Department Notes Archive – 2012

Department Notes – 2012

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Dr. Russ Hauser became Acting Chair, and then Chair, of the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on September 1, 2016. Dr. Douglas Dockery was the Chair from 2005 – 2016.

Notes – 12/21/2012

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest, darkest day of the year, and also the end of the world if you believe some stories in the press.  I did take the precaution of checking yesterday afternoon with some of our colleagues in Australia which is fourteen hours ahead, to verify that the world had not ended there.  They assure me life goes on.  Nevertheless, in case the world does end later today, I want to thank you all for your work this year. There certainly have been challenges, both institutional and personal, that we have faced individually and jointly.  Indeed, as the government struggles to resolve the “fiscal cliff” dilemma, we don’t know how this will affect our key funding sources next year.  In any case, we will surely continue to face financial challenges in the coming year, as well as space challenges that are inherent in working in our existing buildings.     Nevertheless, we have a vibrant academic and research program, and everyone has been incredibly productive.  Our faculty and scientists are leaders in their disciplines and are submitting quality grant applications and publications. We are blessed with extraordinarily talented students and fellows. The administrative staff has stepped up to the record number of grant applications and other burdens.

Most importantly, despite all of our challenges, we can see that our work has had a major impact as we strive to improve the environment and public health around the world.

It is a challenging time in all academic institutions, but I would not want to be anywhere else.  To paraphrase Dean Frenk, this is a great department in a great school in a great university.

For all of us in the Department office – Glenn, Barbara, Chris, Alissa, Julie, and me,

Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year!


Notes – 12/14/2012

I wanted to share with you a few quick notes as we wrap up the fall semester, and start leaving for the winter break.

First of all, EPA announced today that they propose to lower the fine particle (PM2.5 ) annual standard to 12 mg/m3.  This is a major step towards cleaner air, and reflects the scientific contributions, advocacy, and service on advisory boards of many in our Department. Congratulations on this important public health achievement!!

There also has been considerable discussion of the damage caused by Sandy and links to climate change.  Jim McCarthy of our Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHGE) wrote an interesting opinion piece entitled Obama wants to understand climate change? Listen to us and Sandy, too .  The HSPH Forum this week was on “Big Weather and Coastal Cities”.  Also worth viewing.

On a similar note, Greg Norris’ “The Handprint Project” was the focus of a Huffington Post entitled Lowering Your Carbon Impact — What’s Your Handprint? .  We hope that this type of press will influence the public to take action on climate change issues.  Thanks for these contributions!

We wish Acacia Matheson of CHGE a fond farewell as she prepares to take her talents to a new position at Harvard in Cambridge.  Acacia is in charge of communications at CHGE, and one look at their website showcases her obvious talents.    Good luck, Acacia!

We are delighted to welcome Nic Lupoli back in his new capacity as the Trace Metals Lab Manager. Nic is no stranger to EH or the lab, as he has nearly 20 years’ experience here.  Jim Shine, the new Director, is pleased to announce that the Trace Metals Lab is back open and ready for business!

In the spring, the school will be undertaking negotiations with the federal government to set our overhead rate.  In preparations Ken Wenger and the Operations staff will be conducting a comprehensive space usage audit.  They will start with a walk through of all the laboratories sometime in early January.  No special preparations are necessary, but they may ask some information about who occupies which space.  Please help them get an accurate assessment.

What can be more fun than a space audit?  I know – our EH winter party!  Please mark your calendars for Thursday, January 31 at 4:00 p.m.   As is our department’s tradition, we hold it at the start of the spring semester after our students return from winter session.  Last year’s theme was sports, and people dressed up in their favorite team’s uniforms.  Any fun ideas for this year’s theme?   If you have suggestions, please email Alissa Wilcox.

As we start finals week, we extend best wishes for success to all the students, and remind the faculty to get their grades in before leaving for the holidays.  Have a great week-end.


Notes – 12/9/2012

We are in the midst of the end of the semester, with all that it entails -the wrapping up of classes, final exams, and projects, not to mention the final end of year push for grants and publications.  A very busy time of year indeed!

We were very proud to learn that David Christiani was named this week by President Obama to the National Cancer Advisory Board.  The announcement was released in this official White House press release.  The NCAB is responsible for advising and assisting the Director of the National Cancer Institute, and approves all grant awards from the NCI.  President Obama could not have nominated anyone more qualified, passionate or better able to represent the public health perspective regarding cancer.  Congratulations David!

We also learned that Francine Laden has been elected President of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology.  Francine will serve one year (2013) as President-Elect, before starting her two-year term (2014-2015), succeeding the current President, Annette Peters. Congratulations Francine on this honor from your professional colleagues!

Kudos also to Andrea Baccarelli who was recognized as one of the Top Reviewers for Environmental Health Perspectives this year.  We all expect quality reviews of our manuscripts, and appreciate constructive critiques.  Thanks Andrea for your outstanding service and congratulations on receiving this honor!

Behrooz Behbod successfully defended his doctoral thesis, entitled “Bioaerosol exposures in the development of childhood asthma and allergic disease and acute inflammation in adults”.  As soon as it becomes official, he will be able to add ScD to his other degrees – MBChB and MSc.  He returns to Atlanta to finish up his fellowship as an EIS Officer at the CDC.  Congratulations Behrooz!

Also congratulations to Memo Cedeño Laurent who passed his doctoral oral qualifying exams.  His research topic will be “Energy Consumption Patterns in the Built Environment and its Influence on Human Health.”  Well done Memo!

I was pleased to see a paper that Andrew Correia, Yun Wang, and Francesca Dominicifrom Biostats and I wrote in Epidemiology was featured on the HSPH website.  It shows that improved air quality continues to be linked to longer life expectancy across the U.S.  This paper documents the public health benefits of air pollution regulations and policies that can be directly traced to research being done here in the Department. We can all be proud of these public health improvements.

We concluded this semester’s EH Colloquium series with a fine presentation by Stephania Cormier from Louisiana State University whose topic was “Combustion Generated Nanoparticles Enhance Flu Severity in Infants”.  The series resumes next month on January 24 with Michelle Bell, Professor of Environmental Health from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

We extend our warmest thanks to Dr. Bruce Gillis, an alumnus of EH, for his generous gift to support Joe Brain and Jamie Lichtenstein’s research on the health effects of mold exposure and the identification of associated biomarkers.

We have to bid a fond farewell to this year’s cohort of Brazilian students who have completed the HSPH portion of their studies.  As culmination of their year, each did a presentation of their own research project. We hope each of them – Andre Bordini, Bruno Butturi Varone, Ananda Ise Dianni de Paula Machado, Hilario Francelino, Renato Jimenez, Fernanda Maria Carvalho Ninin, Andre Saijo, Lucas Sobrado, Liana Tortato, and Cristina Giogetti Valente – found their stay in EH to be a rich and rewarding experience.   We wish them good luck and hope they stay in touch!

You may have noticed that Barbara Zuckerman was out this week.  She is taking a few weeks medical leave, but is continuing to monitor what’s going on from home through e-mail.  We miss you Barbara and look forward to your return to the office.

Finally, we would like to send our best wishes out to Joel Cohen in MIPS and his fiancé, Selena Jorgensen, who are getting married this weekend.

I hope those of you who have less momentous plans are having a fabulous weekend as well. Happy Hanukkah!!


Notes – 12/3/12

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving holiday.  Now we’re back to full speed ahead as we come upon December, which brings with it the home stretch of the fall semester.

Last Monday, we had a great talk by Brenda Ezkenazi on “Flame Retardants and Maternal and Child Health” as part of our Environmental Health Colloquium.  We continue this series this week with Stephania Cormier, who is the Louisiana State University Superfund Leader, speaking on “Combustion Generated Nanoparticles Enhance Flu Severity in Infants” on Thursday, December 6 at 12:30 p.m. in Building 1, room 1302.

Congratulations to our recent alumnae Silje Reme for her TED talk on back pain.  You can watch it on YouTube here.  Well done Silje!

ABC News recently filmed a segment on drowsy driving at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety facilities in Hopkinton.  Ted Courtney sends word that the segment is currently scheduled to air tonight on World News Tonight with Dianne Sawyer at 6:30 pm EST.    IF it does air on WNT, then a longer feature segment will also air tonight on ABC’s Nightline at 11:35 p.m.

Congratulations to Humberto Trevino Villarreal on his promotion to Research Associate in the MIPS group.

We also note two notable appointments among our friends.  James McCarthy of the Harvard Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences was appointed by President Obama to the US Arctic Research Commission (USARC).  Joan Ruderman has been named President and Director of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole.  Congratulations on these important new jobs!

Note Joan Ruderman will be giving Radcliffe Water Lecture next Tuesday, December 11th.  She will be speaking on “Hormonally Active Pollutants: What Are They, What Can They Do, and How Do We Know They’re Out There?”

Have a great week.


Notes – 9/28/12

Thanks to everyone who attended the Environmental Health Harvest Fair on Thursday afternoon.  It was great to welcome everyone back and to see the work of the department’s five strategic planning committees.   I was particularly heartened to see the progress of the working groups over the past few months.  Special recognition to Francine LadenGary Adamkiewicz, and their helpers for the Identity Tree.  We are going to put that up in the 13th floor hallway.  At the Harvest Fest we asked for input from the attendees.  I got a lot of great feedback from some of our students. We are collating and summarizing the comments and suggestion and will report back.  Special thanks to Barbara Zuckerman for taking the lead in organizing this, and to everyone else, including the committee members, staff and students, who made the event such a success.  Remember, we’re always open to hearing your feedback and suggestions about how to move our department forward.  You can send your comments to

Earlier in the day on Thursday, we kicked off our EH Colloquium Series with a presentation from Ilona Jaspers from UNC-Chapel Hill who spoke about “Air pollution and Viral Infections: Observations from Right Under Your Nose.”   Her standing-room-only lecture was followed by a lunch with some of our students and fellows.  This year’s EH Colloquium series is entitled “Leaders in Environmental Health.  Thanks to Francine Laden for putting this year’s EH Colloquium Series together.  She has scheduled a very impressive list of leaders through the academic year; the series will resume in November.  Check our website for details.

Congratulations to Philippe Grandjean for receiving his R01 grant entitled “Immunotoxicity in Humans with Lifetime Exposure to Ocean Pollutants” from the NIEHS.  Well done, Philippe!

The Children’s Hospital’s Division of Respiratory Disease will be presenting the Mary Ellen Wohl Guest Professor Lecture Series, featuring Jeffrey Drazen.  His talk, entitled “Two Hundred Years of Medical Advancement”, will be held on Wednesday, October 10 from 12 to 1:00 in the Folkman Auditorium in the Enders Building at Children’s Hospital.

Here’s hoping that the weather isn’t too gloomy this weekend and that you all enjoy yourselves!


Notes – 8/04/2012

This week was the first of the two week continuing education program on “Building Design and Engineering Approaches to Airborne Infection Control.”  This course provides training on a range of control strategies ranging from mechanical ventilation, filtration, and the design and use of space, to the proper application of germicidal UV air disinfection and natural ventilation to control airborne infections from tuberculosis, influenza, SARS, and bioterrorism agents.  The course targets an international audience, with the participants this year primarily from Africa and Europe. Ed Nardell, Steve Rudnick, and Paul Jensen are leading the course with help from many other faculty and scientists.  Mel First was instrumental in envisioning and designing this course.  We welcome all the participants and thank the instructors and organizers of this important initiative.

In other news, Jim Butler, Steve Loring, Akira Tsuda and colleagues from the Brigham published a case report in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled “Evidence for Adult Lung Growth in Humans.”  They challenged the long held notion that human lung structure stops growing in childhood.  This opens the door to all kinds of questions and issues regarding regeneration, causal factors, etc.  Nice work!

Alex Lu was quoted in an article entitled “It’s Time to Ban Neonicontinoid Pesticides” in Mother Earth News.  In it he links the use of these pesticides with the collapse of bee colonies.

Petros Koutrakis received two funding awards.  With colleagues at Yale, he will be studying the “Effects of Fine Particle (PM2.5) Composition on Birth Outcomes.”  He also received a contract from the University of Toronto for a particle concentrator.  Congratulations Petros!

Elsie Sunderland received the good news that her NSF grant application entitled “Collaborative Research: Evaluating the Competing Impacts of Global Emissions Reductions and Climate Change on the Distribution and Retention of selected POPs in the Arctic Ocean” has been funded.  She will be working with colleagues from MIT and URI.  Congratulations Elsie!

As we move into August, it’s hard to believe that our students will be here before the end of the month.  I hope you are all enjoying your summer.  Have a great weekend!



Notes – 8/24/2012

This is the last Friday of the summer for us, at least in the academic calendar.  The new students arrive next week for orientation, and classes start the following week.

We have some good news to report, even though this is supposedly known as a “less busy” time of year.  Not necessarily so in our department!

First, Ted Courtney, our partner at Liberty Mutual, has been appointed as an Associate Editor at Elsevier’s Accident Analysis and Prevention.  Ted tells us that that David Lombardi was also added to the same Board.  Congratulations Ted and David!

Next, David Christiani, EOME Program Director, received two very welcome news items.  First, the CDC awarded his R01 a four year competitive renewal for his grant entitled “Lung Disease in Chinese Textile Workers.”  For this grant, David will be studying gene-environment interactions.  In addition to that, he also received news that another R01, entitled “Molecular Epidemiology of ARDS,” was also renewed.  For this NHLBI grant, which is entering its third cycle, he will be performing genetic and gene-environment risk and outcomes analysis pertaining to acute lung injuries.  Nice work, David!

Over in EER, Andrea Baccarelli received a new R21 grant entitled “Air Pollution, Epigenetics and Cardiovascular Health: A Human Intervention Trial” from NIEHS.  Congratulations Andrea!

Phil Demokritou received notice that his NSF grant entitled “A Novel ‘Safe Formulation Concept’ for Flame Generated Engineered Nanomaterials” has been funded.  Well done, Phil.

Sam Myers reports that two proposals to the Rockefeller Foundation have been approved for funding. One is looking at the “Health Impacts of Fire-Based Land Management Strategies in Equatorial Asia.”   The second is “Evaluating the Linkages between Human Nutrition and Access to Wildlife,” working with the Wildlife Conservation Society.   We are looking forward to hearing more about thee interesting projects.

As we continue to integrate the Center for Health and Global Environment into our department, we congratulate them for receiving an award from the Streisand Foundation.

These successful grant applications reflect the innovation and leadership of our faculty and research scientists. We also recognize the work of our grants administrators in preparing these applications.  This past Wednesday, the Department and Program Administrators (Glenn Stern, Pat McGaffigan, Tracy Mark, and Chris Kelly) hosted an Ice Cream Social to thank all the administrative staff for their efforts.  A well-deserved break for these hard working, dedicated colleagues.

Along with many of our faculty, scientists, fellows, and students, I am heading off to the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology meeting in Columbia, SC next week.  I look forward to seeing many of you there.

Have a great weekend, everyone!



Notes – 8/31/2012

I have just returned from the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology conference in Columbia, South Carolina.  I was joined by a large number of EH faculty, research scientists, students, fellows and alumni.  There were some terrific presentation and posters by these members of the EH family.  Indeed there were so many, it was impossible to get to them all.  However, I want to specifically note Jaime Hart who received a New Researcher Best Abstract Award for her poster entitled “The Association of PM2.5 and All-cause Mortality and Possible Effect Modification by Diet, Alcohol, and Physical Activity,” and Valeria Motta who received a Best Student Poster Award for her poster entitled “Evolutionary Age Determines Differential Susceptibility of Repeated-element DNA to Airborne Pollutants.”

We had a fun evening with the Harvard attendees across the street from the convention center at the World of Beer.  By the end of the conference, the staff there seemed to know the HSPH folks very well.

My only regret in attending the conference was that I couldn’t be at HSPH to greet our incoming students.  Many thanks to Barbara Zuckerman and Les Kobzik for their help in organizing and presenting the welcome session for our new students, and to all of the faculty, staff and students that participated in the departmental luncheon and orientation sessions.  I hope our new students enjoyed their first week at the school.  We all look forward to getting to know you and learning more about your talents, interests, and experiences.

This year we have a total of 32 new incoming students.  Combined with our returning students, our department has a total of 105 students from 22 nations (57% are from outside of the US).

Our new doctor of science students are: Rachel Banay (US), Ryan Calder (Canada), Nancy Diao (China), Maria Korre (Greece), Shahir Masri (US), Cheng Peng (China), Mohammad Rahman (Bangladesh), Liuhua Shi (China), Chia-Hsi Tang (Taiwan), Kathryn Taylor (US), Jia Zhong (China), and Zhaozhong Zhu (China).

Our new master of science students are: Tian Chu (China), Shangzhi Gao (China), Fangli Geng (China), Kelsey Gleason (US), Xindi Hu (China), Jimmy Khaw (Malaysia), Linyan Li (China), Shawna MacDonald (US), Piers MacNaughton (US), Jong Eun Rhee (S. Korea), Ran Rotem (Israel), Thais Terceiro Jorge (Brazil), Kevin Towle (US), Jing Zhang (China), and Wanting Zhou (China).

Our new MPH, Special Students, and medical residents are: Sharon Lee (US), Maureen Miller (US), Josee Pilon (Canada), Michael Shusko (US), Xingyong Tan (Singapore), and Chathaya Wongrathanandha (Thailand).

And our new PhD students in the Division of Biological Sciences are: Rose Filoramo (US), and Christine Ordija (US).


I also want to congratulate Andrea Baccarelli for getting yet another NIEHS R01, this one entitled “Molecular and Epigenetic Mitochondriomics of Air Particles, Lead and Cognition.”  Well done, Andrea!

I hope everyone, including our returning and new students, enjoys this Labor Day holiday weekend and we’ll see you all back here on Tuesday when classes begin in earnest.



Notes – 8/04/2012

This week was the first of the two week continuing education program on “Building Design and Engineering Approaches to Airborne Infection Control.”  This course provides training on a range of control strategies ranging from mechanical ventilation, filtration, and the design and use of space, to the proper application of germicidal UV air disinfection and natural ventilation to control airborne infections from tuberculosis, influenza, SARS, and bioterrorism agents.  The course targets an international audience, with the participants this year primarily from Africa and Europe. Ed Nardell, Steve Rudnick, and Paul Jensen are leading the course with help from many other faculty and scientists.  Mel First was instrumental in envisioning and designing this course.  We welcome all the participants and thank the instructors and organizers of this important initiative.

In other news, Jim Butler, Steve Loring, Akira Tsuda and colleagues from the Brigham published a case report in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled “Evidence for Adult Lung Growth in Humans.”  They challenged the long held notion that human lung structure stops growing in childhood.  This opens the door to all kinds of questions and issues regarding regeneration, causal factors, etc.  Nice work!

Alex Lu was quoted in an article entitled “It’s Time to Ban Neonicontinoid Pesticides” in Mother Earth News.  In it he links the use of these pesticides with the collapse of bee colonies.

Petros Koutrakis received two funding awards.  With colleagues at Yale, he will be studying the “Effects of Fine Particle (PM2.5) Composition on Birth Outcomes.”  He also received a contract from the University of Toronto for a particle concentrator.  Congratulations Petros!

Elsie Sunderland received the good news that her NSF grant application entitled “Collaborative Research: Evaluating the Competing Impacts of Global Emissions Reductions and Climate Change on the Distribution and Retention of selected POPs in the Arctic Ocean” has been funded.  She will be working with colleagues from MIT and URI.  Congratulations Elsie!

As we move into August, it’s hard to believe that our students will be here before the end of the month.  I hope you are all enjoying your summer.  Have a great weekend!



Notes – 7/20/2012

The big news for this week is transition of the Center for Health and the Global Environment from HMS into our Department.  Jack Spengler will be the Director of the Center.  We are pleased to welcome Eric Chivian, Founder and Director Emeritus; Ari Bernstein, Associate Director (and also Adjunct Instructor in our Department); Tracy Sachs, Administrative Director; Kate Hester, Director of Education; Acacia Matheson, Director of Communications; and Kim Riek, Financial Coordinator.  We look forward to working with you all as the Center migrates into our Department.  Welcome!

We are very happy to report that Marcela Tamayo and Ivan Pantic are celebrating the arrival of their second daughter, Isabella Pantic-Tamayo who was born on July 15, 2012. She was 8.8 lb and 20.5 in (3980 g, 52 cm). Both mom and baby are doing great.

Today we bid a fond farewell to Lynn NeJaime, an administrator in the EOME group who has been with us for nearly ten years.  Lynn started working in the department right out of college, and while working here earned a masters degree in human resources.  While on maternity leave with new baby Angel, Lynn decided that staying home with her family was the right choice for her.  We want to thank Lynn for all the work she’s done for EOME and the Department, and we wish her and her family best of luck in their future.

Friday the 13th of July proved to be a good day for Hsiao-Hsien ‘Leon’ Hsu, who successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Using Real Time Monitoring Data to Explore the Relationship Between Aviation Activities and Communities’ Ultrafine Particles Exposures.”  Congratulations Leon!

Also, Ed Nardell and Steve Rudnick have several bits of good news to share.  In the last several weeks they have received:

1) a 4-year renewal of their NIOSH grant testing novel air disinfection strategies;

2) a 5-year Fogarty grant to train post-docs on air disinfection research,

3) a 5-year RO1 with their South African colleagues to study the impact of effective treatment on transmission using guinea pig air sampling, and

4) a contract with the Gates Foundation to study TB vaccine efficacy in the AIR facility (Airborne Infections Research).

As Ed says, we wish Mel First and Richard Riley were still with us to celebrate the ongoing extension of their work.  Congratulations, Ed and Steve!

Marc Weisskopf has received a new 3 year award from the the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) for “Population-based epidemiology study of ALS in a representative sample of the US.”  The project will  study risk factors (race/ethnicity, socioeconomic factors, military service, and occupation) for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in the National Longitudinal Mortality study — a US representative cohort of over 2 million people.  It will be one of the largest cohort studies on ALS with prospectively collected data, and the only one in a US population-representative cohort.  Well done Marc!

Elsie Sunderland received a gift to study methyl mercury in Lake Melville, Labrador.  Congratulations Elsie!

I am off to Japan for a week of presentations and conferences.  Have a great weekend and week, everyone!


Notes – 7/06/2012

Here in Boston, summer traditionally starts the week of the 4th of July.  On schedule, the summer heat is fully upon us, and many of us are taking a few well deserved days off.

Last week I was in Dublin participating in a State of the Environment Workshop sponsored by the Irish EPA.  The weather there was terrific, sunny and in the 80’s (which many people found oppressive).

On the home front, double congratulations to Gary Adamkiewicz for receiving two grants.  First, he received a subcontract from MGH on a new RO1 entitled “Reducing Environmental Tobacco Smoke Exposure in Public Housing.”  Second, he received a U01 entitled “Green Housing Study: Boston Follow-Up.”  Well done, Gary!

Also, congratulations to Erik Garshick and Petros Koutrakis for receiving an R01 entitled “COPD and Response to Traffic Related Particles.”

Some of you may have gone to Mary Jane Curran’s retirement party last week.  Mary Jane, the Senior Director of Operations for HSPH, was at the school for 26 years.  Mary Jane has done so much over the years for the school and for our department.  We wish her all the best in her retirement!

As it turns out, it was just announced that our colleague Ken Wenger will be returning to the School to take over as the new Senior Director of Operations.  Ken was our EH Department Administrator before going across the river to administer the Harvard Global Health Institute.  Ken will be taking his new position in August.  Welcome back and congratulations, Ken!

Finally, it is most appropriate that as we celebrated the 4th of July holiday two of our friends have become U.S. citizens over the past few weeks.  Congratulations to Juliana Rosario, our MIPS administrator who became a citizen on June 21, and also to Luz Miryam Ramirez, our Building 1 custodian, who became a citizen on June 29.  We hope they both had an especially happy 4th of July holiday.

And, on that note, I hope everyone enjoyed their 4th of July Day holiday.  Stay cool!



Notes – 6/15/2012

With commencement and the end of the academic year, we are settling into our “summer” mode.  While we are slightly less busy, there is still a lot going on in our department.

First, congratulations to Melinda Power who successfully defended her thesis entitled “Cognitive Function in Older Adults: Lead, Traffic-Related Air Pollution, Hypertension and Study Design Choices.”  Melinda completes a dual doctoral degree in the Departments of Epidemiology and Environmental Health.

Congratulations to the following doctoral students who successfully passed their oral qualifying exams:

Hillel Alpert – “Public Health Effectiveness of the Massachusetts Fire Safe Cigarette Law Smoking in Reducing Smoking Related Fire Incidence, Morbidity, and Mortality”

Emily Sparer – “Improving Safety Climate and Reducing Injuries in Construction: The Role of Organizational Programs and Policies”

Oscar Arias – “Prevention of Musculoskeletal Injury Through Quantitative Assessment of Physical Exposure in Two Occupational Environments”

Alberto Caban-Martinez was nominated and appointed by the Massachusetts Medical Society to serve for a one year term on the Committee on Environmental & Occupational Health.

Last week the EPA Clean Air Research Center (CLARC) hosted the annual meeting of their Science Advisory Committee at Loeb House in Cambridge.  This was a very impressive display of the wide range of research being conducted by the CLARC team of investigators.  More than 50 investigators presented their recent air pollution research in oral summaries and in 45 posters.  This was a truly impressive display of the world leadership of this air pollution research program.  Congratulations to all the investigators in the CLARC Center, who are too numerous to name individually.  Special congratulations to Petros Koutrakis for his leadership of this Center, and Alice Smythe for her leadership in organizing this meeting.

This week we had the Second Nano-Symposium entitled “Working towards a sustainable nanotechnology industry: The importance of industry-academia partnerships in addressing environmental health and safety matters.  Thanks to Phil Demokritou and Joseph Brain for organizing, hosting and chairing sessions.  Enhua Zhou, Georgios Pyrgiotakis, Joel Cohen, and Akira Tsuda all made interesting presentations.  Thanks also to Melissa Curran for helping to organize the event.

On Tuesday of this week we had a working lunch for the department administrators.  We reviewed the Staff Survey conducted by the university last fall, and had an open and wide-ranging discussion of what it’s like for them to work in our department.  I learned a lot, and appreciated their suggestions about what we can do to improve our department.  As faculty and researchers, we sometimes get so wrapped up in preparing our grant applications, papers and coursework that we forget to thank our administrators for their hard work which make it all possible.  So, on behalf of the EH faculty, I would like to again thank all of the administrators and staff for their efforts to help us succeed.

Looks like a great weekend.  Enjoy it!



Notes – 5/23/12

I’m just back attending the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Conference in San Francisco.

I wanted to commend all of the HSPH post-doctoral presenters at the Liberty Mutual Occupational Safety and Health Seminar that took place on Monday at the Liberty Mutual facility in Hopkinton.  Silje Reme, Anna Wirtz, Gert Faber, and Lauren Murphy all did a fine job in showcasing the work that they have done.  Thank Ian Noyes and Ted Courtney for continuing to sponsor our post-docs in what has truly become a mutually beneficial program; our students get to do real world, practical research that helps to identify issues that can be used to lower industrial accidents.  We look forward to continuing this partnership with Liberty Mutual for many years to come.  Also thanks to Jack Dennerlein, who has mentored so many Liberty Mutual post-docs over the years.

In other news, Bernardo Lemos was selected to be an Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging.   Congratulations Bernardo for this highly competitive award!

Elsie Sunderland has an article in the May 20 issue of Nature Geoscience on why so much mercury is found in the Arctic, how it gets there, and the implications for the global health and environment.  A press release of the article can be found here.   The article was a joint effort between researchers from our Environmental Health Department and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).  It’s wonderful to see an inter-school collaboration that results in such important work.

Congratulations to Barbara Zuckerman who this evening is receiving the 2012 HSPH Staff Award from the student government called for exemplary staff who had made a difference in students’ lives. Excellent and well deserved recognition.

Lastly, it is great time of the year as we congratulate our graduating students. I am looking forward to greeting you at our department lunch on Thursday, and to congratulate you at the commencement ceremony.  This year’s graduating class includes:

Doctor of Science

Mohammad Alolayan
Kathie Dionisio
Shelley Ehrlich
Christina Fuller
Denise Marie Gaughan
Peter James
Angeliki Lambrou
Denise Lamoureux
Hyung Joo Lee
Aleksandar Marinkovic
Jennifer Nguyen
Wen Chi Pan

Master of Science

Sarah Alsamarai
Maria Harris
Lynn Onyebeke
Cheng Peng
Devankush Saha
Melissa Seaton
Chia-Hsi Tang
Matthew Tumpney
Eleanor Wade

Master of Public Health

Talib Ali
Kevin Johnson
Chun Lin Kwok
Beenish Mehboob
Simon Muchochi
Adesina Sanni
Dennis Teehan
Jinming Zhang

All of the Department of Environmental Health’s faculty and staff want to congratulate you on your achievements.  Please stay in touch with us as you go out into the world and no doubt do great things.  Hopefully our paths will cross many times in the coming years.




Notes – 5/11/2012

It is the last day of the academic year, and we’re as busy as ever.  I failed to send out the Notes last week, so there’s a lot of good news to report this week. Let’s get right to the news.

On Friday, April 20, the Community Outreach and Engagement Core(COEC) of the Harvard-NIEHS Center met with hundreds of children and families at the annual Cambridge Science Festival. Together with the NIEHS Center at MIT, the COEC put together a six-station exhibit called “A Closer Look at Exposures.” Ann Backus and Katy Terrell demonstrated how to measure airway health using peak flow meters and discussed environmental and lifestyle factors that impact breathing. Rumya Raghunath helped participants inflate real lungs and observe how a tumor can reduce lung function. Madeleine Straubel and Silje Reme used a computer program to show participants what they would look like when they aged depending on if they smoked, became overweight or obese, or had high sunlight exposures. MIT also brought a sizeable group of volunteers who used a LEGO set to teach about DNA damage from sun exposure and smoking and another LEGO set to show how incomplete combustion results in soot as well as CO2 and water.  All in all it was a successful event.

Thanks to Marshall Katler for organizing a visit from a group of 10th grade students from the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers.  I enjoyed speaking to them about environmental science.  Thanks to Ann Backus, Madeleine Straubel, Kasey Mitchell, and Alan Branco lab for taking them lab tours.  Also thanks to everyone else that contributed to the program by taking the time to talk to the students and answer questions.  It’s wonderful to see that we have people in our department willing to give of their time to hopefully spark interest in public and environment health for the upcoming generation.

Phil Demoukritou received a gift from the Panasonic Corporation to fund a post-doc in his nanotechnology lab.  They will also be lending his lab an air purification system (Nanoe-G) that will be used to train people in his laboratory.

Vasileia Varvarigou gave a terrific talk entitled “Cardiovascular deaths in US police officers: duty specific risks” at the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Fellows Program.

Rick Rogers received an award from the Office of Naval Research for a project entitled “Human genetic polymorphisms regulating cell and molecular pathways in NIHL.”

Several of our researchers, including Elsie Sunderland, Susan Korrick and Anna Choi, wrote a paper entitled “Which Fish Should I Eat?  Perspectives Influencing Fish Consumption Choices.”  It was selected as the “science selection” in the Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) June 1 edition.  Well done!

Matthieu Trudeau was selected as a finalist for NDI Young Investigators Award – PhD competition for an abstract he submitted to the Canadian Society of Biomechanics Conference 2012 to be held in Vancouver, BC, Canada, June 6-9. The paper’s title is “Thumb motor performance varies with thumb and wrist posture during single-handed mobile phone use.”  Congratulations, Matt, and good luck in the final round of the competition!

The Department was well-represented at the recent American Occupational Health Conference (AOHC) in Los Angeles by our residents, faculty and alumni. AOHC is the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).  Their contributions included a National Resident Research Award to post-doc, Vasilieia Varvarigou; a poster from resident Christine David; a session on physician leadership directed by Philip Parks and a research presentation from our own Stefanos Kales. Vasileia’s award was the 19th Resident Research Award won by HSPH since 2000! The highlight was an HSPH reunion dinner hosted by Stefanos and Erik Won, now at Boeing as a Corporate Medical Director, which was attended by over 25 current and former graduates of the occupational medicine residency at HSPH.

Finally, we wrapped up this academic year’s very successful EH Colloquium series this week with a presentation entitled “A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change: Adaptation in the Public Health Sectorfeaturing George Luber, Associate Director for Global Climate Change, National Center for Environmental Health.   This year’s theme, as suggested by the students and fellows in the HSPH Climate and Health Forum.   I thought it was a great success, and I want to thank the Forum and particularly Joel Cohen for their work in putting together such anoutstanding series of presentations by leaders in the field.  I would welcome proposals from students and researchers in our Department of a broad theme for our Colloquium series for the next academic year.  Please email Alissa Wilcox with your suggestions.  By the way, thanks Alissa for organizing the visits by the speakers and publicizing this series.

I hope everyone is relieved at the end of the semester.  We all are looking forward to graduation on May 24th!



Notes – 4/25/2012

Happy Administrative Professionals Day!  While one would hope that someone could come up with a better name, the concept is certainly correct.  We all depend on the professional administrative staff who make the Department and School function. I know I depend absolutely on the extraordinary administrative staff in the Department and the Program offices. I am sure that you know someone who makes your job easier. It’s a good day to say THANK YOU.

Hearty congratulations to Rose Goldman and Amy Cohen (from the Office for Educational Programs) on their awarding of Hauser Grant funding for their project, “Transforming stories and public health lessons of Ashland, MA into a multimedia case for learning,” which will pursue innovative teaching methods.  Well done, Rose and Amy!

Congratulations to Denise Lamoureux and Aleksandar Marinkovic who successfully defended their doctoral dissertations last week.  Denise’s dissertation was entitled “Effects of Fresh and Aged Vehicular Particulate Emissions on Blood Pressure and DNA Methylation in Normal Adult Male Rats,” and Aleksandar’s “Interactions of Matrix Stiffness and Cytoskeletal Tension in Lung Fibroblast Proliferation and Fibrogenesis.” See you at commencement on May 24th.

Last night Rich Wildman gave a terrific talk on the movement of chemicals through reservoirs and other engineered water systems at the Harvard University Center for the Environment.  Rich is completing his two years as a HUCE Fellow working with Jim Shine and Elsie Sunderland.  Nice work Rich.

David Christiani gave the John Butler Memorial Endowed Lecture at the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division at the University of Washington–Seattle last week. Well deserved honor David.

Finally, let us not forget that it is Earth Week.  Let me recommend that you participate the presentation on Friday (2PM, Kresge G3) by Greg Norris on “Handprints,” Greg’s terrific concept for measuring our positive environmental impacts!



Notes – 4/16/2012

A sure sign of spring is when the Red Sox fans start filling up Fenway Park and when people defend their dissertations.   I’m not sure how the Red Sox will do this year, but I am happy to congratulate our most recent group of students who successfully defended their dissertations:

  • Mohammad Alolayan – PM2.5 in Kuwait: Sources, Valuation of Mortality, and Benefits of Control
  • Shelley Ehrlich – Bisphenol A and Early Reproductive Health Outcomes in Women Undergoing Fertility Treatment
  • Denise Gaughan – Inflammatory Phenotypes in Firefighters
  • Peter James – The Effect of the Built Environment on Health and Health Behaviors
  • Hyung Joo Lee – Application of Satellite Remote Sensing and Spatial Clustering to Investigate Spatial Patterns of PH2.5 in the New England Region, U.S.”
  • Wen-Chi Pan – Assess the Role of Arsenic Exposure, Genetic Susceptibility, and Type 2 Diabetes

Also John Ji, Thuy Lam, and Marcela Tamayo y Ortiz successfully passed their oral qualifying examinations.

Achieving these milestones requires a lot of persistence and hard work, in addition to talent.  Each one of these students deserves our hearty congratulations.

Congratulations to Beenish Mehboob, an MPH student in our department who was on the winning team in HSPH’s first annual Spring Challenge.  This past week, her team presented their ideas at the State House.  Congratulations to Beenish, her teammates and everyone that participated in the Spring Challenge.

Last Tuesday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff visited Harvard to take part in the signing ceremony of a five-year fellowship agreement between her government and Harvard University.  This agreement includes formal support for our exchange program which places students from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sao Paulo in our labs here at HSPH and at HMS.  Thanks to John Godleski and Paulo Saldiva who lead and Patrice Ayers who coordinates this program.  Thanks especially to John for helping prepare this important agreement.

Antonella Zanobetti and colleagues had a PNAS paper published last week entitled “Summer Temperature Variability and Long-term Survival Among Elderly People with Chronic Disease,” in which they describe how even small increases in summer temperatures can result in increased mortality among the elderly with chronic diseases.  See the press release here.

On Thursday we celebrated the upcoming retirement of Tom Smith, who has been Director of the Industrial Hygiene Program since 1993, although his connection to our department goes back to 1977.  Tom’s colleagues, friends and family were happy to remind Tom of the joy and frivolity he has brought to his teaching and mentoring, memorable experiences from his research and field work, and the respect and admiration of his students and colleagues.  Congratulations to Tom on a distinguished career and we wish him the best of luck as he sails off in his boat, the “Dessert First.”  Thanks to everyone who helped put this fun evening together.

Finally, if your life depended on it, could you have spelled “Samizdat” before you read it here?  We know someone who could, and who was on the winning team at his town’s local spelling bee.  Congratulations to Liza, her mom and dad.



Notes – 3/31/12

This week we hosted the annual meeting of the NIEHS Environmental Health Core Centers, and celebrated the 50th anniversary of our own Harvard-NIEHS Center for Environmental Health. We have been eagerly anticipating and planning for this event for over a year, and I think it went about as well as it could possibly have gone.

We hosted the eighteen other Core Centers to share their research and vision, and to foster interaction. After a welcome from Dean Frenk at the Martin Conference Center, Linda Birnbaum, the Director of the NIEHS, gave a salute to our Center including specific highlights of our recent research accomplishments.  Linda spoke about the challenge of balancing the enormous needs of environmental public health research as it relates to public health with the fiscal realities that all of the NIH institutes are facing.  She was followed by Leslie Reinlib, Program Director of the NIEHS Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers, who announced a new grant mechanism to foster interactions between the Core Centers.  There was some great information presented, and we will post these presentations on the Center website.

We then heard from Sheila Newton, Director of the NIEHS Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation, who presented the new NIEHS strategic plan.  We split up into working groups to discuss the Themes of this Strategic Plan – Fundamental Research, Preventative and Translational Science, Exposure Research, Health Disparities and Global Environmental Health, Communication and Engagement, and Training and Education.  The working groups were charged with figuring out how the Centers could work as a network, how they could share data across centers, what are some complex questions that could best be addressed by a center approach, and what are the major challenges to achieving the stated goals.  Thanks to Ari Bernstein and Frank Speizer who led groups, and John Godleski, Enhua Zhou and Shelley Erhlich who served as reporters.

We all walked over to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for our 14th James L. Whittenberger LectureJoe Brain and Hannah Whittenberger, Jim’s granddaughter, gave moving remembrances of Dr. Whittenberger.  Gerald Wogan of MIT gave the keynote address.  In addition, the former and current directors of the NIEHS, Ken Olden, David Schwartz, and Linda Birnbaum gave remarks about the history and future of the Centers program. We then moved to the museum building for a reception and gallery viewing, followed by a light dinner.  A highlight of the evening was the chance for the young investigators to meet informally with all of the NIEHS leadership.

The next day was at the InterContinental Hotel on the waterfront.  We had presentations by our young investigators including Vishal Vaidya and David RichMike Stephens of the Association of Schools of Public Health gave a terrific talk on the NIH budget and prospects for extramural grants, and Gwen Collman, Director of Extramural Research at the NIEHS, described opportunities to apply to the NIH Common Funds program.   Simultaneously, the Community Outreach and Education Core (COEC) Directors had a lively and productive series of meeting largely organized by Ann Backus.

In the late afternoon, there was a tour and Community Forum on Asthma held at the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center.  This Community Forum addressed the environmental risk factors for asthma, and highlighted the work of Ann Backus and our COEC, Jack Spengler with the Boston Public Housing Authority, and Diane Gold.  The Forum included approximately a hundred community members, including local community group leaders, government leaders from the city and state, and the NIEHS leadership.  Thanks to Jalal Ghaemghami for moderating the discussion.

There are too many people to name individually that helped make this conference such a success, but please know I appreciate the efforts of everyone that contributed in any way.  I do have to give special notes of appreciation to Julie Goodman, who has worked tirelessly for months to coordinate all of the large and small details, Alissa Wilcox, who as always helped in ways too numerous to mention, and Ann Backus and Katy Terrell for their organization of the COEC activities.

Back here at HSPH, John Briscoe gave an interesting EH Colloquium lecture entitled “Water and Health (and climate change?)” on Thursday.  This week we will be welcoming Jonathan Patz who will present on “Global Climate Change and Health in a Low Carbon Economy” on Thursday (12:30, 1302).

Also on Thursday, Faye Grimsley will be presenting on the “Environmental and Social Impacts of Hurricane Katrina: The Ongoing Challenge” in the YerbyDiversity Lecture in Public Health (12:30 in G-1). Sorry about the conflict, but hope you can make one of these presentations.

Congratulations to Beenish Mehboob who was on the winning team of the HSPH Spring Challenge.  Over the past week ten teams have been learning the ins and outs of the legislative process and brainstorming on ways to put their big ideas into practice. On Friday each team presented a policy memo recommending ways to integrate prevention, wellness, and other public health initiatives into health care payment and financing reform efforts currently underway in Massachusetts. As winners, Beenish and her team will deliver its recommendations to an audience of high-level decision makers at the Massachusetts State House in April.  Thanks to Greg Wagner who coached one of the teams, and served as a judge.

Also on Friday, we hosted eight potential students at the Admitted Students Open House.  We have ten additional potential students coming Monday.  Please stop by for lunch on the 13th floor if you would like to meet some of these admitted students.  Thanks to Barbara Zuckerman, Rose West, Pat McGaffigan, and Patrice Ayers for organizing this important event.

Clearly this has been a week to remember.  Let’s do our best to make sure that in the next 50 years our department continues to have a major impact on meeting the challenges of the environmental threats to public health that we face.

Have a great weekend, everyone!



Notes – 3/24/12

As the temperatures have soared most of this week to record breaking levels, it has almost felt like summer even though we’re still in March.  I hope you were able to enjoy the weather as the Spring II semester begins.

In news of note, Akira Tsuda is just back from Japan where his findings published in the PNAS entitled “Nanoparticle Delivery in Infant Lungs” received considerable attention.  A popular Japanese newspaper interviewed Akira and covered the story. A more scientific write up can be found at the RSC site here.  Well done, Akira!

Samuel Forman, a Visiting Scientist in the EOME program, gave the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series Book Presentation this week.  Sam’s book was about Dr. Joseph Warren, a Revolutionary War hero who had a major influence on the American medical profession’s roots in public health before his untimely death on the battlefield.  Thanks for shining a light on a man whose contributions have been somewhat obscured by the passage of time, Sam!

I am pleased to congratulate Xiaobin Wang, one of our former post-docs, who was named the Zanvyl Krieger Chair in Children’s Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Joe Brain spoke at a symposium entitled “The Future of Child Health” given in honor of Xiaobin’s installation. It’s always a pleasure for me to hear of the achievements of our former trainees and alumni. Congratulations Xiaobin!

We are looking forward to next week, when we will host the national NIEHS Environmental Health Core Centers.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of our NIEHS Center grant.  We will celebrate with our James L.  Whittenberger Lecture on Tuesday.

Congratulations to Laurel Schaider and her husband, Grant, who welcomed their new daughter, Elena Maya Ho, on Wednesday, February 15 at 1:34 AM. Elena weighed in at 8 lbs & 5 oz and measured 20.5 inches in length.  Laurel reports she and Elena are doing great so far, and her older brother, Ethan (now 4) is getting used to sharing the attention and their home.


Lastly, we’re looking forward to John Briscoe’s lecture entitled “Climate Change, Water, and Health” on Thursday, March 29 from 12:30 – 1:20 in 1301 as part of our ongoing EH Colloquium series.

All in all, it’s sure to be a memorable week for our Department!



P.S. These notes are a little delayed as I struggle to learn how to use Outlook. Hope this works.

Notes – 3/10/12

I don’t want to speak too soon, but maybe this week’s warm weather indicates that we may have escaped a typically harsh New England winter after all.  You never know – don’t put away your mittens just yet!

Our students (and faculty and TAs) are enjoying a break next week.  Exams and projects are behind them as Spring I (one) came to a close this week.  Hope they come back refreshed from spring break.

Congratulations to Joel Schwartz and Katherine von Stackelberg, who received word that they will be receiving funding for their project entitled “Health Effects of Fuel Aromatics on in Tailpipe Emissions.”  Well done, Joel and Katherine!

Akira Tsuda and colleagues have a paper appearing this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the differences in particle deposition in infants compared to adults.  Look for a write-up on the HSPH web site.

Our EH Colloquium on Global Climate Change and Health continues.  Jonathan Foley, Director of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of the Minnesota, gave us a fascinating talk this week entitled “Can We Feed a Growing World Without Destroying the Planet?”  It was good to see our friends from Nutrition and other departments attend this lecture, which encompasses several different public health disciplines.  Our next colloquium on March 29 (12:30, Room I-1302) features John Briscoe speaking on “Water, Climate Change, and Health.

Joel Schwartz will be giving a lecture entitled “Simultaneously Mitigating Near-Term Climate Change and Improving Human Health and Food Security” at the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) on Monday, March 19th (12:30).

Greg Norris received a nice shout-out in Time magazine this week.  His idea for handprints – positive actions people/entities can take on the environment to reduce the effects of their carbon footprints – was prominently discussed in an Ideas column by Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

Our condolences go out to Christa Watson and her family on the passing of her father in Georgia.

IT starts converting our department’s staff and faculty email system to Outlook next week.  Students will remain on GroupWise.  I’m scheduled to switch over on Monday.  Wish me luck, or this might be the last Department Weekly Notes you get!

Take care all, and have a great weekend.



Notes – 2/17/12

I had a great time at the Celebration with the Stars yesterday, the school-wide event celebrating those of us with a milestone anniversary here at Harvard in 2011.  Our department was well represented by 21 long service faculty and staff.  Our 5 year recipients were Jaime Lichtenstein, Fei Liu, Francis Boudreault, Starr Sumptar, Asma Sharif, Enhua Zhou, and  David Gregory.  Our 10 yearrecipients were Zhiping Yang, Marc Weiskopf, Pat McGaffigan, Steve Melly, Ana Trisini Lipsanopoulos, Francine Laden, and Steve HannaAkira Tsuda has 15 years of service, Ramon Molina 20 years, David Christiani  25 years and Les Kobzik  30 years.  A cluster of EH colleagues started the same year as me 35 yearsago, including Sheila Stewart, Marshall Katler, and Patrice Ayers.   Finally,  Glenn Stern had the honor of introducing Joe Brain, who has been an active member of our department for 45 years(and shows no sign of slowing down).  I should add that Jack Little  is marking his 50th year with us this year.  Congratulations and thanks to our department Stars and all the Stars here at the School!

Speaking of “Stars,” we have received the disk with the pictures from the photo-booth at our Winter Celebration.  If you would like the digital version of your pictures, drop an e-mail request to Alissa (

In other news, all of the EH faculty and staff (but not the students) will be migrating email systems from GroupWise to Outlook in March.  I have heard from those who have moved already that they much prefer the Outlook server.  Information on the transition can be found at .  Your program administrators will be telling you more about it in near future; please read and respond to their messages in order to ease your  transition.

Tara Zolnikov published a paper in the journal Science of the Total Environment entitled “Limitations in small artisanal gold mining addressed by educational components paired with alternative mining methods”, which can be accessed here .  She will also be presenting her research at the Environmental Mutagens in Human Populations in Doho, Qatar.  Well done, Tara.

Lastly, we are preparing for our 50th anniversary of the Harvard-NIEHS Center for Environmental Health including the Whittenberger Lecture on March 28th.  We will be hosting the annual meeting of all the NIEHS Core Centers March 26 to 29th.  Any students, fellows or staff who would like to volunteer, please contact Julie Goodman (

I hope everyone enjoys the long weekend.



Notes – 2/12/12

Last week as I wrote, I was preparing for the SuperBowl, fully expecting the Patriots to erase the memory of the 2008 SuperBowl defeat in the final minutes by the Giants.  Have to put those thoughts behind us.

There are signs of spring with the Red Sox equipment truck leaving for Fort Meyers yesterday.  The days are getting longer by 2½ minutes every day.

There are several upcoming events this spring which you should put on your calendars.  On Tuesday, March 27th, we will have our James L. Whittenberger Lecture.  The lecture will be given by Professor Gerry Wogan of MIT.  This year we will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Harvard-NIEHS Center for Environmental Health, started by Professor Whittenberger in 1962.  The lecture will be given in the new concert hall of the  Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum, with a reception in the museum itself.  We are looking forward to a great evening.

As part of this 50th Anniversary celebration we will be hosting the annual meeting of all twenty four NIEHS Environmental Health Science Centers (March 26th to 29th).  There are many activities associated with this event including the first presentation of the 2012-2016 NIEHS Strategic Plan, research highlights by the Centers, and a Community Forum in Dorchester.  Much of the planning is being done by Julie Goodman, Ann Backus, Alissa Wilcox, and Kathryn Terrell. We are looking for help in hosting the meeting and the Community Forum.  This will be great opportunity to meet young investigators and leaders of the other Centers, and senior NIEHS staff.   If you would like to participate and help in these events, please send a note or e-mail to any of us.

In preparation for the Community Forum, Ann Backus, Director of our Outreach Program, is planning two Clean Air Fairs in Dorchester at the Viet AID Community Center on Saturday, February 25th, and the Richard J. Murphy School on March 3rd.  These Fairs will provide experiences to teach about asthma and environmental health. Ann Backus is looking for help in running these events.

Students and fellows also may be interested in two upcoming events being organized by the Center for Public Health Leadership.  The first is a series of three evening workshops on “Power and Differences” to develop leadership to work and interact effectively in a multi-cultural global world.  Registration ends tomorrow.

You will also be hearing soon about the “HSPH Spring Challenge” (March 22 to 30).   Teams of students and fellows will compete in devising recommendations for Massachusetts legislators on how to include prevention, health promotion, and public health measures into the current legislative process to reform the Massachusetts health care financing system.  The winning team will present their work to an audience of public officials at the Massachusetts State House in April.

It is going to be a busy Spring Semester.  Commencement is in 102 days (May 24th).  That means bound Dissertations are due in the Registrar’s office in 78 days (April 30th).  Time to get to work.


Notes – 2/4/12

I hope everyone enjoyed our Environmental Health Winter party on Thursday.  Although we have not have much winter weather, it was great to have celebrate all our sports teams on Ground Hog’s Day.  Nice reminder that spring is coming.  Thanks to everyone who brought their families.  It is terrific for me to meet them, especially all the new babies! Special thanks to Alissa Wilcox for arranging all the festivities, including the photo booth, balloon man, face painting, decorations and food.  We are looking for suggestions for our theme for next year.  (Disco?)

We have had a couple of very notable papers published lately.

Philippe Grandjean published a study in JAMA that found that PFCs were associated with lower immunity response in children.  More about his study can be found here.

John Briscoe was featured in an article in the latest edition of Harvard Magazine, where he talked about managing water resources on a local, national and international level.  More about the article can be found here.

And finally, Jack Dennerlein’s study about Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation, discusses the optimal position to hold a tablet computer from an ergonomic perspective.  His article was covered in a lot of the popular press, including the Boston Globe.  An article about his work can be found here.

I am going to get ready for the Super Bowl – Go Patriots!



Notes – 1/21/12

The Spring Semester starts on Monday, and I know many of us are just returning after taking advantage of the winter term for educational opportunities, recharging our batteries, or otherwise catching up.  I just returned Thursday night from an extended trip to Japan, where I was teaching my Principles of Environmental Health course at Teikyo University.  I met some the HSPH students who were just starting the winter visit to Japan.  This was followed by a week in Cyprus teaching Environmental Epidemiology to the Cyprus International Institute students.  There I saw our EH students who were taking the Environmental Genetics course with Pierre Zalloua and Adrienne Ettinger.  It was great to see many good friends, to share some terrific meals, to do a little sightseeing, and get a little sun.  Even though it started to snow on my way home from Logan airport Thursday night, I sure am glad to be back home in Boston!

Yesterday, I was happy to welcome to two people that have joined our Department.  First, our department is honored to host this year’s Yerby Visiting Scholar, Faye Grimsley, for the spring semester.  Faye is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She is a certified industrial hygienist with more than 20 years of experience. She has an MSPH in Industrial Hygiene from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and a PhD in Environmental and Industrial Hygiene from the University of Cincinnati. Faye’s research interests include indoor air quality, bioaerosols, and exposure assessment, with a particular interest in exposure characterization and control of indoor allergens, bacteria, mold, and the toxins they produce. Faye is sitting next to the conference room on the 13th floor.  She will be giving an introductory seminar soon, and helping teach some of our classes.  Please stop by to introduce yourself to her.

We also welcome Chris Kelly, our new Associate Director of Finance and the lead administrator in the MIPS program.  Chris has been at Harvard for several years, most recently as a Senior Grants and Contracts Administrator in the Office for Sponsored Programs in Central Administration.   Chris has experience in both pre- and post- award administration, and is just finishing up his MBA degree at Babson College.  Welcome Chris!

Hillel Alpert was lead author on a study in Tobacco Control that showed that nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine gum and nicotine replacement patches do not lead to improved long-term smoking cessation.  The study was featured in an article in the Harvard Gazette, but I saw it featured in news reports while traveling overseas.  Well done Hillel!

Looking out the window, I see the snow starting to pile up.  I hope you all enjoy this weekend and remember – Go Patriots!