July 2023 Notes from the Director

J. Christopher States, Ph.D.

June and July have been busy months for most of us. Summer research programs, vacations, summer conferences, to keep us busy. The NIEHS T35 medical student training program went well this summer with 6 students. Several are likely to go on to the Distinction in Research.

I was fortunate to present my lab’s work on arsenic dysregulation of alternative mRNA splicing at 5th International Caparica Conference on Splicing 2023 in Portugal in mid-July. Our work was well received and may result in some new international collaborations. One day of vacation touring in Lisbon was enjoyable. Ironically, with most of southern Europe experiencing record high temperatures around the Mediterranean, the weather on the Portuguese Atlantic coast was quite mild. I hope you enjoy the photo of the rooftops taken from high on a hill and of the tile work in a major plaza in Lisbon.

  Portugal 2

Research!Louisville is coming up soon. The dates will be Oct 2-6. CIEHS will again be holding a symposium with pilot and voucher awardees presenting the work funded by their awards. Dr. Park is planning a workshop on nest generation sequencing technologies and associated bioinformatic approaches. We look forward to good attendance at the symposium and the workshop. The Research!Louisville keynote speaker will be Dr. Rick Woychik, the NIEHS and NTP director. I will be arranging for several of you to have the opportunity to meet and speak with him once we receive his travel itinerary.

We initiated an exposome project leveraging the wastewater surveillance infrastructure established to monitor SARS-COV2 during the pandemic. We are monitoring for metals using the CIEHS supported Metallomics Core run by Dr. Lu Cai. In addition, in collaboration with our colleagues at Emory University, we are doing untargeted LC-MS analyses on the samples. The data so far show wide variation in metals across Jefferson county. Several toxic metals are detected in clusters of metals in samples from the west and south ends of Louisville. Drs. Ted Smith, Eric Rouchka and I were interviewed recently about this project by KET news. You can view a snippet at
https://ket.org/program/kentucky-edition/july-13-2023/. The spot starts at 12:37 in the broadcast. Dr. Smith will be presenting on the project at the SETAC meeting in November.

There will be a call for CIEHS Research Voucher Applications due August 25. So, start thinking of how you might be able to use a voucher to generate preliminary data to support a grant application, or respond to a manuscript or grant review. Applications focused on areas corresponding to the new RIGs are encouraged. These topics include Climate Change, Environmental Justice & Health Disparities, Precision Environmental Health & Exposome, and Mechanistic and Translational Toxicology.

Mark your calendars! Dr. Thomas Begley, Professor of Biological Sciences, Associate Director of The RNA Institute, University at Albany will be the CIEHS external speaker at the seminar on September 7th. He is an expert on RNA modifications. We look forward to seeing you at his seminar. A call will go out for those who would like to meet with our guest.