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University of New Mexico

Superfund Research Program

Administrative Core

Project Leader: Johnnye L. Lewis
Grant Number: P42ES025589
Funding Period: 2022-2027
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Project Summary (2022-2027)

The Administrative Core (AC) provides leadership 1) to ensure their community-partnered approach drives the integrated team research focus of Metal Exposure and Toxicity Assessment on Tribal Lands of the Southwest (METALS); 2) to enhance translation to communities, tribal and national regulatory agencies and policymakers, and clinicians to reduce risks; and 3) to serve as a model and a nucleus for environmental health research within the institution. The importance of integration facilitated through the AC has also enhanced dialogue among communities, the research team, and decision makers, and developed METALS as a nucleus for environmental health science expansion within the institution, leveraging new resources for expansion of the team’s work through supplemental institutional funding support and instrumentation. The strong partnerships within their team will continue to build multi-directional trust among projects, cores, and stakeholders. The trust and strength of these partnerships have been instrumental in the implementation of an ongoing clinical intervention trial, Thinking Zinc, through a participatory design process that integrated strong science with cultural needs. The process of multi-directional listening, understanding the basis for proposed design changes, and iteratively and collaboratively developing a workable design has resulted in strong, longitudinal participation in this ongoing trial. This fundamental focus for research that does not just identify problems but seeks to design evidence-based solutions with community partners to reduce risk is at the core of the METALS renewal. Integrated community: researcher teams ensure community knowledge identifies sampling locations, exposure pathways, and resources significant to the communities’ use and culture to ensure the relevance of their research and the applicability of risk-reduction interventions. The importance of the strong, trusted networks built through METALS was underscored by the team’s ability to work through this existing network in response to COVID-19 to coordinate PPE purchase and distribution, support leadership decisions through analysis of local disease trends and community risk factors to aid in pandemic management.

In Phase 2, the AC is sustaining and building on their success through the following aims:

  • Promote activities designed to enhance the participation and impact of community partners on the direction and translation of METALS research to identify effective risk reduction interventions.
  • Facilitate activities structured to promote integrated research efforts among METALS projects and cores that strengthen team diversity and team science.
  • Continue to build the role of the center and team as the nucleus of community-partnered research in environmental health within UNM.
  • Iteratively develop and amend logic models to evaluate progress on the research team’s aims as the METALS Center, and support cores and projects in development of metrics to evaluate their component progress through utilizing the Partnerships for Environmental Public Health Framework.
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