Agency Seminar Series | UW-SRP Core Profile | Community Partners | Collaborations
Welcome to the University of Washington's Superfund Research Program (UW-SRP) e*bulletin! We offer a few snapshots highlighting some our program's recent work, as well as providing links to interesting upcoming talks and events. Our Principal Investigator, Dr. Harvey Checkoway, and Research Translation Core Director, Dr. Tom Burbacher, invite you to please read and enjoy the stories that catch your eye.
Agency Seminar Series
Dr. Andrew Maynard from the University of Michigan was the invited speaker at the UW-SRP Agency Seminar at EPA Region 10 in November. Dr. Maynard is a leading authority on the responsible development and use of emerging technologies. Our federal and state agency partners who work within a regulatory framework were interested in an opportunity to discuss what Dr. Maynard refers to as a 'nanoscale science and engineering.' Dr. Maynard described the lack of appropriate regulatory definitions of these materials and the importance of adopting a broader perspective that will reframe the discussion of potential impacts; not in terms of size, but rather, in terms of design. He offered the audience a model that incorporates a material's life cycle, its form, its use and product category - providing us an integrated perspective.
Dr. Maynard's presentation: The New Science of Sophisticated Materials: Nanomaterials and Beyond will be available on the UW-SRP website as a video-file with accompanying slides. The presentation reached a national audience on EPA CLU-IN, and is archived here.
The UW-SRP sponsors regular seminars held in Seattle at the regional EPA headquarters. These seminars are directed toward an audience of agency staff involved with risk assessment and communication at Superfund sites, such as EPA Region 10 and the Washington State Departments of Health and Ecology. The series provides a forum for intra-agency discussions with scientists about current research and applications of the science.
Remote connection to this presentation and access to upcoming seminars is available via EPA CLU-IN, a part of the EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division.
UW-SRP Core Profile: Genomics and Bioinformatics Core
Director: Federico M. Farin, MD and Co-Director: Theo Bammler, PhD
As recently as fifteen years ago, it was common to think of our genetic sequence as the ultimate authority on heritable characteristics such as obesity, life span and disease susceptibility. Today we understand that environmental stressors, such as toxicants in the food we eat and the air we breathe, can impact not only our own gene expression, but potentially that of our children and even our grandchildren. These alterations to the genome that do not involve changes to the genetic code define the field of epigenetics. Epigenetic changes in gene expression have been associated with Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Fred Farin and his team at the Superfund Functional Genomics and Bioinformatics Core have been working with UW-SRP investigators on a specific epigenetic alteration that involves the addition or loss of methyl groups (non-reactive molecules made up of carbon and hydrogen) on the DNA, which may increase gene regulation or silence it completely. DNA methylation can also be used as a tool to link changes in gene expression with potentially harmful environmental conditions.
This Core laboratory supports the research of all five UW-SRP projects. Program investigators explore links between enzyme and other protein levels, genetic predisposition, genomic-based changes and exposure to metals, pesticides and other environmental pollutants. By measuring physiological and genomic alterations that are associated with toxic exposure, the core provides context for the development of new technologies that can be used to identify key biological pathways and genomic mechanisms involved in environmental-related diseases.
The Core directors assist UW-SRP research by consulting with program investigators regarding the design and integration of functional genomic approaches in their individual research programs. The laboratory provides a nexus for program research protocols and approaches, such is the case with the innovative DNA methylation techniques. The Methylated DNA Binding Domain Sequencing method and the Methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation approach are two global DNA methylation profiling techniques implemented by the Superfund Functional Genomics and Bioinformatics Core. Both of these methods allow for the unbiased assessment of genome-wide methylation in a time efficient and cost effective manner.
The Reaserch Translation Core (RTC) has been developing a new partnership with the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council. The Council is a steadfast and old friend of the University of Washington's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS). Since 2007, the DEOHS Continuing Education Program has been involved in components of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council cleanup plan in the Yukon River watershed - working in Alaska with Council members on several programs such as a hazardous and solid waste specialist certificate program.
Last spring, the director of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, Jon Waterhouse, accepted an RTC invitation to participate in a two-day summit of the Northwest Toxic Communities Coalition in Seattle. Jon shared information about their successful programs addressing toxic substances in the Yukon River watershed in Alaska.
The Council is an Indigenous grassroots organization, consisting of 70 First Nations and Tribes dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Yukon River Watershed. The Council provides Yukon First Nations and Alaska Tribes in the Yukon Watershed the technical assistance facilitating the development and exchange of information, coordinating efforts between First Nations and Tribes, undertaking research, and providing training with both education and awareness programs.
The RTC recently learned of a new program for youth called the Watershed Edventure, a watershed educational program led by Manny Masony from the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council. The multilayered project engages students, industry representatives and science teachers from a number of remote villages and pairs them with urban students. Working with their teachers, the students design problem-solving action plans focused on river system ecology to promote the health of the watershed and its Indigenous peoples.
The Northwest Regional Air Quality Workshop for Communities is planned for April 27 at EPA region 10 offices in Seattle with video links to Portland, Oregon and Boise, Idaho. The workshop is targeted toward individuals and organizations that are currently, or about to be, working on local air quality issues in their communities.
The unique educational workshop is the product of a three-way collaboration among the Northwest Toxic Communities Coalition (NWTCC), EPA Region 10, and the Research translation Core (RTC) of the University of Washington Superfund Research Program. Dan Phalen, Community Involvement Specialist from EPA, has worked closely with RTC staff and NWTCC members to shepherd this project from vision to reality.
Primary technical support is being provided by Dave Bray, Special Assistant to the Director of the Office of Air, Waste and Toxics at Region 10 EPA. For over 30 years, he has provided support for the development and implementation of federal, state, tribal, and local air quality programs. "I'm excited about having a truly interactive workshop for communities on air programs. This will be a learning experience for EPA and state agency staff as well as for community participants. This is something that we should be doing more of."
Many community members will be coming to the workshop with extensive knowledge and decades of experience. The workshop intends to create an atmosphere that honors the community perspective and optimizes opportunities for the participants to learn from one another. The EPA is taking the lead on curriculum development and has worked with a diverse workshop design committee to plan this 'first of it's kind' workshop. Agency specialists from local air agencies, as well as state and regional authorities, will be in attendance to provide a broad perspective.
The event is expected to provide participants with a better understanding of the complex and diverse ways in which air quality issues can be addressed.
- Learn how and when citizens can have the most impact on decisions affecting air quality
- Examine the strengths and limitations of EPA, state, and local regulatory authorities
- Obtain an increased understanding of national outdoor air quality issues
- Get an overview of major air quality issues inthe Pacific Northwest and
- Explore the full range of mechanisms that can empower communities
The Northwest Regional Outdoor Air Quality Workshop for Communities is envisioned as a pilot for similar programs in other regions of the country.