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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Superfund Research Program

Research Experience and Training Coordination Core

Project Leader: John M. Essigmann
Co-Investigator: Ariel Furst (University of California-Berkeley)
Grant Number: P42ES027707
Funding Period: 2022-2027
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Project Summary (2022-2027)

N-Nitrosamines are a family of chemicals that include some of the most potent mutagens known. N-Nitrosamines are a major concern for people who live near the Olin Chemical Superfund Site, and they are also a concern of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, because the water treatment methods used for their drinking water are known to lead to formation of N-nitrosamines. The mission of the Research Experience and Training Coordination Core (RETCC) is to recruit, train, and engage the best and the brightest students for careers in Biomedical Research (BMR) and Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) with a focus on public health. With support from the RETCC, trainees participate in all the proposed research, engagement, and translation activities, and they contribute data to and benefit from the Data Management and Analysis Core (DMAC). As such, trainees fuel the entire Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Superfund Research Program (SRP). By fostering and enabling interactions among trainees and between trainees and leaders, the RETCC supports an innovative Systems Approach of inter-dependencies among subsystems. Via a Systems Approach, all trainees impact and are impacted by all of the projects and cores via a network of connections that are fostered by the Administrative Core and the DMAC. Data generated by trainees is managed by the DMAC and is integrated with data from other parts of the program to contribute to risk evaluation. Innovative aspects of the RETCC include cross-disciplinary research opportunities, training in how research can be leveraged to impact policy, and a new “MIT SRP Exploration Program” that enables trainees to spend time in other MIT laboratories. In addition, there are several approaches to support pipeline development so as to increase the number of top students with diverse backgrounds and expertise pursuing careers in environmental health sciences and engineering. This work includes creating an MIT undergraduate research opportunity that focuses on SRP research, a new “Public Health Democratization” Pipeline Project to connect URM SRP Trainees with younger URM students. Aim 1 is to provide opportunities to trainees for research, translation, community engagement, and data analysis that will help protect human health from hazardous chemicals. Aim 2 is to strengthen and create programs to promote professional development. Aim 3 is to recruit and promote diverse students and postdocs. Aim 4 is to provide formal training to ensure that MIT SRP trainees have successful and responsible careers in biomedical research and environmental science and engineering. The Administrative Core fosters opportunities for trainees to participate in research translation, which includes interactions with stakeholders. Furthermore, the Community Engagement Core (CEC) opens doors for trainees to work with community members, including helping to deploy sensors and a filtration device designed to destroy N-nitrosamines. Taken together, the RETCC provides the foundation upon which trainees thrive and enables the collective impact of the entire program.

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