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Environmental Factor, March 2013

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Parsonnet to give Falk distinguished lecture

By Kristen Ryan

Infectious disease specialist Julie Parsonnet, M.D., will present the 2013 Hans L. Falk Memorial Lecture with a discussion of “Spirits in the Microbial World (or Who is Steering This Ship)?” Hosted by NIEHS senior researchers Walter Rogan, M.D., and Stephanie London, M.D., Dr.P.H., of the Epidemiology Branch, Parsonnet will deliver her talk March 19 at 11:00 a.m. in Rodbell Auditorium.

As a noted researcher and professor of medicine at Stanford University, Parsonnet has a primary research interest in investigating the relationship between chronic exposure to infectious agents and chronic disease. Her work in the infectious disease arena began in 1987 at Massachusetts General Hospital, following completion of her medical degree at Cornell University Medical College. She spent two years working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, before starting her career at Stanford University. Parsonnet is currently a member of both the Department of Medicine and Department of Health Research and Policy at Stanford.

Much of Parsonnet’s work focuses on infection by Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium estimated to be present in the gastrointestinal tracts of 50 percent of the world’s population, and its association with stomach cancer. Infection-related childhood obesity, atherosclerosis, and diarrheal and foodborne diseases are also a focus in her laboratory. Parsonnet, who has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers, books, book chapters, and reviews, advises on economically sound strategies for promoting stomach cancer prevention and vaccine development in the U.S. and developing countries.

Hans Falk, Ph.D., joined NIEHS in 1967 and made important contributions to the emerging field of environmental health science during his career as the Institute's first scientific director. Initiated by scientists and friends of Falk, the annual memorial lecture series features noted guest speakers who have made significant contributions to environmental health science research, among them several Nobel Prize winners.

(Kristen Ryan, Ph.D., is an Intramural Research Training Award fellow in the NTP Toxicology Branch.)

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