Latest Notes

Notes – 12/19/2014

dckryThere are so many good things to report in the department as students and faculty wrap up their courses and prepare for the holidays.

First, we wish a fond farewell to Steve Rudnick, our Senior Lecturer of Industrial Hygiene Engineering, who was joined the Department in 1971. Steve has been a major contributor to our training and research over these many years. He has taught hundreds of students and professionals the elements of industrial hygiene and ventilation. He has taken part in so much of our department’s rich history. Steve will continue to contribute to and to be part of our department, albeit in a more limited way as he relocates to California. We wish him and his wife our best as they make this major transition.

In other department news, the JPB EH Fellowship Program for Junior Faculty was successfully launched in November with the first cohort of 12 JPB EH Fellows. Designed to promote multidisciplinary research on how the social and physical environment interact to influence health in disadvantaged communities, the JPB EH Fellowship Program is led by Jack Spengler along with Marc Weisskopf from EH and Laura Kubzansky from SBS. Fellows include nine junior faculty (assistant professors) from Institutions across the US and three senior research scientists from HUD, NIOSH and NOAA. HSPH faculty involved in the workshop included Gary Adamkiewicz, Ari Bernstein, Ichiro Kawachi (HSPH, Chair SBS), and Jack Shonkoff (HSPH/HU). Fellows spent an Environmental Justice Day in Lawrence, MA that included a bus tour, visit to Lawrence Heritage State Park and a panel discussion with Lawrence community partners led by Rhona Julien, a former doctoral student and now a Senior Scientist at EPA, Region 1. Jane Clougherty, another former doctoral student also led an afternoon exercise on fracking. The JPB EH Ad Hoc committee formed to help with the recruiting of the fellows included the following faculty members from HSPH: Francesca Dominici, Michelle Williams, and me.  Former faculty member Jon Levy is also on the committee. We all know these things don’t happen without a great team putting all the pieces together.  Many thanks to Tracy Mark, Coordinator of the JPB EH Fellows Program, and to Joan Arnold, Colby Miller ,and  Anny Maza, who all played vital roles in pulling this off so successfully.

Stefanos Kales and his research team published an article in the November issue of the British Medical Journal, entitled “Law enforcement duties and sudden cardiac death among police officers in United States: case distribution study.” The researchers found that among U.S. law enforcement officers, risk of sudden cardiac death was 34 to 69 times higher during restraints/altercations; 32 to 51 times higher during pursuits; 20 to 23 times higher during physical training; and 6 to 9 times higher during medical/rescue operations, compared with routine/non-emergency activities. Dr. Kales highlights that these findings have public health implications for cardiovascular disease prevention among law enforcement officers and calls for the implementation of primary and secondary cardiovascular disuse prevention efforts. You can access the paper here and a video here.  Separately, Stephanos also received a subcontract from Skidmore College for a grant entitled “Understanding and Preventing SCD in the Fire Service.”

Jia Zhong, a doctoral student in Andrea Baccarelli’s lab, presented her work at the American Heart Association conference, and it was then highlighted in their press release. She pointed out how flavonoids in certain foods such as chocolate and blueberries may help protect the heart against air pollutants. The AHA press release got the attention of many outlets in the popular press such as US News and World Report.

Speaking of getting recognition in the popular press, Barton Seaver from CHGE was in high demand on a number of radio programs such as On Point and Living on Earth around Thanksgiving to discuss some wonderful ways to prepare Thanksgiving meals.

Marc Weisskopf’s U.S.-wide study published in Environment Health Perspectives suggests a link between pregnant women who are exposed to air pollution and autism. It was featured on the HSPH website here.

Ted Courtney received the Excellence in Science Award from the APHA Injury Control and Emergency Health Services Section at the annual ICEHS Awards Dinner. David Swedler was also recognized at the dinner, as he received the ICEHS Student Best Paper Award for his paper entitled: “Understanding commercial truck drivers’ decision-making process concerning distracted driving.” David Swedler and Alberto Caban-Martinez presented several papers at the meeting as did ERC faculty Ted Courtney, David Lombardi, and Tin-chi Lin and alumnus Santosh Verma.  You can look up all of their talks here. We wish Alberto and David Swedler well in their new roles at the University of Miami and University of Illinois-Chicago (respectively).

Several of our students passed their oral exams. Congratulations to Erica Walker, Shahir Masri, and Jinming Zhang.

We also congratulate our Brazilian students on doing a fine job with their final presentations. Afonso Bento, Beatriz Lima, Banilo Bacic Lima, Douglas Hidalgo Zati, Eduardo Toledo, Falvia Mascarenhas Damiani, Hugo Hirano, Juliana Saran Carneiro, Luiza Martins de Oliveira, Maria Beatriz Lacerda Coelho de Paula, Melina Valdo, and Samir Crespo. We also thank their faculty mentors for their efforts, and of course John Godleski for heading up the Brazilian program.

Since these are the last department notes of the calendar year, I wish everyone a very joyous holiday break and a happy, healthy, and productive new year. Happy 2015!

Doug