2015 News

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  • July 29, 2015

    Environmental Medicine News: EHSC Grant Renewal, New Appointment

    Great news from Environmental Medicine—its Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC) core grant was recently renewed for the 41st straight year. The department ushered in the $7.5 million, five-year, EHSC award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (with a remarkable score of 12). She is also overseeing the setup of EHSC’s new epigenetics core facility. Funding for the Center began in 1975 and has been continuously supported by the NIH for costs related to infrastructure, career development, biostatistics, and to support collaborations across research departments at URMC.

    Environmental Medicine also hired a new scientist with an interest in reproductive toxicity and epigenetics, a hot field concerned with investigating the environmental factors (such as the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol A) that cause changes in gene expression across generations. Martha Susiarjo, Ph.D., completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and will join the UR as an assistant professor Sept. 1. She brings an NIH K99 award and expertise to the new epigenetics core facility.

    The EHSC will celebrate 50 years of research with a two-day symposium Sept. 23-24, which will include a Science Café Series at the Pittsford Barnes & Noble, a poster session in Flaum Atrium, and a full slate of presentations at URMC from faculty and local civic leaders. Planning is under way; stay tuned for more details.

  • May 5, 2015

    Lower Air Pollution, Higher Birth Weight

    A team of researchers led by Associate Professor, Dr. David Rich (Public Health Sciences & Environmental Medicine) studied birth weights before, during and after the Beijing Olympics, during which widespread pollution reduction efforts were instated. They found infants born shortly after the olympics had significantly higher birth weights than infants born in other years. The researchers compiled information from 83,672 term births (37 to 42 weeks gestational age at birth) to mothers in four urban districts in Beijing. They compared birth weights for mothers whose eighth month of pregnancy occurred during the 2008 Olympics/Paralympics with those whose eighth month of pregnancy occurred at the same time of year in the years before (2007) and after (2009) the games when pollution levels were at their normally higher levels. They found that the babies born in 2008 were on average 23 grams larger than those in 2007 and 2009.

  • April 27, 2015

    Does Artificial Food Coloring Contribute to ADHD in Children?

    Kraft Macaroni & Cheese—that favorite food of kids, packaged in the nostalgic blue box—will soon be free of yellow dye. Kraft announced Monday that it will remove artificial food coloring, notably Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6 dyes, from its iconic product by January 2016. Instead, the pasta will maintain its bright yellow color by using natural ingredients: paprika, turmeric and annatto (the latter of which is derived from achiote tree seeds).

    The company said it decided to pull the dyes in response to growing consumer pressure for more natural foods. But claims that the dyes may be linked to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children have also risen recently, as they did years ago, putting food dyes under sharp focus once again. On its Web site Kraft says synthetic colors are not harmful, and that their motivation to remove them is because consumers want more foods with no artificial colors.

    Bernard Weiss, professor emeritus of the Department of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center who has researched this issue for decades, says he is frustrated that the FDA has not acted on the research showing the connection between artificial dyes and hyperactivity. All the evidence we have has showed that it has some capacity to harm, he says. In Europe that's enough to get it banned because a manufacturer has to show lack of toxic effects. In this country it's up to the government to find out whether or not there are harmful effects. Weiss supports banning artificial colors until companies have evidence that they cause no harm. Like most other scientists in this field, he thinks more research, particularly investigating dyes' effects on the developing brain, is imperative.

  • April 10, 2015

    Celebrating 50 Years at URMC and Saying Goodbye: Victor Laties

    Dr. Victor Laties, Professor Emeritus

    In 1965, a young Victor Laties left Johns Hopkins for the University of Rochester and never looked back. In 2015, Vic celebrated his 50th year at the University of Rochester Medical Center-a feat not surpassed by many. Primarily in the department of Environmental Medicine, Vic has touched many lives over the years with his great work ethic, caring attitude, his love of toxicology, and his fantastic photos that have graced the Environmental Medicine, Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC), and Toxicology websites over the past 50 years.

    The first director of the toxicology training grant, that is now in his 37th year, Vic has been integral to it's success and has created many memories and passed down a wealth of knowledge to hundreds of students. Beginning in the departments of Biophysics, Psychology, and Pharmacology Vic has also made many a friend and has been a valued collegue to his peers. Vic has remained on the editorial board for the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior since 1962 (and the webmaster for the JEAB/JABA site), and has served as editor for several other experimental therapeutics and pharmacological journals throughout the years.

    Vic won the Distinguished Service to Behavior Analysis Award from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis (SABA) in 1995 and 2003-the only person to win this award twice. He was a major figure in the development of both behavioral pharmacology and behavioral toxicology. His work with the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (SEAB) journals has been essential to their development and their sustained excellence over the last forty years. To date he has published well over 100 journal articles, book chapters and various other publications.

    Vic's love of toxicology and the department is surpassed only by his love for his wife and family as he officially retires today and moves to Maryland to be closer to them and enjoy the nice weather. The department and all of his collegues wish to express their heartfelt gratitude for the many years of service and contributions that he has given. He is truly one of a kind and will be missed.

    To read more about Vic's many acolades please see the Association for Behavior Analysis International article and view his CV.

    Vic and the Environmental Medicine, Toxicology and EHSC Staff

  • April 8, 2015

    Brittany Baisch, PhD ’13 Wins Nanotoxicology Specialty Section Best Publication 2015 Award

    Former Toxicology graduate student in Alison Elder's lab, Brittany Baisch (PhD '13) won the Nanotoxicology Specialty Section Best Publication 2015 Award at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) annual meeting in San Diego, CA. last week. She won the award for the paper, Equivalent titanium dioxide nanoparticle deposition by intratracheal instillation and whole body inhalation: the effect of dose rate on acute respiratory tract inflammation. Brittany is currently working as a toxicologist at Kraft Foods.

  • April 3, 2015

    Marissa Sobolewski Wins Butcher New Investigator Award and 2nd Place Postdoctoral Fellow Poster Award at SOT

    Postdoctoral Fellow in the Cory-Slechta lab, Marissa Sobolewski, PhD finished second in the Neurotoxicology SS Toshio Narashashi Postdoctoral Fellow Poster Award at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) annual meeting in San Diego, CA. last week.

    Marissa also recently won the Richard Butcher New Investigator Award from the Neurobehavioral teratology society. Her research focus is Neurotoxicology, Etiology of neurobehavioral disease, Endocrine dysfunction, Synergistic Toxicity. Congrats!

  • April 3, 2015

    UR Toxicology Graduate Students Make Strong Showing at 2015 SOT Meeting

    Dr. Alison Elder and Elissa Wong

    UR Toxicology graduate students made a strong showing at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) annual meeting in San Diego, CA. last week. 3rd year graduate student, Elissa Wong (Majewska Lab) and 5th year graduate student, Sage Begolly (O'Banion/Olschowka Labs) both won travel awards to attend and present their posters.

    Elissa Wong and Dr. Alison Elder also attended the event, hosting the UR recruitment table at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Committee on Diversity Initiatives (CDI) session. Congrats to all!

    View all of the photos from the SOT meeting.

  • February 11, 2015

    E-Cigarette Vapors, Flavorings, Trigger Lung Cell Stress

    Do electronic cigarettes help people quit smoking? As the debate continues on that point, a new University of Rochester study suggests that e-cigarettes are likely a toxic replacement for tobacco products.

    Emissions from e-cigarette aerosols and flavorings damage lung cells by creating harmful free radicals and inflammation in lung tissue, according to the UR study published in the journal PLOS ONE. Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine at the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry, led the research, which adds to a growing body of scientific data that points to dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping.

    Please view the NBC news video about this article.

  • February 9, 2015

    E-cigarette Vapors Can Damage Lung Cells

    A new study by University of Rochester suggests that e-cigarettes are likely to be a toxic replacement for tobacco products.

    Emissions from e-cigarette aerosols and flavourings damage lung cells by creating harmful free radicals and inflammation in lung tissue.

    Several leading medical groups, organisations and scientists are concerned about the lack of restrictions and regulations for e-cigarettes, said Irfan Rahman, lead author and professor of environmental medicine at University of Rochester Medical Center.

  • February 1, 2015

    MSTP Announces 40th Anniversary Celebration!

    Edward M. Eddy Rubin

    The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) is excited to announce a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the MSTP NIH training grant on Friday, October 9, 2015.

    The keynote speaker will be an MSTP alumni from the Class of 1980: Edward Rubin, MD, PhD, Director, DOE Joint Genome Institute.

    Edward M. Eddy Rubin is an internationally-known geneticist and medical researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, where he became head of the Genomic Sciences Division in 1998. In 2002 he assumed the directorship of the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) to lead the JGI ’s involvement in the Human Genome Project (HGP).

    For more information and schedule of events for the day, please visit the MSTP 40th Anniversary page.

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