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Environmental Factor, October 2012

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Council approves SRP training concept

By Ernie Hood

Danielle Carlin, Ph.D.

Carlin noted that the establishment of consortia with other institutions to achieve greater representation of various disciplines would be an integral element of the planned training program. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

At its Sept. 11 meeting, Council also gave an enthusiastic, unanimous green light to a concept presented by the Superfund Research Program (SRP). Following up on the responses received after a Request for Information (RFI) issued in February, the SRP requested Council’s approval to proceed with an initiative called Occupational Safety and Hazardous Substances Training Programs in Emerging Technologies.

“We are one of the leaders in the area of supporting emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, exposure biology, green chemistry, sustainable remediation, and innovative hazardous waste processes,” said SRP Director William Suk, Ph.D. “There needs to be a better understanding of what the health and safety measures are with regard to some of these emerging technologies.”

Suk noted that there are currently very few educational programs for educating and training people in the universities or in real world positions about the potential health and safety problems associated with the advanced technologies.

The concept, which was presented to Council by SRP Program Administrator Danielle Carlin, Ph.D., would use the Research Education Program Grants R25 funding mechanism to support as many as four programs for up to three years, comprising $750,000 per year in financial support.

Suk said that the program is designed to be translational in a very specific bidirectional pattern. “The idea is to be able to take the technologies and understand not just how they work, but what potential health problems might be associated with them. Also, we want to work with the people who are looking at health and safety issues in general, and say, ‘Can we make this particular technology safer, but at the same time not lose its efficiency and its ability to reduce costs?’”

Council reviewers were Elizabeth Yeampierre, J.D., executive director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization; and Howard Hu, M.D., who serves as director, dean, and professor with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

Applications for the program will be due in early 2013, with awards expected to be issued in June, 2013.

(Ernie Hood is a contract writer with the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)

William Suk, Ph.D.

According to Suk, the SRP has been supporting innovative technologies to enable science-based decision making. “The idea is that you can actually use some of these tools and technologies to make informed decisions with regard to risk, or with regard to clean-up,” he noted. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Elizabeth Yeampierre, J.D.

Yeampierre, above left,  and Hu, speaking by telephone, expressed their whole-hearted endorsement of the concept. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

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