed at gathering input for future program direction, the Superfund Research Program (SRP) organized a series of informational meetings, Web-based seminars, and a Web-based questionnaire.( Exit NIEHS

The program held face-to-face meetings in New Orleans and New York during November and conducted its first Web-based meeting on Dec. 7. About fifty people participated in the latest meeting, including representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), as well as local, state, and non-profit organizations, universities, and environmental groups.

Two areas of interest that several participants raised were the need for SRP to address aspects of cumulative risks, and the importance of partnering with other relevant federal agencies to leverage its resources.

Four additional meetings will take place in January (see text box).

Planning design promotes full participation by stakeholders and public

SRP encourages feedback from the public, environmental health researchers, and other interested community members, as well as its sister Superfund agencies, the EPA and ATSDR. SRP staff will use the information gathered at these sessions to develop a long-term strategic plan to direct programmatic focus and enhance the impact of the SRP program.

As SRP Program Administrator Heather Henry, Ph.D., described the process, "The multi-format meetings promote exchange of ideas through different avenues and provide opportunity for stakeholders to voice their perspectives [to SRP planners]." The meetings involve moderated discussions framed by the seven questions that make up the program's online questionnaire. The questions focus on future direction of the program with regard to science, training, translation, outreach, and grant mechanisms.

Planners will post comments and transcripts online

Following the comment period that continues through the end of January 2010, SRP will post feedback gathered from the meetings and the online questionnaire on its Web site. SRP will use this information, along with recommendations made by the SRP External Advisory Panel (see Oct. 2009 story( to draft a strategic plan, which it has scheduled for release in the summer of 2010.

According to SRP program administrators, the strategic plan will chart a course for the program to meet the program's goals.

SRP will build on two decades of success to shape the program's future

During the Web seminar titled "Superfund Research Program Strategic Planning - Your Input for Future Directions," SRP Director William Suk, Ph.D., explained, "The main goals of the SRP are to clearly establish the relationship between exposure and disease, develop efficient and cost-effective cleanup strategies, and conduct science that contributes to human health risk assessment and decision-making for remediation that reduces the risk of exposure and improves public health."

(Thaddeus Schug, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research fellow in the NIEHS Laboratory of Signal Transduction.)

SRP Will Hold Four Meetings in January

  • Jan. 5, at the NIEHS Keystone Building 530 Davis Drive, Room 1003, Durham, N.C. 27713 - 2:00-3:30
  • Jan. 14, at the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2103, Washington, D.C., 20515 - 1:30-3:30
  • Jan. 25, Web-based meeting, 2:00-4:00 - Register in advance( Exit NIEHS
  • Jan. 28, at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Highway NE, F-61, Atlanta, Ga. 30341-3717, 1:30-3:30

Visitors planning to attend meetings in person should contact Janet Cakir( Visitors to federal facilities need to present two forms of identification (with photo) at the campus or building entrance.

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