Superfund Research Program
Final Progress Reports
General Activities: The Administrative Core, which includes the information dissemination program that is discussed below, continues to function smoothly, and was instrumental in directing the creation and submission of a successful competitive renewal application of our SBRP program. Dr. Graziano, the Program Director, and Dr. van Geen, the Associate Director, communicate virtually every working day with regard to the integration of our biomedical and non-biomedical research programs. This communication is evidenced by the number of truly multi-disciplinary publications that have come from our program, involving close collaboration between biomedical, earth, and social scientists. Monthly two-hour seminars (one hour biomedical and one hour non-biomedical) are exceptionally well attended. Drs. Graziano van Geen believe that the Columbia SBRP is unique with regard to the extent that these two dimensions of the program are highly integrated.
In March, 2005, the Columbia SBRP External Advisory Committee convened for two days at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to review past progress as well as the new proposed specific aims for our competitive renewal application. The composition of the committee has been revised somewhat to reflect the new program aims, and now includes only three members of the former committee: a) Chien-Jen Chen, Committee Chair, and Chairman of the Graduate Institute of Taiwan; b) Andrew Gelman, Professor of Statistics at Columbia University; and c) Alan Welch, Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). New members include: d) Zoltan Szabo, Research Hydrologist, USGS; e) Margaret Karagas, Chair, Section of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Dartmouth University; f) Allan Smith, Professor of Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley; g) X. Chris Le, Professor of Public Health Sciences, University of Alberta; h) Peggy O’Day, Associate Professor of Natural Sciences, University of California, Merced; and i) James Davis, USGS. Several of these senior scientists were selected because they are also potential future collaborators. This newly assembled committee was extremely instrumental in guiding the future direction of many of the projects and core laboratories. The committee will reconvene in the Spring of 2006.
Information Dissemination and Transfer, Government Liaison, and Outreach Activities
Information Dissemination and Transfer, Government Liaison, and Outreach Activities, operating out of the Administrative Core, play an integral role in the Columbia SBRP research and training programs. The overriding objective has been to make available the scientific findings and products generated from Columbia’s interdisciplinary suite of projects related to the bioavailability of soil lead in humans and the bioavailability, health effects, and geochemistry of arsenic. The communication of new knowledge among scientists, policymakers, and the private and public sectors is essential to stimulate pioneering research, highlight the most urgent priorities, generate innovative products, and ensure effective policies.
The Columbia SBRP distributes online information regarding its projects and seminars through the program website and its electronic distribution lists to a diverse audience of students, educators, researchers, policymakers, private entrepreneurs, non-profit advocates, and the general public. The extensive network of nearly 1500 individuals facilitates frequent correspondence among those in the US and around the world interested in environmental pathways and human health effects from lead and arsenic. The Columbia SBRP Monthly Seminars serve as a dynamic forum for both the program scientists and others concerned with these issues. Each seminar includes two or more presentations highlighting biomedical and geoscience topics. The informal discussions that follow the presentations help enhance the quality of these studies and encourage the applications of the program’s findings.
Information dissemination and outreach play an ongoing role in the individual research projects and lab cores. Columbia scientists work with policymakers, private stakeholders, commercial firms, and non-profit groups to better understand the information needs of these parties and potential applications for the SBRP research findings. Inside the classroom, several SBRP scientists have incorporated their research into undergraduate and graduate courses. Consequently, more students attend the SBRP seminars, become involved in SBRP projects, and incorporate related research into their theses and publications. In 2005, five students and post-doctoral fellows from the Mailman School of Public Health and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have presented their research projects and findings at the SBRP seminars. The seminars provide them with a unique opportunity for feedback from an interdisciplinary audience. The Columbia SBRP also encourages and enables students to participate in national and international scientific meetings.
In response to the SBRP’s urgent request for geospatial expertise following Hurricane Katrina, Columbia worked with other SBRP programs to provide key maps and data for the new NIEHS website created to assist public health and emergency workers in the affected areas. The Columbia SBRP also participated in the NIEHS meeting on Integrated Earth Observations: Applications to Air Quality and Human Health and the SBRP Bioavailability Workshop. Finally, Columbia, as a member of the SBRP Outreach/Research Translation Planning Committee, was actively involved in preparations for the next SBRP annual meeting that will took on 12-13 January 2006 in New York City. Columbia’s information dissemination and transfer, government liaison, and outreach activities help ensure that the university’s SBRP research continues to be relevant and accessible to a broad range of academic, government, and community groups.