Superfund Research Program
Project Summary (2020-2025)
The University of Kentucky Superfund Research Center (UK SRC) focuses on a prevention and intervention paradigm with an overarching goal to promote healthy lifestyles (i.e., healthful nutrition and increased physical activity) to reduce disease risks associated with exposure to a subclass of persistent halogenated chemicals (e.g., PCBs, TCE, and PFAS). The Center's biomedical research is coupled with environmental science/engineering research that uses novel sensing, remediation, and fate and transport science to prevent or reduce exposure risks in the environment. Their biomedical research is integrated around a full life-span perspective and a paradigm that uses animal studies to identify possible hypotheses that can be tested against existing human databases to further identify potential intervention strategies. The team's environmental science research is integrated around a project crosstalk that uses fate and transport science to help inform technology development using novel material science designed to reduce exposure to organic pollutants and which can be deployed in field applications. Both biomedical and environmental science projects are crosslinked around a common set of pollutants and the use of animal models to test the toxicity of these pollutants and different remediation byproducts. To provide an optimal support environment and the requisite infrastructure to accomplish the Center's goals, the researchers have four specific aims for the Administrative Core (ADMC): (1) activities management and integration, (2) bidirectional communication strategies, (3) partnerships and technology transfer, and (4) evaluation and management processes. Management and integration functions are facilitated by monthly Center meetings, and ADMC leadership and trainee interns are drawn from the individual research projects. Bidirectional communication with other SRP centers and agency scientists and research translation to other stakeholders are now fully integrated within the ADMC and overseen by a dedicated research translation coordinator with support from a communications director. The ADMC effectively facilities investigator-initiated research translation and technology transfer functions by leveraging a new integrated Data Management and Analysis Core, along with multidirectional internal (e.g., the NIH-funded UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) WHY program, UK P30 pilot grants, Kentucky Water Institute) and external (e.g., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Kentucky Cabinet for Energy and the Environment (KYEEC), ARCADIS Consultants, individual water utilities) partnerships. Evaluation and management processes are overseen by the ADMC director as assisted by the program administrator. The focus of the ADMC on the establishment and maintenance of continuous improvement development processes, along with internal and external relationships, positions the UK SRC to contribute not only to important scientific findings but also to the collaborative processes and innovative endeavors associated with the national Superfund Research Program.