News and Events

News and Events

UofL - UK Combined Trainee and Community Outreach Event

The University of Louisville Superfund Research Center  (UofL SRC) trainees participated in a unique, multi-center event organized and hosted by the University of Kentucky Superfund Research Center  (UK SRC) in Lexington and Whitesburg, KY on July 10-11, 2019. This event consisted of various activities with the overall objective being to foster research collaborations between the two Centers and focus on working together to better address environmental concerns in the State of Kentucky.

On July 10th, UK trainees took UofL trainees on a lab tour and visited numerous labs at the UK campus that are currently involved with different Superfund projects; this was followed by an interactive session among the trainees and PIs where UK and UofL trainees gave presentations on their respective projects. This allowed both Centers to learn about each other’s research goals and progress, as well as stimulate discussions for collaborative work. UofL presenters included graduate trainees Katlyn McGraw, Pradeep Prathibha, Stacey Konkle and Sarah Shrader. Other UofL attendees included trainee leaders, Dr. Marina Malovichko and Dr. Banrida Wahlang, and UofL SRC Training Core Director, Dr. David Hein.

On July 11th, the trainees from both Centers drove to Whitesburg, KY, a place where the UK SRC Community Engagement Core (CEC) has worked for many years, for a full day of community outreach activities. The day started with trainees arriving at the Community Agricultural Nutritional Enterprises Inc. CANE Kitchen for lunch with kids from the Headwaters on the Creek Camp, followed by activities at the Cowan Community Center and Appalshop. The trainees also toured the Whitesburg downtown area, joined community residents for dinner at CANE Kitchen, shopped at the Letcher County Farmer’s Market and attended the Levitt AMP Whitesburg Music Series. UofL trainees expressed how this event was eye-opening to them in terms of building relationships between researchers and community members as well as how they are able to visualize the interconnectedness between their scientific research and health goals in the community.  

The UofL SRC would like to thank the UK SRC for their hospitality, and key members who were instrumental in successfully organizing the event, including Dr. Bernhard Hennig (Director, UK SRC), Dr. Zach Hilt (Leader of the UK SRC’s Training Core), Molly Frazar (Graduate Trainee), Dr. Kelly Pennell, (Assistant Director, UK SRC), Dr. Dawn Brewer (Leader, UK SRC CEC), Annie Koempel (Program Manager, UK SRC CEC), as well as Whitesburg Community Leader Valerie Horn and Herb E. Smith (Appalshop).

University of Louisville researchers show that chronic exposure to benzene causes insulin resistance in mice

Benzene exposure induces insulin resistance in mice

Wesley Abplanalp, PhD Nalinie S Wickramasinghe, PhD Srinivas D Sithu, PhDDaniel J Conklin, PhD Zhengzhi Xie, PhD Aruni Bhatnagar, PhD Sanjay Srivastava, PhDTimothy E O’Toole, PhD


Benzene is a ubiquitous pollutant associated with hematotoxicity but its metabolic effects are unknown. We sought to determine if and how exposure to volatile benzene impacted glucose handling. We exposed wild type C57BL/6 mice to volatile benzene (50ppm x 6h/d) or HEPA-filtered air for 2 or 6wk and measured indices of oxidative stress, inflammation and insulin signaling. Compared to air controls, we found that mice inhaling benzene demonstrated increased plasma glucose (p = 0.05), insulin (p = 0.03), and HOMA-IR (p = 0.05), establishing a state of insulin and glucose intolerance. Moreover, insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation was diminished in the liver (p = 0.001) and skeletal muscle (p = 0.001) of benzene-exposed mice, accompanied by increases in oxidative stress and NF-κB phosphorylation (p = 0.025). Benzene-exposed mice also demonstrated elevated levels of MIP1-α transcripts and SOCS1 (p = 0.001), but lower levels of IRS-2 tyrosine phosphorylation (p = 0.0001). Treatment with the superoxide dismutase mimetic, TEMPOL, reversed benzene-induced effects on oxidative stress, NF-κB phosphorylation, SOCS1 expression, IRS-2 tyrosine phosphorylation, and systemic glucose intolerance. These findings suggest that exposure to benzene induces insulin resistance and that this may be a sensitive indicator of inhaled benzene toxicity. Persistent ambient benzene exposure may be a heretofore unrecognized contributor to the global human epidemics of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Tox Sci, 2018 (in press)

UofL Superfund Researchers attend the Annual Superfund Research Program Meeting 2018

Many of the University of Louisville Superfund Research Center members attended the Superfund Research Program Annual Meeting in Sacramento, California November 28th-30th.  This is always a great opportunity for our center to learn what other researchers from programs all over the country are doing to study the affects of hazardous chemicals found at other Superfund Sites.  The Superfund Research Centers at UC Davis, along with UC Berkeley and UC Diego is hosting this meeting.  This year's theme was “The Next Generation of Superfund Training, Translation and Research”. "A major objective of the meeting is to highlight innovation occurring within SRP centers to promote environmental health, particularly that being driven by early stage investigators and trainees". For more information about this meeting see the SRP's meeting website


Superfund Research Program Administrator visits the UofL Superfund Research Center

NIEHS Superfund Research Program Administrator Dr. Danielle Carlin visits our Center November 5, 2018.