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Your Environment. Your Health.

Progress Reports: Duke University: Training Core

Superfund Research Program

Training Core

Project Leader: Joel N. Meyer
Grant Number: P42ES010356
Funding Period: 2000-2022

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Progress Reports

Year:   2019  2018  2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004 

Activities: The Center continued its weekly seminar series (in conjunction with the Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program). This longstanding seminar series included presentations by Duke and SRC faculty, postdocs and students, as well as outstanding scientists from other universities and government labs. This past year, talks covered leading-edge research on endocrine disrupters, brominated flame retardants, pesticides, mitochondrial toxicity, nanotoxicants, ecotoxicology and epigenetics. The Training Core held two focused-topic day long symposia. The Training Core's Spring 2013 symposium was "How Epigenomic Effects Mediate Persisting Actions of Developmental Toxicants." In the fall of 2013, the Training Core held a symposium on "Rapidly Emerging Nanomaterials: Insuring Human and Environmental Health." Their weekly seminars continue to attract approximately 40-50 students, post-docs, staff and faculty and the Core's symposia 80-100 from Duke and neighboring research institutions.

The main focus of the Training Core has been its Summer Training Program. In the summer of 2013 the Training Core once again conducted their summer research internship program within the labs and cores of thir center. It was very successful for the 12 undergraduate and master's students involved. The following universities were represented: 1) North Carolina Central University (3 trainees); Duke University (5 trainees); Swarthmore College (1 trainee); University of North Carolina (1 trainee); Colorado State University (1 trainee); San Francisco State University (1 trainee). The Training Core also fortified its existing efforts to attract a diverse pool of applicants and is pleased to report that 1/3 (4) of their summer trainees were from an underrepresented racial and ethnic group; individuals with disabilities; and individuals from economically, socially, culturally, or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds (per the respective Diversity Enhancement policies of Duke University's and NIH). Through their work in the lab and a series of weekly seminars, the students learned about research in neurotoxicology, developmental toxicology in fish, mitochondrial mechanisms of toxicity, environmental chemistry and endocrine disruption. The Training Core will lead this Program again in the coming year and will continue to maximize the Training Core's financial resources in order to support as many summer trainees as possible.

Summer 2013 Weekly Summer Trainee Seminar Topics (attendance is mandatory for all trainees):

  • Ed Levin - General Overview & Intro to SF Science
  • Superfund Center Meeting (Intro to Trainees & Center PI's, Postdocs, grad students, staff)
  • Gretchen Kroeger – RTC: What is Research Translation?
  • Laura Macaulay – Thyroid Metabolism Disruption Key in Toxicant-Induced Developmental Impairment Project Overview and discussion
  • Joel Meyer – Career Paths
  • Ellen Cooper – Overview of Analytical Chemistry Core and How it Works
  • Anthony Oliveri – Neural and Behavioral Toxicity Assessment Core Overview; Path to Graduate School
  • Dan Brown – Developmental Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) Exposures in Fish: Mechanisms of Toxicity, Adaptation and Later Life consequences Project Overview & Discussion; Path to Graduate School
  • Jeff Farner & Alexis Carpenter Wells – Nanoparticle Based Strategies for Remediation of Contaminated Sediments: Implications, Synergies, and Antagonistic Effects with Associated Nano-Bioremediation Project – Engineering and Remediation
  • Superfund Center Meeting – (Ted Slotkin) Developmental Neurotoxicants: Sensitization, Consequences and Mechanisms Project: Past and Future

Other Training: The Training Core, in tandem with the Administrative Core, continued to ensure that Center constituents were aware of relevant internal (SRC & Duke) and external training opportunities such as SOT, NC SOT, SETAC. In some cases, the Core provided registration support.

Related to the Center's purchase of two new pieces of equipment, training opportunities were promoted to Superfund Center trainees and staff. A two day training session was held in early January 2014, hosted by the Meyer Lab and Seahorse Bioscience which provided advanced instruction on the use of the newly purchased Extracellular Flux Analyzer. Members of the Hinton, Di Giulio, Meyer, and Stapleton labs were in attendance. In addition, Dr. Nishad Jayasundara has become a "super user" for the Loligos swim tunnel and provided initial training to grad students, postdocs and staff and continues to provide instruction as needed.

The Analytical Chemistry Core, Doctors Ferguson, Stapleton, and Cooper, conducted several Center-wide training sessions in the past year. These training sessions have provided valuable instruction in experiment design, quantitative and analytical methods, along with offering one-on-one consultation to Center graduate students and postdocs. Correspondingly, the Center's Neural and Behavioral Toxicity Assessment Core under the direction of Dr Levin, serves to train and assist the Center's researchers in designing and conducting effective behavioral testing.

Several postdocs within Duke Superfund Center laboratories attended the Killifish Genome Annotation Workshop and Meeting in Fall of 2012 and now help to advise the Center's postdocs, graduate students, staff, and undergraduate trainees regarding analytical tools and bioinformatics approaches.

Significance: Training is an integral core of the Duke University Superfund Research Center to ensure that Center faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate & undergraduate students, as well as research staff are up-to-date on developments in the fields of environmental toxicology, environmental chemistry and public policy. The Core provides a forum for the discussion of ideas and discoveries with experts from around the nation and also assists in the dissemination of their research findings to the lay community. In conjunction with the Administrative Core and the Research Translation Core, the Training Core organizes the seminar series, symposia and workshops necessary to achieve these educational goals.

The Duke Superfund Center's Training Core is firmly rooted in a vertical integration model that provides guidance and mentorship to all promising environmental health scientists from undergraduate students to graduate students through the faculty level. In this model, students or scientists who are less experienced in environmental health sciences, whether they are undergraduate students, early graduate students, or faculty are paired with a more senior mentor, typically for the duration of a specific project. As the junior scientist or student gains experience, they in turn serve as mentors to others. This vertical integration model represents an innovative mechanism for ensuring the continued vibrancy of environmental health sciences research on campus.

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