March 2023 Notes from the Director

J. Christopher States, Ph.D.

We had a very successful Society of Toxicology meeting with UofL faculty and trainees receiving many awards, chairing sessions, presenting and serving in a variety of leadership positions. These are listed elsewhere in this newsletter. Congratulations to all the award winners! A personal highlight for me was to stay and visit with my daughter after the meeting. We visited the Cheekwood Garden and enjoyed the time together despite getting very wet in the rain.

Just before the SOT meeting we had the privilege of Dr. Koren Mann visiting, presenting a seminar and visiting with several Center members. Her research foci on metals and cardiovascular disease have much overlap with research in CIEHS. Thus, her visit provided much in common for discussions.

The CIEHS retreat was held on February 14. Attendance was good and there was ample discussion. We discussed the request by our External Advisory Board to hold a symposium showcasing CIEHS research for their next visit. This symposium is now scheduled for October 30. Planning will occur over the next few months. The symposium will include a poster session in which trainees can showcase their accomplishments. We strongly encourage everyone to participate fully and learn about all the exciting research being performed by our colleagues.

The External Advisory Committee also advised that we consider reorganizing the Research Interest Groups as we prepare the application for the P30 renewal. One suggestion was that we organize based on themes aligned with the upcoming new NIEHS Strategic Plan. Discussion began in the retreat and will continue over the next few months in the RIG meetings and in the Executive and Internal Advisory Committee meetings. Input from everyone is invited.

We are fortunate to be having Dr. Rick Woychik, Director of NIEHS and NTP, as keynote speaker for Research!Louisville in early October. The itinerary for his visit will be arranged in a few months and will be sure to include some time for meetings with CIEHS leadership and membership. Dr. Woychik will discuss the future research strategies for environmental health sciences in his lecture. At SOT, Dr. Woychik presented an outline of the development plans for the new NIEHS strategic plan. He stressed that the NIEHS will stick with the current framework and that the new plan will be aimed at assessing where the science will be. The initial input phase is beginning now. I distributed documents by email earlier with information on how to have input into the new plan via the online tool. There will be a virtual open space tech meeting April 11, 12 & 14. Key inputs to the plan will come from these workshops. Analysis and draft will be from June 2023 to Feb 2024, with final available April - June 2024. Emerging scientific priority areas include Climate change & health, Environmental justice & health disparities, Computational biology & data science, Mechanistic & translational toxicology, Exposome (totality is exposures over the lifetime), and Precision environmental health.

There has been some turnover in personnel in CIEHS recently. We recruited Dr. Maiying Kong to co-direct the Biostatistics and Informatics Facility Core with Dr. Juw Won Park. The staff biostatistician Ms. Shilpa Kulkarni resigned. We wish her well in her new pursuits and have posted the position. In addition, we will miss Mr. Caison Black as he goes on to a new position with the city. We have posted for a new Community Resource Coordinator as well. Applicants for both positions are in the process of being interviewed. We hope to have the positions filled and be fully operational again soon.

Finally, with the change in fiscal year, new representatives will be serving on the Executive and Internal Advisory Committees. We thank Dr. Cindy Corbitt for her service as member-at-large on the IAC and welcome Dr. Ted Smith as the new member-at-large. We also thank Dr. Banrida Wahlang for her service on the IAC and welcome Dr. Mayukh Banerjee as the new Career Development Program representative. We thank Dr. Calvin Kouokam for his service on the EC and welcome Dr. Ray Yeager as the CDP representative to the EC.

We recently entered the Hindu new year and are about to enter upon the convergence of the religious holidays Easter, Passover and Ramadan. We wish all good health and a happy springtime.