March 2024 Notes from the Director

CIEHS welcomes two new members. Jae Yeon Huang, Ph.D. serves as bioinformatician in the Biostatistics and Informatics Facility Core (BIFC). I have worked with Dr. Huang the past few years analyzing arsenic dysregulated alternative mRNA splicing. He is particularly interested in circular RNAs. If any of you are interested in these RNAs, he can provide assistance through the BIFC. The second new member is Sandy Kavalukas, M.D., FACS. Dr. Kavalukas is a colorectal surgeon who is following a cohort of colorectal cancer patients in west Louisville who all live within close proximity. She is collaborating with Dr. Natalie Dupré on a CIEHS pilot project investigating the association of heavy metal exposure and colorectal cancer. 

We welcome new members of the Executive and Internal Advisory Committees. Dr. Rachel Neal will serve as Member-at-Large and Dr. Alexandra Nail will serve as the Career Development Program representative on the Internal Advisory Committee. Dr. Banrida Wahlang will serve as the Career Development Program representative on the Executive Committee. They will serve for one year. We thank the outgoing members, Drs. Ted Smith, Mayukh Banerjee and Ray Yeager, for their service this past year. 

We say farewell to Dr. Vicki Hines-Martin who retired from UofL in December. Dr. Hines-Martin served as Associate Director of the Community Engagement Core. We thank her for her outstanding service. Dr. Ted Smith has assumed the role of Associate Director and adds a new dimension to the Core and strengthens our ties with the Superfund Research Center. 

As most are aware, January and February brought changes to the leadership in research administration at UofL. Dr. Jon Klein is the Interim Executive Vice President for Research and Administration. I am now Interim Vice Dean for Research and Dr. Amanda LeBlanc is now Interim Associate Dean for Research in the School of Medicine. We are all adjusting to our new duties. A search will be organized for the EVPRI and we will see who is in what position in about a year.

A major activity currently is preparation of the NIEHS P30 competitive renewal which is due on April 19. This renewal will fund CIEHS through 2029. The team includes the leadership of all the Cores and the Pilot Project Program. Everyone has been hard at work since December. CIEHS will hold a mini-retreat in the afternoon of April 23, 2024 in CTRB. There will be a poster session showcasing posters of travel award winners followed by a presentation of highlights of the P30 competitive renewal application. Details are in the newsletter. We hope to see many of you there.

CIEHS is hosting the Midwest DNA Repair Symposium June 1-2, 2024. This year is the 25th anniversary of this conference and the third time hosted at UofL. We have three eminent DNA repair researchers as keynote speakers and will feature oral presentations by trainees. In addition, there will be a poster session. See the CIEHS website for further information.

The Society of Toxicology meeting was a great success for CIEHS members who won awards, chaired sessions and contributed platform and poster presentations. Other member news includes special recognitions received by Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar for the Green Heart Project and John Wise, Sr. featured in NIEHS Stories of Success. Twelve CIEHS members are among the top 2% cited authors in their fields in 2022. These accomplishments are all detailed in the newsletter. Congratulations to all on their stellar achievements!