Jamie Young, Ph.D.
Dr. Jamie Young is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology at the University of Louisville with an avid interest in studying heavy metals, chemicals, liver disease, PFAS, and their interactions in humans, wildlife, and the environment. She is currently studying the impacts of exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the Henderson County, Kentucky community alongside Dr. John Wise Sr., Dr. Becky Antle, and Ms. Ashley Logsdon. PFAS are widely used, long-lasting chemicals that persist in the environmental and are linked to adverse health effects in humas and animals such as liver disease, cardiovascular disease, lower birth weights, and an increased occurrence of learning deficits in children. Dr. Young first became intrigued by the field of environmental health science when her grandfather died of lung cancer, which she believes was caused by a toxic environmental exposure. Dr. Young’s research efforts are focused on learning more about how PFAS impacts various systems within the body with an emphasis on the liver and liver disease.
The goals of Dr. Young’s research are two-fold: 1) to determine the amount of PFAS that communities are being exposed to and whether they are being exposed through water, air, or both, and 2) to understand how the PFAS exposure is impacting the health of Henderson County citizens. This research partnership started with an article written by WFPL reporter, Ryan Van Velzer. Mr. Van Velzer shared a story on the Henderson, Kentucky community’s exposure to PFAS through their drinking water system and shared community contacts with Dr. Young. One such concerned citizen is Ms. Velvet Dowdy, a local Chemistry teacher who serves on the PFAS community taskforce in Henderson. With the collaboration of Ms. Dowdy’s high school students, Dr. Young plans to collect water samples to test the levels of PFAS in the local water and, later, engage the wider community in testing the levels of PFAS in the air through rain gauge measurements and testing. Dr. Young hopes to build a multi-year project with the Henderson County community and the next steps for this work include Dr. Aaron Specht of Purdue University and his XRF monitoring tool to detect the levels of heavy metals, including total fluorine as an indirect measure for PFAS, in the water.