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Your Environment. Your Health.

Progress Reports: Oregon Health and Science University: Administrative Core

Superfund Research Program

Administrative Core

Project Leader: Peter S. Spencer
Grant Number: P42ES010338
Funding Period: 2000-2006

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Progress Reports

Year:   2005  2004 

Programmatic Review.  The entire OHSU SBRC program was critically examined during the 2005 SBRC Retreat held at Oregon State University.  PIs of each SBRC component were asked to respond to the Summary Statement of the Competing Renewal application (which failed to achieve a fundable score). Plans for revision were addressed in detail. Other selected scientists were invited to participate in a competition with existing SBRC PIs to assess the best available science with which to proceed with a Revised Competing Renewal application. Review of the Retreat proceedings by Program Director Dr. Peter Spencer and co-Director Dr. Gregory Higgins, with input from the SBRC External Advisory Committee, resulted in the replacement of 2 non-biomedical projects and the revision of all projects and cores. Revisions are detailed in the Revised Competing Renewal application, which received a substantially improved priority score.

Programmatic Support.  Bridge funding was requested to support critical projects and cores during the year-06, a period of interrupted funding. NIEHS responses to the bridge-funding request (and the Revised Competing Renewal application) are pending. Available carry-over funding was used to support existing projects and cores as well as to provide modest operational support for Dr. Pamela Lein’s proposed biomedical project and Dr. Joan Rothlein’s Community Outreach project, both of which received favorable comments and scores in the Summary Statement of the Competing Renewal application. Carry-over funding was also available from the SBRC Supplement to support research collaboration with the Thailand-based Chulabhorn Research Institute. Three visits have been made to CRI by Dr. Spencer to plan and review research, lecture, and arrange for training of CRI staff in the OHSU SBRC Center at CROET in the first quarter of 2006. Plans for training of CRI staff during September 2005 had to be shelved for technical reasons. Relationships have been established with the new Nanobiotechnology and Membrane Biology Institute of Sichuan University, Chengdu, and the School of Public Health, Taoyuan, Shaanxi, PR China, the director and dean, respectively, of the two institutions having spent several weeks working in CROET with OHSU SBRC personnel.

Information Transfer.  Dr. Fred Berman (SBRC Information Transfer Coordinator) responded to over 800 calls from professionals and the lay public regarding concerns related to chemicals in the workplace and environment. Examples included questions regarding the adverse health effects from chronic solvent exposures; the use of chelating agents by healthcare practitioners; hydrofluoric acid exposures; manganese inhalation exposure in welders; and many other concerns. Dr. Berman recently accepted an invitation to develop and maintain the toxicology information resources webpage for the National Library of Medicine’s new World Library of Toxicology, Chemical Safety and Environmental Health database. Dr. Berman serves on a variety of boards, including the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Analytical and Response Center and OHSU’s Science Outreach and Resources (SOAR) committee. He promotes awareness of CROET’s SBR-related Toxicology Information Center and its outreach mission by participating in occupational safety and health conferences. As editor of the CROET quarterly newsletter, which is distributed to over 16,000 subscribers throughout Oregon and includes articles on SBRC-related research, education and outreach, he provides information to the public on a wide range of issues surrounding occupational and environmental chemical exposures.

Government Liaison.  Dr. Rothlein maintained close ties with investigators and their research activities in the laboratory and field and communicated their results and on-going activities to EPA Region X, Oregon DEQ, and other local government bodies. Furthering her role as Government Liaison for the SBRP, Dr. Rothlein maintained contacts and ongoing discussions with a variety of individuals, organizations and agencies, including: Environmental Cleanup Division, EPA Region X, Seattle, WA; US Geological Survey (USGS), Portland OR; Department of Human Services (DHS), Portland, OR; Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (Oregon DEQ); City of Portland, Bureau of Environmental Services (BES); Lower Willamette Group (Principal Parties for Portland Harbor Superfund Site), the  Portland Harbor Citizen Action Group (PH CAG), and the Oregon Environmental Council. She is also a member of the City of Portland and Multnomah County Toxics Use Reduction Advisory Workgroup for the Portland Sustainability Commission.  In October 2005, Dr. Rothlein attended the SBRP Bioavailability workshop sponsored in partnership with EPA.  The goal of the workshop was to identify and clarify how divergent disciplines approach the concept of bioavailability, and how this information can then be used to quantify exposure and better evaluate and communicate potential risk.

Administrative Support for Students and Fellows
• General administrative support was given to all students and mentors serving in the SBRC program.
• Special administrative support was given to Desire D. Tshala-Katumbay, M.D., Ph.D., in his quest for independent research support through federal grant application.  He was awarded a K01 Mentored Career Development Award for Minority Scholars in Neuroscience, which involves co-mentoring from four SRBC investigators.
• Assistance was provided to support SBRC students participating in a number of national meetings;
• SBRC co-sponsored the 2005 Summer College Student Training Program in CROET at OHSU.  Some 25 students were accepted from the >100 applicants. Students were provided with tailor-made didactic interactions with SBRC and other faculty. They presented their research in competitive poster presentations.  Varying levels of support were provided for 11 graduate students, 1 Masters students, and 4 visiting scientists;
• Administrative support for the Brain Awareness Season Science Outreach and Resources Committee will promote the value of community science outreach to SBRC faculty, staff, and students. Several SBRC members developed displays that focused on the effects of chemical substances on brain and nervous system function;
• Students were supported for their participation in a CROET-OHSU-organized NIEHS/National Research Council tripartite national conference entitled Gene-to-Phenotype in Health Disease, Welches, Oregon, December 4-8, 2005.
• Students are supported to participate in the Megasites SBSP conference at the National Academy of Sciences, January 12-13, 2006.

Significance:  The Administrative Core provides support and services that are crucial to the internal and external communication of the overall SBRC.  It provides the infrastructure and promotes interactions among four biomedical research projects, one non-biomedical research project, a training core and two technical research cores. This year, the Administrative Core responded to fiscal challenges in ways that were not only supportive of all components of the existing center but also added a modest level of funding to initiate one pilot research project.  This addition expands the Center’s non-biomedical research and will provide preliminary data useful to the development of new research projects for the SBRC competing renewal.

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