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University of Kentucky

Superfund Research Program

Training Core

Project Leader: James Zach Hilt
Grant Number: P42ES007380
Funding Period: 2000-2020
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Project Summary (2014-2020)

The University of Kentucky Superfund Research Center (UK-SRC) provides an integrated, transdisciplinary research and training environment focused on a central research problem: the enduring presence of persistent chlorinated organics both at Superfund sites and elsewhere. These pollutants pose serious environmental health challenges and mandate the pursuit of protective measures for both reducing exposures and mitigating exposure-related health impacts. The Training Core prepares future environmental leaders equipped to tackle such 21st century challenges by combining interdisciplinary research strategies, real-world skills training, active participation in research translation and community engagement, and strong public health education. This training paradigm prepares UK-SRC scholars with the tools necessary not only to better understand pressing environmental problems but also to employ solution-oriented science to improve the health of Superfund communities and beyond. Environmental problems affect all aspects of human life, and therefore, they cannot be effectively addressed from the perspective of individual disciplines. The study of environmental problems requires integration of knowledge and scientific methods from both biomedical and environmental science based disciplines, while also considering the social, cultural, and ethical dimensions. A training program has been established in a way that not only promotes strong disciplinary training but also encourages trainees to become interdisciplinary thinkers, to develop scientific problem-solving skills, to acquire knowledge of socioeconomic aspects related to environmental issues, and to be effective communicators.

The Specific Aims are to:

  1. Build on past success to further develop an interdisciplinary training program that prepares a new generation of investigators with a solid scientific education, as well as real-world knowledge needed to solve environmental problems;
  2. Enhance career development by expanding trainee interactions with College of Public Health and the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, as well as with the Administrative, Research Translation and Community Engagement Cores; and
  3. Identify and recruit highly motivated graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, foster interdisciplinary collaborations between biomedical and environmental science projects, and provide skills training (e.g., grantsmanship, responsible conduct of research) for success in academic research.

Motivated individuals and students, especially those from underrepresented groups, are recruited through various means, including the UK-SRC web page, and presentations at relevant institutions. The Training Core is evaluated on a regular basis to assess its progress in meeting the goals of the program.

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