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Environmental Factor

January 2011

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Philbert named dean at Michigan

By Eddy Ball
January 2011

NIEHS grantee Martin Philbert, Ph.D.

During his tenure on Council, Philbert was never reluctant to speak out to protect and promote public health. (Photo courtesy of Peter Smith)

The University of Michigan (U-M) announced the appointment of NIEHS grantee Martin Philbert, Ph.D., as dean of the U-M School of Public Health (SPH), effective Jan. 1. Philbert, a professor of environmental health sciences at U-M who has also served as interim director of what is now known as the Risk Science Center there, was a member of the NIEHS National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council( from 2003 to 2007 (see story(

U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, Ph.D., and Provost Phil Hanlon, Ph.D., made the announcement in a Nov. 29 press release. In the announcement, Hanlon was quoted as saying, "President Coleman and I are very pleased that Dr. Philbert( Exit NIEHS is assuming this vital leadership role in the School of Public Health. We are confident that he will provide impressive leadership for the School of Public Health, strengthening an already excellent school."

Looking ahead to his new role at U-M, Philbert praised his colleagues, the students, and the staff at SPH. "Together, we will work on difficult issues, develop and share solutions to common problems in public health, and implement common-sense sustainable interventions here and abroad... to address the persistent and thorny problems affecting the health of human populations everywhere," he said, echoing the very goals he also articulated in his role as a member of Council.

Philbert is recognized for his expertise in neurotoxicology and experimental neuropathology and most recently for his research on nanotechnology in cancer treatment and the potential health effects of exposure to nanomaterials (see story(

During his career at U-M and, prior to 1995, at Rutgers University, he has maintained a continuous federally funded portfolio of basic research activities. Philbert is a principal investigator on current projects funded by grants from the NIH, the U.S. Air Force, W.M. Keck Foundation, and National Cancer Institute. NIEHS funds two of Philbert's grants - Modulation of Immune-GI Function by NanoAg( and Role of Astrocyte Injury in Neuroprotection(

During his tenure as Council member, Philbert provided advice and oversight during the administrations of three NIEHS directors - Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., who retired in 2005; David Schwartz, M.D.; and Samuel Wilson, M.D., who was named acting director in August 2007.

Philbert was often candid, but always gracious and witty at Council meetings. His final words to his colleagues reflected his dedication to helping NIEHS fulfill a mission he holds as almost sacred. He said of service as a member of Council, "It's an opportunity here to sell the mission, to sell the work that you do and its importance to the American people. Use that time wisely."

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