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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Washington Faculty Member Receives Superfund Award

The University of Washington Superfund Research Program received a five-year, $10 million award from the NIH to continue studying the effects that environmental pollutants pose to the nervous systems of humans and fish. The program, housed in the University of Washington School of Public Health, is directed by principal investigator Dr. Evan Gallagher, professor of environmental and occupational health sciences.

Researchers have explored how three chemicals – cadmium, manganese and arsenic – from hazardous waste sites can affect cognition, olfaction and motor function in aquatic species. Dr. Gallagher said the funding renewal will allow researchers to explore innovative biomarkers that help assess exposure, neurotoxicity and risk susceptibility in humans and fish. Such tools could help inform cleanup of contaminated sites and disease prevention strategies.

“The Washington program is unique in that it addresses the effects of environmental pollutants that pose hazards to the nervous system, and which are associated with the public health risk to Alzheimer’s disease and neurodevelopmental diseases,” said Dr. Gallagher. “A critically important aspect of the UW Superfund program is addressing effects of pollutants in Puget Sound salmon.”

The Washington Superfund Program includes researchers from across the university and supports more than 30 scientists, administrative staff and graduate students at UW Seattle and UW Tacoma campuses. It was one of the original national university Superfund research programs in the country when it was founded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in 1986.

The research program consists of four projects:

In addition, the Superfund Research Program features a Functional Genomics and Bioinformatics Core (FGPCL), directed by Dr. Theo Bammler, which provides expertise in molecular techniques to all of the research projects, and a Training Core, led by Dr. Gallagher, which provides research opportunities to graduate students. Dr. Thomas Burbacher, professor of environmental and occupational health sciences, leads Community Engagement and Research Translation Cores that work with community groups impacted by hazardous waste sites in the Pacific Northwest.