Department Notes Archive – 2014

Department Notes – 2014

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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 – 12/19/2014

There 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!


Notes – 11/18/2014

First I am sad to report that our colleague John Briscoe passed away last week. John was a leading expert on water resources, and was a tremendous asset to our department and School, to the Kennedy School and SEAS, and to the university. In September, John was awarded the Stockholm Water Prize, the most prestigious award in global water management. The honor cited “his fusion of science, policy and practice, giving him unrivalled insights into how water should be managed to improve the lives of people worldwide.” He was an inspiring teacher and a global leader.  His obituary in the Washington Post can be found here.

On a happier note, we congratulate Jaime Hart on her well-deserved promotion to Assistant Professor at the Channing Laboratory, Harvard Medical School.

Phil Demokritou chaired the “Sustainable Nanotechnology” conference that took place in Boston this year from November 1st-to 4th.  The conference program brought together over 200 people from all nano-related disciplines and addressed the critical aspects of sustainable nanotechnology such as green synthesis, green energy, industrial partnerships, environmental and biological fate and transport of nanomaterials, environmental applications, tools for sustainability, food and agriculture, medical applications, nanobiology, etc. Thirteen members of our Department participated and presented their work including Joe Brain, Georgios Pyrgiotakis, Christa Watson, Georgios Sotiriou, Sandra Pirela, Anoop Pal, Nagarjun Konduru, Ramon Molina, Dilpreet Singh, Zhang Fang, Xiaoyan Lu, and Joel Cohen.

Many of our EH department researchers participated in the HSPH Poster Day. Two of them won awards. Congratulations to Sandra Pirela from the Demokritou lab, who won Best Student Poster Award for her poster entitled “Physicochemical and toxicological characterization of engineered nanoparticles emitted from laser printers: environmental implications?” The Best Overall Poster Award went to Youngji (Helen) Cho in Stephanie Shore’s lab for her poster entitled “The Effects of a Depleted Microbiome on Ozone-Exposed Mice.” Well done Sandra and Youngji, and thanks to everyone who participated by submitting a poster.

Andrea Baccarelli’s visiting Fulbright Scholar, Sudha Ramalingam, wrote a column entitled “The Stuff of Dreams” for a newspaper in India about her experiences leading up to and including her work in the lab.

Our department is going full speed ahead with a number of distinguished talks this week before the Thanksgiving holiday. On Tuesday, Dr. Luca Lambertini from Mt. Sinai presented a talk entitled “Genomic Imprinting and Development.”  On Thursday, November 20, Dr. Bongani Mayosi will present a Lown Scholars Program lecture entitled “The Health Status of South Africans – a Microcosm of the World.

And of course we’re all looking forward to the 17th annual Whittenberger lecture on Wednesday, November 19, at 4:00 in the Martin Center. We have a very special featured speaker this year, Dr. Stephanie London. Dr. London is the Deputy Chief of the Epidemiology Branch at NIEHS and Principal Investigator of the Genetics, Environment and Disease Group. Dr. London’s talk is entitled “Smoking and the Epigenome Across the Lifecourse.” All are invited and encouraged to attend the lecture and the reception afterward.


Notes – 10/31/2014

I’d like to start off by introducing Heather Burris, our newest faculty member in the department. Heather is an attending neonatologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her research focuses on how environmental and social exposures contribute to preterm birth and poor fetal growth. She is specifically interested in epigenetic mechanisms that may explain the associations between toxic exposures and birth outcomes. Heather’s mentorship team on her NIEHS K23 award includes Andrea Baccarelli and Robert Wright. Welcome to our department, Heather!

Ted Courtney has been named to the Board of Scientific Counselors at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health by Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell. Great news Ted.

Congratulations to Petros Koutrakis who signed a research agreement contract with HEI to study “Chemical and Physical Characterization of Non-Tailpipe and Talepipe Emissions at 100 Locations near Major Roads in the Greater Boston Area.”

David Christiani received a subcontract from BIDMC on a new R01 from the NHLBI entitled “Targeting the endothelium in sepsis.” Separately, David was named co-chair of the Human Studies Committee.  Congratulations on both accounts, David!

Andrea Baccarelli received a subcontract from LSU for a new NIDDK R01 grant entitled “Methylomics of prenatal GDM: Natural history and lifestyle intervention in children.”  Well done, Andrea!

You may have noticed several articles in recent editions of the Harvard Gazette that highlight our department’s strong ties with research in Mexico. We are very excited about our upcoming plans to study how the remarkable improvements in air quality in Mexico City have affected the health of the population. You can read about the work that Enrique Cifuentes and I are contemplating here. Ana Sandoval was quoted in an earlier article about it here, and you can read more about the Mexico City-Harvard Alliance for Air Quality and Health here. Enrique’s work was also featured in an earlier Gazette article about the health effects of eating fish taken from Lake Chapala on mothers and children here. I am delighted that our department has been so prominently featured by the Gazette’s articles that have publicized the many university initiatives that are currently taking place with Mexico.

Also in the Gazette, but dealing with issues much closer to home, was an article about the release of the university’s Harvard Sustainability Plan. Our own Jack Spengler and William C. Clark from the Kennedy School co-authored the plan, which boldly presents a holistic vision and set of priorities that aim to make Harvard University a healthier, more sustainable campus. Making Harvard a model of healthy sustainability has far-reaching implications well beyond its campus, and we are grateful that Jack has put so much effort into this worthy and highly influential project.

I want to publicly thank Julie Goodman for organizing a terrific NIEHS Center retreat that approximately sixty of our faculty and researchers attended. I also want to thank the featured speakers, including Ned Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum, and Linda Valeri, Gary Adamkiewicz, Christopher Hug, Francine Laden, and Joe Allen. Thanks also to the 16 people that presented posters and the ten brave souls who took part in the $10,000 Flash Funding Competition. The winners were determined by a vote of the attendees, and as it turns out we ended up having a tie between Jessica Savage’s Integrative Metabolomics in Childhood Asthma and Jia Zhong’s Exosome: a novel mediator of PM-induced airway constriction and lung inflammation. Both Jia and Jessica will receive $10,000 to fund their projects. Thanks also to Les Kobzik for playing the role of host in EH’s version of Jeopardy.  (I don’t think Alex Trebek has anything to worry about.)

Philippe Grandjean hosted a terrific PPTox meeting that featured NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum among other major luminaries in the field from around the world. Kudos for organizing this highly successful meeting.

Over in CHGE,  Jonathan Buonocore and Joel Schwartz launched a study entitled “Health Co-Benefits of Carbon Standards for Existing Power Plants.” This study received a good amount of publicity including in the Huffington Post.

It’s not all work and no play in this department. The department took the administrators out for a few hours last Friday to have a little fun bowling in appreciation of their hard work. Congratulations to Sara Akashian for being high scorer, and to Carla Silva for most improved bowler over the course of the day.  A fun time was had by all.

Speaking of fun, the EH Student Advisory Committee (SAC) has gotten off to a scary start. They organized a commuter rail trip up to Salem to visit a 3D haunted house last Saturday that everyone enjoyed. All EH students and post-docs are welcome to join this active and fun group. Contact Emily Eshleman for more information and upcoming activities.

I hope you all have a good Halloween and gave and got more treats than tricks.


Notes – 9/19/2014

Welcome to the new academic year, everyone!  I want to share some of the good news that has been happening in the department in the last couple of weeks.

First, I am delighted to congratulate Sam Myers on his well-deserved promotion to Senior Research Scientist.

Marc Weisskopf received a new NIEHS R01 grant entitled “Early and late-life metal exposures and Alzheimer’s disease.” Well done, Marc!

A couple of our students also achieved milestones in their academic careers. Jose Guillermo Cedeno Laurent (Memo) defended his dissertation entitled titled “Influence of Residential Indoor Environmental Quality on Students’ Health” and Christopher Zevitas defended his dissertation “An evaluation of carbon dioxide, ventilation, and noise in the aircraft cabin; implications on the health of passengers and crew.”  Also, Maria Korre passed her oral qualifying exam.  Congratulations to Memo, Chris and Maria!

On a slightly different note, we also want to share the wonderful news that Anthonia Grant in the EOME office gave birth to her daughter Avery.  I hear mother and baby are doing fine.

In other department news, our newly renovated classroom in Landmark 414A is now up and running. It features a smart board, two cameras, audio system and other equipment to enable video conferencing and recording capabilities. We look forward to learning how to best take advantage of all of the opportunities that this new technology has to offer.

Different groups in our department have hosted several meetings recently. Last Friday the Liberty Mutual Occupational Safety and Health Post-Doctoral FellowsDavid Swedler, Shiu-Ling Chiu, and Lauren A. Murphy, presented their work at the semi-annual Work in Progress seminar.  This was the last WIP Seminar for Chief Research Fellow Alberto Caban-Martinez who has taken a faculty position at the University of Miami. Good luck to all these outstanding fellows.

This week the Lown Scholar Program the launched the Lown Lecture Series, which will be held throughout the 2014-2015 academic year.  Lown scholars, Lown faculty, and others interested in preventing cardiovascular disease gathered to share research and ideas, and discussed the upcoming activities of the Lown Scholar Program during the coming year. Thanks to Joe Brain, Lisa Boehm and Nancy Long-Seiber for organizing.

The Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHGE) also hosted their annual retreat which brought together Center members with their advisory board and corporate council to talk about the exciting initiatives that the Center is working on. Many innovative ideas were generated for potential collaboration and expansion. Thanks to Nicole Bellisle, Marcella Franck, Kim Riek, Cathryn Buonocore, and Tracy Sachs for organizing a terrific meeting.

This week marks National Postdoc Appreciation Week.  On behalf of the EH faculty, I would like to thank the postdocs in our department for their tireless work and dedication to research.  As every faculty member knows, postdocs play a vital role in making our research possible.

Lastly, there are a number of upcoming events that I want to highlight. First, November 7 is HSPH Poster Day, which is open to all postdocs and students. For the first time, HSPH will be using electronic poster boards (ePosterBoards) for this event. On-site demonstrations will be on Thursday, September 25 from 12:00-12:30  and 12:30-1:00 in Kresge G2.  Abstracts are due October 3rd.

Also, the NIEHS Center Retreat will be held on October 17.  You can find many more events on our department website calendar here.

And, don’t forget our “Welcome Back” celebration to be held this coming Monday, September 22 from 3:30 – 6:00 in the cafeteria. I encourage everyone to drop by and say hi. I particularly look forward to greeting any new students that I have not had the pleasure to meet yet. See you there!

Don’t forget to “Talk Like a Pirate” today. Arrrgh!!!


Notes – 8/22/2014

We have a few nice department news items to share this week.

Russ Hauser was notified that he will be awarded two new NIEHS grants, an R01 entitled “Human exposure to Bisphenol A and Phthalates and Fertility, Pregnancy Outcomes” and an R21 entitled Environmental Chemicals, Exosomal miRNAs in Ovarian Follicles, and IVF Success.  Well done, Russ!

Phil Demokritou has been awarded an NSF grant entitled “Thermal Decomposition/incineration of Nano‐Enabled Products (NEPs): Environmental Health and Safety Implications.” Congratulations Phil!

Congratulations to authors Sam Myers, Antonella Zanobetti, Itai Kloog, Joel Schwartz, and their collaborators for publishing a letter entitled “Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition” in the June 5 edition of Nature.

We also congratulate Christopher Golden for co-authoring an article in the July 25th edition of Science entitled “Wildlife decline and social conflict.” By the way, National Geographic put up a nice video and profile of Chris that you can view here.

Don Kriens successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Modeling Variability in Exposure and Risk of Disinfection Byproducts in U.S. Cities; An Intervention Benefit-Cost Analysis.” Well done Don!

Alex Lu gave a “Hot Topics” talk on bees that was covered by the Harvard Gazette in an article that you can find here.

Next, three of our administrative team graduated from the REACH Foundation course. This is a 13 week course that is designed to give administrators a comprehensive understanding of the administration of sponsored research projects at Harvard from proposal to closeout, and to introduce key resources for the further development of participant knowledge and expertise. Congratulations to Juliana Rosario, Rachel Link and Sara Akashian for this achievement!

Lastly, I am honored to be named the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Environmental Epidemiology. This professorship is given to support the Chair of the EH Department (and the Chair of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, Dr. Ichiro Kawachi). I appreciate the generous support of Loeb family.

Next week many of our faculty will be attending the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology conference in Seattle. Back here in Boston, we will welcome our new students to start the new academic year. We’re all looking forward to an exciting new academic year!


Notes – 7/4/2014

First, welcome to Gary Adamkiewicz, our new Assistant Professor of Environmental Health and Exposure Disparities. Gary has been a valued member of our department for many years. After receiving his PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT, Gary began working at the Channing Lab as a research fellow in 2000. He joined our department as research associate in 2003. Gary’s research interests focus on the connections between housing, the indoor environment and health, with a particular emphasis on low-income communities. Utilizing fieldwork, laboratory, risk assessment and modeling methods, he works to identify key determinants of health and to ultimately design interventions which modify those determinants within the built environment. Gary also leads the “Farm to Fork: Why What We Eat Matters” course at the Extension School. Please join me in congratulating Gary on this appointment.

On June 13th we recognized the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Residents who have completed their two year residency program: Michael Shusko, Sharon Lee, and Diane Chen. Stefanos Kales, director of the OEMR, thanked Dr. Shusko for his excellent leadership as Chief Resident and welcomed Laurent Benedetti as the incoming Chief Resident. The residents presented James Stewart with the outstanding academic faculty award and Al Rielly with the outstanding clinical faculty award. Congratulations to these residents and thanks to Jim and Al for their outstanding mentoring.

Congratulations also to Dhananjay Tambe, a Research Associate in MIPS who will be leaving us this summer to become an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Alabama. Dhananjay will also have a joint appointment with the Department of Pharmacology and Center for Lung Biology. Best of luck in your new position, Dhananjay!

Lastly, welcome our department’s incoming new students who will join us later this summer:

Morteza Asgarzadeh, Deborah Barbeau, Madeleine Bartzak, Li Gao, Ya Gao, Andi Gordon, Yuanyuan Hu, Xin Jiang, William Journeay, Samantha Lapehn, Cheng-Kuan Lin, Elizabeth Loehrer, Kevin Loh, Bryant Martin, Rosie Martinez, Rachael Rodriguez, Renee Salas, Rory Stewart, Samuel Turner, Jeffrey Vogel,  Xulan Zhang, and Yinnan Zheng.

In addition, congratulations to our masters students who graduated and will be starting in our doctoral program: Shangzhi Gao, Kelsey Gleason, Xindi Hu, Linyan Li, Piers MacNaughton, and Ran Rotem.

Have a great 4th of July holiday, everyone!



Notes – 6/22/2014

A lot has been going on lately. The Center for Health and the Global Environment moved up to Landmark 4th floor.  This represents a major change for those on that floor, and I appreciate the patience and flexibility of everyone, especially those that changed office locations. There will be another phase of renovations on the floor, so your continued patience is also appreciated! I would particularly like to thank Ashley Fratus, Tali Levin-Schwartz, Tracy Mark, Tracy Sachs, and Joan Arnold for their help in making this all happen.

Renovations have also just begun on the ground and basement floors of Building 1. This is another project that will affect several labs on those floors. So a lot of physical space improvements are happening within our department!

In other news, congratulations to Russ Hauser for his new R01 from NIEHS entitled “Maternal and Paternal Flame Retardant Exposure, Impact on Fertility and Pregnancy.” This project will explore both the maternal and paternal contribution of flame retardants, as well as their joint effects (i.e., interactions), on clinical pregnancy outcomes. Clinical outcomes of interest include oocyte fertilization, implantation failure, pregnancy loss and live birth.

Congratulations also to Peggy Lai of the EOME program for having the best abstract and winning the David Bates Award at the American Thoracic Society EOH section. Jin-Ah Park in MIPS won the Ann Woolcock Award at the ATS conference for outstanding contributions and future promise in asthma research.  Well done, Peggy and Jin-Ah!

Bernardo Lemos was mentioned in a Harvard Gazette article about winners of the Star Family Challenge for Promising Scientific Research.

Phil Demokritou’s work was referenced in an article published in the Economist about how water particles could protect against bacterial infections.

As mentioned previously, Alex Lu, Marc Weiskopff and Gary Adamkiewicz participated in an HSPH Forum panel that explored pesticides, food, health, and policy. You can now view it here.

It’s always good to hear how are graduates are faring. Kathleen Attfield has been selected for the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) fellowship starting in July. She will work in the California Department of Health’s Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control with Gayle Windham and Barbara Materna as supervisors. Mateusz Karwowski, the current Children’s Clinical Fellow in Pediatric Environmental Health working with Bob Wright, has also been accepted into the EIS and will be working in the NCEH Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects/Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch in Atlanta. We welcome updates from all our graduates and fellows.

Iny Jhun successfully defended her doctoral dissertation titled “The Impact of Air Quality Regulations and Climate Change on Air Pollution Trends.”Well done Iny!

MIPS had its annual food fest. Congratulations to Archana Swami for her grand prize winning “Party in the Mouth” creation, and to all the other winners:

Main Dish:
1st Place – Archana Swami                  “Party in the Mouth”
2nd Place – Rose Filoramno                “Asian Quinoa”
3rd Place – Zhiping Yang                    “Kung Pao Chicken”

Dessert Group #1:
1st Place – Glen Deloid                       “7-Layer Nut Pastry”
2nd Place – Adam Bartos                     “Hungarian Poppy Seed Bread”
3rd Place – Helen Cho                         “Nut Tartlet”

Dessert Group #2:
1st Place – Ana Carolina de Souza      “Italian Pie”
2nd Place – Jessica Adamucho           “Chocolate Almond Pave”
3rd Place – Maureen McGill                “Tahini Swirl Brownies”

A fun time was had by all.

Speaking of fun times, June is a great month for weddings and I know of at least two people within our department that got married. Congratulations and best wishes to grant manager Isabelle Altman and her new husband, and doctoral student Mohammad AlSeaiden and his new wife Katerina.


Notes – 5/26/2014

With commencement this week, everyone is eagerly looking forward to wrapping up the academic year. We also have several items of exciting news in our department to report.

First, congratulations to Christopher Golden, who was named a National Geographic 2014 Emerging Explorer. Read his profile in National Geographic here, and his feature on the HSPH website here. Christopher spoke about the work he is doing at our latest EH Colloquium series last week. Well done!

Next, congratulations to Sam Myers, lead author on an article published in Nature entitled “Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition.”This article received broad international press coverage from leading newspapers and radio stations around the world. It was also featured on the HSPH website. Sam also talked to us about this research at the final EH Colloquium session last week. Again, congratulations Sam and fellow Environmental Health co-authors Antonella Zanobetti, Itai Kloog, and Joel Schwartz, as well as all of the other co-authors of this paper from across Harvard and the globe.

Next up, Alex Lu’s article on bee colony collapse was published in the Bulletin of Insectology and was picked up by the Harvard Gazette here  as well as many other outlets in the popular press.  This article confirms Alex’s earlier theory about the causes of colony collapse disorder. Well done, Alex!

Look foran article about Phil Demokritou’s work on nanoparticles is in the spring edition of Harvard Public Health.

We also want to congratulate Bernardo Lemos, who received a Star Family Challenge Award for his project entitled “Epigenetic adaptations to extreme stress.”

Lastly, congratulations to EH graduating student Kelsey Gleason. Kelsey will be receiving the James H. Ware Award for Achievement in the Practice of Public Health as part of the graduation ceremonies.  We’re delighted that Kelsey will be continuing her work with us as a doctoral student. Well done Kelsey!

Congratulations to all of our students who have completed another semester. I hope you get out and enjoy the beautiful spring weather in Boston!


Notes – 5/5/2014

Around this time of year, our students and faculty are busy preparing for finals and wrapping up research projects as the end of the spring term comes in sight. We have some updates to report.

First, please join me in congratulating Steve Rudnick on his well-deserved promotion to Senior Lecturer of Industrial Hygiene Engineering. Steve has been a mentor to scores of students and faculty over the 40+ years that he has been in our department, and he has contributed much to the richness of both the research and teaching.

Next, congratulations to John Godleski, who has been formally chosen to be the HSPH faculty coordinator for the Brazil-Harvard Science without Borders program. John has long been active in bringing Brazilian medical students to HSPH for research and training, and it is wonderful that he is being recognized for his efforts.

Juan Carmona received an F32 award entitled “Mitochondriomic Biomarkers of Air Pollution Exposure and Respiratory Function.” Congratulations Juan!

Several of our students successfully defended their dissertations recently:
Sonia Rosner in MIPS defended her dissertation entitled “Airway dynamics and the role of zyxin.”
Yang (Sophia) Qiu in EER also defended her dissertation entitled “Residential Exposure to Indoor Air Pollutants in Urban Public Housing in Boston, MA.”
Angela Tianteng Fan also successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Cardiovascular and Epigenetic Effects of Occupational Metal Exposure.”

Congratulations Sonia, Sophia and Angela!


Thanks again to the EH Student Advisory Committee for organizing a series of five very successful panel discussions over the past few weeks (see the previous Department Notes). Have fun at the upcoming “School’s Out for Summer Potluck” on May 7.

A couple of our students and fellows have had serious accidents this year while walking or biking in and around Boston. While biking can be fun and healthy for you and the environment, please please please take care when enjoying this activity or crossing the street. Boston roads and drivers are not necessarily as kind to bicyclists and pedestrians as they should be! Test your “rules of the road” knowledge from Masco here and check out some bicycle safety suggestions here.

Lastly, our thoughts are with Barbara Phelps, a long-time friend and colleague who worked on the Six Cities Study with many of us, as she recovers from a stroke. Her family set up a facebook page here for those that wish to follow her progress.

The beautiful Boston spring weather has arrived, and I hope you take the time to get out and enjoy it!  Happy Cinco de Mayo!


Notes – 4/11/2014

April is always a busy month, and this year is certainly no exception. We once again have lots of good news to report.

First, we welcome Joseph Allen to our department’s faculty.  Joe joins us as Assistant Professor of Exposure Assessment Science.  Joe’s latest work involves studying flame retardants used in furniture.  Joe joins our EER program.  Please join me in welcoming Joe to our faculty.

Next, the Stockholm International Water Institute announced that John Briscoe will receive the Stockholm Water Prize, which is known informally as the “Nobel Prize of Water.”  John was featured in an HSPH featured article here, which has a link to the official announcement.  Congratulations John for receiving this major award in recognition of your work involving local and global water management issues, which has literally benefitted millions of people.

Congratulations to Glenn Deloid, Joel Cohen, and colleagues for their article entitled “Estimating the effective density of engineered nanomaterials for in vitro dosimetry” in Nature Communications. HSPH featured the article on its website here, and the article itself can be found here.

Sam Myers published an important paper in PNAS entitled “Human health impacts of ecosystem alteration.” The abstract can be found here. Well done Sam!

Spring is a time when our doctoral students defend their dissertations and, in the process, show the fruits of what their long hours of work over the past several years have produced. It is a major milestone in their academic careers, and we congratulate them for successfully persevering. We have a number of successful dissertation defenses to announce – congratulations to all!!

Yongmei Shen: “Improving the assessment of bioaccessibility of heavy metals in soils.”

Marcela Tamayo y Ortiz: “Prenatal exposure to lead and stress, the developing hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and infant neurodevelopment.”

Oscar Arias: “The Physical Demands Across Three Different Jobs: Healthcare, Commercial Construction and Mining.”

Catlin Powers: successfully defended her dissertation, “Health and lifestyle impacts of improved cookstoves among pastoralists in Qinghai, China.” (By the way, check out the HSPH website feature on Catlin’s work here).

Thuy Lam: successfully defended her dissertation “Prepubertal serum organochlorine pesticide concentrations and pubertal development in a cohort of Russian boys.”

Christine Dobson: “Cadmium exposure biomarkers, fetal growth indices, and placental leptin expression in a Bangladesh birth cohort.”

Ruoxi Hu: “Exploring the role of microRNAs in airway smooth muscle biology and asthma therapy.”

Congratulations to Marie-Abèle Bind who has been selected as a HUCE Environmental Fellow. She will be working with Donald Rubin in the FAS Department of Statistics.  Her research will explore how temperature increases due to climate change will impact cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, especially in susceptible populations. She will also examine epigenomics data with the goal of identifying new biological mechanisms involved in producing adverse health effects from higher temperatures.

This week I had the good fortune to interview Lois Gibbs, Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, as part of HSPH’s Decision Making:  Voices from the Field series. Lois spearheaded the famous Love Canal Homeowners Association which ultimately changed the way local, state and federal policies dealt with the health effects caused by polluted land and water. They should be posting the video soon at; it’s well worth a look.

Before closing I have to mention what an extraordinary job our students have done this year by creating the EH Student Advisory Committee (SAC). They have planned several upcoming events that I expect will help their fellow students explore the multiple options that they may want to consider in the future. The committee consists of Chi-Hsuan Chang, Chrisy Chantarasopak, Frank Chu, Emily Eshleman, Kelvin Fong, Shangzhi Gao, Yichen Guo, Rui Hu, Xindi Hu, Jina Kim, Hannah Laue, Mallory LeBlanc, Linyan Li, Pi-I (Debby) Lin, Feiby Nassan, Amelia Valberg, Ana Sandoval, Katie Taylor, Yinyin Xu, Yi Zhang. If you would like more information about the EH SAC or joining, please contact Emily Eshleman at  Thanks to all of them for contributing to the vibrancy of our department.

Upcoming SAC events include:

Friday, April 11, 2014:  Academic Careers Panel
Petros Koutrakis, PhD, Zhao Dong, ScD, Jaime Hart, ScD
12:30 – 1:20 pm, Kresge 204.  Lunch provided.
Contact Hannah Laue ( for more information

Monday, April 14, 2014  Consulting Careers Panel
12:30 – 1:20 pm, HSPH, Building 1, Room 1302.  Lunch provided.
Contact Hannah Laue ( for more information

Thursday, April 17, 2014  SM to ScD: Transitioning to the EH Doctoral Program
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm, HSPH, Building 1, Room 1302.  Dessert provided.
Contact Katie Taylor ( for more information

Wednesday, April 23, 2014  Industrial/Occupational Hygiene Careers Panel
12:30 pm – 1:20 pm, FXB G11.  Lunch provided
Contact Hannah Laue ( for more information

Thursday, May 1, 2014  NGO Careers Panel and Reception
Panel: 5:00 – 6:00 pm, Reception: 6:00 – 8:00 pm HSPH, Building 1, Room 1302
Contact Hannah Laue ( for more information

Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 1st Annual School’s Out for Summer Potluck
4:00 pm, HSPH Building 1, 13th Floor.  Email Invitation Will be Sent to student’s HSPH Email.
Contact: Chrisy Chantarasopak ( for further information.

As you can tell from these notes, the department is humming along on all cylinders as we come into the home stretch of the academic year.


Notes – 3/18/2014

We have lots to report as we head into spring break.

Congratulations to Hyang-Min Byun for receiving an R21 from the NIEHS for the proposal entitled “Platelet Mitochondrial Epigenetics:  New CVD Markers of Particle and Metal Effects.” Well done!

Birgit Claus-Henn was named by the Academic Pediatric Association as the 2014 recipient of the Michael Shannon Research Award. Also, Alex Carll was notified that he will receive the Cardiovascular Toxicology Specialty Section’s Impact Award at the Society of Toxicology Meeting this month. Congratulations on these fine achievements, Birgit and Alex!

Working with colleagues from the University of Utah, Jim Butler was co-author of a publication in the February 20 issue of Nature entitled “Unidirectional pulmonary airflow patterns in the savannah monitor lizard.” Nice job, Jim.

Georgios Sotiriou, Christa Watson, Kimberly Murdaugh, Georgios Pyrgiotakis, Joe Brain and Phil Demokritou published a paper in the February 3 issue of Environmental Science Nano entitled “Engineering safer-by-design silica-coated ZnO nanorods with reduced DNA damage potential.” It was referred to in the RSC’s journal Chemistry World and the Harvard Gazette. Congratulations to the nano team!

Congratulations to Helen Cho in MIPS who passed her qualifying exam.

Lancet Neurology published a study by Philippe Grandjean and Philip Landrigan entitled “Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity.” It was also featured on the HSPH website here.

A group of Belmont high school students interviewed me as part of their science video project.  Just for fun you might want to watch it here.

Finally, at the end of February, the School held the Centennial Celebration of the Stars event which recognized employees who completed milestone work anniversaries in 2013. As usual, a number of people in our department were honored:

Five years:  Ki-do Eum, Shona Fang, Katherine Herz, David Kasahara, Alex Lu, Raymond Oh, Ivan Pantic, Kim Riek, and Elsie Sunderland
10 years:  Gary Adamkiewicz, Jane Burns, Alexey Fedulov, Julie Goodman, and Zhaoxi Wang
15 years:  Renee Costa, Phil Demokritou, Jack Dennerlein, Alice Smythe, and Rose West
20 years: Tom Donaghey, Tania Kotlov, and Tracy Mark
25 years:  Jeff Fredberg
35 years:  John Evans and John Godleski
40 years:  Jack Spengler

Congratulations to all 26 of our honored stars, and thanks for your contributions to our department and the school!

For those like me that are traveling during spring break, I hope you are enjoying yourselves. Let’s hope that warmer weather greets us as spring officially starts at the end of this week.


Notes – 2/12/2014

Just back from the Centennial Time Capsule Celebration in which Dean Frenk placed the placed the HSPH Time Capsule in the wall in the FXB lobby.  For EH department we contributed two doctoral theses from 1923 and 2013 which span the history of the Department  The first, “Distribution of Lead in the Organism in Acute and Chronic Lead Poisoning,” was submitted by Annie Stone Minot in May 1923. The second, “Effect of Lead Exposure on Neuromotor Function and Movement Disorder,” by John Ji was submitted in May 2013. While 90 years apart, both deal with the insidious effects of exposure to lead.  I also included a letter to the Chair of our Department in 2063, a copy of which is attached.

Jack Spengler just received word that he will be receiving a major award from the JPB Foundation to establish the JPB Environmental Health Fellows Program.  This new program will bring together a cohort of junior faculty and staff scientists from around the country.  It has two main goals:  First, to have the fellows collaborate on issues related to urban environmental health problems, particularly those problems that adversely affect children of low income families; and second, to develop the careers of environmental health researchers dedicated to multi-disciplinary research and teaching careers that focus on urban health in low-income communities.  We congratulate Jack for devising this concept, and for obtaining the funding for such a novel and worthy venture!

The Community Outreach and Engagement Core of the NIEHS Center organized an environmental health awareness event at the Dorchester Winter Farmers’ Market last weekend.  You can see some pictures of it here.

Justin Yang and colleagues had an interesting article entitled “Modified Mediterranean Diet Score and Cardiovascular Risk in a North American Working Population” published in PLOS ONE.  The article was featured on the HSPH website here, and the article itself can be found here.

Congratulations to Julie Goodman and Alice Smythe who completed the HSPH’s Research Administration Boot Camp.

Those of you who attended our very fun Star Wars-themed department party may be experiencing post-party blues.  Fear not!  I invite you to join us tomorrow for our next social gathering party this Thursday, February 13 at 4:00 in the cafeteria.  We are co-sponsoring this party with the Epi Department, so come on down and meet some new and old friends for food, drinks, music and karaoke.  Though not inter-galactical, this promises to be an inter-departmental fun time.  I hope to see you there!


Notes – 2/2/2014

I’ll start with a hearty welcome back to all of our faculty and students who were traveling during winter session.  It was great to see so many people show up for our welcome back party this week. I was pleased that I wasn’t the only Star Wars character to show up! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did catching up and meeting old and new friends and their families. Thanks to Alissa Wilcox for coordinating all of the details to make it such a great event.

We’ve had several significant achievements of note in our department in the past week. First, congratulations to Allan Just of the Baccarelli lab, who received a K99 from NIEHS for his project entitled “Prenatal Exposure to Endocrine Disrupters, DNA Methylation, and Childhood Obesity.”  That’s a great way to start the new year, Allan!

Philippe Grandjean received an R21 also from NIEHS for his application entitled “Gut Microbiome in Adults with Early Life Exposures to Environmental Chemicals.”  Well done, Philippe!

Georgios Pyrgiotakis’ paper “A Chemical Free, Nanotechnology-Based Method for Airborne Bacterial Inactivation Using Engineered Water Nanostructures” is the lead article, and his artwork is on the cover of the premiere issue of a new journal entitled “Environmental Science: Nano.” Congratulations Georgios and your co-authors.

Congratulations to Yohann Grondin, who received a well-deserved promotion to Research Scientist. Yohann works in Rick Rogers’ lab in MIPS.

We bid a fond farewell to Raymond Oh, a post-doc who is leaving our MIPS program to go into industry.

Marc Weisskopf organized the first NIEHS Metals Core Research Day at Landmark where researchers displayed posters and talked with each other about their work.  Some seeds for interesting ideas and collaborations were sown.  Thanks to Marc and Jeff Adams for organizing this event!

A number of our fellows presented at the Liberty Mutual Safety and Health Post-Doctoral Fellow Work in Progress Seminar. Lauren Murphy discussed “Advancing Safety Climate Research: Investigating the Construction and Trucking Industries.”  Shiu-Ling Chiu presented “Assessing Lower Limb Inter-joint Coordination and its Association with Balance Control during Stair Negotiation in Elder Adults.David Swedler talked about “Epidemiologic Analyses of Occupational Injury Risk,” and Candace Nelson spoke about “Staying Healthy in the Workplace.” Thanks to Alberto Caban-Martinez and Ted Courtney for arranging, and to the mentors at Liberty Mutual, UMass Lowell and UMass Amherst for making this another successful seminar. We appreciate this partnership, which is a great model of a longstanding, mutually beneficial relationship.

We are just now finalizing our decisions regarding student admissions for next year. I would like to thank David Christiani, Jim Shine, and all of the faculty that helped us review the applications under such tight deadline pressure.  I also want to thank the administrators who helped coordinate the process, especially Barbara Zuckerman, Laura Morariu and Rose West.  It truly takes a village!

Although our beloved Patriots did not quite make it, I hope those that are football fans enjoy the Super Bowl this weekend.


Notes – 1/25/2014

Those of us that have stayed in the Boston area during the winter break know what a cold month of January this has been.  For those that have been traveling in warmer climates, consider yourselves lucky!

This month we welcomed our newest cohort of Brazilian students, who are settling in to Boston and are excited to start their research projects.  Please join me in welcoming them all to our department’s MIPS program: Afonso Bento, Beatriz Lima, Danilo Bacic Lima, Douglas Hidalgo Zati, Eduardo Toledo, Flavia Mascarenhas Damiani, Hugo Hirano, Juliana Saran Carneiro, Luiza Martins de Oliveira, Maria Beatriz Lacerda Coelho de Paula, Melina Valdo, and Samir Crespo. 

Congratulations to Marie-Abele Bind, a dual degree doctoral student in Environmental Health and Biostatistics, for successfully defending her dissertation entitled Statistical methods to investigate the role of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms in air pollution and temperature health effects. 

I also want to mention that Phil Demokritou demonstrated the international interest in his work when he was interviewed for a story about his engineered water nanostructures as disinfectants.   For those that speak German, the interview can be found here.

I’m looking forward to welcoming everyone back from winter session next week.  If you haven’t already, please remember to RSVP and join us for our department’s annual holiday party.  This year we will have a Star Wars theme.  So grab your light sabers and head on down to cafeteria this coming Thursday, January 30 at 4:00 p.m.  It should be a lot of fun!  See you there.

Darth Dockery

Notes – 1/11/2013

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome to 2013!  Many of our students are enjoying winter session, while those of us here in Boston are very working on projects, grants, and budgets.

Our partnership with Liberty Mutual goes back many decades, and has this afternoon I had the pleasure of listening to presentations of the current Liberty Mutual Occupational Safety and Health Post-Doctoral Fellows at the semi-annual Work in Progress Seminar.  Congratulations to Lauren Murphy for her talk entitled “Different Perspectives in Safety Climate Research:  Investigating the Construction and Trucking Industries”; Candace Nelson, for her presentation on “Assessing and Creating Organizational Support for a Healthier Workforce,” and Sohit Karol, for speaking about “Incorporating Motor Synergies in the Design and Evaluation of Computer Based Work Environments.”  Thanks to Chief Research Fellow Alberto Caban-Martinez and Ted Courtney from Liberty Mutual for helping to organize the event.

Congratulations to Jack Spengler for getting a grant from China Vanke Company for a new study entitled “Healthy Housing China: A Pilot Project.”

We also heard the sad news that one of our former researchers, Vilma Hunt, passed away on December 29 at the age of 86.  Vilma worked in our Department from 1962 through 1966, first as a research associate with Ben Ferris and then as a Visiting Scientist.  Vilma is remembered as an energetic researcher who had an abundance of curiosity and vigor.  While at HSPH she researched radiation in cigarette smoke.  She went on to teach environmental health at Yale and Penn State.  Her career also took her to the EPA where she was an assistant administrator involved in the health effects of environmental poisoning, including the infamous Love Canal toxic waste dump and the Three Mile Island nuclear plant disaster.  In her career she was a dentist, scientist, researcher, writer, environmental activist, and feminist.  You can find her obituary here.  She lived life to its fullest, and we are proud to have been associated with her.

Finally, we’re very excited to spread the word that the Center for Health and the Global Environment will be sponsoring a talk by former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore on Wednesday, February 6 at 7:00 p.m. at Memorial Church in Harvard Yard.  For information and to register please click here, but please note seating will be on a first come, first served basis.

I hope everyone has a good weekend to start this new year.