BUSRP | Quarterly Newsletter |  Fall 2016
Project 4 co-authors publication in  Science

Facing lethal levels of pollution, Atlantic killifish inhabiting contaminated waters along the Atlantic coast have developed a remarkable resistance to PCBs and other toxic chemicals. A new paper published in Science uncovers the genomic landscape that is likely to have enabled the fish to rapidly adapt to these chemicals over the past 75 years.

Since 1995, BUSRP has supported Project 4 researchers’ long-term studies of PCB tolerance in the Atlantic killifish population in the New Bedford Harbor, one of the four sites from which fish were collected for this study. Along with Project 4, based at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and lead authors at University of California, Davis, the study’s coauthoring institutions include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)Washington University School of MedicineUniversity of BirminghamIndiana University, and University of Miami.

Read the full press release.

Reid, N. M., D. A. Proestou, B. W. Clark, W. C. Warren, J. K. Colbourne, J. R. Shaw, S. I. Karchner, M. E. Hahn, D. Nacci, M. F. Oleksiak, D. L. Crawford and A. Whitehead (2016). The genomic landscape of rapid repeated evolutionary adaptation to toxic pollution in wild fish. Science. 354(6317) 1305-1308.

Funding for this research came from several important sources, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP), and with support from the EPA through the participation of EPA researchers.

New Directors' Corner and Trainee Blog posts

The Directors' Corner is a science blog from BUSRP director Dr. David Sherr and deputy director Dr. David Ozonoff. The latest post is written by Dr. Ozonoff.

The slogan “publish or perish” may not be literally true, but a poor publication record is a risk factor for academic unemployment. Despite widespread recognition in academia that publication metrics are neither accurate nor reliable measures of a faculty member’s worth, publication bean-counting remains a major criterion for judgment, both by professional colleagues and administrative decision makers. The pressure to publish begins even before the degree is handed out, and more and more often successful publication and degrees are linked. Read more...

The Trainee Blog is a science blog featuring BUSRP trainees with writing guidance from Dr. David Ozonoff. This post is written by Eric Reed.

This past May, Nature published a short feature titled, “Is there a reproducibility crisis?” Of the 1,576 researchers surveyed, 52% reported that they believe there is a significant crisis of reproducibility in scientific research. However, less than 31% believed that failure to reproduce a study suggests that the original findings are false. A companion editorial published in the same issue posits there are several definitions of reproducibility, and therefore the understanding of reproducibility is itself not reproducible. Read more...

BUSRP Principal Investigators, Core Leaders and trainees have been at  NIEHS Environmental Health Science FEST this week presenting posters and talks, connecting with researchers from across the country, and celebrating 50 years of NIEHS.

BUSRP gave four oral presentations, presented 11 posters including six by trainees, led a table discussion and served as judges during the trainee poster session. See more on BUSRP presentations.

Congratulations to trainee Stephanie Kim, who won 2nd place for her poster in the biomedical category at the SRP Annual Meeting!

See Twitter for updates from the meeting. Thank you for a wonderful conference, NIEHS!

Read more... 

The Community Engagement Core (CEC) is excited to announce the launch of the new website for the Health and Environment Assistance Resources (HEAR) database. The HEAR database is a tool for linking legal, scientific and technical experts with community groups who have questions or concerns about environmental issues in their neighborhoods, empowering residents to take action for a healthy environment. 

Visit  www.hear-db.org  to browse stories from successful partnerships, learn more about how the database works and consider becoming a HEAR expert.

In November, BUSRP produced a factsheet on polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for residents of communities who are concerned about PFAS-contaminated water. Created in collaboration with Toxics Action Center, a Community Engagement Core partner, the factsheet is designed to answer questions about PFAS exposure, regulations and advisories, heath effects and steps that residents can take to test the water supply and respond to contamination.


A new publication from Project 1, “Childhood Fish Consumption and Learning and Behavioral Disorders,” suggests that there is an association between the level of fish consumed in childhood and the likelihood of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in November with contributions from current and former BUSRP trainees. Read more...

Join us for a free, one-hour call to learn about the health hazards and community responses to water contaminated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). This call is 14th in a series of calls organized in partnership with Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) and BUSRP. 

When: Tuesday, December 20, 2016, 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: Sign in online.

 Ann Aschengrau (Project 1) was profiled on BU Research in “Toxic Legacy: How Cape Cod drinking water shaped the career of epidemiologist Ann Aschengrau.” Written by Barbara Moran, Senior Science Writer at BU, the piece spans the history of Dr. Aschengrau’s work on PCE and water quality on Cape Cod, Mass., from its beginnings at a contentious public meeting to new research questions of today.  Read more...
The third chapter of our  Health Studies Guide  is translated into Spanish! The translations of  Chapter 1 Chapter 2  and  Chapter 3  are posted to a  new Spanish-language webpage .

Check back soon for more translated chapters and remember to fill out the form at the bottom of the page to let us know who the Guide is reaching. Read more...

Trainees Kate Crawford and Lariah Edwards present at Gijs van Seventer  Environmental Health Seminar

This fall, trainees Kate Crawford and Lariah Edwards presented their research in the Gijs van Seventer Environmental Health Seminar at the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH). The seminar was themed “Global Environmental Health: Science, Policy and Practice” and explored the chemical and infectious determinants of global environmental health from the perspectives of science, policy, and practice.

Read more on Kate's presentation: “Healthy Fish, Healthy People? Using fish to simultaneously study the ecological and human health impacts of Superfund chemicals in New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts.”

Read more on Lariah's presentation: “Development of a PPARγ Ligand Exposure Biomarker." 

In November, Mark Hahn (Project 4) gave a seminar entitled “The aryl hydrocarbon receptor and dioxin toxicity: Insights from 600 Million Years of Evolution” at the University of California, Davis. The seminar was part of a series hosted by NIEHS T32 trainees in which speakers from across the country share their research and experience in environmental health. Read more...
Nirisha Commodore, an undergraduate student trainee in summer 2016, presented a poster entitled “Identification of Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Antagonists with Biological Activity  In Vitro ” at the  Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) . ABRCMS is one of the largest professional conferences for underrepresented minority students, military veterans, and people with disabilities who are pursuing advanced training in STEM fields. This year, the conference took place in November in Tampa, FL, and brought together over 3,000 students. Read more...   
  In November, Wendy Heiger-Bernays (RTC) and Andres Martinez of the University of Iowa Superfund Research Program (ISRP) presented at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) World Conference. Over 2,000 scientists gathered in Orlando, FL, to share knowledge, skills and the latest research in environmental science. Read more...
W endy Heiger-Bernays ( RTC ) spoke on “Public Health, Toxics and Staying Safe” in the closing panel at the  Lexplore Sustainability Fair . Local environmental advocacy groups, green businesses, and public health professionals gathered with residents at the one-day meeting to discuss tools and strategies for a healthy environment.  Dr. Heiger-Bernays is the Chair of the Lexington Board of Health and she shared insights on toxics exposure prevention.

In October, Research Translation Core Leader Wendy Heiger-Bernays gave a talk with Sylvia Broude, Executive Director of Toxics Action Center, at the 32nd Annual International Conference on Soils, Sediments, Water, and Energy. The conference was hosted by Association for Environmental Health and Sciences Foundation (AEHS) and was held at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, drawing state and federal agencies, industry representatives, researchers, and environmental engineers and consultants. Read more...

Madeleine Scammell (CEC) gave the very last plenary talk, “Community Engagement and Research Translation of PCB monitoring in ambient air around New Bedford Harbor, MA,” at the 9th International PCB Workshop in Kobe, Japan. The biennial conference took place on October 9-13, bringing together experts from across the world to discuss the latest research on PCBs. Read more...

In October, Tom Webster (Project 2) and Patricia Fabian (Project 2) presented posters at the International Society of Exposure Science (ISES) meeting in the Netherlands. The conference drew scientists from over 40 countries to discuss developments in exposure sciences globally. Read more...

Susan Korrick (Project 2) was invited to speak on a webinar with Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) on neurodevelopment and children’s environmental health. Dr. Korrick spoke about her research on a potential association of neonatal manganese exposure with attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD)-related behaviors. Read more...

Madeleine Scammell (CEC) was invited to give a plenary session at the Children’s Environmental Health Summit in Anchorage, Alaska. The two-day conference was hosted by Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) and brought together scientists, leaders in the Alaska Native community, health care professionals, policy makers, and children’s advocates to discuss the latest science and develop recommendations to protect the health of Alaskan children. The conference was the first-ever to address health disparities in Alaskan children as a result of the toxics carried north by the air and currents. Read more...

Download the worksheet Dr. Scammell shared with participants [pdf]. 

In October, BUSRP Director David Sherr was featured in the Superfund Research Program’s (SRP) Research Brief. The monthly briefs highlight innovative, SRP-funded research to share with a wider science community.

The brief detailing Dr. Sherr’s work is entitled “Environmental Exposures and AhR in Oral Cancer Development and Progression.” Read more...

Lu Bai, Project 2 trainee at University of California, Irvine, successfully defended her thesis in September. Her dissertation was entitled “Statistical methods for quantifying spatial effects on disease incidence using individual-level data.”

Lu’s research focuses on the development of advanced statistical modeling methods to determine how the pattern of disease outcome changes over geographical location. Read more...

Congratulations, Lu! 

Susan Korrick (Project 2) was invited to be a member of the Children’s Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR) Access Committee. CHEAR is an NIEHS-funded program that provides laboratory services to children’s health studies nationwide. The program seeks to advance understanding of how environmental exposures impact children’s health and development. The CHEAR Access Committee, of which Dr. Korrick is a member, performs scientific reviews of applications for lab services. Read more...

In September, Jennifer Schlezinger (Project 3) gave a talk as part of the William Hansel Visiting Scientist Seminar series at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Her talk was entitled “Environmental PPARγ agonists: What are they doing to our bone and metabolic health?” and included recent work from Project 3 on the connections between toxic chemicals, like those found in flame retardants, and health outcomes like osteoporosis.

Dr. Schlezinger also got to connect with our SRP colleagues at Louisiana State University Superfund Research Center (LSUSRC). Read more...

Neel Aluru (Project 4) gave a talk on Epigenetics and Oceans and Human Health to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Ocean Science Journalism fellows. The WHOI Ocean Science Journalism Fellowship program is designed to give science journalists a series of introductions into the fields of oceanography and ocean engineering as part of WHOI’s mission to communicate research to benefit society. This year, the highly competitive program includes seven fellows. Read more...

John Stegeman (Project 5) hosted a science display at Submerge, New York City’s Marine Science Festival, on September 24. The festival draws thousands of people to the Hudson River Park to celebrate marine science and raise awareness about our coastal waters. The event includes hands-on exhibits, water activities like fishing and kayaking, and demonstrations on marine science. Read more...

Research Translation Core Leader Wendy Heiger-Bernays was featured on an SRP Trainee Webinar to share her experience as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow.  Brad Newsome, a former University of Kentucky SRP trainee, also spoke on the call to share his experience as a current AAAS Fellow at NIH. Read more...

In September, BUSRP presented at the Library of Integrated Network-Based Cellular Signatures (LINCS) Consortium Face-to-Face Meeting in Bethesda, MD. The LINCS Program generates data on gene expression and other cellular processes caused by perturbing agents and makes the data publicly available to the research community to facilitate greater understanding of the mechanisms of perturbation and of disease. LINCS is a program of NIH and the meeting brought together researchers to discuss the current work and look towards next steps. Read more...

BUSRP presented several posters at the 28th annual International Society of Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) conference. The four-day meeting was held in Rome, Italy, and the theme was “Old and new risks: challenges for environmental epidemiology.” ISEE brought together researchers, academics, and health professionals to address challenges in exposure assessment, study design and data analysis and to share research, information and experiences.

Veronica Vieira (Project 2) co-chaired a session on Chemicals and Children’s Health with Sara Farchi. Read more...

Tom Webster (Project 2) gave an invited plenary at Dioxin 2016, the 36th International Symposium on Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants, in Florence, Italy. The meeting covers the origins, metabolism, toxic effects and epidemiology of Persistent Organic Pollutants and was held on the 40th anniversary of the Seveto disaster in 1976. Dr. Webster’s plenary talk was entitled “Epidemiology of Persistent Organic Pollutants.” Read more...

This year, trainee Lariah Edwards won an EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship to continue to expand her research with Project 3. In 2016, the EPA STAR Fellowship was awarded to 52 graduate students in environmental studies across the country with the goal of supporting the education and training of future researchers. Lariah is one of only two graduate students in Massachusetts to be selected for the fellowship. Read more...

On September 12, Veronica Vieira (Project 2) presented a talk at the Conference on Geospatial Approaches to Cancer Control and Population Sciences in Bethesda, MD. The conference was hosted by the Division of Cancer Control & Population Sciences, within NIH’s National Cancer Institute, and brought together researchers who are using geospatial tools and models for cancer prevention. Dr. Vieira’s talk was entitled, “Impact of Pollution Burden and Disadvantaged Communities on Geographic Disparities of Ovarian Cancer Survival in California.” Read more...

On September 8, Drs. Andres Martinez and Keri Hornbuckle of University of Iowa SRP (ISRP) traveled to Boston to meet US EPA Region 1 and Massachusetts DEP staff for the first time to discuss their analyses of PCBs in air due to the New Bedford Harbor Superfund site (NBH). BUSRP, ISRP and Toxics Action Center have been collaborating with residents surrounding the harbor to monitor air quality in response to community concerns that the dredging of the PCB-laden harbor floor could cause an increase in airborne PCBs. The SRP monitoring has complemented the monitoring of EPA and MassDEP, and the modeling by ISRP used data made available by EPA.  Read more...
In September, Veronica Vieira (Project 2) served as a reviewer for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Gulf Research Program. The program funds research in the Gulf of Mexico related to oil system safety and the intersection of energy systems, human health and the environment with the goal of producing better safety technology, increasing knowledge of the relationship between human health and the environment, and improving understanding of the complex environment in the Gulf of Mexico to inform its protection and restoration. Read more...
In August, Toxics Action Center hosted their annual week-long staff retreat and invited Madeleine Scammell, along with Community Engagement Core (CEC) partner Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE) staff to discuss the BUSRP research and next steps for the Health and Environment Assistance Resources (HEAR) Database. The database is a collaborative project of ACE, Toxics Action Center, and BUSRP to connect community groups with scientists, lawyers and experts in environmental health who provide pro bono support to strengthen residents’ work for cleaner and healthier environments. Together the group brainstormed ideas for continuing to build the network of experts. Do you have expertise you can share? Include yourself in the database today!  Read more...

Auerbach, S, Filer, D, Reif, D, Walker, V, Blumberg, B, Clegg, D, Holloway, A, Schlezinger, J, Srinivasan,S, White, M, Svoboda, D, Judson, R, Bucher, JR, Thayer, KA. 2016. Prioritizing environmental chemicals for obesity and diabetes outcomes research: A screening approach using ToxCast™ high-throughput data. Environ. Health Perpsect. 124(8):1141-54.

Butler LJScammell MK, Benson EB. 2016. The Flint, Michigan Water Crisis: A Case Study in Regulatory Failure and Environmental Injustice. Environmental Justice. DOI: 10.1089/env.2016.0014

Carwile JL, Butler LJ, Janulewicz PA, Winter M, Aschengrau A. Childhood Fish Consumption and Learning and Behavioral Disorders. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2016; 13:1069.

Nacci D, Hahn ME, Karchner SI, Jayaraman S, Mostello C, Miller KM, Blackwell CG, Nisbet I. Integrating monitoring and genetic methods to infer historical risks of PCB and DDE to Common and Roseate Terns nesting near the New Bedford Harbor Superfund site (Massachusetts, USA). Environ Sci Technol. 2016 Aug 26. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 27564328 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b02108

Novikov O, Wang Z, Stanford E, Parks A, Ramirez-Cardenas A, Landesman-Bolag E, et al. An aryl hydrocarbon receptor-mediated amplification loop that enforces cell migration in ER-/PR-/Her2- human breast cancer cells. Mole Pharmacol. Aug 2016; In Press. PMID: 27573671 DOI: 10.1124/mol.116.105361

Reid, N. M., D. A. Proestou, B. W. Clark, W. C. Warren, J. K. Colbourne, J. R. Shaw, S. I. Karchner, M. E. Hahn, D. Nacci, M. F. Oleksiak, D. L. Crawford and A. Whitehead (2016). The genomic landscape of rapid repeated evolutionary adaptation to toxic pollution in wild fish. Science. 354(6317) 1305-1308.

Tokunaga S, Woodin BR, Stegeman JJ. Plant lignan secoisolariciresinol suppresses pericardial edema caused by dioxin-like compounds in developing zebrafish: Implications for suppression of morphological abnormalities. Food Chem Toxicol. 2016 Oct;96:160-6. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2016.07.012.

News from our community partners
This fall, ACE joined with coalition partners in Right to the City - Boston to call for an end to gentrification and displacement. Check out coverage in the Bay State Banner. 

Save the date! Local Environmental Action, Toxics Action Center's signature conference, will be held on Sunday, March 5, 2017 in Boston, MA.  Join community leaders, environmental advocates and activists from across New England for skills training, networking, and inspiration. See event page for details. 

SEHN's most recent newsletter, "The Rise of the Water Protectors," covers the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).  Check it out  to learn more and see photos from the ground. 
The Boston University Superfund Research Program is supported with funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program Grant P42ES007381