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Environmental Factor, July 2015

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NTP toxicologist Nigel Walker, Ph.D., earns prestigious award

By Danica Andrews

Walker and Nalbone

Walker, left, received the award from J. Torey Nalbone, Ph.D., chair of the ACGIH Board of Directors. (Photo courtesy of American Industrial Hygiene Association)

National Toxicology Program (NTP) Deputy Division Director for Science Nigel Walker, Ph.D., was honored June 4 with the 2015 Herbert E. Stokinger Award from the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). Walker received this award during the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition in Salt Lake City, for his work on the toxicology and carcinogenicity of compounds associated with occupational and environmental exposures.

The Stokinger Award recognizes individuals whose leadership and dedication have provided significant advancement to the fields of environmental toxicology and industrial toxicology. “I was not only honored and surprised, but also pretty humbled,” Walker said when he learned about the award. “One of my goals as a scientist in the National Toxicology Program is the development of sound science that people can trust when making decisions [regarding] potentially harmful substances in the environment and the workplace.”

Sharing the credit

“To receive this award is a significant accomplishment and Nigel is more than deserving of this honor,” said John Bucher, Ph.D., director of the NTP division at NIEHS. “He joins a list of awardees that reads like a Who’s Who of toxicology and industrial health.”

Walker promptly gave credit to fellow NTP staff. “At NTP we [conduct science] in a real team-based environment,” he said. “So while as a member of NTP leadership, I appear front and center on many scientific initiatives, I stand on the shoulders of all the NTP staff that support the projects that I have been involved in.” Walker said the award is a testament to the strength of the environmental toxicology work done by NTP.

Along with other NTP staff, Walker has been involved with research on the health effects of the Elk River chemical spill in West Virginia. “The way NTP responded to the Elk River Spill captures how NTP is always adapting to the changing scientific and societal environment,” he said. “And [we] use team science to effectively address issues with the tools of modern toxicology, to provide real solutions for problems that people come to us with.”

Walker, who was born in England, received his B.Sc. in biochemistry from the University of Bath, and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Liverpool. He did postdoctoral research at both Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health and NIEHS, before joining NTP. Walker jokes that he has now lived in North Carolina longer than he lived in England. He became a U.S. citizen in 2002.

(Danica Andrews is a program specialist in NTP.)

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