Superfund Research Program
- Project Summary
Project Summary (2017-2022)
The University of New Mexico Metal Exposure and Toxicity Assessment on Tribal Lands in the Southwest Superfund Research Program Center (UNM METALS) focuses on risk reduction for Native Americans exposed to hazardous mixtures of metals from abandoned uranium mines. The specific theme of UNM METALS is elucidation of how exposures to metal mixtures from uranium mining wastes result in DNA damage and immune dysregulation. The Center has a particular focus on how these exposure/outcome relationships are manifested in Tribal populations throughout the West. Tribal populations carry much of the burden of these exposures with only minimal understanding of their impacts. The METALS biomedical research focuses on major uncertainties in these outcomes, while environmental projects complement this research by improving understanding of the mineralogic and biogeochemical environment that impacts mobility, toxicity, and remediation, and by testing novel metals immobilization strategies that may reduce risks long term.
UNM METALS uses multi-directional collaboration with the Community Engagement Core and Research Translation Core to develop and implement transgenerational approaches to risk communication and risk avoidance that integrate indigenous learning models and Western science. UNM METALS integrates training of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students with multi-directional training of community members and research staff so that local knowledge of mining impacts and health problems inform air and water monitoring needed to support the environmental and biomedical research projects.
The Administrative Core provides the coordination and oversight to 1) ensure overall operational and scientific integration of the team, 2) ensure scientific integrity to promote linkage among the projects both scientifically and professionally, 3) facilitate integration of goals with community needs, and 4) enable effective translation of findings to the impacted communities through the following four Specific Aims:
- Specific Aim 1: Coordinating communication among project and core leaders to ensure scientific progress, to discuss and address issues and to disseminate relevant information and significant findings.
- Specific Aim 2: Ensuring effective research translation and communication with community members and other stakeholders.
- Specific Aim 3: Administering pilot research funding opportunities for members of the UNM METALS team funded through institutional support.
- Specific Aim 4: Providing financial oversight, facilitate resource support and ensure regulatory compliance related to research and community activities associated with the Center.
The Administrative Core also ensures that all compliance requirements of sponsors, research institutions, and community partners are met. The Core also works to expand transdisciplinary collaborations with the UNM Cancer Center to advance common interests and those of communities on the role of these metals exposures in cancer etiology.