Superfund Research Program
Project Leader: Michael D. McClean
Co-Investigator: Jean van Seventer (Boston University School of Public Health)
Grant Number: P42ES007381
Funding Period: 2017-2021
Project Summary (2017-2021)
The goal of the Boston University Superfund Program (BU SRP) Center Training Core is to prepare the next generation of environmental health science leaders to address the complex, interdependent, yet fundamental issues related to Superfund chemicals. The central theme of the BU SRP Center, "long-term impacts of early life exposure to Superfund chemicals in humans and wildlife," explicitly focuses on contaminants at the New Bedford Harbor Superfund site and in drinking water in Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod communities. The Training Core is organized around the principle that solving problems posed by hazardous chemicals requires scientists to be trained in problem-oriented, solution-based approaches that are both interdisciplinary in design and cross-sectorial in translation and engagement. Based on this principle, and using BU SRP projects and cores as the real-world framework for integrated training, the Training Core serves as a common reference point for all BU SRP trainees, and coordinates training in interdisciplinary research, research translation, and professional career development.
The activities and events coordinated by the Training Core, together with project-specific research training, form the basis for interdisciplinary training that integrates the population-based disciplines of environmental and social epidemiology with the laboratory/field-based disciplines of biomedical and ecological toxicology. With the Research Translation Core and Community Engagement Core, the Training Core provides opportunities for trainees to communicate their research to a broad range of stakeholders, including the scientific community, governmental environmental and public health agencies, and members of communities impacted by Superfund chemicals. Thus, trainees learn how their environmental health science research can inform policy and regulatory decision-making, as well as raise public awareness and understanding of hazardous waste-related environmental and public health issues. The Training Core also facilitates trainee involvement in community engagement activities aimed at preventing exposure to hazardous chemicals. Lastly, the Training Core guides trainee development of core competencies that are essential for career success, and helps trainees identify and pursue the career pathway that best suits their interests and skills.
The Training Core is a central and critical component of the BU SRP Center, not only in its support of trainees, but also by serving as a unifying entity that draws together the entire SRP Center. By fostering a community with common goals and a shared mission, the Training Core enhances cross-disciplinary research training and facilitates the integration of research translation and community engagement activities. In doing so, it prepares trainees for a future as environmental health scientists, and ensures that they understand not only the unique context, but also the wide-ranging impact of their SRP research on the needs of local, state, and federal health and environmental agencies tasked with managing the impacts of the nation’s hazardous waste sites.