Department Notes Archive

We are in the process of updating our Department Notes Archive on this new HSPH website to make it more functional.  Thank you for your patience!

Notes – 12/23/2015

Now that finals have been taken and people head toward their well-deserved break, I want to acknowledge a few important recent accomplishments and noteworthy events from members of our department.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), with the support of two grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, has announced that it is forming an initiative called the Planetary Health Alliance.  Its purpose is to support scientists investigating the effects of the changing environment and health, to explore what can be done about it.  Congratulations to Sam Myers, who was named Director of the Project, and Chris Golden, who will serve as the Associate Director.  Our Department and the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) will participate jointly in the Planetary Health Alliance.  An article about it can be found in the Harvard Gazette here.

Congratulations to Jaime Hart (first author) and Francine Laden for their article that appeared in the Journal of the American Heart Association Report that suggests that air pollution is a cause of increased cardiovascular risks in women, and that women with type 2 diabetes are particularly susceptible. The school ran about the article here.

On a more local level, student Erica Walker’s research on noise levels around Boston and their effects on people was featured in articles on the HSPH website here and in the Dorchester Reporter article here.

Finally, CHGE’s own Jack Spengler and Ari Bernstein participated in a Forum that discussed Climate Change: Health and Disease Threats. It’s well worth watching; you can find it here.

Congratulations to Mihye Lee, former doctoral student and now post-doc in the EER program, on the birth of her son on December 14, 2015.

Speaking of birthdays, Mel First would have been 101 today (December 23rd).  For those of you who did not have the good fortune to know Mel, he was Professor of Industrial Hygiene for as long as most of us remember.  He came to the School as a Research Fellow in 1947 and joined the faculty in 1963.  He was a beloved and respected teacher for most of the senior faculty. He was also a bit of a curmudgeon, and probably the most feared examiner of our doctoral students. He was working almost to the day he died at age 96 in 2011. Join me in remembering and celebrating the contributions of our colleague Mel.

I wish us all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a very Happy New Year.  Don’t forget to save January 25 for our EH Holiday Party.  Enjoy your break and we’ll see you in January!


Notes – 11/29/2015

As we enjoy our Thanksgiving holiday, I want to share several pieces of recent news in our department.

Samuel Myers received the Prince Albert II de Monaco – Institut Pasteur Award from Prince Albert II at the Monaco Yacht Club on November 23rd. The award recognizes Myers’ research on the impact of environmental and climatic changes on nutrient levels in crops and on pollinator populations, and the potential effects of these changes on human nutrition and health. Watch a video from the Monaco Channel (in French) about Myers’ award.

Tamarra James-Todd received word that her R01 application entitled “Phthalates, Gestational Diabetes, and Markers of Future Type 2 Diabetes Risk in Women” has been funded.  Tamarra also was selected to be on the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board for the Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee.  Congratulations on both of these achievements, Tamarra!

Joel Schwartz is co-PI with GHP’s Richard Cash on a new U2R training grant entitled “Air Pollution and Health GeoHealth Hub Research Capacity Building-US.” This grant creates a partnership with the Public Health Foundation of India that will help accelerate scientific infrastructure development, enhance research training, and support research needed to fully characterize the relationship between air pollution and cardio-metabolic risk factors and diseases in India. It presents an exciting opportunity for us to spread our expertise in research and instruction, and to help India develop its public health capabilities. Congratulations Joel and fellow faculty involved with this project!

Jeff Fredberg received a new U01 grant entitled “Epithelial Layer Jamming in Breast Cancer Cell Migration.”  Congratulations Jeff!

Phil Demokritou was awarded a new contract from NIOSH and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) entitled Environmental Health and Safety Implications from engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) released from nano-enabled products (NEPs) during consumer use: Case study  of printer emitted engineered nanoparticles (PEPs).” Well done Phil!

Meanwhile, Andrea Baccarelli received an S10 equipment grant to purchase a nanosight system for particle tracking analysis in biological fluids. This equipment has applications across different fields, including analysis of extracellular vesicles (Andrea’s major interest), but also nanoparticles/nanomaterials, viruses in vaccine development, liposomes in drug development, and protein aggregates.  This equipment can therefore potentially benefit many researchers as it opens up whole new possibilities for research.  It will be available through the NIEHS Center Integrative Health Sciences Facility Core.

Joe Allen also received School resources from the Taplin Equipment fund to purchase various pieces of equipment that are intended to enhance the school’s capabilities in health and building assessments. The $50k is going towards a variety of field equipment that can be used by students and faculty in pilot projects such as a portable XRF for elemental analysis of materials; DRX for simultaneously measuring multiple PM size fractions; sensor watches for tracking skin temperature, physical activity and sleep; light and noise sensors for sleep and IEQ studies; infrared camera and air flow meter for building assessments in microbiome studies; and wearable TVOC sensors. Contact Joe if you are interested in finding out more about this equipment and how it can be used.

By the way, Joe Allen also gave the keynote speech for the Distinguished Sustainability Lecturer Series in Abu Dhabi, and his team (including Jack Spengler, Piers MacNaughton, and Erika Eitland) gave presentations about indoor air quality and health at Greenbuild in Washington D.C.  His publication has received a lot of popular press coverage. For example, Joe Allen is one of several researchers from our Department who was featured on recent segments of the PRI radio program “Living on Earth” hosted by good friend of the Department Steve CurwoodLiving on Earth is devoted to a wide range of environmental issues and can be heard at 7:00 a.m. on Sundays on WBUR.  Joe Allen’s feature on indoor air quality and cognition can be found here; Alex Lu had a feature about his work on indoor pesticide and its link to childhood health issues here; and Sam Myers had a feature about his work on the decline of pollinators and its effect on health here.

I hope you all enjoy your time off over the Thanksgiving break, and take time to reflect on the many blessings we all have in our lives. We are most thankful to all of you, who make our department such a vital and vibrant community.


Notes – 10/30/2015

There’s so much news to share about our department on this Halloween, it’s almost scary! Read on if you dare and find out how our department continues to evolve.

As many of you know, Les Kobzik has been the Program Director in MIPS for nine years.  Recently he has begun spending an increasing amount of his time out of town, and we both feel that in fairness to the MIPS Program, now is an appropriate time to appoint a new MIPS Program Director.  I can only express my gratitude to Les for sharing his wisdom, leadership skills, and wit to the benefit of both the MIPS program and the EH Department as a whole.  He has helped me come up with creative solutions and suggestions more times than I can count, and he has always been reasonable, logical, and generous.  For all of his contributions, I am truly grateful.

I can think of no better person to take on the responsibilities of Program Director than Stephanie Shore. Stephanie needs no introduction to members of the MIPS community; she has been an integral member of it and the department for over 30 years.  Those that know her know that in addition to her research skills, she is creative, logical, and fair-minded. I look forward to working with Stephanie as the MIPS program continues to change and grow with new and exciting initiatives.  By the way, Stephanie also received a new NIEHS R01 entitled “Impact of Obesity on Airway Responses to Air Pollution.” Congratulations on this grant and thank you, Stephanie, for taking on this new leadership role as Molecular and Integrative Physiological Sciences Program Director!

I want to thank everyone who attended our Harvard NIEHS Center for Environmental Health retreat last week. Once again, attendees demonstrated the extraordinary breadth of the Center through various presentations and activities. In all, 35 people presented and everyone that was present at the end got to participate in the “So you think you’re smarter than a grad student” game show. Congratulations to Helen Cho for winning the $10,000 flash funding pilot award for her proposal entitled “Gender-related differences in microbiota contribute to obese asthma.” And a huge thank you goes out to Julie Goodman, who once again combined her creativity and organizational skills to create a fun, informative, and highly successful retreat.

Congratulations to Phil Demokritou, who was awarded an honorary Professorship at Shanghai University, China. Professor Wu, Vice President of Shanghai University, remarked on Dr. Demokritou’s contributions as a researcher, teacher and inventor in the fields of Environmental Health, Nanosafety and Nano-biology. Phil delivered a keynote address to the faculty and students of the University of Shanghai entitled “Tales from the Nano-scale: Nano-safety meets Sustainable Nanotechnology.”

Congratulations to Jeff Fredberg for getting a subcontract from Northwestern University on an NIH grant entitled “The Mechanical Basis of Primary Open Angle Glaucoma.”

Likewise, kudos to Andrea Baccarelli for receiving a subcontract from USC for a grant entitled “Mitochondrial epigenetics, traffic-related pollution and neonatal health.”

Joe Allen was first author on an Environmental Health Perspectives paper that linked green buildings with higher cognitive function. It was featured on the School’s website and in the Harvard GazetteJack Spengler was the last author, and EH co-authors included Piers MacNaughton and Jose Vallarino.  This project was done jointly with researchers at Syracuse University.

Similarly but separately, Meryl Colton (first author) and Gary Adamkiewicz (last author) published a paper in the American Journal of Public Health entitled “Health Benefits of Green Public Housing: Associations With Asthma Morbidity and Building-Related Symptoms” that was also featured on the School’s website. Other EH co-authors included Jose Guillermo Cedeno Laurent, Piers MacNaughton, and Jack Spengler.

The School put out a YouTube video featuring Donna Spiegelman from the departments of Epidemiology, Biostats and Nutrition. She discusses research done with Marianthe-Anna Kioumourtzoglou. Together with others they developed a methodology to get better estimates of the effects of air pollution on health. This is one of many examples of how our department works closely with other departments to achieve important findings.

Please visit the photographic exhibit on the 14th floor of Building I titled: BADGES: A Memorial Tribute to Asbestos Workers. This exhibit chronicles asbestos exposures from mining and manufacturing in the 20th century and what is termed the “third wave” of exposures current now as buildings with asbestos are being demolished or refurbished, thereby creating an environmental asbestos exposure that affects the general public as well as the workers.  This exhibit is sponsored by the Harvard Education and Research Center and the Harvard-NIEHS Center for Environmental Health through their respective outreach programs, headed by Ann Backus.

There was a nice write-up on Stephen Loring, who was an Associate Professor in MIPS, in the ATS News here.

I would like to put in a personal plug for our staff members to take the five or so minutes it takes to fill out the University’s engagement survey that they received by email. It is anonymous and will be helpful for our Department, School and University to know how staff feels.

Lastly, congratulations to administrators Jon Lavigne and Anny Maza for graduating from the School’s Boot Camp program.

I hope everyone enjoys their Halloween and gets more treats than tricks.


Notes – 10/4/2015

As we complete the first month of our new academic year, we have several wonderful newsworthy items to share.

First, Trina von Stackelberg received one of six EPA research grants targeted at studying the ecological impacts of manufactured chemicals. Trina’s grant, entitled “Integrated Modeling Approaches to Support Systems-Based Ecological Risk Assessment,” is being done in partnership with Washington State University and Western Washington University. A press release about it can be found here. Congratulations Trina!

Jeff Drazen just received the 2015 Presidential Award from the ERS International Congress. You can read about his tremendous honor here. Congratulations Jeff!

Lead author Amina Schartup, last author Elsie Sunderland, and co-authors Anne Soerensen and Ryan Caldor among others published a PNAS article entitled “Freshwater discharges drive high levels of methylmercury in Arctic marine biota.” The article was featured on the school’s website here and in a Harvard Gazette article here.  Well done team for this important finding.

Joel Schwartz and Antonella Zanobetti were included on Thomson Reuter’s 2015 list of the most highly cited researchers in science and social sciences.The school website article lists 22 Harvard Chan faculty members who made this prestigious list. Congratulations Joel and Antonella!

Joe Allen was the driving force behind a supplemental Harvard-NIEHS Center grant that we received to do e-cigarette research. In addition, he received substantial gifts from United Technologies to study Green Buildings and Cognitive Function, and from Perkin Elmer for High Spatial Resolution Community Monitoring. Well done, Joe!

Quan Lu received word that he will receive two subcontracts from BWH (Kelan Tantisira is the PI of two recently funded R01s) to study the role of circulating microRNAs in the airway. That’s great news, Quan. But maybe not as great as the news that your daughter, Lucy (15), played a piece of Chopin at Carnegie Hall last Saturday. She was selected as a regional winner as part of the American Fine Arts Festival. Congratulations to Quan and to daughter Lucy!

John Evans co-authored an article in Nature entitled “The contribution of outdoor air pollution sources to premature mortality on a global scale” received widespread coverage. The school featured it on its website here, and the Associated Press/Huffington Post featured it here. Well done, John!

In the upcoming October issue of Nature Materials, there is an article called “Cell Jam” that discusses the research of Jin-Ah Park. Specifically, it talks about how collective cell migration and jamming in the bronchial epithelium helps to understand the pathophysiology underlying asthma.  It’s nice to see that Jin-Ah and her lab’s work is being recognized.

We have a lot of people in the department to congratulate on having achieved major milestones:
Ramon Molina has been promoted to senior research scientist in MIPS.
Christopher Golden has been promoted to research scientist in EER.
Kelsey Gleason successfully passed her oral examination.
Xindi Hu successfully passed her oral examination.
Pi-I (Debby) Lin successfully passed her oral examination.
Wan-Chen Lee successfully defended her dissertation “From the Inside Out — Application of the Mass Balance Model for PM Exposure Assessment in Residential Settings Under the Influences of Indoor and Outdoor Factors.”
Eun Joo Park successfully defended her dissertation “Metal Speciation, Mixtures, and Environmental Health Impacts.”

Please join me on congratulating each one of them for these major steps forward!

Ari Bernstein was interviewed on the school website’s the Big 3 feature. Ari of course is a member of the Center for Health and the Global Environment, which had a very successful annual retreat in September. CHGE always seems to have a lot going on. I encourage you to check out its website to see its presence in the news and to sign up to receive its newsletter.

It was great to see everyone at the EH department’s Welcome Back party. Already our department has hosted a slew of very interesting seminars, with more to come. Keep your eyes open for email announcements about them and look for flyers publicizing them.

Enjoy the nice fall weather!



Notes – 9/1/2015

Welcome back to all of our new and returning students, faculty and staff! It’s wonderful to feel the excitement as the school gears up for another academic year. For those of you who are new to the department, I write these notes every few weeks to catch us all up on news coming out of the department. As you will see from the notes below, our department has not slowed down a bit during the summer. We have lots of news to report!

First, I informed the department faculty that I have accepted Dean Hunter’s invitation to stay on as Department Chair for two more years as the School makes the transition of selecting a new Dean. It has been an honor and a privilege to Chair such an outstanding department, and I look forward to two more years of serving in that role. I am most grateful that Professor Francine Laden has agreed to serve as Associate Chair. Francine will be concentrating on heading up the academic issues that are particularly relevant as the School and department begins our revamped MPH and PhD degree programs. Francine will also be the new Director of the EER program. I am looking forward to working with her as she oversees many of the changes that our department will be making as it the School as a whole transforms itself.

I want to thank Jim Shine for his leadership of the EER program over the past three years. Jim generously has given his time and energy in service to the EER program and the Department.  During these major transitions in our training programs, Jim has guided our largest degree programs and insured that we remain arguably the premiere environmental health training program in world.

Speaking of Francine Laden, congratulations for receiving a P50 entitled “Disparities in Exposure and Health Effects of Multiple Environmental Stressors Across the Life Course” from the National Institute of Health and Minority Disparities and the NIEHS. Well done!

Welcome to our the newest member of our faculty, Tamarra James-Todd, who officially started in EOME on July 1. Tamarra is the Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Environmental Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology.

Special congratulations to John Godleski for his promotion to Professor. His new title is certainly well deserved. Congratulations Professor! Please join us for his promotion celebration on September 8th (3:30pm, 1302, RSVP here).

Sam Myers has had a flurry of activity lately. The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health came out with a report, “Safeguarding Human Health in the Anthropocene Epoch,” which broadly assessed the scale of the threats to health, development, and civilization posed by the multiplicity of environmental changes brought on by human activity. Sam is a Commissioner and co-author of the report. Sam simultaneously had two articles published, one in the Lancet entitled “Effects of decreases of animal pollinators on human nutrition and global health: a modelling analysis” (Matthew Smith is first author) and the other in the Lancet Global Health journal entitled “Effect of increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide on the global threat of zinc deficiency: a modelling study.”  Joel Schwartz, Itai Kloog and Antonella Zanobetti are co-authors on the zinc article. Sam’s activities are featured on the School website here, on our own departmental page and in the Harvard Gazette here. Sam also just learned that he will be honored with the Prince Albert II of Monaco—Institut Pasteur 2015 Award in November. It is an extremely prestigious international prize awarded for research in the human health impacts of climate change and other types of environmental change. Congratulations Sam for all of your recent accomplishments!

Congratulations to Phil Demokritou for his new R21 entitled “Inactivation of ambient virues using Engineered Water Nanostructures.”  Phil was also named Co-Editor-in-Chief of a new Elsevier Journal entitled “NanoImpact.”  This new international journal will concentrate on issues related to nanosafety. It is scheduled to have its inaugural issue in January 2016. Phil’s lab also published a series of articles that was featured on the school website here. Congratulations to lead author Sandra Pirela, and to Xiaoyan Lu, Dhimiter Bello, and Les Kobzik.

Congratulations also to Dilpreet Singh of the Demokritou lab, who won the New Investigator Award at the National Nanotechnology Initiative International QEEN Conference. Dilpreet’s poster was entitled “Nano-waste: Environmental health and safety (EHS) implications during thermal degradation/incineration of nano-enabled products at their end-of-life.”

Alex Lu published an article in the Journal of Environmental Chemistry entitled “Distributions of neonicotinoid insecticides in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: a temporal and spatial variation analysis for pollen and honey samples.” Doctoral student Chi-Hsuan Chang, research fellow Lin Tao, and research associate Mei Chen are co-authors. The article reports that more than 70% of pollen and honey samples collected from foraging bees in Massachusetts contain at least one neonicotinoid, a class of pesticide that has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in which adult bees abandon their hives during winter. It received a great deal of publicity in the popular press, and is featured on the school website here. Well done, Alex and team!

Philippe Grandjean had an article published in Environmental Science and Technology entitled “Breastfeeding as an Exposure Pathway for Perfluorinated Alkylates”.  The study proved that PFAS’s, a widely used class of industrial chemicals, are transferred to infants via breast milk.  The school featured the story here, and the study can be found here.

Jeff Fredberg and Jeff Drazen were last authors on an article that appeared in Nature Materials entitled “Unjamming and Cell Shape in the Asthmatic Airway Epithelium.” The Harvard Gazette featured it here and the study itself can be found here. Congratulations to all of the authors, including lead authors Jin-Ah Park and Jae Hun Kim, and the many MIPS co-authors that participated.

Joe Allen and Jack Spengler were awarded an Inaugural Curriculum Innovation Grant to develop courses on sustainable and high-performing buildings. Congratulations Joe and Jack!

Congratulations to post-doc Alex Carll, who received Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Spring Post-doc Travel Award as well as an American Thoracic Society Environmental and Occupational Health Assembly Abstract Award. Alex will be joining the University of Louisville as Assistant Professor of Physiology next month.  Congratulations and good luck.

Michael Yi Chao Lin successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Moving Away from the Traditional Desktop Computer Workstations: Identifying Opportunities to Improve Upper Extremity Biomechanics.” Well done Michael!

Rose Filoramo was featured with Les Kobzik in an article about her work on sepsis in the spring edition of the Harvard Public Health magazine. You can read the story here.

By the way, you may have seen me on the school’s website in a Take 2 segment entitled “How Does Air Pollution Affect Health?”

Finally, I would am sorry to report that our department’s Associate Director of Finance, Chris Kelly, will be leaving the school to pursue other career opportunities. Chris has done a tremendous job for our department and for the school over the past 3 plus years. Please join me in thanking him for his efforts and wishing him the best of luck in his bright future! I also want to welcome Jonathan Lavigne, who has joined us as the new department ADF. We look forward to working with you, Jon!

I hope you all are enjoying these precious last days of summer. Welcome back all to what I am sure will be another great academic year in the department!

Take care,

Notes – 6/30/2015

You would think that after graduation things might slow down a little bit, but not in this department! Once again, I have much news to report.

It has been a big month for Quan Lu and his lab.  First, he received word from the American Asthma Foundation that he will receive a three year award for his proposal entitled “Cholecystokinin (CCK) and Its Receptor CCKAR as Novel Therapeutic Targets for Asthma.” In addition, Quan also received funding from the Blavatnik Accelerator funding for his proposal entitled “Delivery of Biological Therapeutics via ARMMs.” Lastly, Quan’s recent graduate Peter Wagner was featured on the school website here.  Well done Quan and Peter!

It has also been a big month for Chris Golden. He and co-applicant Sam Myers received a prestigious two year Wellcome Trust Foundation award for their grant proposal entitled “Quantifying the Human Nutritional Value of Global Fisheries and the Risk to Human Health of Fisheries Decline.” Sam Myers also has a subcontract on different two year Wellcome Trust Foundation grant entitled “Future diets and health: How will environmental changes affect food availability, food consumption and health?” Lastly, Chris Golden will serve as mentor to new incoming fellow Cortni Borgerson on a new NSF Fellowship for their grant application entitled “Endangered species as food; interdisciplinary approaches to stemming biodiversity loss and food insecurity.” Terrific job, Chris and Sam, and welcome Cortni!

Over in the Baccarelli lab, Diddier Prada received a 2015 Enrichment Award from the Health Disparities Research Program by the Harvard Catalyst for his project entitled “Evaluating subtelomeric methylation using ready-to-use 450K methylation data to identify individuals who will experience accelerated cognitive decline due to environmental exposures.” Nice going Diddier!

Chrisy Chantarasopak enjoyed amazing success at the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) conference recently. She was awarded best student poster by two of the technical committees (Indoor Environments and Exposure Assessment), and second place for best poster in the student session. To top it off, she received a second place award for best conference poster overall. (It is extraordinarily rare for a student to receive this type of award for the entire conference.) Her poster was entitled “Exposure Assessment of 3D Printer Emissions.” Congratulations Chrissy and to her mentor, Bob Herrick.

Congratulations also to Rose Goldman, who was invited by the China Medical Board to their conference for young investigators and junior faculty involved in health care systems and policy (“Westlake Youth Forum”).  She gave a plenary session entitled: “Environmental Health: an Introduction to Methodology, Research and Policy” as well as a pre-conference workshop entitled “Key Strategies and Techniques for Effective Teaching.”

A big thank you to Marshall Katler for organizing the MIPS food fest once again this year. This year’s winners were:
Main Dish:
1st – Rosalinda Sepulveda (and Grand Prize),   2nd – Rose Filoramo,  3rd – Kelsey O’Brien

1st – Abby Jensen, 2nd Elisa Ghelfi, 3rd – Jiangyi Wu

1st – Sally Bedugnis, 2nd – Magda Bortoni-Rodrigues, 3rd – Glen Deloid

mips 2015

Congratulations to all of the winners and participants! By the way, congratulations also to Marshall for his daughter Rachel’s wedding in New Hampshire. Seems like he has been involved in a lot of party planning lately!

Congratulations also to Jia Zhong on the birth of her daughter Erin! Her Chinese name is Zhiyi (之易). She was born on June 19, just in time for father’s day and her big brother Ryan’s birthday. Everyone is reportedly doing well.

Finally, I am pleased to note that Jeanne and I have our first grandson, Otis Palmer, born last night at the BI. Otis, his parents Jason and Anna, and his grandparents are coping well with this life-changing event.

Wishing you all a very happy July 4th holiday weekend,


Notes – 5/27/2015

We have arrived at the end of the Academic Year.  Congratulations to all our graduates!

Doctor of Science 

Raphael Arku
Jose Cedeno Laurent
Nancy Diao
Iny Jhun
Don Kriens
Mihye Lee
Sandra Pirela
Emily Sparer
Kathryn Taylor
Peter Umukoro
Muzo Wu
Christopher Zevitas


Doctor of Philosophy

Peter Wagner


Master of Science
Calvin Bannister
Chi-Hsuan Chang
Chrisy Chantarasopak
Justine Dupal
Emily Eshleman
Rui Hu
Jina Kim
Hannah Laue
Mallory Leblanc
Lisa Rokoff
Amelia Valberg
Yan Wang
Yinyin Xu
Yi  Zhang

Master of Public Health

Morteza Asgarzadeh
William Shane Journeay
Kevin Loh
Bryant Martin
Ana Sandoval
Samuel Turner


Medical Residents

Laurent Benedetti
Mason Harrell
Soni Matthew

Also congratulations to Jack Dennerlein who is receiving the “Excellence in Teaching Award for Executive and Continuing Professional Education.” Jack is the first EH faculty member to receive this prestigious award.

Look forward to seeing many of you at Commencement tomorrow.



Notes – 5/17/2015

We have LOTS of news to share with the department! Marc Weisskopf was senior author on a paper published in BMJ entitled “The relation between past exposure to fine particulate air pollution and prevalent anxiety: observational cohort study.” This was a nice collaboration between the EER and EOME programs in our department as well as the Department of Epidemiology and the Channing. Other EH authors that contributed include Marianthi Kioumourtzoglou, Jamie Hart, and Francine Laden. Well done all!

The United Nations Environment Programme puts out a magazine every two months called Our Planet. This month the issue is dedicated to links between health and global environment in anticipation of the World Health Assembly. Sam Myers has an essay featured in it here.

Elsewhere, Morteza Asgarzadeh was co-author of a study featured in the journal Injury Prevention on bicycle safety. It is featured on the school website here.

David Christiani gave the 2015 Anne Baetjer Lecture at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a presentation entitled “The Shanghai Textile Worker Lung Disease Cohort: Just When You Thought the Workplace Was Safe.”

Clifton Dassuncao will be starting his EPA fellowship entitled “Immunotoxicity Risks Associated with Exposures to Perflourinated Compounds (PFCs).” Congratulations Clifton!

As we get closer to graduation, several of our students have achieved academic milestones.  Peter Umukoro successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Fine Particulate Exposure and Cardiac Autonomic Effects in Welders.”

Sandra Pirela successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Linking Exposures to Engineered Nanomaterials Released from Nano-Enabled Products to Biology: A Case Study of Laser Printers.

Nancy Diao successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Prenatal Metals Exposure and Child Birth and Growth in Bangladesh.”

Muzo Wu successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Innate Immunity Immunomodulators of Post-influenza Bacterial Pneumonia.”

Peter Wagner successfully defended his dissertation entitled “From Neural Stem Cells to Children: Secreted Phosphoprotein 1 in Lead Neurotoxicity.”

In addition, Cheng Peng, Ryan Calder, and Shangzhi Gao all passed their oral examinations.

Emily Sparer’s dissertation about construction worker safety is featured on the school website here.

Congratulations to you all!

Ann Backus, Director of Outreach for our Harvard-NIEHS Center Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC), reported that the COEC participated with the MIT Center COEC in the Cambridge Science Festival on Saturday April 18, 2015. Our Harvard Chan exhibit, titled “A Closer Look at Exposures,” included five interactive stations where participants young and older could measure their peak expiratory flow and discuss airway health, observe the differences between healthy and diseased lungs when inflating them,  use Lego™ blocks to demonstrate how carbon particles result from incomplete combustion, measure their ECG and discuss the effects of diesel exposure on cardiac response, and have an image of themselves “aged” based on whether they smoked or became obese. We thank the following for providing wonderful help during the day: HSPH doctoral and postdoctoral students, Maria Korre, Konstantina Sampani, and Alex Carll; EER research assistant, Zhao Dong; high school students Henry Long-Sieber, Olivia and Alexis Aronowitz; Visiting Scholar, Eva Madrid Aris; program assistant, Tiffany Sarkissian; and Doug’s executive assistant, Alissa Wilcox.

As evidence that we live in both a big and a small world, three environmental health ScDs from HSPH who work for the CDC volunteered for the Emergency Ebola Response and all happened to end up being posted in Sierra Leone over the winter: Ginger Chew (30 days), Carol Rao (60 days), and Rey deCastro (60 days). See picture below.

emergency ebola responders

In another part of the world that is struggling, Renee Salas is a part-time MPH student (currently on leave) with ties to both our department and MGH. She found herself in the Everest region at the time of the earthquake and avalanches. Her story has been reported in both the Harvard Gazette and the Boston Globe. We are grateful that she is safe and thankful that she is using her medical skills to help ease the suffering of the people in need.

Congratulations to Shangzhi Gao on the birth of her daughter, Elizabeth Zhou! Both are reportedly doing well.

Finally, we have several staff in our department that were nominated for various prestigious university and school awards. Patrice Ayers, John Yong, Alissa Wilcox and Nicole Bellisle were all nominated for the Harvard Heroes Award. They are all heroes to us! Congratulations to Alissa and Nicole, who were selected to receive the awards in Cambridge.

Also, congratulations to Patrice Ayers and Barbara Zuckerman, who are both among the twelve people nominated for the Sarah K. Wood Award for Outstanding Service. Congratulations to them all, and thank you to the people that took the time to recognize their contributions by nominating them.

We are heading into the busiest time of the year, as finals, dissertations, and various grant deadlines are all due soon. Good luck to everyone! The good news is the weather is beautiful and graduation / summer is right around the corner.



Notes – 4/4/2015

I have a few nice news items to share about the department as springtime finally takes hold of New England.

First, we congratulate Christa Wright who has been named a Yerby Fellow by the School. Christa is currently a postdoc in our MIPS program. We are delighted that Christa was selected for this honor, and that she will remain in our department. Joe Brain will be her mentor. Congratulations Christa!

Emily Sparer successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Improving Health and Safety in Construction: The Intersection of Programs and Policies, Work Organization, and Safety Climate” on March 25th, and Kathryn Taylor successfully defended hers, entitled “The Effect of Head Injury on Neurologic and Cognitive Health Throughout the Life Course” on April 3rd. Well done!

David Christiani delivered the prestigious Irving Kass Lecture at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. His presentation was entitled “Genetic Markers of Risk & Survival in ARDS.”  Congratulations on this honor, David!

Russ Hauser received a subcontract from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care for an NIEHS R01 entitled “Longitudinal Association of PFCs with Obesity, Diabetes, and Metabolic Syndrome.” The PIs of this grant are Drs. Emily Oken and Edward Horton. Russ also was co-author along with visiting scientist Myriam Afeiche on a paper appearing in the March 30 edition of the journal Human Reproduction entitled “Fruit and vegetable intake and their pesticide residues in relation to semen quality among men from a fertility clinic.” The paper can be found here, and it is featured on the School website here.

Lastly, we congratulate Jeff Brand from our MIPS program and wish him best of luck as he leaves us for a postdoctoral position at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

I’d like to wish those who celebrate Good Friday and Easter and/or Passover a wonderful holiday.


Notes – 3/14/2015

Happy Pi Day! 3.14.15 for all the nerds in our department.

First of all, congratulations to Francine Laden whose promotion to Professor was approved by the Provost and President. A formal announcement is still to come, but feel free to congratulate her.

Congratulations also to Jose Guillermo Cedeno Laurent (aka Memo), who is a graduate of the EER program and currently a research fellow in CHGE. Memo was one of the seven inaugural recipients of President Drew Faust’s new Harvard University Climate Change Solutions Fund awards. Memo’s project is entitled “Sustainable Adaptation Measures to Extreme Heat Events.” You can read more about it in the Harvard Gazette here.

Next, Jack Spengler was informed that he will be receiving the ASHRAE Environmental Health Award at its annual conference in June.  ASHRAE, which has more than 50,000 members from over 132 nations, is a global society dedicated to advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. Congratulations Jack!

Philippe Grandjean and Russ Hauser co-authored a summary paper that was presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting and featured in their Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. It brought to light the cost and effects that hormone disrupting chemicals have to society and to individuals. It received much coverage in the popular press and is on the school website here.

Phil Demokritou continues to be recognized for his nano work. Recently an article entitled “Nanobombs Terminate Foodborne Microbes” appeared in The Scientist. Well done, Phil!

On the student front, Ryan Calder, Chia-Hsi (Jessie) Tang, and Cheng Peng all passed their oral examinations. Raphael Arku successfully defended his dissertation Poverty, Energy Use, Air Pollution and Health in Ghana: A Spatial Analysis. Congratulations all!

It was an honor for David Christiani and me to be presenters at the Celebration of the Stars event last month.  In all, EH had 29 people who celebrated milestone years. Congratulations to all who were honored:
5 years:  Alan Branco, Mei Chen, Elisa Ghelfi, Xiaofeng Jiang, Carolyn Langer, Mi-Sun Lee, Sam Myers, Paula Leticia Tejera-Alvarez
10 years:  Melissa Curran, Choong-Min Kang, Anna Kosheleva
15 years:  Heike Gibson, Stefanos Kales, Eileen McNeely, Patricia Morey, Salvatore Mucci, Tracy Sachs, Andrea Shafer, and Antonella Zanobetti
20 years:  Russ Hauser, Bob Herrick, Joy Lawrence, Joel Schwartz, Carla Silva, Jose Vallarino, and John Yong
25 years:  Rick Rogers
30 years:  Petros Koutrakis
40 years:  Mike Wolfson

Finally, congratulations to EOME grant manager Sara Akashian and her husband Brendan on the birth of their daughter, Murphy Anne Akashian! We hear mother and baby are doing well.

And Happy St. Patrick’s day!


Notes – 2/7/2015

The temperature is in the mid-20’s this morning (-4 degrees Centigrade) this morning in Boston. Isn’t it amazing that it feels warm after the cold we have had for the past couple of weeks. Of course, this is just brief pause before another snow storm and even colder temperatures. The warmth and excitement of the Patriots’ SuperBowl win last weekend is wearing off. Remember it is only 40 days to the vernal equinox, the astronomical start of spring, and only 35 days to the start of spring break.

It was very nice to see so many of you and your families at the EH Holiday party. Thanks to Alissa Wilcox for organizing yet another wonderful party.

Congratulations to Mihye Lee who successfully defended her dissertation “The Effect of Climate Change and Air Pollution on Public Health: Epidemiological Studies and Spatial Modeling of PM2.5 Levels.”

Also congratulations to our doctoral candidates who have passed their Oral Qualifying exams: Jinming Zhang, Erica Walker, Shahir Masri, Liuhua Shi, Jia Zhong, Rachel Banay, and German Orrego.

We were pleased to learn that Huey-Jen (Jenny) Su, a 1990 EH alumnus, will become President of the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan.  Jack Spengler, her mentor at HSPH, will be attending her inauguration.  You can read about Jenny’s momentous accomplishment here.  I’m sure NCKU will benefit greatly from Jenny’s leadership.

Speaking of Jack Spengler, he and Julia Africa of CHGE were mentioned in a Harvard Gazette article about the benefits of open green space in urban environments. Over half of the world’s population currently living in cities, and that percentage is expected to grow rapidly in the coming decades. They argue that now is the time for urban planners and others to further study and take heed of the importance that green space in urban environments has on human health and productivity.

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced that and Alan Woolf of Children’s Hospital and Rose Goldman were awarded a cooperative agreement to direct the Region 1 PEHSU (Pediatric Enviromental Health Specialty Unit) by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The PEHSU network is the globally recognized GO TO resource for Pediatric Environmental Health expertise for clinicians, health professionals and communities. Congratulations Alan and Rose!

Our Liberty Mutual Occupational Safety and Post-Doctoral Work in Progress seminar was held last week.  I’d like to thank the following post-docs for their very interesting presentations:
Morteza Asgarzadeh, “Epidemiologic analysis of bicycle vehicle crash injuries”
Jin Lee, “Good safety climate alone may not be enough: impacts of climate variability on safety behavior”
Shiu-Ling Chiu, “Association between inter-joint coordination and balance control during stair negotiation”

Lastly, congratulations to Kelley Long, our individual donor rep from OER, who gave birth to Lucia Christine Long on thee Monday night at the start of the blizzard.

Enjoy the brief break today, and get ready for the next winter blast.


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.  Go to for more information.

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 – 12/21/2013

Well, the year has wound down and as the last finals have been taken, I wanted to write one more department update before signing off for the year.

Congratulations to Phil Demokritou and colleagues whose paper entitled “A chemical free, nanotechnology-based bacterial inactivation using engineered water nanostructures” was selected as one of the most innovative nanotechnology papers by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Kaylin Mai, an undergraduate student at UMass Boston, who worked in Alberto Caban-Martinez’ work-related musculoskeletal disorders lab over the summer on a pilot study of musculoskeletal pain and arthritis status in construction workers, presented preliminary findings at the 2013 New England College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Conference.  Well done, Kaylin (and everyone else that contributed to the poster)!

Nancy Diao passed her oral qualifying examination for her dissertation on prenatal metals exposure and birth and growth development in Bangladesh.  Congratulations Nancy!

Hilario Francelino, a former student in our HSPH-Brazil exchange program, wrote that he attended a three day medical congress in Russia, where he presented a poster based on his work in John Godleski’s lab last year. Hilario was awarded first place in the poster competition, and was lauded for the methods and research related to the tunnel exposures.  Congratulations Hilario!

Lastly, I want to wish everyone happy holidays, a wonderful winter break, and safe travels for those going away for the holidays.  See you in 2014!


Notes – 11/24/2013

Just a few quick notes as we prepare for the Thanksgiving break.

First, congratulations to Meryl Colton who received an ACE (Acknowledging Collaboration and Excellence) Award. ACE awards are HSPH’s way of acknowledging a staff member who has made an extraordinary effort in a particular task or aspect of their position, accomplished something special, or exemplified a collaborative commitment to their work and the School’s mission. Meryl received the award for her work with low-income housing families throughout Boston on research projects focused on green housing and environmental health. She leads by example while working with participants in the field and sets high standards for our team.  Her dedication to both her team and to the research projects is commendable and highly appreciated.

Second, congratulations to Chris Golden, also associated with EER, for receiving a Marsh Foundation Award for his proposal entitled “Bushmeat Hunting, Wildlife Conservation and Human Health in Madagascar.”

Two of our students reached significant academic milestones this week. Kathleen Attfield successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Pyrethroid and organophosphate pesticide body burdens in children: Patterns and impacts of integrated pest management.”  Mohammad AlSeaidan, a dual degree doctoral student in the Departments of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, passed his oral qualifying examination.  Congratulations to you both!

Mark your calendar for the James L. Whittenberger Lecture on Friday, December 6th.  The topic is “The Exposome Exposed: The Future of Environmental Health?” Stephen Rappaport of the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health will deliver the lecture.

Finally, with the holiday season approaching, it’s time to plan our annual department party.  As is our tradition, we will celebrate after people return from winter session in the new year (Thursday, January 30 at 4:00 p.m.)  Our parties are known for having a fun theme, and this year we want your input!  Please vote for your favorite theme by casting a vote in the survey here.

We wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving, and a Happy Channukah.


Notes – 11/16/2013

It has been another busy couple of weeks for people in the EH Department. Several of our faculty received word that they will be receiving new funding. First, congratulations to Bernardo Lemos for receiving a Smith Family Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research. These awards are given to new faculty whose research has the potential to foster medical breakthroughs. Bernardo’s proposal is entitled “Heterochromatin, bisphenol A, and environmental epigenetics.”

Also, congratulations to Quan Lu on his NHLBI award on “Pharmacogenetics of Asthma Treatment.”

Alex Lu also received good news that Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will be funding his work entitled “A Risk-based Analysis of the Effect of Pesticides on Sensitive Receptors.”

Lastly, David Christiani received the welcome news that the board of the Raymond P. Lavietes Foundation will be funding his proposal entitled “Improving Lung Cancer Survival Using Integrative Molecular Analysis.”
Well done, Bernardo, Quan, Alex and David!

Look for a very interesting article coming out in PNAS by Sam Myers and colleagues entitled “Human Health Impacts of Ecosystem Alteration.”  This article proposes a more systematic and comprehensive framework to better understand the health impacts of ecosystem alteration that can be used to help inform policy decisions. Nice job, Sam!

Congratulations to our alumna and colleague, Tish Davis, who received the Alice Hamilton Award from the Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA) at the Annual meeting last week. This award recognizes the lifelong contributions of individuals who have distinguished themselves through a career of hard work and dedication to improve the lives of workers. Tish Davis’ lifetime dedication and leadership has improved the health of workers across the country and especially in Massachusetts. She has been an Occupational Health and Safety leader, particularly in the areas of young workers, construction workers and linking surveillance to action. As the director for more than 30 years of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Occupational Health Surveillance Program she has created models that have been replicated throughout the country. We are very proud of our terrific alumni.

Our department was well represented at the sessions of the APHA meeting here in Boston.  Ann Backus had several presentations, including those entitled “Health and Hydrofracking: Community Outreach and Information Needs,” “Harvard WorldMap: A tool for visualizing and sharing hydrofracking data,” and “Something fishy: Fish advisory considerations for public health nurses.”

Ted Courtney presented “Perception of Slipperiness and Prospective Risk of Slipping,”  Santosh Verma presented   “Internet and Telephonic IVR Mixed-Mode Survey for Longitudinal Studies: Choice, Retention, Data Equivalency,” and David Lombardi presented “Narrative Analysis in Injury Research: Methodological Issues,” and “The Impact of Work Shift Starting Time on Sleep Patterns and Alertness Prior to Injury in the People’s Republic of China.” Finally, Emily Sparer along with Mia Goldwasser, Kincaid Lowe, Bob Herrick, and Jack Dennerlein presented a poster entitled “Qualitative findings from a safety communication and recognition program on safety awareness and teambuilding in construction.”  Well done, all!

Ted Courtney was elected a Governing Councilor of the Injury Control and Emergency Health Services Section of the APHA. David Lombardi was named to the Editorial Boards of the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health and of Injury Epidemiology– a new open access journal.  Congratulations Ted and David!

Josée  Pilon let us know that she passed the Canadian Board of Occupational Medicine written and oral exams, and she is now a certified member with CCBOM designation.  She kindly mentioned that her year at HSPH gave her the foundation from which to grow.  Thanks for letting us know, Josée, and congratulations!

Who could be feeling luckier than Michael Grant, who was chosen out of the thousands of Red Sox fans to have his beard shaved alongside David Ortiz and Shane Victorino?

It’s hard to beat that shave, but maybe Shamsher Ali and his wife Asmaa are more excited wuth the birth of their daughter Azm Zainab Ali on October 25th.  Congratulations to Shamsher and Asmaa!

While I’m sure that most of us are trying to wrap things up before the Thanksgiving break, I hope you can take time out to come to our next EH Colloquium on Thursday at 4:00 when Lin Tao (EER) will be talking about The Application of Metabolomics in Exposure Biology and Paula Tejera-Alverez (EOME) will be discussing P13 (pre-elefin): Functional Genomics and ARDS.    Think of this as an opportunity to find out what other people in our department are working on.  I look forward to seeing many of you there, and having some refreshments and good conversation afterward.


Notes – 11/02/2013

Last week the school kicked off its Centennial Celebration with some high profile, well-attended events including a Centennial Medal and Next Generation award ceremony, a banquet that launched an ambitious $450 million fundraising campaign.  It also had a Centennial Community Party that was open to the whole School, complete with a birthday cake.  During the party, Dean Frenk mentioned the ten longest-serving staff or faculty members.  Fittingly, three current members of EH were on the list, including two of the top three!  Congratulations to Jack Spengler (#10 with 40 years), #3 Joe Brain with 47 years, and (drum roll please) … #1 Frank Speizer with 52 years!  Events continue this week with the Second Century Symposium: A Vision for the Future of Public Health Education among others.  All in all, this is quite an exciting time to be part of the HSPH community.

Alumni Centennial Activities on Saturday highlighted the accomplishments alumni in environmental and occupational health. The Alumni Award of Merit, the highest honor bestowed on graduates of HSPH by their peers, was given to Marc Schenker (Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California at Davis), Debra Silverman (Chief, Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute), and Eiji Yano (Founding Dean and Professor, Teikyo School of Public Health, Teikyo University, Tokyo, Japan).  The Leadership Award in Public Health Practice was given to Adam Finkel (Senior Fellow & Executive Director, Penn Program on RegulationUniversity of Pennsylvania Law School), and a Public Health Innovator Award was given to Royce Ellen Clifford (Office of Naval Research).  I have attached a more detailed description of the accomplishments of these distinguished alumni. It was great to see them recognized for their work in environmental and occupational health.

Last week we also held the annual retreat of the Harvard-NIEHS Center for Environmental Health at the J.B. Martin Conference Center.  The retreat featured presentations and posters from each of the research and facility cores, and the Community Outreach and Engagement Core.  These presentations showcased the breadth and depth of our research.  I want to thank all 60 plus investigators who attended, and particularly everyone that presented their research orally of as a poster. Special thanks to Julie Goodman, who did an extraordinary job of organizing the entire retreat.  Julie has uploaded the slides of the presentations on the NIEHS website here.

Alex Carll, who serves as the HSPH Post-Doctoral Council’s Grant and Research Strategy Chair, is seeking volunteers who have recently submitted post-doc related grant applications to provide one-on-one counseling to post-docs that are submitting their first applications.  Their advice on the technical grant writing techniques particularly (not necessarily the science) is the goal of the proposed one-on-one counseling.  Please contact Alex if you are interested in participating.

Chih Chao “Justin” Yang was featured in an article on the HSPH website along with mentors Rose Goldman and Russ Hauser.  Justin took an idea for a project in Rose’s EH201 Principles of Environmental Health class and, with the help of Rose and Russ, developed it into an article entitled “Taiwan food scandal: The illegal use of phthalates as a clouding agent and their contribution to maternal exposure” which was published  in Food and Chemical Toxicology. It’s a fine example of translating classroom experience to an academic publication.  Well done, Justin, Rose and Russ!

The HSPH website also features an article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine entitled “Construction Workers Struggle with a High Prevalence of Mental Distress, and This is Associated with Their Pain and Injuries.”  By Silje Endresen Reme, Alberto Caban-Martinez, Lynn Onyebeke (who has since graduated), and Jack Dennerlein.  The story can be found here.

Meanwhile, Joel Schwartz may be out of sight but he has been tearing up the European lecture circuit while on sabbatical.  On October 15th he gave a talk on “Climate and Health, What do we know and what do we need to know?” at the Department of Epidemiology, Lazio in Rome.  On October 18 he gave a talk at the Business School of the University of St. Gallen on “Environmental Health in Emerging Economies.”  The next day he spoke about “PM2.5 and Respiratory Disease: What is new?”  at the International Seminar on Air Pollution and Respiratory Diseases at Milan, Italy.  On October 23 he gave two talks at the Karolinska Institute, one called “Evidence for Heterogeneity in Risk, and the Implications for Risk Assessment and Policy Decisions” and the other “Weather and Health; How and why exposure-response varies.”   Sounds like he may need a vacation when he gets back to recover from his sabbatical!

Have you visited our EH Department’s home page lately?  We have posted a video called “Our World, Our Challenge” that shows the history of our department.  It was made a few years ago.  If you haven’t seen it, you may find it very interesting.  You may even spot some familiar faces.  Find it here.  Speaking of our web page, check out the Events section for a comprehensive calendar of departmental activities.

We wish Enhua Zhou a fond farewell as he leaves in our MIPS program after seven years to join Novartis in Cambridge.

Several members of our Department are looking forward to attending the APHA meeting next week that is being held right here in Boston.  Let me know if you are presenting at it so that I can include it in the next department notes.

Finally, congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, who went from last place last year to winning the World Series this year.  May we all show that kind of resilience!


Notes – 10/17/2013

This morning, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that outdoor air pollution has been classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). Francine Laden was on the committee which evaluated the evidence and made this determination.  This is an important action and we are proud to have contributed both to the body of evidence and this evaluation.

This afternoon, we have the second “Inside Environmental Health” colloquium (4:00 p.m., 1302). Bernardo Lemos will be sharing research from his lab and  Georgios Pyrgiotakis will be sharing research from the Demokritou lab; refreshments to follow.

Next Tuesday, the Harvard-NIEHS Center for Environmental Health will have a Retreat at the Martin Center on Longwood Avenue. This is a chance to see what’s happening in metals, organics, and particles research. The Retreat is open (and free). Please register here.

Next week also kicks off our Centennial Celebration. Each Department was asked to contribute something to a Time Capsule to be opened in 50 years. We have submitted two doctoral theses from 1923 and 2013 illustrating the continuity of research in the Department.  The first is entitled Distribution of Lead in the Organism in Acute and Chronic Lead Poisoning, submitted by Annie Stone Minot on May 1, 1923 for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Physiology from Radcliffe College.  She did her research in Cecil Drinker’s Physiology laboratory. As a woman she was not permitted to receive her PhD from Harvard. She went on to join the faculty at Vanderbilt where she had a distinguished career in environmental chemistry. The second is Effect of Lead Exposure on Neuromotor Function and Movement Disorder submitted by John S. Ji for the degree of Doctor of Science in Environmental Health in May of this year (2013). These two theses on lead exposures and effects are interesting bookends to research in the Department over the past 90 years. It will be fascinating to see how this work will look in 50 years, when the Time Capsule is reopened (although I don’t expect to be present).

The Harvard-Swiss Re SEARCH Initiative sponsored an international meeting at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this week.  Congratulations to Joe Brain for organizing this initiative, and such an interesting program. Thanks to Nancy Long-Sieber and Ted Henson for administering this program and organizing this event.

Last night, we had a compressor fail in the cold room on the ground floor of Building I. Thanks to Jin-Ah Park for coming in at midnight to check on materials stored. This was clearly above and beyond the call of duty and we appreciate your commitment!  This event made us aware that we need to keep our emergency contact list up to date.  We will be contacting faculty, scientists, and key lab people to make sure we have current phone numbers in case of emergency.  We also want to make sure that students and fellows file their emergency phone numbers with their programs.


Notes – 10/6/2013

It’s October and the Red Sox are still playing, so that has to be a good thing. Indeed, as of Sunday morning, the Red Sox at 2-0 in the play-offs, the Patriots are 4-0, and the Bruins are 2-0.  Good start all around for Boston sports fans.

Congratulations to Phil Demokritou, who just received a new 3 year grant from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA)/USDA to develop “A Novel Intervention Nanotechnology For Fresh Produce Surface Disinfection Using Engineered Water Nanostructures.”  Fresh produce can be a significant source of pathogenic organisms and associated with serious foodborne disease outbreaks with increasing frequency. This chemical free nano-method will be used for the inactivation of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms on the surface of fruits and vegetables. Well done, Phil!

Also, congratulations to Joel Cohen, who successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Nano-bio Interactions in an In Vitro System: Implications for Dosimetry and Nanotoxicology.

After 37 years of managing EH grants, Sheila Stewart decided it was time to retire.  Those whose grants she managed, including me, appreciate her dedication over all these years.  Do you think she’ll miss the pressures of grant deadlines and getting last minute signatures?  Best of luck in your new phase of life, Sheila!

Speaking of new phases of life, we also congratulate Elsie Sunderland, husband John and daughter Holley on their new baby girl, Willow Peach Ingahi Sunderland Frank.  We understand all are doing well.  We’ll see you after your leave, Elsie.  Enjoy!

We had a great start to our EH Colloquium Series entitled “Inside Environmental Health: Emerging Research in EH Laboratories”.  These monthly seminars feature short talks (15 minutes) on innovative work from researchers in our own labs.  We are looking for faculty, research scientists, post-docs, and students who want to introduce their research to your colleagues in the department.  Please check with Alissa Wilcox for open dates.

I hope you all are enjoying the last of the warm temperatures and the leaves as they change colors.


Notes – 9/18/2013

This week is Post-Doc Appreciation Week. We have almost 100 Post-Docs and Visiting Scientists in our department.  They are essential contributors to our research and training.  They put in long hours to generate the research results and papers.  We are proud to have so many outstanding young scientists as part of our community.  We should not need a special appreciation week, but it is a good reminder to say thank you for their contributions.  We know we could not be successful without them!

Last week the school year kicked into high gear, as classes began for the new and returning students. It is always a time of high energy, excitement, and promise for students, faculty, and staff.  We will start the academic year off with a Welcome Back Reception for all of our EH family on Tuesday, September 24 at 4:00 in the Kresge Cafeteria.  Please send an RSVP here if you plan to attend.

Our first Colloquium Series presentation is tomorrow, Thursday, September 19th at 4:00 in 1302.  This year the Series is entitled Inside Environmental Health: Emerging Research in EH Laboratories.  Each month we will be featuring three short talks on innovative work from our own labs.  This month we will hear from Alex Lu, Phil Demokritou and Marc Weisskopf talking about their labs.  There will be a social hour with refreshments after the talks. We look forward to seeing you there!

This fall the School kicks off its Centennial Celebration with a number of extraordinary events.  Check out the Centennial website.  On October 25th, there will be a HSPH Community Centennial Celebration with a cake and other festivities in the Cafeteria.  I also would encourage everyone to consider attending the Second Century Symposium on November 1st.  This all-day event will feature outstanding speakers and panelists from around the world discussing cutting edge innovation in the training of current and future leaders in public health.  There are a few spots left, but you need to register for it here.

Congratulations to Birgit Gunhild Claus Henn for receiving a K99 entitled “Metal Mixtures, Children’s Cognition, and Sensitive Developmental Windows.”  Well done!

Marc Weisskopf recently received a financial gift to study the epidemiology of autism in Israeli children.  He, along with Ranaan Raz, will be studying the possible link between maternal exposure to air pollution and stress and the incidence and prevalence of autism.  Marc also participated in a couple of website presentations geared to the general public.  He introduces himself and his interests here, and gives a lecture on the possible link between environmental contaminants and autism here.

Quan Lu is starting a project with colleagues for the Channing Lab entitled “Pharmacogenetics of Asthma Treatment.”

Xindi (Cindy) Hu reports that she had an “unforgettable” experience taking part in the HSPH/INSP Academic Exchange program with the Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica in Mexico.  More about the program can be found here.

I hope to see everyone at the EH Colloquium tomorrow and the Welcome Back reception next week. Enjoy the new semester and the nice crisp weather we’ve been having.


Notes – 9/2/2013

This was a great week as we welcomed our new students.  This year’s cohort includes 12 doctoral, 16 masters, and 6 MPH/medical residents.  We look forward to getting to know them over the coming weeks as they embark on their shared learning experience in the classroom and our research laboratories.   For those who new to the department, I write these department notes to highlight some of the work and accomplishments that are going on in our department.   I invite everyone to email me or Glenn Stern if you have some news to be included.

I am just returning from the joint meeting of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, the International Society for Exposure Science, and the International Society for Indoor Air Quality in Basel, Switzerland.  We were well represented by our faculty, researchers, students, and alumni.  We had a great time on Tuesday night with a get-together of our alumni and friends at a local beer garden.  Thanks to Jaime Hart for finding such a fun place, and Gary Adamkiewicz for making it work. It was terrific to see so many of our current and former colleagues.   Kudos to Annette Peters, the current ISEE President, and Francine Laden, the incoming president, and our colleagues at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute for organizing such a terrific conference.  Congratulations to Thuy Lam who received an award from ISEE for her outstanding poster.

The Center for Health and Global Environment has several interesting stories about  saving our seafood, lungs in a warming world, and global environmental threats on its website.

Congratulations to David Christiani who received word that the HSPH Education and Research Center (ERC) of Occupational Safety and Health grant was renewed through 2018.  This grant, which is heading into its 36th year, supports occupational health training to professionals and students.  Proposals for training grants in general, and this one in particular, take a lot of administrative effort to put together, so congratulations to all of the faculty and administrators that had a hand in its submission.  Read more about the grant here.

Bob Herrick received a new R25 grant from the NIEHS Superfund Research Program to develop continuing education and academic curricula on occupational health and safety management practices in the areas of emerging technologies (e.g., emerging hazardous waste products, green chemistry, and sustainable remediation).  Congratulations Bob!   Read more about it here.

Rick Rogers also received a grant from the Office of Naval Research, entitled “Integrated NIR test platform for Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) studies.”  Well done, Rick!

Also, congratulations to Alberto Caban-Martinez for receiving a K01 award entitled “Determinants of Multisite Musculoskeletal Pain Among Construction Workers.”  Well done, Alberto!

Jin-Ah Park was invited to be on the editorial board of the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular BiologyCongratulations on receiving this honor, Jin-Ah!

Li Su was featured in “This Month’s Success Story” by HSPH’s Human Resources Department.  You can read about her career progression here.  Also, Philip Steininger  was recently promoted to Laboratory Research Assistant and Sara (Hagstrom) Akashian was promoted to Financial Associate/Grants Manager.  Congratulations all!

Congratulations to EER doctoral student Elena Austin for successfully defending her dissertation entitled “Identification of Temporal and Spatial Patterns in Multi-Variate Air Pollution Data Sets.

Caitlin Powers, a student who I recently mentioned in a previous Department Notes, was interviewed in this Harvard Gazette article.  She explains how her SolSource product can bring sustainable and less polluting grilling to poor and rural environments.

Joe Brain is working hard as he learns to use his two new knees. He’s delighted to be in his Essex home after two weeks in a rehab facility in Danvers. He thanks friends in EH for emails and cards, and especially everyone for the two boxes of delicious pears that were sent by the department. Joe sends his appreciation for this “good medicine,”and we wish him our best as his recovery continues!

Summer is a great time for weddings, and I know of at least three members of our department that would agree.  Our best wishes and congratulations go out to Sara (formerly Hagstrom) Akashian, Christa Watson and Elizabeth (Liz) Guzy who all tied the knot this summer.

I hope you enjoyed the summer and look forward to seeing everyone back for the fall semester.  Hope you are enjoying the Labor Day holiday!


Notes – 7/28/2013

In summer, the pace of school slows a bit as many of us are doing off-site field work or just vacationing.  Still, many exciting things happen in our department year round, and the summer is no exception.  We have lots of news to report this month.

Congratulations to Quan Lu, who received his second major R01 award this year.  This new one is entitled “Mechanism and Function of Beta-2 Adrenergic Receptor Degradation in the Lung.”  Well done, Quan!

Phil Demokritou also received an award from BASF, entitled “Development of Novel Release and Exposure Methods to Define EHS Implications across the LC of NEPS:  End of Life Incineration of NEPs.”  Nice going, Phil!

Congratulations to senior author Marc Weisskopf and colleagues Jaime Hart, Francine Laden, and Allan Just for their article entitled “Perinatal air pollutant exposures and autism spectrum disorder in the children of Nurses’ Health Study II participants” in the June 18 online issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.  A summary of their findings was featured on HSPH’s website.

Another important research publication entitled “Propulsion and navigation within the advancing monolayer sheet” appeared in Nature Materials online on June 23.  It also was featured on the HSPH website. This study describes how epithelial cells move inside the body, and may provide scientists with crucial information about disease mechanisms such as the spread of cancer or the constriction of airways caused by asthma.  Congratulations to first author Jae Hun Kim, along with senior author Jeff Fredberg and contributing authors Jim Butler, Dhananjay Tambe, Enhua Zhou, Chan Young Park, Monirosadat Sadati, Jin-Ah Park, Bomi Gweon, Xavier Trepat and Emil Millet and several of their colleagues.

Congratulations to Andrea Baccarelli, Joel Schwartz, and their colleagues for their paper entitled “Effects of Particulate Matter on Genomic DNA Methylation Content and iNOS Promoter Methylation” which named the Environmental Health Perspectives’ 2013 Classic Paper of the Year.  This award recognizes EHP’s most highly cited Research Article, Commentary, or Review Article over the preceding 60 months; this one was cited over 140 times since its publication in August 2010!  Well done, Andrea and Joel.

Alex Lu has had a couple of major stories featured recently about his work.  First, the Wall Street Journal featured him in a debate about the merits of organic food.  You can find that article here.  Separately, the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine recently had an article that prominently mentioned his research concerning bee colony collapse.  You can find the article here, or read the summary of it currently appearing on the HSPH website here.  Congratulations on getting news of your work out to the general public, Alex!

Barton Seaver was featured on NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook.  Barton, a well-respected chef before joining our CHGE, talks about sustainable grilling.  You can listen to the program also find some of the delicious sounding recipes that he mentions.

Gary Adamkiewicz and Jim Hammitt have been asked to serve on the EPA’s Environmental Justice Technical Guidance Review Panel, under the auspices of the agency’s Science Advisory Board. This panel, the first of its kind for EPA, will provide advice and recommendations to EPA on the scientific soundness of its draft “Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis“.   This Guidance will shape the Agency’s methodology to assess disproportionate environmental and public health impacts of proposed rules and actions on minority, low income and indigenous populations in a variety of regulatory contexts.

In 2010 Caitlin Powers won an EPA award for developing a solar cooker designed to help villagers in China and India have a non-polluting, efficient way to cook meals.  They now have a kickstarter campaign to raise funds for this project.

Locally, the Harvard-NIEHS Center COEC co-sponsored the 2013 Health of Dorchester community forum, “A family discussion on sexual health and chronic disease,” at Dorchester House Multi-Service Center on June 26th. Major community partners of the event were the Boston Alliance for Community Health, MUA (Mujeres Unidas Avanzando), and the Boston Public Health Commission, and sponsors were the Center and Carney Hospital. Prior to the meeting, Trevon Mayers, Alex Carll, Alissa Wilcox, Ann Backus, and Madeleine Straubel screened meeting attendees with peak expiratory flow measurements.  During the forum, Ann Backus, Marie-Christine David, and Blair Wylie facilitated community discussions around the topic of sexual health following a presentation by Barbara Ferrer, Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. Thanks to all for this outreach work in the community!

Hope you are enjoying the summer!


Notes – 6/16/2013

Now that our Commencement ceremony (preceded by a joyous Department luncheon for our graduates, their families and friends) is over, we have shifted into a calmer summer mode.  We welcome students who are taking our summer courses, and those that have or will be taking the opportunity to study abroad for the summer.  I myself am just back from Kuwait where we were recognizing the completion of the first twelve months of our TRACER birth cohort study.  1500 pregnant women enrolled.  Well done Feiby Nassan, Ayah Ahmed, Smitha Abraham, and our team in Kuwait (see picture below).  Also thanks to Bruce Boley, Costas Christophi, Roz Wright, and Yara Abu Awad.

Summer is traditionally a time of transition, and we have some news on that front.

Congratulations to Quan Lu who has been promoted to Associate Professor.  Quan, who is in our MIPS program, uses cutting-edge genetics and genomics approaches to focus on understanding the complex gene-environment interactions that are critically involved in diseases relevant to public health.  Please join me in congratulating Quan on this major milestone.

On a more bittersweet note, we are bidding Dan Tschumperlin a fond farewell as he leaves us to join the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  Dan has been a faculty member in MIPS since 2001 and has been a major contributor to MIPS and our Department since then.  He will remain an adjunct faculty member here as he transitions into his new position.  We wish Dan all the best,  and we look forward to continued collaborations and contact with him in the future.

Christopher Hug, David Christiani, and Maitreyi Mazumdar of Children’s Hospital, received a faculty exploratory grant from the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE).  The name of their project is “A New Model for Chronic Respiratory Disease: environmental arsenic exposure induces a novel form of cystic fibrosis.”

The Liberty Mutual Fellows, Lauren A. Murphy, Candace Nelson, Avinoam Borowsky, Jin Qin, and Sohit Karol (in absentia),  presented an update on their work on June 3rd at the  LM Research Institute for Safety in Hopkinton.  These fellows continue to be particularly productive.  Congratulations to them and there Liberty Mutual and Harvard mentors.  Thanks to Alberto Caban-Martinez and Ted Courtney for organizing this interesting afternoon and their leadership of this partnership.

The EPA Clean Air Research Center had an outstanding meeting of their Science Advisory Committee the week before last.  It was an extraordinary display of cutting edge research on exposure assessment, experimental studies, observational studies and biostatistical methods.  Too many outstanding presentations and posters to list them all.  Petros Koutrakis has done an exceptional job in marshaling this outstanding air pollution research team.  Thanks to Alice Smythe for organizing this meeting, to all the poster presenters, to the project and core leaders, and especially to Petros Koutrakis for his leadership of this premiere air pollution research program.

I understand there was heavy competition in the MIPS program’s dessert contest.  Winners in the cake category were (in order) Zhiping Yang, Helen Cho and Sally Bedugnis.  In the pie category it was Magda Bortoni, Andressa Louzada and Glen Deloid.  In the “other” category it was Sally Bedugnis, Rose Filoramo and Alissa Wilcox.   And the grand prize winner was … Sally Bedugnis for the dessert she calls Nutella Balls.  Actually, from what I understand everyone who attended was a winner.  Thanks to Marshall Katler for organizing it, and to all who participated.  Next year I’ll have to plan my travels so I won’t miss it!

It is a beautiful Father’s Day and the Bruins won last night.  Enjoy!


Notes – 5/29/2013

The academic year has just ended, and we are looking forward to joyously celebrating with our graduating students and their families tomorrow.

Several of us attended the American Thoracic Society (ATS) meeting in Philadelphia last week.  Several people in our department received awards in recognition of their work.   David Christiani received the John Peters award from the Environmental and Occupational Health Assembly.  This award honors John Peters, who was a graduate of our program and former director of ERC.  Very well deserved honor David.

The EOH Assembly also presented Abstract Scholarship awards to Joel Mathews, Mary Rice, and Shu-Yi Liao. Congratulations!

I would also note that the two top ATS awards went to graduates of our program.  Jonathan Samet received the Trudeau Metal, and David Schwartz gave the Amberson Lecture.

In other news, David Christiani was featured in an NIEHS newsletter article entitled “Arsenic:  Learning the Effects, Lessening the Impacts in Bangladesh.”  Read about it here.  It’s great to see his important work being recognized in such a high profile forum.  Congratulations David!

Congratulations also to Jae Hun Kim who works in Jeff Fredberg’s lab.  He just had his paper entitled “Propulsion and navigation with the advancing monolayer sheet” accepted at Nature Materials.

Philippe Grandjean has just published a book entitled “Only One Chance – How Environmental Pollution Impairs Brain Development – and How to Protect the Brains of the Next Generation.”  It is available at  You can save 20% by entering promo code 30168.  Congratulations Philippe!

Also, hearty congratulations to Renee Costa, senior grants manager in EER, for receiving her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Emmanuel College.  Renee is now currently working on getting a masters degree.  Well done, Renee!

You may have noticed that the HSPH website is starting to feature notable advances that were made at our school as part of its centennial celebration.  Our department has been integral to the school’s proud history.  Recently an article recalled when Philip Drinker, one of our department’s late great faculty members, invented what came to be known as the “Iron Lung,” which saved thousands of children from the ravages of polio.  Read about it here.

The Center for Health and Global Environment has posted videos of Al Gore’s lecture and Alex Lu’s Earth Day presentation about honeybee colony collapse in case you missed them.

I thought I would mention that there are a number of new initiatives that the school and/or our department have begun.  First, there is now a way to post surplus lab supplies; check out to see if there is anything your lab could use.

Also, our department’s strategic plan initiative continues to progress.  I would like to thank the students who participated (during finals week, no less) in our presentation about the strategic plan and gave us some terrific feedback.  The same was true for the post-docs and research scientists who attended a session we had for them.  Please continue to provide any suggestions you may have to our email address or use the suggestion boxes located in the administrative areas.

Separately, a good number of our department administrators participated in a new EH Communications Working Group which will be meeting to share knowledge about how to best use online platforms and social media in our department.  A similar financial administrators group has just recently been formed.  It’s terrific that lots of new initiatives are taking place to share ideas about how to make the school and our department ever better.  You can contact Glenn Stern if you want to learn more about any of them.

Let’s hope the weather is clear for the graduation ceremony tomorrow.


NOTES – 5/6/2013

Happy Cinco de Mayo! We have come to the final month of the academic year, and we are heading full speed towards commencement on May 30th.

Stefanos Kales was presented with the 2013 Kehoe Award for Excellence in Education and Research in Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the ACOEM conference.  This prestigious lifetime achievement award is presented to an individual for significant contributions made to academic excellence or research in the disciplines of occupational medicine, environmental medicine, and/or environmental health.  Congratulations Stefanos!

Matthieu Trudeau and Emily Sparer each won best presentation awards at the “Human Factors and Ergonomics Society – New England Chapter” in April.  Emily’s presentation was entitled “A method to capture survey data from construction workers pre‐ and post-exposure to a worksite intervention.” Matthieu’s was entitled “An ergonomic evaluation tool for handheld device keyboard designs.” Congratulations to you both, and to your collaborators that worked with you on your projects!

Congratulations also to Rose Goldman and Alberto Cabán-Martinez along withAmy Cohen, Dan Borelli,and Marie Dunn for being selected to present at the Harvard University IT summit.  With grant support from the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT), they created an interactive multimedia teaching case entitled “Public Health Lessons of Ashland: A multimedia Case for Learning”.  Some of you may recognize this case from my EH 202 class.  They will be presenting on June 6.  This is a good example of thinking up new innovative ways to teach cases.  Great job!

Our Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) of the Harvard-HIEHS Center grant has been very active lately.  On Sunday, March 29th, they participated in the Dorchester Winter Farmers’ Market, conducting Peak Flow tests on attendees to measure the health of their airways and educating folks about the importance of healthy diet and exercise, as well as the connections between air pollution and health. Much appreciation to Ann Backus, Fangli Geng, Liz Guzy, Nicole McAllister, Madeleine Straubel, Katy Terrell, and Fan Xu for staffing the event.

On Saturday, April 13th, they participated in the Cambridge Science Festival with a variety of activities designed to educate attendees about air quality and health. Visitors to the booth, coordinated with MIT COEC, could measure their Peak Flow, compare healthy and cancerous swine lungs, use Legos to model complete and incomplete combustion, and age themselves using computer software to 72 according to habits like smoking and getting too much sun. Thanks to Ann Backus and Madeleine Straubel for coordinating the event, and special thanks to the volunteers who participated: Oscar Arias, Adrianna Boulin, Chris Dobson, Liz Guzy, Maria Korre, Sharon Lee, Christina Mark, Caitlin Matson, Sonia Rosner, Alissa Wilcox, and Vivian Zeng.

Finally, the COEC group participated in a health open house for the Latino community at Dorchester House Multi-Service Center. Wan-Chen Lee, Rajarshi Mukherjee, Magda Bortoni Rodriguez, and Madeleine Straubel conducted Peak Flow screenings for open house attendees and other members of the Dorchester community. Special thanks to our hardworking volunteers!

Thanks to Ping Shao and Cindy Hu who organized a series of panel discussions on Environmental Health Consulting. Local consultants shared their experiences and offered advice to our students considering work in this field.  We have gotten very positive feedback on this career guidance panel. Well done Cindy and Ping!

Both Rose Filoramo and Christine Ordija passed their Pre Qualifying Exams this week.  They are BPH students doing their research in Les Kobzik’s lab.  Well done!

Finally, we want to wish Joe Brain a speedy recovery.

Even as we all scramble to complete the term’s assignments, I hope you all have a chance to enjoy the glorious spring Boston weather.


Notes – 4/13/2013

These past couple of weeks have been a challenge for many of the investigators in our department.  A small amount of asbestos was discovered late on Easter Sunday night causing the abrupt and immediate closing of the ground and first floors in Building 1.  This unfortunate incident resulted in major disruptions to many projects and experiments.   We have been working closely with Operations, who has hired a company that specializes in asbestos abatement.  They developed a plan that was approved by the Mass Department of Environmental Protection.  We are grateful that this occurred late at night, when almost nobody was around to be exposed at the time of the incident.  I am heartened by the willingness of several labs in our department to open their doors to fellow researchers in the affected labs so that they could continue to work.  In addition to making sure that everything in the affected areas gets cleaned and cleared of asbestos, the source of the asbestos, fire dampers in the vents in the lower floors, are being removed.  The first floor has re-opened, and we are hoping that the ground floor will be re-opened next week.    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Glenn Stern who is our department’s point person on this issue.

As background, Building 1 was opened in 1962 as the Kresge Environmental Health Laboratory. It was originally only 4 floors.  The additional 10 floors were added starting in 1967.  These facilities are showing their age.

We did have other more positive news in the Department over the past several weeks.  Marc Weisskopf was senior author of a JAMA article that got a lot of attention.  It suggests that childhood abuse of mothers may be linked to autism in their children.  Read about it here.

Congratulations to Quan Lu, who won the Armen H. Tashjian, Jr. Award for Excellence in Endocrine Research.  Quan will be receiving his award and giving a lecture entitled “Message in a Nano-Vesicle: A New Way of Receptor Signaling and Cell Communication” on Wednesday, May 1 at 4:00 in Kresge G3.  Well done, Quan!

We also had several students who successfully completed their defenses:
Jennifer Garza – New Tools for the Assessment of Office Workers’ Muscle Activity, Posture, and Force Exposures During Computer Use, and Their Applications
Andreas Neophytou – Methods for Assessing Health Effects of Respirable Exposures
John Ji – Effect of Lead Exposure on Neuromotor Function and Movement Disorder
Wei Jie Seow – Genetic and Epigenetic Interactions of Arsenic-induced Skin Lesions
Shu-Yi Liao – Genome-Wide Association and Gene-Environment Interaction Analyses of Lung Function in the Framingham Heart Study
Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou – Bias, Uncertainty and Multi-Pollutant Exposures in Air Pollution Health Studies
Matthieu Trudeau – Handheld Device Design Affects Thumb Biomechanics
And Raphael Arku passed his orals.  Raphael is also featured in a video about the impact of financial aid.

Congratulations all!

Congratulations to Barbara Zuckerman, Alissa Wilcox and Li Su who were nominated along with 22 other HSPH colleagues as 2013 Harvard Heroes. Thanks for making our lives better here.

We had another great presentation in our Colloquium Series.  Paige Tolbert, Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, was our featured speaker.  It was nice to welcome Paige, who was a post-doc in the occupational health program.  On April 25, our next presentation will feature Gwen Collman, Director of the Division of Extramural Research and Training at the NIEHS.

The positive aspect of the closing of the ground and 1st floors was that it gave us additional encouragement to walk the stairs.  Our team on the 13th floor completed the virtual climb of Mt. Elbrus this week.  There is one more week to reach the top.  Awards will be presented during Earth Week (April 22nd to 26th).

Many of our colleagues are at MIT today helping with the Cambridge Science Festival.  Thanks and have fun!!

I’m off to the west coast for a series of meetings including the annual Health Effects Institute and NIEHS Center Directors meetings.

Take care, all.


Notes – 3/24/2013

It’s hard to believe Spring Break is here, especially with snow still on the ground.  I hope all of our students enjoyed their week off and recharged their batteries for the final push that will carry them through the rest of the academic year.

On Saturday, several of us participated in a Memorial Service for Don Hornig, who was our Department Chair from 1987 to 1990 and Founding Director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Health.  As a young physicist, Don played a key role in the development of the atomic bomb.  He served as Science Advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and was President of Brown University. Here at HSPH he was instrumental in establishing the culture of multidisciplinary approaches to addressing complex environmental health problems.  We have established a Fellowship to honor his contributions to the School and our Department.

Congratulations to Elsie Sunderland who received an NSF grant entitled “Methylmercury Interactions with Marine Plankton.”  Elsie will be collaborating with teams from SUNY at Stony Brook and University of Connecticut.  Well done!

Also, congratulations to lead author Gary Adamkowicz and co-authors Ami Zota, Patricia Fabian, Teresa Chahine, Rhona Julien, Jack Spengler, and Jon Levy for receiving a “Paper of the Year Award” from the American Journal of Public Health.  Their paper was entitled “Moving Environmental Justice Indoors: Understanding Structural Influences on Residential Exposure Patterns in Low-Income Communities.”   The journal commented, “This paper is a reminder that confining environmental justice concerns to the outside environment misses a large source of inequity”. Well done for bringing this important subject to light!

Over in our Center for Health and the Global Environment, Barton Seaver was featured in an article in the Boston Globe entitled “A Former Chef Becomes a Sustainable Food Expert.”  Also, please join me in welcoming Marcy Franck, CHGE’s new Communications Coordinator, to our Department.

Last week we welcomed back Stephanie London, an alumnus of the School and currently Principal Investigator in Genetic Susceptibility and the Environment at the NIEHS, who gave a presentation in our Leaders in EH Colloquium Series.  The next speaker will be Paige Tolbert, Chair of the Department of Environmental Health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health on April 11th.

I’m looking forward to this Wednesday’s Piece of the Chair.  All staff, students and faculty are welcome to stop by Building 1, 1301 from noon to 1:30.  We’ll have pizza and refreshments, and it will give us all a chance to reconnect after the Spring break.

Many of us will be traveling up to Nashua, NH on Friday for a luncheon honoring Bill Burgess, who will be receiving the 2013 Emeritus Professor Award of Merit.  The citation reads:

William A. Burgess, associate professor of occupational health engineering, emeritus, a leader in the field of industrial hygiene, has devoted his illustrious career to the development and application of engineering solutions to the amelioration of workplace hazards.  He is well known for generating innovative and effective methods to evaluate and control workers’ exposure to toxic air contaminants.  Notably, he has made the workplace safer by improving the design of personal protection equipment, in particular, lightweight, ergonomic respirators for use by firefighters.  Professor Burgess is also recognized as one of the world’s leading educators in industrial hygiene, as the co-founder of the school’s flagship course in this field—which has trained generations of health and safety professionals, and as author of the definitive text on workplace ventilation.

We are proud to acknowledge Professor Burgess’s six decades of affiliation with the Harvard School of Public Health and are deeply grateful for his distinguished, dedicated service to this institution and to the field of industrial hygiene.

We are looking forward to celebrating this award with Bill and Joyce and many of his colleagues and trainees.

I know many department members have joined teams as part of the “Take the Stairs” campaign.  We have a team on the 13th floor.  Please let me know the name of your teams.  See you on the stairs (and at the Piece of the Chair) next week!


Notes – 3/9/2013

Congratulations to Iny Jhun for a number of recent accomplishments.  She published her first paper in the Journal of Air and Waste Management Association, entitled “PM2.5 mass and species trends in Santiago, Chile, 1998 to 2010: The impact of fuel-related interventions and fuel sales”.  She also recently passed her oral qualifying exam.  Last but not least, we’d like to recognize Iny for creating an after school math & science tutoring program at the Roxbury Charter School. Many of these middle school students come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. Iny has recruited 24 other HSPH students who tutor once a week, and have now logged in over 150 student-hours of tutoring since November!  Thanks to EH students Sandra Pirela and Julianne Boccuzzi for taking part in this program.  Iny invites any other students, staff or faculty members who are interested in becoming volunteer tutors to contact her at  She says that there are plenty more kids that could use a hand!

Next, congratulations to Andrea Baccarelli, who has been invited to join the editorial review board of the Environmental Health Perspectives journal.  Well done, Andrea!

Alex Lu received notice of a grant from Wells Fargo to continue his research on Colony Collapse Disorder among honeybees.  This opportunity was facilitated by our new partners at the Center for Health and the Global Environment.  Congratulations to Alex and thanks to Wells Fargo and the folks at CHGE.

This week Jack Spengler spoke to Harvard Alumni in Chicago on “Our Moment in Time: The Next Phase of Climate Change”.  Attendees included many of our graduates who were happy to catch up with their former teacher and mentor.  Thanks for helping us stay connected Jack.

The School held its annual “Celebration of the Stars” event last week to show its appreciation for people working here that have reached a milestone anniversary.  On behalf of our Department, I would like to congratulate and thank EH members who celebrated the following milestones:

30 years:  Rose Goldman; 25 years:  Joan Arnold and Diane Gold; 20 years:  Jim Shine and Nancy Long Sieber; 15 years: Christina Kehoe, James Stewart and Li Su; 10 years:  Ramace Dadd, Philippe Grandjean, John McCracken and Ema Rodrigues; and 5 years: Isabelle Altman, Sally Bedugnis, Sanjukta Ghosh, Anthonia Grant, Michaela Kapp, Myra Keller, Quan Lu, Phuong-son Nguyen, Jin-Ah Park, Juliana Rosario, Rosalinda Sepulveda, Bernardo Lemos, Dhananjay Tambe, Kat von Stackelberg, and Barbara Zuckerman. 

Thank you to all of our EH Stars for your years of service!

And finally, speaking of milestones, I’d like to congratulate Joe Brain for teaching his course “The Human Organism” to undergraduates for an amazing 40 years!  Joe’s accomplishment was featured on the HSPH website here, as this will be the final year that he teaches it.  Fortunately for the undergrads, Stephanie Shore, who is currently co-teaching it with him, will be continuing to offer the course in the future.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Notes – 2/15/2013

A week ago we were in the middle of our first significant snow of the past two years.  I’m glad to see that everyone made it through and we are all back in the swing of things.  The storm was a blessing for me, allowing me to work at home on the competing renewal application of our Harvard-NIEHS Center.  We submitted on Wednesday.  This is a very large and important grant not only for our Department, but also for other departments and the school.  Now in its 50 year, it is the oldest continuously funded NIEHS grant. I want to thank all of the faculty and staff (too numerous to mention here) who contributed to this application.  While we need to wait for it to be reviewed to see whether or not it gets funded, I am very proud of the quality of our submission.  Again, thanks to everyone that worked on it!

Our Department’s Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHGE) had a very big week last week.  The main event was the inaugural Paul R. Epstein Memorial Lecture delivered by former Vice President Al Gore.  Dr. Paul Epstein, who passed away in 2011, was one of the founders of the CHGE and served as Associate Director.  Paul was a pioneer in elucidating the links between climate change and public health.   It was altogether fitting, therefore, that Al Gore spoke about the dangers of climate change, its causes, and its consequences for health.   Introducing Mr. Gore were Dean Julio Frenk, current CHGE Director Jack Spengler, and co-founder and former Director of CHGE Eric Chivian.  You can read more about the event here.  Congratulations to CHGE for hosting this inspiring major event.

The next day, Eric Chivian was the featured speaker at the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition’s Retreat, which brought together the major land conservation groups and Massachusetts state agency leaders.  His talk was entitled “Global Environmental Threats: Why They are Hard to See and How Physicians Can Help.”  He stressed how the medical/public health model can help people to understand environmental threats in concrete ways that affect them personally.

Congratulations to Quan Lu, who received a new R01 entitled “Arsenic Exposure, ER Stress and Type 2 Diabetes” from NIEHS.  Great job, Quan!

Also, congratulations to Sam Myers, who received a Gates Foundation grant entitled “Quantifying human vulnerability to changes in crop nutrients resulting from rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide.”  Well done, Sam!

Hearty congratulations to Jin-Ah Park, who received two awards.  The first is an award from the Parker B. Francis Fellowship Program for Jin-Ah’s proposal entitled ““Bronchial epithelial cells as a source of angiogenic factors.”  The second is a four year grant from the American Heart Association entitled “Mechanoresponsive regulators of angiogenesis in asthmatic airway remodeling.”  Well done, Jin-Ah!

Marc Weisskopf was interviewed in a recent feature article in the MDA/ALS NewsMagazine in which he discusses possible environmental factors in ALS.  Find out more here.

Diane Gold gave a well-received presentation as part of the Environmental Health Colloquium for our colloquia on Valentine’s Day that was appropriately called “An Intimate Affair:  our Ancient, Complex and Evolving Relationship with Microbes.”  Thanks Diane!  The next presentation in our Environmental Health Colloquium Series will be by Dr. Stephanie London, P.I. of Genetic Susceptibility and the Environment from the NIEHS on March 14.

Finally, we were delighted to learn that the Faculty Council has named Bill Burgess the 2013 Outstanding Emeritus Faculty.  Starting in the mid 1960’s, Bill was one of the leaders in in what was then called the Department of Industrial Hygiene, which has evolved to become the present day EOME program in the Department of Environmental Health.  Since becoming emeritus, Bill has continued to teach in our Professional Education courses.  Bill richly deserves this very prestigious award for his lifetime of excellence in researching the connection between occupational exposures and diseases.  Congratulations Bill!

I hope you all enjoy the upcoming President’s Day weekend.



Notes – 1/29/2013

Welcome back to our faculty and students who were away during the winter session!   We hope you had a fulfilling learning experience in the “real world.”  We would like to hear about what you were up to; please drop me a note.

Nancy Long Sieber has returned from facilitating  a 2-week course,  “Non-communicable Disease Prevention in India,” directed by Richard Cash and hosted by Lown Visiting Professor Srinath Reddy and his Public Health Foundation in New Delhi.  Participants were physicians and researchers who work in low and middle income countries.  Included were 4 MPH students, Vikas Pabby, Shilpa Sharma, Candace Brown and Stephanie Cheng, as well as 2 Lown Scholars, Marina Njelekela, a physician from Tanzania and Feiby Nassan, a physician from Egypt and a graduate of our Cyprus Institute.

By the way, Bernie Lown, the inspiration for these activities, maintains an interesting and active website.  His latest blog entry is entitled  “Nature has the upper hand. So far it has “gently” protested, but …” provides a thoughtful and provocative look at the causes and implications of climate change.

We were sorry to hear of the death of Don Hornig, our dear colleague and former Chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Physiology (1988-90).  He was the founding Director of the Interdisciplinary Programs in Health.  Don received the 2012 Professor Emeritus Award of Merit.  Memorial articles can be found on the HSPH website, the Washington Post, and the NY Times.

The Department is incredibly productive in terms of publications, and we do not normally note individual publications.  However, whenever someone succeeds in completing the Health Effects Institute editorial process, it is worth noting.  So congratulations to Tom Smith, Mary Davis, Jaime Hart, Andrew Blicharz, Francine Laden and Eric Garshick on publication of their HEI  research report entitled “Potential Air Toxics Hot Spots in Truck Terminals and Cabs.”

We are trying to acknowledge new grants.  Les Kobzik started the year off right by receiving a new NHLBI R01 entitled “Plasma Gelsolin and Host Defense After Lung Injury.”  And Quan Lu received notice of award for an NIEHS R01 entitled “Arsenic exposure, ER stress and Type 2 diabetes.”  Great work Les and Quan, and everyone who helped prepare these applications!

Congratulations also to Sandra Pirela who just passed her oral qualify exam.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all at our annual department winter celebration this Thursday at 4:00 in the Kresge cafeteria.  This year we have a pirate theme, so stop by, enjoy the food and libations and say “Ahoy” to your fellow mates and their families! ARGH Matey!



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.



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 – 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.  Who’s her dad?  Find out here.



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.  Who’s her dad?  Find out here.



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.  Read an English translation of the newspaper article.   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!





Notes – 12/25/11

It is Christmas morning and I have a couple of minutes before everyone here in the Dockery household gets up.  It has been a very busy couple of weeks, leading up to the holidays.   Like everyone I am looking forward to a few days of family time.  I hope that everyone is enjoying a well-deserved break.

This past week we again remembered Mel First who would have turned 97 on Friday, December 23rd.   We also remember Mary Ellen (Mel) Avery, who passed away two weeks ago.  Mel was a pediatrician and one of our most famous research fellows.  In 1959, together with her mentor Jere Mead, she identified the cause of infant respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), and developed treatments for it.   Her work has saved countless infants’ lives, and for that she was awarded the National Medal of Science Award in 1991.  An inspirational trailblazer, her life’s accomplishments were summarized in an article written by Nancy Long-Sieber (see attached).

We also have some good news to report.  Bernardo Lemos, our newest faculty member, just received an award from the William F. Milton Fund for his proposal entitled “Novel models for high-throughput environmental epigenetics.  Congratulations on an auspicious start, Bernardo!

Even though this calendar year has been full of challenges, our Department has managed to achieve much.  I’m confident that our record of accomplishments will continue in 2012.  I myself will start off the new year teaching in Japan and then Cyprus.  I will be back in Boston the third week of January.

Let me close by saying that I feel blessed to be the Chair of a department that has so many talented researchers, students, and staff.  I wish us all a relaxing break and a happy, healthy and productive 2012.  Cheers!



Notes – 12/2/2011

I hope everyone came back refreshed, and likely overfed, from the Thanksgiving holiday.  We are all now in the home stretch and trying to wrap up the fall semester. Even as we approach the end of  this semester, registration has opened for the Winter and Spring terms.  I wanted to call your attention to a new course entitled Translational  Research Studies of  Occupational  Health and Safety (EH 528) which has been organized by some of our post-doctoral fellows – Alberto Caban-Martinez, Silje Reme, Anna Wirtz, and Justin Young, plus Garry Gray.  Jack Dennerlein is serving as the faculty instructor.   Thanks to Silje, Anna, and Alberto for coming up with this concept and getting it approved and organized.  We hope lots of our students and fellows will sign up.

I wanted to share the good news that our alumnus and colleague Howard Hu was named Director of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.  He will be starting in the summer of 2012.  We congratulate him and wish him best of luck in his new position.

Two students have successfully passed their oral exams over the past two weeks:
Matthieu Trudeau
, whose thesis is “Investigating the impact of mobile devices on thumb biomechanical exposures that affect user performance, comfort, and that might involve ergonomic risk factors,” and Yongmei Shen, whose thesis is “Modeling bioaccessibility of heavy metals in soils.”  Congratulations and well done, Matt and Yongmei!!

This week we had a goodbye party to Amy Cohen, our department’s Associate Director of Finance and the Program Administrator of MIPS.  We will miss her and wish her the best of luck in her new position as Director of Administration for the MD/PhD program at Harvard Medical School.

All three programs are celebrating the end of the year with parties.  Even as you work hard to finish up the year, I hope you can find the time to celebrate with your colleagues.   As has been our practice, the EH department will have a “welcome back” party on February 2, at the stat of the Spring semester.

Enjoy the weekend!



Notes – 11/11/2011

On Friday we celebrated Veterans Day.  We want to extend our thanks and appreciation to all who serve and have served our country in the armed services.  We are proud to have Kevin Johnson (US Navy) and Talib Ali (US Air Force) studying with us  this year.  We also acknowledge our alumni currently in the armed services, and those in our department who have family currently serving.

Ann Backus presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in DC last week, on the development of nursing case studies to support environmental health education.  We are proud of Ann’s leadership of our Community Outreach and Education programs.

This week we will have two seminars in our series on Climate Change and Environmental Health.  On Thursday (12:30, 1-1302) John Balbus of NIEHS will speak with the very intriguing title of “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be: Climate Change, Health, and the Federal Response.”  On Friday (12:30, Kresge 502) Philippe Grandjean and Henning Pedersen, District Medical Officer of Nuuk, Greenland will present on  Greenland as an environmental health laboratory.”  Should be two very interesting presentations.

Hope you have enjoyed the nice weather this weekend.


Notes – 11/4/2011

We had a number of faculty members in the Far East this past week. In the third week of his trip to China, David Christiani gave an invited lecture at the new School of Engineering at Tongji University in Shanghai.

Joe Brain and  Nancy Long Sieber co-chaired an international symposium “The Life Cycle of Metals:  Improving Health, Environment and Human Security” co-sponsored by the University of Tokyo and our Department.  In addition to Joe and Nancy, Phil Demokritou and Akira Tsuda gave presentations.  I understand the conference was a great success.  Welocme back to all our travelers, and we are looking forward to hearing about your trips and the new research and training opportunities.

Congratulations to Sandra Pirela whose poster on copier-emitted nanoparticles received a Student Poster Award at the American Association for Aerosol Research (AAAR) conference in Orlando, Florida.  Well done, Sandra!

Sandra’s work is part of the Center for Nanotechnology and Nanotoxicology which is featured in the fall issue of the Harvard Public Health Review.

This year’s Environmental Health Colloquium Series has been organized by the student Environmental Health and Sustainability Club and is focusing on global environmental change and human health. Ari Bernstein kicked off the Colloquium Series with his excellent presentation entitled “The Changing Climate and Health: Greenhouse Gases as a Public Health Risk“.  You can find a feature article on his talk on the HSPH web site. Don’t miss John Briscoe’s presentation this coming Thursday, November 10, entitled “Climate Change, Water, and Health”, which promises to be equally interesting.  Click here for a complete schedule.

We had an appreciation brunch and workshop for our Administrators this week.  Our administrators are the “unsung” heroes who keep the department and programs running and make it possible for faculty and students to succeed.  I think we all recognize that the administrative work load has been increasing.  For example, the number of grant submissions has doubled in the past three years.  This is a testament to the initiative of our faculty and researchers, and the increased effort by our administrators.  The brunch gave administrators from all three programs the chance to meet each other, get to know each other’s areas of expertise, and talk about the challenges that they face.  Most of all, on behalf of all the faculty and researchers I want to thank our department’s administrators for the fine work that they do!

Speaking of outstanding administrators, Amy Cohen informed us that she will be moving on to Harvard Medical School where she will be the Administrative Director for the MD/PhD program.  Amy has been instrumental in helping me understand and manage the department budget and spending, as well as my own grants.  She has done the same for the MIPS faculty and investigators. She has been a terrific mentor and coach for all of us who are challenged by our financial system.  Replacing her will be difficult, but she leaves us with great management systems in place. She’s not leaving until the end of the month, so we’ll have a chance to say goodbye and wish her well.

We ended the week on a fun note with a mixer of students, faculty, and staff from Environmental Health, Biostatistics and Epidemiology.  It was fun to unwind with our quantitative colleagues.  We plan to do this again.  I think we all need to improve our karaoke skills before then.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend – the weather is nice for this time of year, at least compared to last weekend’s snow storm.



Notes – 10/30/11

David Christiani sends his regards from China where he is on a three-week trip.  He gave an invited presentation on “Gene-Environment Interactions in Cancer” at the International Conference on Translational Medicine in Wenzhou, China. Participants also included Jeff Drazen and a distinguished international group.  This week he gave a Plenary talk on “Preventing Environmental Cancer” at the  International Conference on Global Health and Public Health Education at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Safe travels David.

Joe Brain and Nancy Long-Sieber are in Japan this week hosting a symposium on The Life Cycle of Metals: Improving Health, Environment and Human Security at the University of Tokyo.

Petros Koutrakis reports that the Department was well represented at the annual meeting of the International Society for Expouse Sciences this week in Balitmore.  Petros hosted an social event for about 30 current and former members of our exposure assessment program.  Jeremy Sarnat, one of our alumni, received the Joan Daisey Outstanding Young Scientist Award.  We are proud of Jeremy and all of our faculty, researchers, and graduates who are having such an influence on the field.

I hope you have noticed the Environmental Health highlights on the HSPH website.  There are featured articles on Joe Braun’s recent paper on the link between prenatal exposures to BPA and behavioral and emotional problems in young girls.  There is also an article on the Mel First Symposium, and one on David Chrisitiani’s PNAS paper on smoking and copy number variation (CNV) in lung tumors.

The feature article in the current issue of Environmental Health Perspectives “Stress–Pollution Interactions: An Emerging Issue in Children’s Health Research” highlights research by Rosalind Wright and Jane Clougherty.  Jane is now on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, but continues to work with John Godleski on animal models of social stress and air pollution.

Winter abruptly arrived this weekend.  It means that the trip to and from Landmark is going be a lot less pleasant.  I note this because I have been using the Hubway bike sharing program for the past couple of months.  There are currently bike stations at Landmark, in Brigham Circle, and at the Circle at Avenue Louis Pasteur.  I have found it to be a great way to get back and forth to Landmark.  On the other hand, the other day Glenn Stern and I left Landmark at exactly the same time, Glenn on foot, and me on a Hubway bike.  We arrived back on the 14th floor at exactly the same time.  Go figure.

Nevertheless, I highly recommend this bike sharing program.  They will be shutting down soon for the winter.  Bike stations are currently only in the central Boston area, but in the spring they will expand to Cambridge and the neighborhoods in Boston.

Fall two classes start already tomorrow.  Don’t forget the mixer with the Biostatistics and Epidemiology departments on Friday.

Hope you have been safe and warm this weekend.  Happy Halloween!!



Notes – 10/14/11

I have to apologize for forgetting to send my notes out last week. I frankly forgot to push the send button.  So here is a slight update of my notes from October 7th.

On Friday two weeks ago we hosted a symposium dedicated to the memory of Mel First, our friend and colleague who passed away at the age of 96 this summer.  We celebrated his incredible career that extended over more than 6 decades here in our department.  We had moving tributes from our colleagues here at HSPH  (Julio Frenk, Joe Brain, Steve Rudnick, Ed Nardell), several of Mel’s students (David Leith, Janet Macher and Jack McCarthy), and colleagues (Lou Kovach, Lou DiBerardinis) from across the country discussing  their work and how Mel influenced it.  In many ways Mel’s career mirrored the evolution of HSPH and the Environmental Health department in particular, so the speakers combined to walk us through our school’s environmental public health history.  Mel’s sons Bill and Michael and daughter-in-law Kiar were in attendance, and later expressed to me their appreciation for the symposium, the reception that followed, and a dinner that followed for the family and speakers.  I want to again thank the speakers and those that helped organize the event, particularly Alissa, Barbara, and Glenn for making this event such a success.

We received the sad news that Dade Moeller passed away at the age of 85.  Dade was a Professor of Environmental Health Engineering from 1966 – 1993, Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Services from 1966 – 1981, and he also served as the Associate Director of the Harvard-NIEHS Center for Environmental Health.   Dade played a major role in the development of our department and we miss him as a friend and colleague, and extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.

Welcome to Julie Goodman who is the new Harvard-NIEHS Center Administrator.  Julie has a Ph.D. from Boston University in Behavioral Neuroscience and has wide ranging experience as a researcher, instructor, and research administrator. Julie has quickly picked up the reins as we prepare for our non-competing renewal application in February, plan for the Center Directors Meeting in the spring, and our competitive renewal next year.  Welcome Julie!

Also welcome Bernardo Lemos, our newest faculty member in MIPS.  Bernardo has a BSc from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janero,  Brazil, an MSc from the National Cancer Institute/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janero, and a PhD from Harvard University in the Department of Organismic and Evoloutionary Biology, where his dissertation was “Patterns and processes in the evolution of genomic expression; Evolutionary genomics.”  We look forward to working with you.

We celebrate the move of many of the MIPS folks back to their newly renovated space on the second floor of Building 2.  We thank everyone in MIPS for their patience and cooperation as they went through the challenges of moving the entire lab, which is never easy.  We hope that they enjoy their new space and that it fosters many productive scientific discoveries and accomplishments.



Notes – 10/7/11

I have to apologize for forgetting to send my notes out last week. I frankly forgot to push the send button.  So here is a slight update of my notes from October 7th.

On Friday two weeks ago we hosted a symposium dedicated to the memory of Mel First, our friend and colleague who passed away at the age of 96 this summer.  We celebrated his incredible career that extended over more than 6 decades here in our department.  We had moving tributes from our colleagues here at HSPH  (Julio Frenk, Joe Brain, Steve Rudnick, Ed Nardell), several of Mel’s students (David Leith, Janet Macher and Jack McCarthy), and colleagues (Lou Kovach) from across the country discussing  their work and how Mel influenced it.  In many ways Mel’s career mirrored the evolution of HSPH and the Environmental Health department in particular, so the speakers combined to walk us through our school’s environmental public health history.  Mel’s sons Bill and Michael and daughter-in-law Kiar were in attendance, and later expressed to me their appreciation for the symposium, the reception that followed, and a dinner that followed for the family and speakers.  I want to again thank the speakers and those that helped organize the event, particularly Alissa, Barbara, and Glenn for making this event such a success.

We received the sad news that Dade Moeller passed away at the age of 85.  Dade was a Professor of Environmental Health Engineering from 1966 – 1993, Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Services from 1966 – 1981, and he also served as the Associate Director of the Harvard-NIEHS Center for Environmental Health.   Dade played a major role in the development of our department and we miss him as a friend and colleague, and extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.

Welcome to Julie Goodman who is the new Harvard-NIEHS Center Administrator.  Jennifer a Ph.D. from Boston University in Behavioral Neuroscience and has wide ranging experience as a researcher, instructor, and research administrator. Julie has quickly picked up the reins as we prepare for our non-competing renewal application in February, plan for the Center Directors Meeting in the spring, our competitive renewal next year.  Welcome Julie!

Also welcome Bernardo Lemos, our newest faculty member in MIPS.  Bernardo has a BSc from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janero,  Brazil, an MSc from the National Cancer Institute/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janero, and a PhD from Harvard University in the Department of Organismic and Evoloutionary Biology, where his dissertation was “Patterns and processes in the evolution of genomic expression; Evolutionary genomics”.  We look forward to working with you.

We celebrate the move of many of the MIPS folks back to their newly renovated space on the second floor of Building 2.  We thank everyone in MIPS for their patience and cooperation as they went through the challenges of moving the entire lab, which is never easy.  We hope that they enjoy their new space and that it fosters many productive scientific discoveries and accomplishments.



Notes – 9/23/11

I have been back almost a week from the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) annual meeting in Barcelona.  As usual the department was well represented by current researchers and graduates of our training programs.  This meeting is also a terrific opportunity to catch up with our graduates and colleagues from around the world. It makes me particularly proud to see the outstanding work that we are currently doing and the influence we have had on the field.  Barcelona is also one of my favorite cities. The art and architecture are fascinating, but I think we all most enjoyed the food and nightlife.  All in all it was a intellectually productive conference in a uniquely refreshing locale.

This week we welcomed four work study students to help us in the Department office.  Victoria Ayano Ogawa, an MPH student in the SHDH department, joins Maleena Lee from Simmons College to assist our junior faculty. Kaylee Rees and Miranda McDaniel, both from Simmons, will assist the EH Department administrators.  Great to have some new hands on board.  Please stop by to introduce yourself and welcome them.

On Wednesday, we participated in one of the school web Forum, “Smog or Jobs? The Impact of Tigther Ozone Pollution Control on Health and the U.S. Economy”, which discussed President Obama’s recent decision to withdraw the EPA’s draft ozone air quality standards.  Panelists included Rogene Henderson, John Walke, Roger McClellan, and W. David Montgomery, and Cristine Russell served as the moderator.  We want to thank Robin Herman and Caitlin Hubbard who pulled this together so quickly, and the panelists who agreed to participate on short notice. You can watch the web-cast of this event at this link.

Yesterday we joined the school in celebrating Postdoc Appreciation Day with a reception and mentor award ceremony.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our department’s post-docs for helping the EH faculty with their extraordinary research. Post-docs play a vital role in a research team.  I’d also like to congratulate our own David Kasahara, who was presented with the HSPH Postdoctoral Association’s (PDA’s) Service Award in recognition of his many contributions to the PDA, postdocs at the school, and the National Postdoc Association.

Unfortunately, for financial reasons we are forced to close the Organics Lab located in G44 next month.  We would like to thank Brian LaBrecque and Scott Forsberg for their years of service in that lab, and Larissa Altshul for her consulting work over the years.  We encourage anyone that has past or current projects to contact Brian or Scott to make arrangements to get their research data and materials, or to arrange for their disposal.

More positively, two of our faculty members received notice of new grant awards.

Elsie Sunderland was awarded a National Science Foundation grant entitled “Collaborative Research: Interwove biogeochemical cycles and biological transformations of mercury and selenium in the upper ocean.”  Well done, Elsie!

Andrea Baccarelli was awarded two grants from NIEHS.  The first is an R01 in Epigenomics of Human Health and Disease, “Environment, Fetal Tissue DNA Methylation & Birthweight.”   The second one is an R21 entitled “Micro-RNA Profiling and Cardiovascular Effects of Traffic Particle Exposure.”  Double congratulations Andrea!

And special congratulations to Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou, a 4th year doctoral student who has been awarded a prestigious 2011 EPA STAR Fellowship.  She will be studying the effects of air pollution sources and pollutant properties on emergency hospital admissions.  Great work Marianthi!!

Next Friday is the Mel First Symposium.  We are looking forward to this opportunity to remember our beloved mentor and colleague.

Today is the first day of fall, and we were looking forward to the start of the baseball playoffs next week. Somehow while we in Barcelona, the Red Sox went into a classic September swoon.  Hopefully they will hold on to their two game lead for the wild card in the playoffs.



Notes – 9/9/11

I know the school year has begun as it is hard to find a seat in the cafeteria at lunch, especially on rainy days as we had for much of the week. Classrooms are full.  The bulletin boards are filling up with announcements of seminars, working groups, and furniture for sale. The new students are eagerly trying out the menu of classes. We are getting lots of visitors stopping by the office, including many former students and trainees. There is lots of energy here at the school as the academic year gets into full swing.

On Wednesday next week the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies is hosting an open house for students and fellows from Brazil, those who have been to or are interested in going to Brazil, or any of us just interested in Brazil.  Details are on the web.

I wish I could join our Brazilian students there, but I am heading to Barcelona for the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) annual meeting. There is always a large contingent of researchers from our department at this meeting, as well as large numbers of our alumni and colleagues.  Barcelona is one of my favorite cities, and I expect the numbers will be large at the meeting.

Congratulations to Jamie and Brad Lichtenstein-Rosenblum on the birth of their daughter, Carolyn Nancy, who was born (appropriately) on Labor Day. The family is reportedly doing well. We look forward to seeing pictures.

Stefanos Kales was one of the expert panelists at the HSPH Forum this week on “Disaster Response: A Decade of Lessons Learned Post 9/11.”  Steve reviewed the health effects observed in the fire-fighters, police, and other first responders.  Take a look at the webcast.  Well done Steve.

I am sure everyone will be thinking back on Sunday to where they were on September 11th ten years ago.  I was on the 14th floor of the Kresge building when we heard that the first plane had stuck the World Trade Tower.  I remember the feeling of powerlessness as the events unfolded that day.  I was very glad to be in Boston, as I had been in Washington the day before, at a meeting in the Executive Office building next door to the White House. Many of us had been at the ISEE meeting in Germany earlier in the week, and many of our colleagues did not get back home for several weeks.   Our lives have all changed as a result of this attack.

Hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable weekend and week.



Notes – 9/3/11

I hope everyone had an enjoyable summer, and is ready to start the 2011-2012 academic year..

Welcome back our returning students, and especially welcome our new students.  We currently have a total of 98 students in our department from 22 countries.

We have 11 new doctoral (ScD, PhD, and DPH) students: Yara Abu Awad, Souzana Achilleos, Miling Li, Christine Ordija, German Orrego, Yang (Sophia) Qiu, Mohammad Rahman, Rodosthenis Rodosthenous,  Emily Sparer, Peter Umukoro, Erica Walker, and Tara Zolnikov,

15 new master of science (MS) students: Julianne Baccuzzi, Erin Colllins, Meryl Colton, Lingzhen Dai, Clifton Dassuncao, Michael Grant, Torey Jerauld,  Michael Lin, Goro Maruno, Wei Niu, Vanessa Palmer, Molly Reddington, Ping Shao, Pei-Fang Tsai

and 8 new master of public health (MPH, MOH) students: Talib Ali, Kevin Johnson, Chun Lin Kwok, Beenish Mehboob, Simon Muchochi, Adesina Sanni, Dennis Teehan, and Jinming Zhang.

Undeterred by the havoc Hurricane Irene stirred up, the incoming students completed their orientation, everyone has registered and courses began mid-week.

For those of you that are new, as Chair of the Department I try to write these notes every week or so to highlight the goings on in the department and to recognize the accomplishments that people in our department achieve.  Please let me know if you have any news that you would like to share.

We have had several notable achievements in the last two weeks.  Vishal Vaidya has been awarded an Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.  This is the premier NIEHS grant award for new environmental health researchers.  Well done, Vishal.

Secondly Angeliki Lambrou successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Metal exposure, DNA methylation and cognitive function,” last Thursday. Congratulations, Angeliki!

Thirdly, congratulations to Mark Long and his wife on the birth of their baby girl on August 17th.  Everyone is reportedly doing well.

I had a very successful trip to São Paulo the week before last. I was able to sneak back into Boston last Saturday, just before Irene arrived.  The trip was sponsored by TV Globo and included a live webinar on air pollution in São Paulo.  Here is a link. I also had very  positive meetings with the sponsors of our visiting students from the Faculdade de Medicina of Universidade de São Paulo.  On Friday I met with these Brazilian student to brief them on my trip, and review their experiences here in Boston.  This is a very exciting and successful exchange program.  Thanks to John Godleski and Patrice Ayers for making this happen.

I hope everyone is enjoying the long Labor Day weekend, and will be ready to start the fall academic year in earnest on Tuesday.



Notes – 8/21/11

It has been fairly quiet over the last couple of weeks.  New students should start arriving this week, with orientation starting a week from Monday.

Christina Hemphill successfully defended her dissertation, entitled “Community Exposure to Ultrafine Particles from a Highway and Cardiovascular Markers” last week.  Christina will be starting a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University in the fall.   Congratulations Christina!

Congratulations to Antonella Zanobetti and Diane Gold on their new R21 grant entitled “Climate Change and Cardiac Vulnerability in Humans.”

Natalya Mizrahi and her husband welcomed their new baby daughter, Noga Joy, on July 25.  Noga and parents are reported to be doing well.

I am off to the University of Sao Paulo on Monday to visit our colleague Paulo Saldiva make a presentation on the value of clean air.  Our Brazilian students have given me lots of tips on how to spend any free time I have, but Paulo has prepared a full schedule for me.

Enjoy this last week before the fall semester starts.




Notes – 7/30/11

I was in Kuwait this week reviewing progress on our follow-up study of the effects of the 1990 Gulf War.  I also visited with colleagues at the Kuwait University Health Sciences Center who are developing plans for a college of public health.  I was joined by our colleagues Rosalind Wright, Costas Christophi, and Bruce Boley.  Our study in Kuwait is being directed by two graduates of our Cyprus International Institute (CII) training program, Yara Abuawad (who is entering the doctoral program here in the fall), and Feiby Nassan.  I also visited with Stalo Karageorgi, a graduate of CII and HSPH, who is now working at the Dasman Diabetes Institute.

After Boston’s record heat (103 degrees) a week ago, I thought I was prepared for Kuwait.  But temperatures every day were above 110 (maximum 120) and never dropped below the mid 90’s. It was wonderful visit, but I am glad to get back to normal mid-summer weather here in Boston.

Petros Koutrakis was in Cyprus on Thursday for the second graduation ceremony for our Cyprus International Institute for Environment and Public Health MS students since we partnered with the Technical University of Cyprus (CUT).   I’d like to thank the CII faculty and staff, and all of the members of our department that contributed to the CII class of 2011’s educational training.  This graduation affirms that our affiliation with the CII has been mutually beneficial and is continuing to grow.  As the graduates go out into the world and use their training to improve and study environmental issues, we are confident that they have a solid educational background to make positive contributions on an international scale.  Our warmest congratulations to the graduates – Constantina Achilleos, Olusegun Apampa, Eva Barrenberg, Rafael Cacavallo, Mohammad El-Attar, Marios Hadjicharalambous, Maria Kakkoura, Popi Karaolia, Maria Korre, Panayiotis Kouis, Alessandra Lafranconi, Christos Photiou, Panayiotis Rigas, Andrea Theocli, and Pauley Tedoff.

Back here in the US, Joel Schwartz testified before the House Government Operations Committee in support of the EPA Transport Rule, which will require a 72% reduction in SO2 emissions from coal burning power plants in order to reduce PM2.5 concentrations in the US. He highlighted the health benefits of the rule, which would save over 34,000 lives per year.

Joel also learned that he is receiving three NIH grants:

  • An R21 award from the National Institute for Aging to study the effects of weather on physiologic and metabolic changes that may explain the observed association of extreme weather with mortality, and to examine modifiers of those effects.
  • Another R21 award from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences to study the association of weather patterns with mortality in 135 US cities, and the predictors which explain differences over time and between cities in those associations.
  • And an RO1 award from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences to do a genome wide methylation study in the Normative Aging Study cohort, and identify patterns of change that are indicative of exposure to air pollution and heavy metals.

Congratulations Joel on all of these accomplishments!

Congratulations to Joel Mathews (a research fellow in MIPS) and his wife Becky on the birth of their son!  Parker Andrew Mathews was born on July 22nd, weighing in at 7 pounds and 3 ounces. Parents and Parker are doing well.

On those bright notes, I wish you all a wonderful midsummer week.



Notes – 7/14/11

With the summer season fully upon us, it is nice to enjoy the sunshine, Red Sox, and somewhat (??) more relaxed pace that this time of year brings.  We have some positive things to report:

Philippe Grandjean received notice of a successful competitive renewal award of his NIEHS R01 grant entitled “Epidemiology of Immunotoxicant Exposure in Children.”  Congratulations, Philippe (and team)!

Akira Tsuda recently spent a number of weeks in Japan and wrote about his time there in an articlerecently published online in Harvard Magazine.  He shares his personal perspective on what it was like to visit a post-tsunami region of Japan that is struggling to recover.

Kathie Dionisio successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Biomass fuels and air pollution in sub-Saharan Africa: measurement studies in rural and urban populations.”  Well done, Kathie!

I am happy to announce that Bernardo Lemos will be joining our department as an Assistant Professor in the MIPS program.  Bernardo comes to us from across the river in Harvard’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, where he completed his PhD and is currently a Research Associate.  His three main research interests are in

  • Heterochromatin genomics and transgenerational inheritance
  • Population genetics and evolutionary systems biology of regulatory variation
  • Statistical analysis of gene expression and associated chromatin attributes.

Bernardo will be physically joining us sometime in early October.  I’ll fill in more details about his background when he arrives.  In these challenging times, I am happy to share the news that our Department continues to grow.



Notes – 6/24/11

This week started off on a rather somber note as many of our Department’s faculty and staff attended Mel First’s funeral service at Temple Sinai in Brookline.  His family shared some lovely thoughts and memories, and then hosted a lunch afterwards.  As you know, we are working with Mel’s family to find a convenient date this fall when we will host a memorial tribute to Mel here at the School.  We will of course keep you posted.

We want to welcome two new residents into the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Residency program – Kevin Johnson, DO, and Dennis Teehan, MD. These physicians will begin their training on July 5, 2011 with clinical rotations and will matriculate into the MPH program in the fall.  Our current first year residents, Marie-Christine David, DO, MPH and Al Rielly, MD, MPH, will begin the second year of their residency on July 1, 2011 and will focus on clinical rotations and research.  We look forward seeing all four residents in class in the fall.

John Ji, a doctoral student working on lead exposure and motor function, has been accepted as a Harvard University Center for the Environment Fellow starting this fall. Congratulations on this honor, John!

And finally, I am delighted to report that Marc Weisskopf and Alex Lu will both be promoted to Associate Professors effective July 1, 2011.   They both so richly deserve our hearty congratulations on reaching this milestone in their careers.

Please let me know if you have any news that you would like to share with our Department in these notes.  Also if you know of people who have inadvertently been dropped from our distribution list, please let me know.

I took off the beginning of the week, and was fortunate to catch to some terrific weather on the Cape.  While the forecast does not look great, hope you get out to enjoy this first weekend of the summer.



Notes – 6/15/11

This was a sad week for our Department and HSPH as we learned of the passing of Professor Mel First, at age 96.  Mel was still actively working on research as recently as last week.  His seminal contributions as a researcher in environmental engineering, and as a teacher, have been central to our department for more than 6 decades.  He was our friend, colleague, and mentor.  We are hard at work trying to spread word of his passing to his students and colleagues who no doubt would want to keep him and his family in their thoughts.

His funeral will be held on Monday, June 20 at 11:00 a.m. at Temple Sinai in Coolidge Corner.  Additional details will be sent to Department faculty and staff.

Turning to other department news, with the excitement of graduation now behind us, it gives us a chance to take stock of the past year, and look forward to the summer even as we prepare for our incoming class of talented students in September.

At our faculty meeting this week, we had a creative discussion about how to ensure that our department continues to attract the best and brightest students.  We also discussed how we could enhance our connection with Harvard College and other parts of the University.  It was nice to air out a lot of new and exciting ideas.  Stay tuned!

In other news, we have a couple of people in the Department to congratulate:

First, congratulations to Manish Arora, a Visiting Scientist in EOME, for receiving a K99 award for a project entitled “Early Life Environmental Toxicant Exposure and Oral Health.”  Well done, Manish!

Carla Silva, our Senior Grant Manager in the MIPS program, recently received a Graduate Certificate in Research Administration from Emmanuel College.  Congratulations Carla!

Jack Spengler chaired an Institute of Medicine committee whose report “Climate Change, the Indoor Environment, and Health” report is featured in a press release on the School’s website.  Terrific work Jack.

Congratulations to the grand prize winner Patrice Ayers for her Summer Pudding entry in the great MIPS Fruit Fest, as well as all of the other winners and participants.  Special thanks to Marshall Katler for organizing such a successful and fun event.  Our diets will start next week.

I hope everyone enjoys the warm weather and remember the sunblock!


Notes – 6/6/11

Congratulations to Diane Gold who was promoted to Professor at Harvard Medical School!  Diane has been leading a birth cohort study here in Boston to investigate the role of environmental exposures in the incidence of asthma.  She also is leading a series of studies investigating the effects of acute air pollution exposures as triggers of acute cardiovascular events in panels of patients here in Boston.  All of us who work with or have studied with Diane are very proud to see her scientific and educational contributions recognized at the Medical School.  We are moving quickly to make her HSPH title match that at HMS

Congratulations again to all of our recent graduates!  It was great to see so many of you with your families at our reception prior to the ceremony.  You can find some pictures of the day are available here.

In addition to our own HSPH graduates, we also want to congratulate Tom Donaghey, one of our Department researchers,  on receiving his Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies, Concentration in Biology, from the Harvard Extension School.  His thesis was “Local Effects of Insulin Exposure to the Rat Lung,” and Joe Brain served as his thesis director.

Our academic life continues even as some are moving out the door. Rouxi Hu and Sonia Rosner both passed their Oral Qualifying Exams last week.  Congratulations Rouxi and Sonia!

Behrooz Behbod is starting a fellowship with the CDC this fall.  He will be working at the National Center for Environmental Health in Atlanta, Georgia, as part of the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service fellowship program.

I hope you have seen the work of Jeff Fredberg and associates in his lab was highlighted on the HSPH home page, and in a press release this week.  Jeff’s lab, in partnership with the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), has been studying the physical forces that guide how cells migrate.  Their results show that the forces guiding cell migration in the body are not smooth, like a minuet, but disorderly and chaotic like a mosh pit.  This “cellular mosh” was also reviewed in a Nature Materials article.

Rama Krishnan has accepted a faculty position within the Department of Emergency Medicine, BIDMC, starting this September.  We will be sad to see Rama go, but congratulate him on this exciting new opportunity and his lab within the Center for Vascular Biology Research.

Finally, I am sorry to report that one of our distinguished alumni, Sally Liu, died today after a long battle with cancer.  Sally received her MS and ScD here in our department in the early 1990’s.  She has continued to be a colleague and collaborator as a faculty member in environmental and occupational health at the University of Washington, and most recently at the University of Basel in Switzerland.  Sally was a leader in exposure assessment sciences.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family, friends, and colleagues.



Notes – 5/26/11

It’s Commencement Day! I look forward to this day each year, when we celebrate the academic achievements of our graduates.  We join in their excitement as they look forward to translating the knowledge and skills they have received into meaningful contributions to society and our world.  As your department Chair I am honored and humbled to represent all of us on stage this afternoon in congratulating our students for this milestone.  I am grateful to our faculty for your tireless efforts in teaching, mentoring, and guiding our students.  My thanks also to everyone in the department for your contributions to the training and success of our students.  You should think of today as your special day and proof that all you do is meaningful and successful.   Enjoy today and share in the proof and satisfaction of a job well done.

Congratulations to the Environmental Health Class of 2010/11, and to their friends and their families!

Doctor of Science

Mey Akashah

Kofi Asomaning

Emmanuel Baja

Xing Chen

Timothy Ciesielski

Hanine Estephan

Karen Hopcia

Olivier Humblet

Seung Sup Kim

Rebecca Lincoln

Hortensia Moreno Macias

Jaime Madrigano

Megan McAuliffe

Justin Mih

Marisa Oge

Jin Qin

Christopher Ronk

Vasileios Papapostolou

Ramon Alberto Sanchez Pina

Leonard Zwack


Master of Science

Phoebe Chang

Nancy Diao

Amelia Geggel

Jocelyn Hospital

Stephen Lewandowski

Shahir Masri

Catlin Powers

Wei Jie Seow

Emily Sparer

Qingwei Sun

Tara Zolnikov


Master of Public Health

Akeem Adebogun

Jason Cromar

William Mann

Daniel Mirski

Peter Umukoro

I am looking forward to congratulating you and your families this afternoon.



Notes – 5/16/11

Classes ended last week, much to the relief of our students and also the instructors.  Congratulations on a terrific academic year, and especially to those graduating next week.  Look forward to seeing you at Commencement next Thursday.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by for a “Piece of the Chair” last Thursday.  We ordered 15 pizzas and amazingly had none left.  I am looking forward to doing this again at Landmark.

Congratulations to Antonella Zanobetti who was awarded a EPA grant for her study proposal entitled, “Are diabetics and the neurologically impaired at increased risk from air pollutant exposures – A National analysis.”  Congratulations, Antonella and team!

Very special congratulations to two members of our Department who have recently had babies in time to celebrate Mother’s Day:

  • Rama Krishnan (of MIPS) and his wife Monika Kopacz welcomed their first child. Daughter Maya Krishko was born at 11:41 p.m. on Saturday, May 7th, weighing in at 6 pounds and 11 ounces.
  • Lin Tao (of EER) is the proud mother of Sophia who was born on April 25th, weighing in at 7 pounds and 3 ounces.

Finally, I would encourage you to watch the premier of the PBS documentary “Freedom Riders” tonight.  We are particularly proud of our own Mike Wolfson, who was one of these courageous young civil rights activists.  You can read about Mike’s experiences on the PBS website




We’ve entered the final push of the academic year!  Published dissertations had to be submitted last Monday.  Students are finishing their final projects and preparing for final exams.  We’re all preparing for Commencement on the 26th.  Looking forward to celebrating the academic achievements of our students.

Two fellows working on David Christiani’s Lung Cancer Study received awards at the recent American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting.

  • Kofi Asomaning, a Visiting Scientist in EOME, was awarded the 2011 AACR-AFLAC Inc. Scholar In Training award for “Nicotinic acetlycholine receptor SNPs are associated with smoking cessation.” Kofi  successfully defended his thesis in March, and is starting a new position as Associate Director of Epidemiology (Worldwide Safety Strategy)” at Pfizer.
  • Monica Ter-Minassian was awarded the Raymond and Beverly Sackler AACR Fellowship for Ileal Carcinoid Tumor research for her grant proposal on “Molecular markers of outcome in ileal carcinoid tumor and other neuroendocrine tumors.” Monica will continue her postdoctoral fellowship on this project at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in June.

We were happy to welcome Glenn Stern as our new Director of Administration this week.  On Thursday, May 12, we’ll have a “Piece of the Chair” open house from 12:00-1:30 p.m.  Stop by for a piece of pizza, and meet Glenn.

Happy Mother’s Day!



Notes – 5/8/11

We’ve entered the final push of the academic year!  Published dissertations had to be submitted last Monday.  Students are finishing their final projects and preparing for final exams.  We’re all preparing for Commencement on the 26th.  Looking forward to celebrating the academic achievements of our students.

Two fellows working on David Christiani’s Lung Cancer Study received awards at the recent American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting.

  • Kofi Asomaning, a Visiting Scientist in EOME, was awarded the 2011 AACR-AFLAC Inc. Scholar In Training award for “Nicotinic acetlycholine receptor SNPs are associated with smoking cessation.” Kofi  successfully defended his thesis in March, and is starting a new position as Associate Director of Epidemiology (Worldwide Safety Strategy)” at Pfizer.
  • Monica Ter-Minassian was awarded the Raymond and Beverly Sackler AACR Fellowship for Ileal Carcinoid Tumor research for her grant proposal on “Molecular markers of outcome in ileal carcinoid tumor and other neuroendocrine tumors.” Monica will continue her postdoctoral fellowship on this project at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in June.

We were happy to welcome Glenn Stern as our new Director of Administration this week.  On Thursday, May 12, we’ll have a “Piece of the Chair” open house from 12:00-1:30 p.m.  Stop by for a piece of pizza, and meet Glenn.

Happy Mother’s Day!



Notes – 4/29/11

First, I want to say thanks to all our Administrative Professionals.  As a student, fellow, researcher, staff, faculty, program director, or chair, we each know the people who make our lives here bearable.  We are able to do our job or complete our studies because there are professionals  who help us navigate the administrative burdens of the school, the university, the funders, the government, and countless other agencies.  While I find it a bit hokey to have an “Administrative Professionals Week”, it is a useful reminder of how much we owe to these colleagues.  I hope you took the opportunity to say thank you this week.

Congratulations to three more of our students who successfully defended their doctoral research in the past week: Hanine Estephan,Assessment of Aircrafts Cabin Conditions and Their Adverse Health Effects on Passengers”; Ramon Alberto Sanchez Piña, “Health, Environmental and Economic of Biodiesel for Transportation in Mexico”, and Justin Mih, “Control of lung fibroblast proliferation and fibrogenesis by matrix stiffness”.  Well done Hanine, Ramon, and Justin!

Jaime Madrigano has received a post-doctoral fellowship from The Earth Institute at Columbia University.  Starting this fall, she will be working on the public health impacts of climate change and air pollution.  Congratulations, Jaime!

Our State of the Environmental Health Department report for Academic Year 2009-2010 is available to view here.

Spring is finally here.  Hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy the weekend.



Our Department was well-represented in the Eco-Opportunity Team’s annual “Take the Stairs” contest. At least 9 teams with EH members took part, of whom 5 achieved the goal of climbing the equivalent height of Mt Acongagua. For the second year running, the MIPS team of Muzo Wu, Enhua Zhou, Carla Silva, Dhananjay Tambe and David Gregory were not only first to reach the target, but kept climbing to finish the contest having climbed more flights of stairs than any other team.

Notes – 4/17/11

As we approach the end of the academic year, many of our doctoral students are wrapping up and presenting their research.  This past week we had four students successfully defend their doctoral research:

  • Rebecca Lincoln, “Biomarkers of Metals Exposure in Two High-Risk Communities
  • Seung-Sip Kim, “Social Determinants of Workers Health and Safety
  • Emmanuel S. Baja, “Assessing the Relation Between Markers of Traffic and Cardiovascular Health Using Bayesian and Frequentist Approaches
  • Marisa Oge, “Prenatal Organochlorine Exposure and Childhood Growth and Blood Pressure

Well done, Rebecca, Seung-Sip, Emmanuel, and Marisa!

Congratulations to Andreas Neophytou who passed his Oral Qualifying Examination this week.

Kathie Dionisio has received a post-doctoral fellowship from the EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL) in North Carolina. This fall, she will be working on Alternative Exposure Assessment Approaches.  Congratulations, Kathie!

The Department was well represented at the annual Poster Day on Friday afternoon. I am always amazed at the range and quality of the research presented by our students and fellows.  Thanks to everyone who presented.  I have not seen the results of the judging, but in my unbiased opinion we should be well-represented among the awards for outstanding posters.

Last Wednesday, Gerald Chan, an alumnus (ScD 79) of our Department, gave a terrific talk on “Science, the Private Sector and the Public Good” as part of the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series.  Unfortunately, many of our students and fellows were not able to hear his talk as the room was far too small for the audience.  If you missed the talk, you might try to view the webcast (

Congratulations to Jeff Fredberg who received notification of two grant awards from NIH.  He has a new R01 on Mechanics of Monolayer Migration.  He also was notified of the competing 5 year renewal award for his T32 “Training in Interdisciplinary Pulmonary Sciences”  which supports many of our post-doctoral fellows and pre-doctoral students.  Terrific job Jeff!

Finally, I am sorry to report that our friend and colleague Jerry Keeler passed away this week after a 3-year battle esophageal cancer.  Jerry was a post-doctoral fellow here in our Department working on our studies of acid aerosols in the 1990’s.  He became Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, where he established a laboratory on atmospheric chemistry. We are very sad to lose such a talented young leader in the field.

Tomorrow is Patriot’s Day.  The weather looks like it will be terrific.  While I can’t declare a holiday, no one should miss the chance to see the Boston Marathon at least once during their time at Harvard.



Notes – 4/8/11

Spring, the Red Sox season, and dissertation defense season are upon us!  I’m looking forward to the Red Sox home game tomorrow and five of our EH students defending their dissertations next week.

This week, Tim Ciesieleski successfully defended his dissertation, “Cadmium, Neuropsychological Outcomes, and Iron Processing Genotypes.”  Congratulations, Tim!!

Stephanos Kales reports that Stasia Muhlner and Anne McDonough received national resident research awards last week at the Annual meeting of the American College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine in Washington, DC. Since 2000, HSPH has won 18 of these awards in 12 meetings- more than any other program.  Steve also hosted a great HSPH alumni dinner at the meeting with over 20 current and former residents.

The annual I-Night show is tonight at the John Hancock Theatre in the Back Bay.  The show will include a capella singing from the Harvard Voicelab, Persian Melodies from Sayeh Ensemble, Traditional Chinese Peacock Dance, Traditional American Hip-Hop, Mandarin Rap and Martial Arts, a Ukelele and Hula Duo, a Bhangra Extravaganza and much more!  Always a terrific event.

Have a great week-end.



Notes – 4/1/11

Friday was our Admitted Students Open House.  We had accepted 41 applicants, 12 doctoral, 22 master of science and 7 master of public health.  We had more than 20 visit despite the April Fool’s snow.  Thanks to the faculty and students who attended to introduce themselves and the department to our recruits and possible new students.  W hope to see most of them back in the fall.

Congratulations to doctoral student Jennifer Bruno for receiving a Liberty Mutual Fellowship!  This program at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in Hopkinton, MA, will provide funding for Jennifer’s project to “examine forearm muscle changes and adaptation during a fatiguing repetitive wrist flexion task and the resulting low frequency fatigue (LFF).”

Bob Wright has been elected to the Society for Pediatric Research (SPR) Council. The council sets the agenda for the annual Pediatric Academic Societies meeting.  Bob says he plans to try to put more emphasis on Children’s Environmental Health research.

Over the next couple of weeks, many of our doctoral students will be defending their dissertations in preparation for graduation on May 26th.  This past Monday, Vasileios Papapostolou successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Development of an Exposure System to Investigate the Health Effects of Traffic Emissions” on Monday.  Well done, Vasili!

Hope you are enjoying the improved weather this week-end.



Notes – 3/27/11

I arrived back from my travels to Cyprus and Kuwait last Saturday.  Although it was a nice break from the cold spring we are having here in Boston, I was surprised to encounter rain in both locations.  I missed a huge dust-storm in Kuwait this week.  Here is a link to an amazing You-Tube video of this event

On Friday I traveled out to the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in Hopkinton to hear presentations our Liberty Mutual Post-Doctoral Fellows.  These fellows split their time between the Liberty Mutual Hopkinton site and HSPH.

  • Anna Wirtz is working with David Christiani and David Lombardi (LMRI) to identify specific risk factors for occupational injury, initially long working hours and sleep, through examination of data in several current injury data sets.
  • Gert Faber is working with Jack Dennerlein and Max Chang (LMRI) to develop and test ambulatory methods for measuring loading of the low back for use in field studies. Dr. Faber’s research was presented by Dr. Chang.
  • Silje Reme described her work to measure the concerns and expectations of injured workers about resuming normal work while recovering from low back pain. She is working with William Shaw (LMRI) and Glorian Sorensen here at HSPH.
  • Also Jin Qin, a recent graduate from our department, who is investigating biomechanical loading on the shoulder in a partnership with our colleagues at UMass Lowell.

Thanks to Ted Courtney, Ian Noy, David Christiani, and Jack Dennerlein for their leadership of this partnership and for organizing this event.

Phil Demokritou received a gift from Panasonic to support the Environmental Health Nanoscience Laboratory. This is notable both for the support of this new environmental health research activity, but also for this new partnership with seeking to “optimize the societal benefits of nanotechnology while minimizing environmental health risks.”

Congratulations to Aleksandar Marinkovic who passed his Oral Qualifying Exam this week. Alex is working in Dan Tschumperlin’s  lab on “Interactions of Matrix Stiffness and Cytoskeletal Tension in Lung Fibroblast Proliferation and Fibrogenesis.”

Gary Adamkiewicz received funding through the Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control for his new HUD project.  He received the Green and Health Homes Technical Studies Program Award for his project is entitled “Benchmarking the Benefits of Green Public Housing: Health, Comfort and Environmental Performance.”

While the vernal equinox passed this week, still looking for some spring weather.



Notes – 3/12/11

I traveled to the Cyprus International Institute on Wednesday.  It is warmer here than Boston, but was shocked to find it raining when we got off the plane.  In all my trips here I have hardly ever seen a cloud, much less rain.  Of course that means it is green and beautiful.

Even with the nice weather here, I have been glued to the TV watching the amazing videos of the earthquake and tsunamis in Japan.   The scale of the destruction is sobering, and we worry about our friends and colleagues there in Japan.  If you hear from colleagues there, please pass on updates so I can share them with the rest of the department.

On Monday, the EPA announced that HSPH was awarded an $8 million grant to launch one of four new university-based Clean Air Research Centers. The Harvard Clean Air Research Center will focus on investigating the effects of pollution exposure across life stages on heart and lung function, inflammation, birth weight and growth, and cardiovascular disease-related deaths and hospitalizations.  Congratulations to the Center Director Petros Koutrakis, Co-director John Godleski, and Co-principal investigators Brent Coull, Francesca Dominici, Diane Gold, Murray Mittleman, and Joel Schwartz, plus the entire team who put this Center together.  We continue to have a leadership position in air pollution research.  Indeed, this is the third round of competition for these EPA research centers, and these investigators are the only ones to receive an award in all three rounds.  Well done!

Congratulations to Shamsher Ali, in the MIPS department, and his wife Asma Ejaz who welcomed their first child on Saturday, February 19th at 10:30 p.m.   Their son is named Izn Shabir Ali.  Izn translates as “call for good.”

We were sorry to hear of the death of Dr. Peter Macklem, who was a fellow here with Jere Mead in the 1960s.  He was part of the “dream team” of respiratory physiologists.  He returned to McGill University in Canada and among other things became Chief of Medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital.  A special event in Peter’s honor will be held on Friday, May 20, 2011 on the McGill campus.

Off to catch a plane to Kuwait.



Notes – 02/25/11

It is with great sadness that I must pass on the news that Alison Geyh, who was a postdoc here in the 1990s, lost her battle with cancer a few days ago.  Alison was an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and there is a tribute to her at:

There will be a special lecture next Tuesday entitled “Making Smoking History Worldwide: The Greek Experience.”  Associate Professor Panagiotis Behrakis, Dr. Constantine Vardavas, and Andreas Neophytou will discuss efforts to reduce the smoking rate in Greece, different approaches to conducting tobacco control research, and conveying this information to the public (Tuesday, March 1, 12:30, FXB G13).  Lunch will be provided.  Please RSVP to Monique Bertic (

We’re very happy to announce that Konstantinos Makris at Cyprus International Institute and his wife, Eliana, are the prou d  parents of a baby girl named Eva (see attached picture).  She was born two days after Valentine’s Day, weighs 6.17 pounds and is 19.7 inches long.

We’re also excited to report that everyone who enjoyed the PhotoBooth at our Winter Celebration Carnival can now view their photos online.  Those fantastic pictures of you in a clown wig are now available for everyone to view!  You can download (see example attached) or order additional copies if you’d like.  Here’s the link:

And the password: hsph

Only 23 days till the first day of Spring, and 16 days until the start of Daylight Savings Time.



Notes – 2/18/11

The highlight of the week had to be our Winter Celebration Carnival on Tuesday evening.  It was terrific to see so many of our students, fellows, faculty, staff, family and friends at this event.  There was a terrific variety of “street” food laid out by Sebastian’s.  Jungle Jim, the balloon artist, and Amy DesChenes, the face painter, were great hits among the kids, and also among the students and fellows. There was a line of people up until it was time to pack up for the Photo-Booth.  I have seen some of the fun pictures.  We will be receiving a CD of all, and I understand also a link to a web-site where you can see them all.  More on that later.  Thanks to Alissa, Barbara, and Amy who organized our Carnival.  Looking forward to next year!

Congratulations to Enhua and Ying Zhou, whose daughter, Philina Zhou was born on Sunday, February 6th.  She weighs 7 pounds, 12 ounces and is 20.25 inches long.  Enhua and Ying report that Philina is healthy, happy, and very loud – her impressive volume already has them thinking about her future career as an opera singer.

Megan McAuliffe successfully defended her thesis yesterday: Human Sperm Aneuploidy: Associations with Environmental Organochlorine Exposure and Sperm Indices.  Megan had to delay because of the snow storms two weeks ago, which prevented Melissa Perry from traveling up from Washington.  Congratulations and well done, Megan!  Great to see Melissa briefly.

Jack Dennerlein is the senior author of an interesting paper in Injury Prevention showing that bicycle riders have fewer injuries when they ride on cycle tracks (physically separated bicycle-exclusive paths along roads) than when they ride on the road.  See the HSPH coverage at

Don’t forget about tonight’s talk by the National Park Service.  Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the United States National Park Service, and David Wong, the chief of the Epidemiology and Health Promotion Branch of the NPS, will be talking about health promotion and America’s national parks.  The event starts at 5:30 p.m. tonight in Kresge G1, and dinner will be provided.  Thanks to Joel Cohen and the Environmental Health and Sustainability Club for organizing the talk.

Enjoy the long Presidents’ Day weekend.  Only 30 days to the first day of Spring.



Notes – 2/11/11

Yesterday at the Celebration with the Stars event we recognized our long-service colleagues who keep the School and our Department functioning. Your dedicated service truly makes a difference for each of us in the Department, and helps us promote a healthier environment!!

5 Years: Anna Choi, Glen Deloid, Jennifer Ford, Marianne Hopkins, Ramaswamy Krishnan, James McDevitt, Chan Young Park,  Junenette Peters, Rihong Zhai, and Ying Zhou

10 Years: Jeff Adams, Amy Cohen, and Melissa Perry

15 Years: Ann Backus

20 Years: Ed Dixon

25 Years: Stephanie Shore

30 Years: Stephen Ferguson

35 Years: James Butler and Marcia Chertok

Next Tuesday, the EH Department is throwing our annual Winter Celebration holiday party.  All EH faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend – as well as your spouses, significant others, and children.  This year, we have a carnival/street fair theme; it will include delicious food and drink, face painting and balloon animals for the kids, and carnival games.  We welcome your participation in our games and booths!  If you’re interested in hosting your own game or booth, please contact Alissa Wilcox in the Department Office (2-1270 or

Joe Braun was just named one of Environmental Health Sciences’ 2011 Science Communication Fellows. Joe will spend the next year working on presentation techniques and speaking with journalists, working with the staff at EHS to create original research reviews, and “translating new research findings into short summaries written for a general audience.”  Congratulations Joe!

On Thursday, February 17th, Megan McAuliffe will be defending her thesis entitled “Human Sperm Aneuploidy: Associations with Environmental Organochlorine Exposure and Sperm Indices.”   She was originally scheduled to defend last week, during the biggest snowstorm of the winter. Fortunately, the forecast for next week is sunny …

Also next Thursday, we will host the inaugural Student Lunch.  Over the course of the year, we will provide lunch plus discussion of topics of interest to both our masters and doctoral students, such as: choosing your majors and minors, completing your course work, staying on track for graduation, preparing for oral exams, working with your dissertation committee, writing your dissertation, finding and writing grants, career preparation and networking, plus unstructured time to meet with each other.  Looking forward to seeing all of our students on Thursday, February 17th, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in 1302. Thanks to Iny Jhun and her colleagues Emily Sparer, Thuy Lam and Denise Lamoureux for suggesting this event and helping organize it.

Next Friday, the 18th, the Environmental Health and Sustainability Club will host a talk by John Jarvis, the director of the National Park Service, and David Wong, the US National Park Service’s chief epidemiologist.  Their talk, entitled Health Promotion and America’s National Parks: Living Laboratories for Strengthening the Nexus between Public Lands and Public Health, will discuss various NPS initiatives that focus on infectious disease, drinking water, environmental health, and obesity.  The talk will take place at 5:30 p.m. in Kresge G-1, and dinner will be provided.  Contact Joel Cohen ( with any questions.

Have a great weekend!



Notes -2/4/11

The highlight of the week was the inaugural Alice Hamilton Lecture, sponsored by the Committee on Concerns of Women Faculty. This lecture recognizes the contributions and legacy of Alice Hamilton, the first woman appointed to the faculty of Harvard University and a pioneer in the fields of toxicology and occupational health.  Dr. Hamilton was appointed Assistant Professor of Industrial Medicine, in what became the Department of Industrial Hygiene (and ultimately the Department of Environmental Health) in the Harvard School of Public Health.

We were honored that Francine Laden was selected to give this inaugural lecture.  She presented her lecture entitled “Location, Location, Location: How Where You Live in the U.S. Affects Your Health” to an overflow audience in G2.  Francine nicely summarized her extensive work in using geographic information to estimate exposures to environmental hazards, and to evaluate their health effects.  Professor Leslie Bernstein, Dean of Faculty Affairs at the City of Hope Cancer Center gave a very moving tribute to Francine at a dinner after the lecture. Congratulations, Francine.  We are very proud of you.

In introducing the lecture, Dean Frenk noted that there were three limitations with Alice Hamilton’s faculty appointment: she was not allowed into the Faculty Club, she could not to participate in the academic processions at commencement, and she was not eligible for faculty tickets to the football games.  I have seen Francine at the Faculty Club and marching in the academic procession at our commencement exercises.  However, I don’t think she has attended any football games.

We were lucky the weather was at least not terrible yesterday.  It has been a rough start to the “Spring” Semester.  Classes were cancelled on Wednesday.  Looking back at the snowfall since this semester began last week:

  • Jan 21:        8 inches
  • Jan 25:        1 inch
  • Jan 26-27: 12 inches
  • Feb 1-2:    10 inches

And a couple more inches forecasted for tomorrow!  We have to acknowledge the extra effort everyone has made to get to work and class under these conditions.

We have been working through all the applications – 106  this year, compared to eighty-some last year.  Thanks to the faculty and academic staff for getting these reviewed and ranked on time. It means a lot to these prospective students to get a timely response.

We are looking forward to the EH Winter Celebration on February 15th.  The theme is Carnival, and we are looking for groups who will design games or booths.  Please contact Alissa Wilcox (2-1270) if you want to help.

Which reminds me, I am happy to introduce Alissa Wilcox as my assistant.  Alissa has been brightening the office for a couple of weeks on a temporary basis, and is now “permanent.”  Please introduce yourself if you have not already met her, and ask her about her prior experiences.

Only 44 days till the first day of Spring, and 63 days to the Red Sox home season opener.



Notes – 1/14/11

I hope everyone weathered the storm last week.  I was in Cyprus last week – sunny and warm.  On Wednesday I was trying to get back to Boston during the snow storm.  I arrived back early Thursday after being rerouted to Newark and then driving home to Boston.  Then had to face more than a foot of snow.

My trip to Cyprus was for a search committee for new faculty at the Cyprus International Institute (CII).  It’s exciting to see a very strong candidate pool and the continuing growth of CII faculty.  I also had a chance to see the 14 HSPH students (Eleanor Wade, Melissa Stanton, Sun Qingwei, Mariesa Lee Ricks, Sarah Alsamarai, Devankush Saha, Kristen Lessl, William Mann, Jason Cromer, Dan Mirski, Memo Cedeno, Naima Bridges, Catherine Hammons and Katie Fellows) who are at CII for the winter session.  I’m sure they miss the snow!

Back here at HSPH we’re interviewing for a new Epigenetics position in MIPS.  I hope you have and will continue to take the opportunity to attend the lectures given by the candidates for these positions.  It’s a great way to meet and have input on your future colleagues.

The Committee on the Concerns of Women Faculty announced that Francine Laden has been selected to give the inaugural Alice Hamilton Award Lecture on February 3rd.   Named for Alice Hamilton, the first woman appointed to the Harvard faculty, this award recognizes the achievements of a promising young woman investigator in public health.  Congratulations to Francine for being recognized with this prestigious award!

I noticed on my return a postcard announcement for a talk “Dissolving Boundaries: Extending the Reach of Medicine and Public Health” with Deans Frenk (HSPH), Brandt (GSAS) and Flier (HMS).  The postcard caught my eye as it was a ca. 1950 picture of some of our illustrious faculty, C.P. Yaglou, Philip Drinker, Les Silverman and Charles Williams, working with an electric dust collector.  The fifth faculty member in the picture is Professor Mel First.  That picture is at least 50 years old and as you know Mel continues to work at HSPH virtually every day.  He continues his research and is amazingly productive.  Mel received his Harvard Sc.D. in 1950 and celebrated his 96th birthday on December 23.  Join me in wishing Mel a belated Happy Birthday and continued good health!

Congratulations to Kofi Asomaning who successfully defended his dissertation: “Polymorphisms In Genes that Encode Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors, Smoking, Nicotine Addiction and Lung Cancer”  on Monday, January 10, 2011.

This is Ken Wenger’s final week with us. We will be having an Open House on Friday, January 21st, from noon to two on the 13th floor for those who would like to stop by and wish Ken the best in his new position at the Harvard Institute for Global Health.

Plans are in the works for our annual winter celebration.  Please keep the late afternoon/ early evening of February 15 open on your calendars!

Enjoy the snow and the long weekend!





Notes – 12/22/10

I returned from Kuwait last Thursday just in time for the 13th James L. Whittenberger Symposium on Friday.  It was nice to have lunch with the Whittenberger family, Tom and Debbie from Wisconsin and Francine and her daughter Hannah as well as her granddaughter Ella from Weston, MA.  We were also happy to have four of Hannah’s environmental science classmates from Weston High join us for the Lecture.
Thanks to Dean Frenk for his introduction and to our speakers for excellent presentations, Adrienne Ettinger, “Influence of Perinatal Exposures on Early Childhood Growth and Sexual Maturation” and Jane Burns, “Serum Dioxins and PCB’s are Associate with Growth Among Russian Boys.”  Linda Birnbaum gave the Whittenberger Lecture and was wonderful.  Many of us have gotten to know Linda well.   We are lucky to have such a dynamic scholar in the critical role of Director of NIEHS.  Joe Brain sent me a note after the event and I think he said it best, “I knew Linda Birnbaum was good, but I did not realize how good she actually was.  I’m impressed with her ability to convey complex ideas in a simple and compelling way.  I can imagine that she is very effective on Capitol Hill.  It’s also clear that her knowledge of the underlying science is wide and deep.”  I hope you all had a chance to interact with Linda at the symposium or the reception that followed.
We continue to move forward with renovations of our physical space.  The last phase of major renovations (MIPS) will begin in earnest over the break.  At the same time we are renovating labs and modifying space to accommodate our evolving research needs.  Thank you to all involved for your understanding, cooperation and assistance.  Thanks especially to Marshall Katler for his oversight and leadership in “getting it done”!
Emeritus faculty Richard Monson shared a story he read with a mention of Don Hornig, Chair of the EH Department 1987-1990.  The story was about Harry Allen Wolfgang Smith(December 19, 1907—February 24, 1976) who was an American journalist and humorist whose books were popular in the 1940s and 1950s, selling millions of copies.  By the end of World War II, Smith’s fame as a humorist was such that he edited Desert Island Decameron (1945), a collection of essays and stories by such leading humorists as Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and James Thurber. Histories of the Manhattan Project mention Desert Island Decameron because it’s the book Donald Hornig was reading when he was sitting in the Trinity Test tower babysitting the atomic bomb on July 15, 1945, the stormy night prior to the first nuclear explosion.  For more on Don and his career see:

I’m sorry my travel prevented me from attending the EER and MIPS parties but I heard they were great fun and the food was excellent.  As you begin to head out on the holiday break I want to again express my thanks for all you do to make us what we are.  I wish everyone the happiest of holidays and a restive and enjoyable break, you’ve earned it. ENJOY!


Notes – 12/3/10

See the below link for a wonderful profile on Frank Speizer.  Many of us are very familiar with Frank’s work and distinguished career and this recognition comes as no surprise.  I would encourage those less familiar to take this opportunity to read about Frank and learn why he and his work are held in such high regard.


Today is the 40th anniversary of the US Environmental Protection Agency.  HSPH cosponsored with the Harvard University Committee on the Environment a powerful celebration and review of accomplishments and the future to recognize the event.  Lisa Jackson the current EPA Administrator gave the keynote address and several current and former EPA administrators, including William Ruckelshaus the founding administrator, participated.  Panelists from HSPH were Joel Schwartz and Jim Hammitt.  It was an extraordinary event.

Looking forward to seeing the EOME folks tonight at their holiday party! Thanks for the invitation.

Happy Hanukkah!



Notes – 11/24/10

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and a relaxing and wonderful time with family and friends over the holiday weekend!  Despite our daily challenges I think we all can agree that we have a great deal to be thankful for.  High on my list are the remarkable people who are the Department of Environmental Health.  Collectively our faculty, staff, and students are incredibly productive and impact the public health in many positive ways.  Our work touches the lives of many and I’m sure they are thankful for what we do and how well we do it.  As you leave today you should take great comfort and pride in your contributions to our success and my sincere thanks for a job well done!

Have a Great Holiday!



Notes – 11/19/10

Another week has flown by as we rapidly approach the Thanksgiving holiday. I see the MIPS and EOME holiday party invitations are out so be sure to RSVP so the planning can continue!

Jack Spengler speaks tonight at the inaugural FREETHINK@HARVARD global discussion.  His talk is “How Corporations are Retooling to Meet the Challenges of Sustainability.”  The event will take place at 6pm, 1 Story Street, Room 306 (third floor) in Cambridge.  Online at

The University of Basel is having a convocation on Nov 26 to celebrate the 550th anniversary of its founding. Each faculty is awarding an honorary doctoral degree in celebration, and Joel Schwartz will receive the degree from the Faculty of Medicine.  Congratulations Joel on this prestigious recognition!

Joe Nabhan is second author on a paper in PNAS being released this week.  It’s from work that he started at McGill before coming to HSPH.  The first author took over the project from Joe.  Here’s the url for the NY times article.  If you click on the word “study” in the 4th paragraph you’ll get the abstract. Congratulation Joe!

More info about Akira Tsuda’s research in the Technology Review at MIT.  It’s a very good article and explains things well.

Congratulations to Hortensia Moreno Macias who successfully defended her dissertation titled:
Effect modification of antioxidant diet on the association analysis between candidate genes and respiratory health of asthmatic children in Mexico City.  Well Done!

I neglected last week to acknowledge Steve Lewandowski for his service to our country.  Steve is he is a MS2 student, and an officer in the US Army.

Have a great weekend!


In my rush to get the Notes out on Friday afternoon I forgot a couple of notable achievements.

At the NIEHS Annual Superfund Grantee Meeting at Oregon State University last week, Birgit Claus Henn recieved an award for her poster “Effects of Early Childhood Manganese and Lead Co-exposure on Neurodevelopment.”  Joe Braun gave a plenary talk entitled “Pre- and postnatal urinary BPA concentrations and childhood neurodevelopment over the first 3 years of life.” It is great to see our fellows being recognized for their contributions to this important, core project for our department. Well done.

Also in recognizing the armed service members in our departments, I failed to thank the veterans among our faculty, researchers,  and staff.  Among them is James Stewart who served in the Army and was wounded in Vietnam.  Jim noted two of his kids served in Iraq at the same time.  Again thanks to Jim and our other veterans and their families for their service.



Notes – 11/12/10

As we celebrate Veterans Day this week I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to all who serve and have served our country in the armed services.  We are proud to have Capt. Jason Cromar (US Air Force), Lt. Col. Daniel Mirski (US Air Force), and William Mann (US Navy) as students and Lt. Anne McDonough (US Navy) as a fellow this year.  We also acknowledge our alumni currently in the armed services, and those in our department who have family currently serving.


Last week I mentioned the work being done by Akira Tsuda.  Click this link for the Boston Globe article this week.

After months of planning, on Wednesday we officially began the renovation of the MIPS offices and labs on the second floor of building two.  The MIPS staff and labs formerly in building two have relocated temporarily to the 5th floor of building one.  This project will complete the major renovations for the Department and we will be in good shape for the foreseeable future.  We do have some building one lab renovations in the pipeline as well but for the most part this is the last significant disruption.   Thanks to all who participated in the planning and execution of the move, particularly to those who came in on the holiday.  At the risk of leaving someone out – thanks to Marshal Katler and Sally Bedugnis for their leadership and can do attitude.  It was a huge undertaking that went remarkably well!

Invitations to the James L. Whittenberger Symposium went out today – please watch for yours and RSVP so we can plan accordingly.  Thanks to Barbara Zuckerman, Kristen Lessl, and Katie Taylor for their hard work.

Have a great weekend – it looks to be beautiful weather.



Notes – 11/5/10

I’ve been traveling for a couple weeks so I hope you forgive my tardiness with these notes.

I traveled to Rhodes, Greece to speak at Hellenic Thoracic Society Conference, hosted by Panagiotis Behrakis.

From Rhodes I moved on to Cyprus to teach at the Cyprus International Institute (CII).  We have a very talented class of 18 students this year. I was able to teach in the new classrooms there.  The progress and growth at CII and the benefits we are seeing from our association with the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) is impressive.  Thanks to all the faculty and staff at CII/CUT and particularly to Lenia Josephides, Suzana Achilleos, and Mohammad Alolayan who coordinated my visit and my teaching.

I managed to fit in a day trip to Cairo, Egypt to visit the pyramids.  A great trip and a humbling experience to be standing at the base of these inspiring and historical structures.

Thanks to Joe Brain and Melissa Curran who organized the inauguration of the Lown Scholars Program  and the Lown Visiting Professorship on Friday.  This program is dedicated to promoting teaching, research, and training with emphasis on the global prevention of cardiovascular disease.   The first Lown Visiting Professor, Dr. Srinath Reddy spoke of the transition from Medicine to Public Health and now to Sustainable Development.  Dr. Bernard Lown gave a truly inspiring talk describing his work here at the school, the development of the cardioverter defibrillator, and his founding of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.

I hope everyone had an opportunity to hear Dean Frenk’s State of the School address.  It’s a great opportunity to hear from Dean Frenk the progress towards his vision for the school and also the challenges faced as we move forward on our agenda.  We frequently get mired in our own department world and it’s refreshing to be reminded of what the school is doing and see how we contribute to that greater scope.  We’re a large department with a broad scope and we remain a vital part of the overall school efforts.

Be sure to read the November issue of the American Thoracic Society (ATS).  Nice article on Jeff Fredberg and his interdisciplinary approach in the Who’s Who section of the journal.  Congratulations Jeff!

Hyunok Choi and Jack Spengler reported that household paints and cleaners increase the risks of asthma and allergies in children. There is a nice description of the study on the HSPH Home page.

Congratulations also to Akira Tsuda!  His work on the behavior of nanoparticles in the body after they are deposited in the lungs is reported online in Nature Biotechnology this week. The findings may have implications for future drug delivery, and in the study of air pollution and cancer development.  Look for an article in the Boston Globe early next week. Well done!

Congratulations to Mey Akashah who successfully defended her doctoral dissertation on October 17th.

Nice to see Ted Courtney from Liberty Mutual who stopped by before teaching.

On December 3rd we are cosponsoring a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the EPA at the Law School.  Checkout this HUCE web site to see the outstanding program and to request a seat (limited).

Don’t forget to hold December 17th for the James L. Whittenberger Lecture.  Invitations will go out next week.

Have a great weekend!



Notes – 10/8/10

On Wednesday Dean Frenk hosted Yoshihito Okinaga, Teikyo University president and Dr. Eiji Yano, MPH’84.  The department has had a long standing relationship with Teikyo University and it was good to welcome Eiji back to HSPH and see President Okinaga again.  I had the pleasure of addressing the students and faculty of Teikyo University at their convocation ceremonies in Tokyo earlier this year.  Several years ago President Okinaga’s father made a generous donation that was used to renovate the former pilot plant space into the laboratories in use today.  There is a plaque outside Jim Shines lab, Room G33 commemorating the Okinaga generosity.

Welcome to Mark Long who has taken on new duties as our NIEHS Center Administrator. Many of you know Mark as a research assistant in John Godleski’s lab and he will continue in that position as well.   Mark will split his time between John’s lab and the 13th floor in room 1310.  Welcome to the team Mark, we all look forward to working with you.

Welcome as well to Rumana Rabbani who joins the department office administrative team on a temporary basis.  Rumana will fill the void left by Kelly Studebaker’s departure until we fill the position permanently.

The three day Harvard Lung Conference and CIMIT Inhalation Technology Workshop concluded today.  Congratulations and thanks to Les Kobzik for his contributions to organizing the Conference.  Les is off to teach in Cyprus next week.  Joe Brain just returned and tells Les to expect perfect weather!

Speaking of good weather – looks like a great long weekend.  Do something memorable on Sunday (10-10-10).




Notes – 10/1/10

Andrea Baccarelli joined us this week as the Mark and Catherine Winkler Associate Professor of Environmental Epigenetics.   Andrea joins us from the University of Milan.  Many of you know Andrea as he has been an Adjunct faculty memeber, has taught the winter session Environmental Epigenetics course, and has collaborated with many of our faculty and researchers.  we are very excited to have him join our faculty.  Andrea will be based in the EER program, his office is Landmark 412F and his lab is Building 1 Rm B12.  Be sure to welcome him to the Department.

Congratulations to Alex Lu who this week received an NIH Shared Instrument Grant.  Alex says he is looking for a good deal on a used instrument.  Great work!

We were saddened to learn of the passing of Diane Gold’s father, Dr. H. Carl Gold, on Monday, September 27th. Gifts in his memory can be made to: the Brookline food pantry in St. Paul’s Church at 15 St. Paul Street; to support tuition assistance for island children who wish to attend College of the Atlantic’s Summer Field Studies, COA-Summer Field Studies, 105 Eden St., Bar Harbor, ME 04609; Mt. Desert Island Biological Labs in support of local island and Maine High schoolers learning to do scientific research at; Partners in Health support of Haiti at or to the Bar Harbor Food Pantry at

Today is Kelly Studebaker’s last day.  As I mentioned last week she is leaving to pursue her education full time.  We wish her great success and will miss the able assistance she provided me and the rest of the department over the past two years.   Good Luck Kelly!!

Once we get past today’s rain it looks to be a great weekend – enjoy the foliage!



Notes – 9/24/10

This was National Post Doc appreciation week.  A well-deserved recognition of a very talented and valuable group who play an vital role at HSPH and in the broader scientific community.  Congratulations and thanks to all of our post docs!

Welcome to Phil Landrigan who joins us as an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Health.  Phil is Chair of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, Professor of Pediatrics and Director, Children’s Environmental center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.  Phil went to Boston Latin School and Harvard Medical. Last year he gave the Whittenberger Lecture. We are glad to formally connect Phil to our faculty.

With mixed feelings I share the news that next Friday will be Kelly Studebaker’s last day.  Kelly has been a great asset to the department and she will be missed.  While I’m sad to lose her I’m also very happy as Kelly is leaving to pursue her education full time.  She had been attending classes part time and will now devote full time to finishing her bachelor’s degree.  Her three year plan includes continuing on for her masters degree as well.  Please join me in wishing Kelly success with her studies.

Congratulations to Leonard Zwack on the successful defense of his thesis, entitled “Characterizing Spatial Patterns of Traffic-related Pollutants in Complex Terrain.”

Congratulations also to Ed Nardell, Steve Rudnick and Mel First for the just announced Fogarty International Center grant under the ARRA Framework Programs for Global Health Signature Innovations Initiative.   This is a one year, intensive, multi disciplinary training effort and opportunity to push UV technology in the developing world to the next level.  Great news and good luck moving forward.

And Marc Weisskopf was awarded a new RO1 for a population based study of the environmental risk factors for ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Have a great weekend!!



Jotes – 9/10/10

A busy week to start September!

On Tuesday we welcomed Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).  Linda was at HSPH for Olivier Humblet‘s thesis defense (see below) and was kind enough to agree to a series of meetings, including with Deans Frenk and Hunter, a number of our faculty and post-doctoral fellows.  It was great to connect with Linda and get an update on NIEHS.

We start the year with faculty transitions.  Jon Levy and Melissa Perry have accepted significant new positions.

Congratulations to Jon Levy who is now Professor of Environmental Health at the Boston University School of Public Health.  Jon started September 1, but still has work here so we’ll see him from time to time.

Congratulations also to Melissa Perry who has accepted a position as Chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and Professor in the Departments of Environmental and Occupational Health, and Epidemiology, in the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University in Washington DC.  Melissa will be starting her new position in January 2011.

Both Jon and Melissa have bright futures and it’s great to see them have these wonderful opportunities but they will be missed.  Please congratulate them as they begin the next phase of their careers.

Welcome to Elsie Sunderland, our new Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Aquatic Science. Dean Frenk nicely summarized her background in an email welcoming Elsie.

Andrea Baccarelli will be joining us in October so more on him at that time.

Also welcome to Sotiris Pratsinis who is beginning a sabbatical from ETH Zurich (The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology).  Sotiris is an expert in aerosol flow reactors particularly in utilizing flame synthesis to generate families of nanoparticles.  He will be collaborating with Joe Brain and Phil Demokritou and other EH faculty is studies of nanoparticles.

Two students successfully defended their thesis this week. Congratulations to Olivier Humblet: Dioxins, PCBs and Pubental Development Among Russian Boys: Lifestage and Genetic Susceptiblity and Christopher Ronk: A Cluster-Randomized Trial With General Construction Superintendents to Mitigate Stepladder-Related Fall Hazards

Monique Bertic who served the department for a number of years as our key development officer has accepted an offer to work with Greg Connolly in the newly-established Global Tobacco Control Center (see related note below) We’ll miss Monique but I know she is excited about the new opportunity which has direct relevance to her interests in public health policy.  She will also be a big help to Greg in a very important program.  She starts with Greg on October 1.  Congratulations and good luck to Monique!

On September 1, 2010, Greece, the nation with the world’s highest smoking rate, went smoke-free, with help from research from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Cyprus International Institute for the Environment and Public Health. At a video press conference held at HSPH on August 30, Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou, the Greek Minister of Health, thanked the School for its collaboration and help providing scientific evidence to support the nation in its decision.  See

The Harvard Gazette interviewed John Briscoe about his work in Pakistan and the Harvard Water Initiative.  See

Philippe Grandjean has an interesting commentary low level lead exposures coming out in the Lancet.  Thanks Philippe for your continued advocacy and leadership.

Have a great weekend!



Notes – 9/3/10

Just back from ISES-ISEE conference in Seoul.  It was a great meeting both in terms of the venue and the scientific program. Our Department was well represented on the program.  We were also well represented by graduates on the Meeting Steering Committee which was Co-Chaired by Kiyong Lee and Yub-Chui Hong, and included Tina Bahadori, President of ISES, and Francine Laden, Secretary-Treasurer of ISEE.

Jack Spengler gave a very comprehensive and thought-provoking opening plenary talk on environmental sustainability.

Frank Speizer received the John Goldsmith Award for outstanding contributions to environmental epidemiology. He spoke of his early career working with John Goldsmith on air pollution health effects in Los Angeles, and his work here at Harvard, and his vision for the future of the field.  Frank was introduced by Francine Laden, who spoke very movingly of the influence Frank has had as a researcher, advocate, and mentor.

Arden Pope, Majid Ezzati, and I received the award for the Best Environmental Epidemiology Paper (BEEP) of 2009 for our paper entitled “Fine-Particulate Air Pollution and Life Expectancy in the United States” which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine.  We are very proud of this recognition by our peers, and look forward to adding the BEEP award to our resumes.  The journal also receives an award, and I am sure Jeff Drazen is looking forward to receiving his BEEP certificate.

We had a dinner for Harvard affiliates, organized by Molly Kile and Ami Zota, and hosted by Kiyong Lee.  Over 50 of our current and former students, fellows, and faculty had to chance to enjoy Korean food and  drink, plus renew many friendships. Thanks for organizing this event.

We learned that Tim Sloate, the Director of Administration for our Department of Environmental Health for a number of years while Joe Brain was Chair, died in Washington, DC on August 24. He was a good friend, a conscientious and competent help to us as administrator, and a dedicated husband and father. Tim was the Director of Research at the University Professional & Continuing Education Association. He moved to the DC area so his wife Hilary could pursue her art career in mosaics. Ironically, he died of a massive heart attack while playing hockey – and after scoring 2 goals.

Classes started yesterday. The students and everyone should enjoy the Labor Day holiday.  Tuesday we will have a special visitor, Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health.

Hunker down until Earl passes.  Have a safe and restful weekend.


Notes – 8/27/10

This week we welcomed our new students to orientation and hosted them yesterday for a department introduction and luncheon.  The incoming class includes 34 degree candidates including 10 Doctor of Science, 12 Master of Science, five Master of Public Health, three Medicine Residents, two PhD/DBS and two Special Students.  They hail from the US, China, Mexico,Taiwan, Nigeria, France, Israel, India, and Finland.  We currently have 114 students in department degree programs representing 25 nations.  It was great to see and speak with everyone and I look forward to the start of classes next week.  A warm welcome to:

Doctor of Science

Hillel Alpert,  US  EOME
Raphael Arku,  Ghana  EER
Iny Jhun,  US  EER
John Ji,   China  EOME
Don Kriens,  US  EER
Shu-Yi Liao,  Taiwan  EOME
Yu-Kai Lin,  Taiwan  EOME
Sandra Pirela, Venezuela MIPS
Yongmei Shen,  China  EER
Jannah Tauheed, US  EOME


Master of Science

Sarah Alsamarai, US  EOME
Jose Cedeno Laurent, Mexico   EER
Maria Harris,  US  EER
Lynn Onyebeke, US  EER
Cheng Peng,  China  EER
Mariah Rich,  US  EER
Devankush Saha, US  EER
Melissa Seaton,  US  EER
Chia Tang,  Taiwan  EER
Matthew Tumpney, US  EER
Eleanor Wade,  US  EER
Chengyan Zhang, China  EER

Master of Public Health

Akeem Adebogun, Nigeria  EOME
Jason Cromar,  US  EOME
Daniel Mirski,  US  EOME
Ziv Paz,   Israel  EOME
Peter Umukoro,  Nigeria  EOME

Medical Residents

Anne McDonough, US  EOME
Stasia Muhlner,  US  EOME
Yolanta Petrofsky, US  EOME


Sri Kalyanaraman, India   DBS
Peter Wagner,   Finland    DBS

Special Students

Marie-Christine David, US  EOME
Albert Rielly,  US  EOME

I’m off to Seoul, Korea for the 2010 Joint Conference of the International Society of Exposure Science and the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology.  More on that when I return next week.   Have a great weekend!



Notes – 8/20/10

I enjoyed a couple days of R&R earlier this week and can report the fish in the Cape Cod Canal were very cooperative.  While the weather remains very nice signs of a waning summer are upon us.   The days get shorter and the buzz of student activity is beginning to be heard.  Orientation for incoming students is next Thursday and we are looking forward to meeting and working with a very talented incoming class.  I’ll share some details of the class in my next notes.  I hope everyone takes advantage of the remaining summer days as it looks to be a busy academic year ahead.

Congratulations to Karen Hopcia who successfully defended her dissertation this week!  I was unable to attend but hear Karen was very impressive, presenting her work and responding to questions with great skill and grace.  Well done to Karen and her committee, Jack Dennerlein, Dean Hashimoto and Glorian Sorenson.

Congratulations to Alex Lu on receipt of a new NIH/NIEHS RO1 entitled “DNA methylation and endocrine disrupting chemical exposure in children.”  Great to see hard work pay off in a tough funding environment.

Pat McGaffigan joins the department next week as the new EOME Associate Director of Administration and Finance.  Pat joins us from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

If you are on the 14th floor stop by and welcome Pat to the team.

Have a great weekend!



Notes – 7/31/10

I’m writing from London on my return from Cyprus where I attended the Cyprus International Institute (CII) graduation.  This was the fourth graduation of Master of Science students from the CII, but the first graduation of the Cyprus University of Technology.  It was a wonderful and enjoyable ceremony.  Dean Frenk gave a fabulous keynote describing his personal vision of Globalization and Health, and his commitment to HSPH/CII/CUT collaboration.  Class valedictorian Feiby Laban Nassan from Egypt gave a very moving, very personal speech.  Elpida Keravnou, Rector of the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) strongly supported the mission of CII and the partnership with HSPH in her remarks.

His Excellency Demetrius Christofias, the President of Cyprus and his wife attended. He spoke very highly of the collaboration and pledged future support.  Despite the heat, he stayed for the entire ceremony and then greeted and had his picture taken with each of the students. Christoe Patsalides, the Minister of Health and Andreas Dimitriou, Minister of Education and Culture also attended.

All in all a terrific event.  Congratulations to the CII faculty (Costas Christophi, Konstantinos Makris, Ilias Vrezas, and Panayiotis Yiallouros) plus the HSPH who taught at CII, the CII administrative staff (Lenia Josephides, Demetra Valtas) and researchers (Ourania Kolokotroni, Suzanna Achilleos) for another successful year.

Most of all, congratulations to the graduates!

Yara Abu Awad (Cyprus/Jordan), Rozita Behmaneshnia (Iran), Shwapon Kumar Biswas (Bangladesh), Eleni Chrysostomou (Cyprus),  Amana Jemal Kedir (Ethiopia), Silva Kerkezian (Lebanon), Nicolas Koullapis (Cyprus), Solon Louka (Cyprus), Fjodor Melnikov (Russia), Feiby Laban Nassan (Egypt), Rodos Rodosthenous (Cyprus), Dimitris Sazos (Cyprus), and Eirini Zachariou (Cyprus).

Thanks to all in the department who are part of our Cyprus initiative.  A special thanks to John Evans and Petros Koutrakis for their dedication and perseverance over the last year to keep CII and the Harvard Cyprus Program (HCP) a continuing success. The results of everyone’s efforts were on display yesterday and it was impressive.  Well done!

Have a great weekend!



Notes – 6/18/10

On the road again….
First stop Munich where I was able to connect with Annette Peters and her colleagues.  Then on to Cyprus to teach and reconnect with our colleagues there.  Had the chance to see Andreas Nephytou and Behrooz Behbod and also broke free for a quick fishing trip with John Evans.   I write this from Utrecht, the Netherlands where I am attending the 10th anniversary celebration for the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences. Saw Bert Brunekreef, Gerard Hoek, Nicole Jansen, and many of our other colleagues.  It’s been a very productive trip but I’m looking forward to my return to the Cape for the weekend.

I’m happy to announce that Elsie Sunderland has accepted our offer to join the faculty as the Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Aquatic Science.  Elsie will be a great addition to the department and I look forward to working with her.  She’ll join the EER program in mid-July.  Congratulations and welcome to Dr. Sunderland!

Congratulations to Jon Levy and his wife Lisa on the birth of David Isaiah Levy, born on June 7 at 2:29 pm, weighing 7 lbs 12 oz and 20 3/4 inches long.  Great news, I look forward to meeting David!

Congratulations as well to Seung-Sup, a doctoral student in the Department on the June 5th birth of her daughter, Hae-In.  In Korean, Hae-In means “Ocean of Kindness.”

We were sorry to hear of the passing of Dean Barry Bloom’s wife, Dr Irene Tilenius Bloom.  A memorial service is being planned for the fall at Columbia University, where Irene was a faculty member.

Enjoy the weekend, I hear the weather is summer like!



Notes – 6/4/10

Petros Koutrakis received great news this week when he learned that we will be one of the four EPA Clean Air Centers. This five year award is the result of a great deal of work by many so congratulations to Petros and the Center team on a great proposal and a job well done.  The team includes: Antonella Zanobetti, Brent Coull, Choong Min Kang, Diane Gold, Edgar Diaz, Elissa Wilker, Francesca Dominici, Frank Speizer, Jeff Tatro, Joy Lawrence, Kathleen Brown, Murray Mittleman, Stephen Ferguson, Susan Cohn-Child, Susan Korrick, Tracy Mark, and Vasileios Papapostolou.

I received news of another big award this week.  A high achieving team from our MIPS program has won this year’s HSPH Take The Stairs contest. By eschewing the elevators when traveling between the thirteenth floor and labs, they were not only the first team to make the target of climbing the equivalent of Mt McKinley, but also had the largest total at the end of the competition – 4358 flights of stairs, more than three times the target. Team members were Muzo Wu, Otto Manneberg, Enhua Zhou and David Gregory.  Congratulations!

Nice to have a holiday week after all the commencement activities.  The week seemed to fly by and the weather felt like summer.  Have a good weekend!



Notes – 6/1/10

What a wonderful Commencement Day, again my congratulations to all.  I particularly enjoyed meeting with our students and their families at our department open house.  You and your families have a great deal to be proud of!  Thank you and best wishes from all of us in the department.   Be sure to join our Facebook alumni page!/group.php?gid=112658798328

We established the group on Facebook for purposes of networking, information exchange and generally keeping track of one another.  Hope you stay in touch and find it helpful!

Congratulations to Jim Shine who received a faculty award for excellence in mentoring students.  During the Commencement Eve Celebration Dean Hunter recognized Jim for his outstanding work with students.  Mentoring is so important and to be recognized by student vote to receive one of these awards is quite a compliment!

Jim was also interviewed by NECN News about the chemical dispersant used in the Gulf for the oil spill. See last nights broadcast at:

Congratulations as well to Behrooz Behbod who was recognized for his excellence as a teaching assistant.  Behrooz received a Teaching Assistant Award.

Congratulations to Julia Roos and Tawan Udtamakilok, and Hua Chen, who won ‘best student poster awards’ at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, the annual IH conference that was attended by almost 10,000 professionals in the IH or related fields.

I’ve mentioned our two March graduates in the past but as members of the class of 2010 I should congratulate them now as well!

Santosh Verma, SD, EOME, Risk Factors for Slipping in U.S. Limited-Service Restaurant Workers

Zhao Dong, SD, EER, Development and Application of a Tool to Determine Metal Bioavailability in Aquatic Ecosystems.

Lastly, we had a Commencement baby yesterday! Congratulations to Jean Economos and husband Jim Davis on the birth of a baby boy yesterday: Nathan, 7 lbs 3 oz.  Everyone is doing well.

Have a great long weekend!



Notes – 5/27/10

Happy Commencement Day!!  I just returned from Seattle last night. I had heard the reports of  record high temperatures in Boston yesterday, but it sure looks perfect now for the ceremonies!

This will be my 25th Harvard Commencement – 2 as a student, 23 as a faculty member, and 5 as Department Chair.  It is something I never get tired of.  As a teacher I take great pride in seeing my students receive their degrees.  As your department Chair I am humbled to represent all that we collectively do to prepare our students for this milestone.   Our students are well prepared to put their skills and expertise to work and to make meaningful contributions to society around the globe. The knowledge translation will continue and will bear fruit as this latest class moves on to future challenges.  My gratitude to our faculty for your tireless efforts in teaching, mentoring, and guiding our students.  My thanks also to everyone in the department for your contributions to the training and success of our students.  You should think of today as your special day and proof that all you do is meaningful and successful.   Enjoy today and share in the proof and satisfaction of a job well done.

Above all Congratulations to the Environmental Health Class of 2010, and to their friends and their families!


Doctor of Public Health in Environmental Health, concentrating in Occupational Health

Jae Young Kim, Dissertation: Longitudinal Associations Between Traumatic Injuries and Depression.


Doctor of Science in Environmental Health, concentrating in Environmental Science & Engineering

Chu-Yun Huang, Dissertation: Effects of Body Composition on Uptake and Metabolism of 1,3-Butadiene.


Doctors of Science in Environmental Health, concentrating in Exposure, Epidemiology, and Risk

Teresa Chahine, Dissertation: Modeling Variability in Environmental Exposures and Health Risks for Community-Based Risk Assessment.


Yueh-Hsiu Chiu, Dissertation: Secondhand Smoke, Occupational Exposures, and Biomarkers of Cardiovascular Disease in Trucking Industry Workers.

Birgit Claus Henn, Dissertation: Manganese Metabolism and Neurodevelopment.

Melanie Dove, Dissertation: Smoke-free Air Laws, Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Health in Children and Adults.

Stalo Karageorgi, Dissertation: Reproductive, Environmental and Genetic Determinants of Endometrial Cancer Risk.


Doctor of Science in Environmental Health, concentrating in Occupational Health

Wisanti Laohaudomchok, Dissertation: Novel Exposure Assessment and Early Neurotoxic Effects of Manganese in Exposed Workers.


Doctor of Science in Environmental Health and Health Policy and Management, concentrating in Environmental Science and Risk Management

Susan Wason, Dissertation: Evaluating Heterogeneity in Pesticide Exposure and Risk for Children in an Urban Low-Income Environment

Masters of Science in Environmental Health, concentrating in Exposure, Epidemiology, and Risk

Hua Chen

Sun Hwa Chung

Martin Forde

Matthew Grespin

Yu Lee

Danya Machnes

Lauren Madden

Julia Roos

Yongmei Shen

Kuo-Pei Tsai

Christopher Zuidema


Masters of Science in Environmental Health, concentrating in Occupational Health

Richard Adusa-Poku

Tawan Udtamadilok


Masters of Science in Environmental Health, concentrating in Industrial Hygiene

Ariel Piedmont

Dustin Walker


Masters of Public Health in Occupational and Environmental Health

Genevieve Bergeron

Yu-Kai Lin

Anne Renee McDonough

Kayode Abdulwaseel Odutayo

Craig Richard Kai Pack

Yolanta Virginia Petrofsky

Hiroshi Tsuji


Notes – 5/26/10

Although I was not able to attend the American Thoracic Society (ATS) meeting in New Orleans last week, our department was well represented.  Indeed, many stood out.

Congratulations to David Kasahara, Norah Verbout, and Alison Williams, all fellows in Stephanie Shore’s lab. Each received travel awards from the ATS Environmental and Occupational Health Assembly to attend the meeting.  The awards were presented at the EOH Assembly meeting which took place in New Orleans.  They received three of the ten awards. A nice coup for each of them, and also for Stephanie Shore and the caliber of the fellows who seek to work with her.  Well done!

Congratulations to David Christiani and Rihong Zhai who had the distinction of having two highlighted presentations as highlights at ATS.  Out of the thousands of presentations, only 24 were highlighted.

We are particularly proud of Jeff Fredberg who was awarded the Walter B. Cannon Award from The American Physiological Society at the annual meeting held April 24-28, 2010 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

A story about endocrine-disrupting chemicals in consumer plastics and household products aired Sunday, May 23rd on CBS News 60 Minutes.   Although Russ Hauser did not appear on camera, he was a resource for this program. See the story at  Also, a New Yorker article on same topic came out on Monday …A weekend of endocrine disruptor stories!

Attendees at the recent Linda Fox wedding have wonderful stories of a beautiful ceremony and great fun at the reception.  Steve Rudnick, Tracy Mark, Renee Costa, Sheila Stewart, Rose West and Petros Koutrakis were among the attendees.   I’m searching for a picture of Petros and Linda on the dance floor?

Looking forward to commencement tomorrow!



Notes – 5/7/10

Another busy week as we rapidly approach commencement.  Good luck to all our students as the academic year draws to a close.

Congratulations to Jack Spengler who received the EPA Environmental Merit Award for Lifetime Achievement (along with George Buckley) at the EPA Region 1, 40th year celebration of Earth Day that was held in Boston on April 22, 2010.  See the attached for information on Jack recognizing his lifelong dedication to the environment.

Stefanos Kales just returned from American College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine’s (ACOEM) annual meeting in Orlando.  Five current HSPH residents also attended. Two, Gerardo Durand and Eric Amster, each gave excellent oral presentations and received national resident research awards. HSPH took 2 of 8 this year to continue our excellent track record ( Two other recent HSPH residency graduates, Sachin Kapoor (2005) and Abe Timmons (2004), were among 18 physicians elevated to fellowship by the college.  Elpis Soteriades (2002 ) led a well-received conference session and about 25 residents, alumni and faculty gathered at an HSPH reception Monday night. A number of other alums like Jim Tacci, corporate medical director at Xerox and Bengt Arnetz, Professor and Division Director at Wayne State University were also very active at the meeting. In sum, HSPH was very well-represented.

I hear the 2010 Cambridge Science Festival was a great success.  Thanks to Ann Backus, Jim Butler, Jalal Ghaemghami (visiting scholar), and Chanida Thammachart.  Also thanks to the college students working with Ann Backus, Haley McBride from Simmons and Adrianna Boulin from Emmanuel College.

Jim Butler and Jalal talked with 400 people and helped them use the microscopes to see dust mites and deer ticks, and to understand lung and trachea anatomy using models;  Adrianna and Ann did peak expiratory flows for 200 people, and Chanida and Haley worked with over 150 people aging them with April (TM) Age software.

Marshall Katler who leads our science outreach to the neighborhood Boston Schools represented the department at the Dedication Ceremony of the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers at Northeastern University. The Academy is a college preparatory high school for Boston students exploring careers in health.  I receive very positive feedback on Marshall’s work in the Boston schools and encourage anyone interested to talk to him about how you can help.

It’s Mother’s Day weekend, thanks to all the mothers in the department who somehow manage to balance a career with the overwhelming demands of raising a family.  My thanks and hats off to all of you!!

Have a great weekend!



Notes – 4/26/10

Congratulations to Bob Wright and his co-investigators on the recent renewal of the Superfund Basic Research Project (SBRP) grant.  An essential component of our research and training activities since 1992, SBPR will continue to play a prominent role in our future.  The Department leverages the SBRP with Department support to build and maintain essential Core resources that serve to enhance the research and teaching done by the Department. Over time this mutually beneficial synergy has become critical to the success of both the SBRP and the Department.

Congratulations to Susan Chemerynski Wason,  Teresa Chahine, Birgit Claus Henn, and Yueh-Hsiu Mathilda Chiu who all successfully defended their theses on Friday or Monday.

The New York Times sought Jack Dennerlein out for comments related to a story on all the sitting we do at our desks.  See  but stand up and stretch first!

Congratulations to David Christiani and Peter James who received Green Carpet Awards on Friday.  The awards are given to individuals and teams who have worked on inspiring creative and impactful environmental projects at the University.  Jack Spengler was one of the award presenters. Jack continues to play a lead role in environmental issues at the University.  If anyone has a picture of Jack in his presenter outfit I’d really like to see it!

Hope everyone was able to recognize Earth Week in some way, the weather certainly cooperated.  Speaking of weather, it was a beautiful weekend on the Cape and the fish were biting.  Caught a baby striper to kick off the season.  Have a good week,



Notes – 4/16/10

It’s great to be back in the office for a full week after almost a month of travel!  Arrived home just in time to celebrate my ….. 39th birthday!

My return from Japan completes my travels for a while; had airlines schedules cooperated I would have circumnavigated the globe.  While a large commitment of time it was very productive and is evidence of the global reach and impact of the department.  I want to thank everyone in the department for the hard work that reaches so far around the world – I wish all could see first-hand the global evidence of the work we do.

While in Tokyo I spoke at the convocation of Teikyo University.  Teikyo has been a long time partner and it was good to see our Teikyo colleague Eiji Yano again.  The convocation was two sessions, each held in a large sports arena with attendance of roughly 15,000 each time.  Easily the largest audience I’ve ever spoken to.  The Japanese people are exceedingly polite and welcoming as evidenced by the positive response I received when I spoke briefly in Japanese.  After the convocation and meetings with the president of Teikyo and Eiji, my wife Jeanne and I enjoyed a tour of Tokyo hosted by a group of Teikyo students. Tokyo was beautiful with the cherry blossoms in full bloom.

My arrival in Japan made the newspapers but not because of me! Here is a picture from Aviation Times showing smoke from brakes/tires as we landed at Narita. You can almost make out my face in the window in front of the wing.  A little too much excitement after a 12 hour flight but all ended well.

Good to see Costas Christophi who was here for meetings this week.  Costas is on the CII faculty in Cyprus and combining work with a US vacation with his wife, Demetra Christophi, an administrator at CII.

Congratulations to Jaeyoung Kim, Wisanti Laohaudomchok, and Melanie Dove who successfully defended their theses this week.  As Melanie’s advisor I share her excitement at reaching this important milestone.  Well done!

Weather not so good this weekend so those of you who still need to file your taxes this may be the opportunity!  (Or maybe curl up with a good book, journal, or movie).  Don’t miss the Boston marathon on Monday.



Notes – 4/12/10

Time to catch up after three weeks of travel!  I was joined by Ken Wenger and Monique Bertic on a two week trip to Greece, Cyprus and Kuwait.  It was a hectic but very productive trip filled with meetings with donors, alumni, students, faculty and government officials.  The highlight of the Greece portion was the signing on a Memorandum of Understanding on Tobacco Control with the Greek Ministers of Health and Education as well as the Hellenic Cancer Society.  Dean Frenk will travel to Greece this July to sign a Memorandum of Agreement to move forward an aggressive program of tobacco control in Greece.  This will be the culmination of an incredible amount of work spearheaded by HSPH faculty Greg Connelly and Dr. Panagiotis Berakis.  Congratulations to both on this important milestone.

We also attended an event hosted by Harvard alumni and friends and it was great to see all the Harvard alumni and hear about their work in Greece.

In Cyprus we met with John Evans and the faculty at the Cyprus International Institute (CII), Konstantinous Makris, Ilias Vregas, Panayiotis Yiallouros, and Costas Christophi.  CII has made significant progress over the past year, including relocating to Limassol and partnering with the Cyprus University of Technology.  John has done a great job building on the initial success of Phil Demokritou in Cyprus.  The new facilities are impressive and Dean Frenk will speak at the July graduation of this years class of 13 students.  I enjoyed meeting those students, Yara Abu Awad, Rozita Behmaneshnia, Shwapan Kumar Biswas, Elena Chrysostomou, Amana Jemail Kedir, Silva Kerkezian, Nicolas Koullapis, Solon Louka, Fjodor Melnikov, Feiby Ladan Nassan, Rodos Rodosthenous, Demetris Sazos and Eirini Zachariou. We also had a chance to see the students in action when we sat in on a class taught by Jim Shine.  Special thanks to Lenia Josephides and Demetra Valtas for making all the arrangements and being wonderful hosts.

Speaking of CII students, congratulations to Stalo Karageorgi, a member of the first CII class who continued in the doctoral program here at HSPH.  Stalo successfully defended her thesis last Thursday!

We finished the trip in Kuwait where we visited the Dasman Center for Research and Treatment of Diabetes and Dr. Kazam Behbahani.  Kazam is a longtime colleague and it was good to see him and discuss future work in Kuwait. We also joined John Evans in meeting with and submitting a project proposal to Professor Abdulla Behbehani, Vice President, Health Sciences Center, Kuwait University.

A long but very productive trip followed almost immediately by a trip to Japan, but more on that next week.  Great to be back. Thanks to Kelly Studebaker, Barbara Zuckerman and Amy Cohen for holding down the fort in our absence!



Notes – 3/5/10

Congratulations to Andrea Baccarelli who received the Rivera Drago Award from the Lombardia Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Milan, Italy.  This is a prestigious award that is given annually to a young scientist.   Andrea was recognized for outstanding research with high impact on Environmental Sciences and Environmental Protection (the word by word translation would be “for relevant investigations on environmental pollution and health protection”). The award has quite a history, having been presented in the past to Alessandro Volta (the physicist who built the first battery. He is why we measure electricity in Volts).  Also Camillo Golgi (the physician and Nobel Prize recipient who discovered a cell component, the Golgi apparatus, which contributes to protein synthesis).

Molly Kile was awarded an NIEHS K01.  “Epigenetic Effects of Prenatal Arsenic Exposure and Fetal Growth.”  Congratulations, well done!   More congratulations, this time to Rama Kristnan who was awarded the Parker B. Francis Fellowship in Pulmonary Research for 2010-2013, a very prestigious and competitive award!   Rama’s research topic is titled, “Physical forces and regulation of pulmonary endothelial monolayer integrity.”  The fellowship supports the development of outstanding investigators who plan careers in pulmonary and critical care medicine.  The grant also coincides with Rama’s promotion to a research scientist!  Please join me in congratulating Rama on these two significant milestones in his career!     The above are significant accomplishments that I enjoy sharing with the entire department.  With such a productive department I do so at the risk of leaving someone out!  Please be sure to send notice of awards, publications, major presentations, etc. to Barbara Zuckerman ( so I can give the appropriate shout out and include it on the department website

Last week Dean Frenk recognized the 2010 Environmental Health Honoree’s for their long service at the annual Celebration of the Stars event.  Congratulations to all of our dedicated staff!

 5 Years:

Kofi Asomaning
Michael S. Bank
Melissa A. Curran
Mary Elizabeth Davis
Adrienne S. Ettinger
Holly A. Jones
Choong-Min Kang
Sharon Karnit Sagiv
Laurel A. Schaider

10 Years:       

Jack T. Dennerlein
Scott A. Forsberg
Heike Gibson
Stephanos N. Kales
Patricia Morey
Salvatore V. Mucci
Andrea Shafer
Antonella Zanobetti

15 Years:    

Russ B. Hauser
Robert B. Herrick
Joy E. Lawrence
Ramon M. Molina
Joel David Schwartz
Carla Santos Silva
Alix Smullin
Jose A. Vallarino
John Y.C. Yong

20 Years:

Rick A. Rogers

25 Years:

Janna Maria Frelich
Petros Koutrakis
Thomas J. Smith

35 Years:

Stephen N. Rudnick
Jack Mikhail Wolfson

On a more somber note, Bob Weker, a chemist who worked in our labs, passed away last Saturday afternoon.   Bob retired from HSPH in 2006 after 38 years of service. As a Lab Manager Bob was a valuable resource for many and I know many students appreciated the amount of time he spent working with them in the lab.  In addition to being one of the “go to” people in the labs, Bob was a real nature lover. Working with the Appalachian Mountain Club of Boston he led nature hikes all over the area. There is a Memorial Service this afternoon (4:00) at Memorial Church in Harvard Yard. Our condolences to Bob’s friends and family.

Good luck with mid-terms to all our students, spring break is just around the corner!  Enjoy the weekend.



Notes – 2/12/10

Congratulations to Steve Hanna who received the Helmut E. Landsberg award at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society.  Steve is an adjunct associate professor and a specialist in atmospheric turbulence and dispersion, in the analysis of meteorological and air quality data, and in the development, evaluation, and application of air quality models.  He was recognized for “significant novel and insightful contributions in applied meteorology and urban studies, including field work, data interpretation, model development and model evaluation.”  (Note: Helmut Lansberg was my mentor at the University of Maryland who go me interested in meteorology and ultimately air pollution.)

This week I had a department executive committee meeting, a lunch with junior faculty and a dinner meeting of the senior faculty.  I find these meetings to be immensely helpful and engaging.  I appreciate and value the efforts by all to contribute to our collective success as a department.

Deadline for submission for the Harvard-NIEHS Center for Environmental Health 2010 Pilot Project Round 1 is COB Monday. If you are not a Center member, you can either apply for membership or submit with a PI that is a member.  Up to $25,000 funded, and priority is given to new investigators.  Call or email Kelly Studebaker with any questions, second round submission deadline will be August 15, 2010.

Faculty Activity reports are due today!

I hope everyone enjoys the long weekend.  It will be particularly special for me and Jeanne as our daughter Anna is marrying Artie Georgacopoulos on Sunday! Big Greek wedding. Anyone have any Windex I can borrow?  Happy Valentine’s Day!!



Notes – 2/5/10

Our Annual Winter Party last night was a lot of fun.  Our theme this year celebrated the global character of our Department.  We had a big map where everyone could put pins for their home and where they are doing research.  The map is now on the 13th floor.  Stop by to see the wide range of countries represented, and to add your own pins if you were not able to last night.

Tom Quinn, Patty Gregory, Laurie Torf and the entire staff at Sebastian’s did a terrific job with the food, creating four stations with delicious offerings representing the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa.  Everyone was able to find something they really enjoyed.  Well done.

One of the highlights of the party is seeing the children. We had more than 40 children attending this year. It is a rare opportunity for the larger Environmental Health family to get together.  It is such a treat to see the new additions like little Kenya Fuller, Christina Hemphill’s daughter, as well as to see the others growing up, like Heike Luttman-Gibson’s children Anna and Oliver.  The hand puppets and Rami Salami, the balloon artist, were a great hit among the kids as well as many of the students and fellows.

Tom Smith tried his hand at puppetry.  While Tom has many talents, ventriloquism is not among them.  Fortunately he has a tenured position as Professor, and also as Department Jester.  Thanks Tom for being such a good sport.

Thanks to Kelly Studebaker, Barbara Zuckerman, and Ken Wenger for organizing this event, and to the students in our office,  Kristen Lessl, Katie Taylor, and Cristabel Kwabi for helping them execute these plans.

Guests at the party included nine new students from Brazil.  John Godleski is hosting these students from the Universidade de São Paulo Medical School (FMUSP). Thanks to an ongoing research collaboration between John and Paulo Saldiva, Professor of Pulmonary Pathology and Chair of the Department of Pathology at FMUSP, students have the unique opportunity to conduct laboratory research on the cardiopulmonary effects of air pollution and to learn through a combination of didactic activities and lab work in the Harvard Medical Area. This talented group was selected for a one-year experience at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in 2010.  Please welcome Helena Bonadia Buonfigilo, Juliana Hiraoka Catani, Felipe Boschini Franco, Vicente Mazzaro Filho, Ana Letícia Melquíades dos S. Nery, Álvaro G. Mendes Neto, José Roberto Mendes Pegler, Caio de Assis Moura Tavares, and Paulo Sng Man Yoo. For more information on the Harvard Brazil program see:
For bio’s on the students see:

We were also pleased to see Dr. Heirachiro Arito who was a fellow in the Physiology Program in the mid-1990’s at the party.  Dr. Arito was leading a delegation of scientists from the Japan Bioassay Research Center who are working on the toxicology of nano-particles.  They had very productive meetings over the past two days comparing approaches with the team of our investigators who only the week before had submitted a proposal for a new center on the health effects of nano-materials.  Thanks to Joe Brain, Jim Butler, and Melissa Curran for organizing this exchange.

Dean Frenk hosted a Town Hall Meeting yesterday kicking off the Pilot Phase of the Research Transformation Project (RTP). This Project is promises to provide world-class research administration infrastructure at the School. Plans were presented for pilots to evaluate two alternative models for this transformation. One of these pilots, the One Stop Shop Model, is being led by our Amy Cohen (nee Gerson). This model provides a centralized team approach, which cuts across departments.  Amy has been assigned to lead this team over the next four months.  Thanks to Jonathan Levy and Ken Wenger who have worked hard representing us on the RTP Working Group.  Hopefully this work will really lead to a superior research administration structure.

While the Patriots are not in the SuperBowl this weekend, I think we all have our favorites. Many of us remember fondly the students from the Tulane School of Public Health who spent the spring semester with us in 2006 after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  I don’t have a favorite team, but I would like to see our Tulane friends celebrating Sunday night.



Notes – 1/11/10

Happy New Year and welcome back!  I hope everyone had an enjoyable and relaxing holiday break.  It certainly appears the batteries have been recharged based on the high energy level I saw around the department last week.

Congratulations to Jeff Fredberg on his selection to give The Walter B. Cannon Award Lecture at the coming annual Experimental Biology meeting, which will be held in April.  Jeff’s talk is  “A Hard Day in the Life of a Soft Cell: Physical Laws Governing Cytoskeletal Deformation, Contraction, and Remodeling.”  This is noteworthy for two reasons.  First, it’s one of only two lectures that spans all of physiology.  Secondly, it’s named after Walter B. Cannon, who was at Harvard and is much appreciated by all physiologists.  In fact, he coined the term homeostasis and wrote a classic book called “The Wisdom of the Body.”  A great recognition of Jeff’s recent accomplishments.

Welcome again to our friend and colleague Andrea Bacarelli who joined us for two weeks to teach  EH 298 Environmental Epidemiology.  I have been sitting in on his class.  It is a challenge to be a student again, but Andrea is a great teacher and a leader in epigenetic research.

In other winter session courses, we have 14 of our HSPH student currently in Cyprus taking the Environmental Genetics class along with 13 students from the Cyprus International Institute.  Adrienne Ettinger is directing the course with help from Stalo Karageorgi.  I see the temperature reached 68 degrees in Larnaca today.

Congratulations to Raisa Stolyar on her retirement.  Raisa was a highly skilled laboratory chemist who was a valued contributor in a laboratory that consistently performed at the highest levels. Best wishes from all of us in your well-deserved retirement.

Be sure to mark your calendars for our Department Winter Celebration.  The date is February 4, 2010 and this year we celebrate our global presence and impact. Our international theme recognizes the various countries we come from as well as the countries where we do our research.  Share your flag and your culture as we seek to highlight the international scope of our department!

Speaking of Celebrations, hope you can join us at the Deans reception today to kick off the New Year.  Kresge Cafeteria, 4:00-5:30 pm.  Dean Frenk will speak briefly at 4:30

Condolences to Patriots fans but take heart, Red Sox spring training starts next month!  Have a great week.





Notes – 11/2/09

Invitations are out for the 12th James L. Whittenberger Lecture and Symposium on Monday, November 23, 2009. For program details and more  see Please RSVP by Friday.  If you are interested in attending and didn’t receive an invitation please let Kelly Studebaker know.

We were pleased to host Dr. Eiji Yano from Teikyo University in Tokyo, Japan last week. We have had a long standing relationship with Teikyo University and it’s always good to see Eiji when he visits.  I had the opportunity to spend time with him and his wife. We had a little tour of Cape Cod, including a little fishing from shore. Alas the fish must have all gone south.

Congratulations to Rose Goldman, who received the 2009 Academic Clinical Faculty Teaching Award for work with the Harvard Occupational and Environmental Medicine Residency.

Also congratulations to Laurel Schaider who just received a R21, her first research grant. Laurel is a Research Associate in the Department EER program. Well done Laurel, may it be the first of many more!

Have a great week!


Notes – 12/23/09

I had the pleasure this week of joining the retirement festivities for one of our beloved department treasures.  I speak of course of Linda Fox.   Linda retires this week after a remarkable 40 years at HSPH.  She knows more about the school and the department than anyone and I suspect a good deal of the department skeletons!

Also retiring this month are two more of our cherished department employees, Larisa Atshul and Rebecca Stearns. Both Larisa and Rebecca will be sorely missed as they contributed mightily to our research and laboratory operations.

Clearly the strength of the department is our people.  It’s hard when such valued long term employees move on.  We not only lose a valued colleague but also a valued friend.  I offer Linda, Larisa and Rebecca our thanks, appreciation for a job well done and best wishes for a very happy retirement!

Yesterday we celebrate Mel First’s 95th birthday. To add a little perspective when Linda started at HSPH Mel had already been here for 22 years!  In 1988 HSPH celebrated the Melvin First Fellowship that helps support young students studying public health. At that time it was said and I quote “Rarely are we so blessed to have an octogenarian as a vital contributing member of our faculty”. Here we are 11 years later and as a nonagenarian Mel continues to be a vital and valued contributing member of our faculty.

We are indeed fortunate to have Prof. First on our faculty. While Linda is a department treasure, Prof. First is our “national treasure” for living the mission of “public health for life”.

Happy Birthday Mel!!

It’s been another year of exemplary work and meaningful contributions to the improvement of the public health by this department.  Thanks to all of you for your dedicated service and continuing commitment to our mission.  Next week is our chance to slow down, relax and recharge.

We’ve earned it!

Enjoy the holidays and have a great week off!



Notes – 12/11/09

Winter really arrived this week.  The change in the weather reminds us that the fall term is coming to an end.  Thanks all the faculty and teaching assistants for a job well done.  I  enjoyed my classes, Respiratory Epidemiology and Environmental Cardiology, thanks to some great co-instructors (Diane Gold and Annette Peters), interesting guest lecturers, and very engaged students.  Good luck to the students in preparing their final papers, projects, and preparing for their final exams.

Enjoyed John Godleski’s EH Colloquium talk yesterday, “Asbestos and Mesothelioma – New Findings and Understanding”.  I hope everyone tries to take advantage of the Colloquium presentations – we have had a very strong series this year with presentations by both internal and external researchers.  Thanks to Les Kobzik for a great job in pulling it all together.

If you are on the 13th floor, take a look at the white board outside the Department Office.  It has become the International Board of Greetings.  Thanks to all that contributed so far – feel free to add a new greeting (translations are helpful!).

Ken, Amy, and I enjoyed the EOME holiday get together last Friday.  It was good to see all the EOME folks, especially those based at Landmark who I don’t see often enough.   Great job by our hosts, David Christiani and Jean Economos!  Thanks for the invitation.

I’m looking forward to next week’s MIPS holiday gathering – Marshall Katler always has some special entertainment planned.  We are looking forward to what Amy Gerson will add to the program. The pot luck is always top notch and loaded with international treats.

Happy Hanukkah! Have a great weekend!



Notes – 12/4/09

Back from the Thanksgiving break and off to the races again….

I visited our colleagues at Yale Monday and Tuesday to help in a review of their Division of Environmental Health Program.  Although their program is much smaller than ours, we share many of the same problems.  It was instructive to be an outsider looking in with a critical eye.

Congratulations to Santosh Verma who successfully defended his dissertation “Risk Factors for Slips and Falls in US Limited-service Restaurant Workers.” Santosh conducted a prospective cohort study with a nested case-crossover study to examine both stable and transient risk factors.  Santosh is a research scientist working in the Center of Injury Epidemiology at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety. Well done, Dr. Verma!

Congratulations also to Shona Fang who was notified that she is being awarded a Scientist Development Grant by the American Heart Association to study chronic and short-term effects of occupational PM exposure on systemic inflammation and oxidative stress in the boilermakers.

For this week’s EH colloquium Phil Demokritou hosted Sotiris Pratsinis from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.  His talk on “Flame Synthesis and Applications of Nanoparticles: Health Effects?” introduced the exciting new collaboration he is undertaking with Phil, Joe Brain, and others in the department.  One of Dr. Pratsini’s students is staying on for a week to work  in Phil’s new nanoparticles research lab.

Yesterday I was able to (briefly) join the party to wish Rebecca Stearns a happy retirement after 28 years at Harvard. John Godleski nicely summarized Rebecca’s many accomplishments, including her outstanding hitting for the Lung Rangers softball team.  Les Kobzik noted that Rebecca was making an easy transition from Harvard into mental health counseling.  As is traditional in MIPS, there was an extraordinary potluck buffet.  In a new tradition, Amy Colby Imrich returned to entertain with live fiddle music!  Best wishes Rebecca!

To finish up the week I look forward to joining the EOME program for their annual holiday party tonight.

Off to the EOME holiday party!

Have a great weekend!


Post Script:  On November 20th Jonathan Levy was invited by Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator, and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, to present at a White House briefing on the public health benefits of a clean energy economy.  We are very proud of the work Jon is doing on health benefits of clean energy and his influence on environmental policy.


Notes – 11/25/09

The Whittenberger Symposium and Lecture was a great success with excellent talks by Alex Lu and Emily Oken.  Great job sharing their research.  Also thanks to Phil Landrigan who gave the Whittenberger Lecture.  Phil continues to do great work as director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mt Sinai and as an advocate for children’s environmental health.  I hope everyone had the opportunity to hear the talks and meet with Dr. Landrigan.  Phil’s daughter, Mary, who is an anesthesiologist at Children’s Hospital here in Boston, joined us and it was great to meet her.  Always nice to see members of the Whittenberger family. Jim’s daughter-in-law Francine and granddaughter Hannah joined us once again.  Thanks to Kelly, Barbara, and Ken for organizing this event, and to John Godleski, Russ Hauser, and Bob Wright for putting together such an interesting program.

It’s tough fitting a week of work into three days but the reward is quality time with friends and family that we all look so forward to.  I’ll be heading to the Cape for Thanksgiving with family (22 for dinner) and am looking forward to a little down time.  I’ll be catching up on work but somehow it’s a little different when I get to do it on Cape Cod.

Before I leave I wanted to say that I am very thankful to my “work family” for all you do and your tireless dedication to our mission to protect and improve the public health.  I am astounded and inspired on a daily basis by the productivity of everyone in the department.  Your efforts allow us to make meaningful contributions to the improvement of public health. You have my respect, appreciation, and admiration.

Have a wonderful holiday, you deserve it and have earned it!  (Now go beat the traffic).



Notes – 11/21/09

Earlier this week I traveled with Walt Willett to Kuwait for the Dasman Conference on the Approaches to Preventing Chronic Diseases.  I was on my best behavior at meals sitting next to Walt.  A long trip but a worthwhile conference and great opportunity to see and hear about the work being done at the Dasman Center.  Enjoyed the opportunity to speak with friend and colleague, Kazem Behbehani who is Director of the Center.  Also met up with John Evans on efforts in Kuwait and Cyprus.

Enjoyed the EER get together at the Boston Beer Works Thursday night.  Lots of fun to see everyone after hours.  Almost arrived too late for food and beer, which I was looking forward to after my trip to Kuwait.  Only blueberry beer left. I don’t like things floating in my beer.  However the students and fellows made sure I had beer and snacks. Thanks!

Shane Snyder and his wife Erin are in town for the Whittenberger lecture and house hunting.  As I mentioned last week Shane is our new Associate Professor of Aquatic Science.  Hope you had a chance to meet Shane’s and hear his talk today “Formation, Identification, and Mitigation of emerging Disinfection Byproducts”.

Congratulations to Christina Hemphill who attended the ISES conference in Minneapolis last week and was awarded 3rd place in the student poster competition. This is particularly noteworthy as it was Christina’s first poster submission!  The title was Identification of pesticide residue sources in low-income African-American households using positive matrix factorization.

Condolences to Jeff Fredberg whose mother passed away last week.  Our thoughts are with you Jeff.

Simone Vinati and Andrea Zelioli visited from Italy this week to assist Phil Demokritou set up new lab equipment.  This was a critical step and great progress to completing Phil’s new lab and beginning his nanoparticle research.

Please note that Barbara Zuckerman has relocated to room 1304A and can now be reached at 432-2109.

Hope to see everyone at the Whittenberger Symposium and lecture Monday starting at 1:30 at the Martin Conference Center on Avenue Louis Pasteur!  Until then have a great weekend.



Notes – 11/6/09

I’m happy to announce that Shane Snyder, PhD will join us as our newest Associate Professor starting July 1, 2010.  Shane is a key hire in our renewed water program.  Shane is a perfect complement to John Briscoe, Jim Shine and Jim McDevitt among others who bring extraordinary skills to our water related research. I’ll have more on Shane as his arrival nears.  Until then mark your calendars, Shane will be giving a talk “Formation, Identification, and Mitigation of Emerging Disinfection Byproducts” on Friday November 20 at 3 pm in RM 1302.  Shane and his wife, Erin, will join us for the Whittenberger Lecture on November 23, 2009.  Be sure to say hello and welcome our new faculty member.

Speaking of the Whittenberger Lecture please RSVP to ASAP.  All are welcome, but space is limited so you need to register.

Don’t forget the symposium in celebration of Jere Mead on Tuesday, November 10, 2009.  Jeffrey Drazen will give the Keynote Lecture on “The Cholesterol Story.”  Starts at 4:00 PM in Hall D of Science Center in Cambridge.

We were sad to learn of the death of our colleague Mary Ellen Wohl, professor of Pediatrics, Emerita and former chief of the Division of Respiratory Diseases at Children’s Hospital. She was a pioneer in understanding the unique properties of newborns’ and infants’ lungs, focusing on diseases such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, bronchiolitis and asthma. A memorial service will be held Nov. 13 at 2:30 pm at Memorial Church in Harvard Yard, Cambridge, followed by a reception at Loeb House. Please let Patrice Ayers know if you plan to attend.

Our connections with Japan continued this week.  Jim Shine and Joe Brain entertained the Chairman, the Chief Scientific Advisor, and another scientist from the Akatsuka Company, which is located near Nagoya, Japan.  For five years, they have been supporting studies in Jim and Joe’s labs focusing on water quality.  They are interested in both the addition of essential micronutrients to drinking water, as well as the removal of toxic metals.  This week’s visit follows a meeting in August in Tokyo sponsored by Akatsuka where Jim and Joe both spoke to an audience of 5,000 in the largest indoor theater in Tokyo.  This connection with Akatsuka is also important to the department since it is yet another bridge with colleagues in the SEAS who share our vision of water and health.

Congratulations to Purnima and Santosh Verma, the proud parents of a new baby girl, Shivani, who arrived on 10/28/09, at 4:40pm; 5lb 10oz, 20.5 inches long.  Santosh is a part-time doctoral student in the EOME program being advised by Jack Dennerlein and Melissa Perry.  His research is on slips and falls in fast food restaurants and he is working with data from the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety.

Busy week for grants, thanks to all for continued efforts.  Bob Wright reports encouraging news on the Superfund application. Petros Koutrakis and colleagues are working hard on the EPA PM Center Competitive renewal.  The department output is astounding!

Have a great weekend!



Notes – 11/2/09

Invitations are out for the 12th James L. Whittenberger Lecture and Symposium on Monday, November 23, 2009.  For program details and more  see   Please RSVP by Friday.  If you are interested in attending and didn’t receive an invitation please let Kelly Studebaker know.

We were pleased to host Dr. Eiji Yano from Teikyo University in Tokyo, Japan last week.  We have had a long standing relationship with Teikyo University and it’s always good to see Eiji when he visits.  I had the opportunity to spend time with him and his wife.  We had a little tour of Cape Cod, including a little fishing from shore.  Alas the fish must have all gone south.

Congratulations to Rose Goldman, who received the 2009 Academic Clinical Faculty Teaching Award for work with the Harvard Occupational and Environmental Medicine Residency.

Also congratulations to Laurel Schaider who just received a R21, her first research grant.  Laurel is a Research Associate in the Department EER program. Well done Laurel, may it be the first of many more!

Have a great week!




Notes – 10/21/09

I am happy to announce that the 12th James L. Whittenberger Symposium and Lecture will be on November 23, 2009. The theme this year is Exposing Children to Toxins – Lifelong Consequences. The Whittenberger Lecture will be given by Philip J. Landrigan, Professor of Pediatrics and Chairman of the Department of Community & Preventive Medicine and Director, Children’s Environmental Health Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. Alex Lu and Emily Oken also will describe their work. More information and invitations to follow shortly. Until then save the date and send Kelly an email at if any questions.

Congratulations to Russ Hauser, the Frederick Lee Hisaw Professor of Reproductive Physiology and David Christiani, the Elkan Blout Professor of Environmental Genetics! Both recently received named chairs and last week we hosted a reception recognizing the success and accomplishments that culminated in these endowed chairs. We also hosted a lunch and HSPH tour for the family members of both the Hisaw and Blout families. Gail Blout is well known to many of us and it was wonderful to reconnect with her. We were also fortunate to have ten members representing three generations of the Hisaw family join us from the west coast. I really enjoyed the opportunity to share the festivities with them and learn more about their memories of Fredrick Lee Hisaw. Thanks to Kelly Studebaker for arranging a fun event!

Congratulations to our colleagues in Cyprus who learned that accreditation of the Cyprus International Institute MS Program was formally approved. Thanks to all in Cyprus who contributed, particularly Costas Christophi who led the effort. Well done!

Last Friday the Liberty Mutual Post-Doctoral Program held their 2nd Work In Progress Symposium of the year here at HSPH. The current round of post-docs from both UMass Lowell and HSPH presented their work of the past year. The group has been highly productive in their first year with both the acceptance of peer review manuscripts and several conference proceedings. The program continues to be a success demonstrating the collaborative resources of the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety and HSPH. In addition to their scholarly activities, two of the post-docs were married in the last year (Xu Xu and Joe Chang). It was great to seen our colleagues and faculty from Hopkinton and Lowell. Thanks to Nick Tonaritis for organizing this event.

With great sadness I also pass news of the recent passing of two valued colleagues. We were all shocked to hear of the death of Steve Lagakos, our colleague in the Biostatistics Department, who was killed with his wife Regina and mother Helen in a tragic car accident in New Hampshire on October 12, 2009.

Our good friend and colleague, Mary Ellen Wohl, professor of Pediatrics, Emeritus, and former chief of the Division of Respiratory Diseases at Children’s Hospital Boston, died on October 8, 2009 after a long illness.


Enjoy the return of Fall weather it won’t be long until……



Notes – 10/9/09

Last week Ann Backus, Kelly Studebaker and I traveled to Milwaukee to attend the annual NIEHS Center Directors conference hosted by the Children’s Environmental Health Sciences Core Center of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Children’s Research Institute.  This annual event is a great opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with fellow Center Directors.  Ann and Kelly had a similar opportunity with the Outreach and Center administrators.  We look forward to hosting the Center Directors in 2012 for the 50thanniversary of our Harvard-NIEHS Center for Environmental Health..

I traveled from Milwaukee to Austria to attend the second FINE! Dust-Free Congress.  The conference discussed a new EU Air Quality Directive and the latest studies on the health effects and costs of fine-dust pollution.  It was interesting to see the very aggressive actions being taken by European communities to reduce exposure to fine particles.  There diesel vehicles, including diesel autos, are considered the major source of particles. Traffic bans and other vehicle restrictions are being implemented in many communities.

Unfortunately my talk in Austria didn’t allow me time to participate in the signing of a new agreement with the Cyprus University of Technology(CUT).  The agreement aims to streamline the existing collaboration between HSPH and the government of Cyprus by incorporating the existing Cyprus International Institute (CII) on the Environment and Public Health within CUT, as part of its Faculty of Health Sciences.  The signing is the culmination of a great deal of effort by John Evans, John Lichten, Petros Koutrakis and a team too numerous to mention here.  Congratulations to all involved on this important milestone!  For more on the Cyprus initiative see:  and

To celebrate the signing the department hosted a dinner earlier this week for H.E. Andreas Kakouris, the Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States.  The Ambassador joined us after he spoke at the Kennedy School and is very excited about the new agreement.  It was a great opportunity to discuss future opportunities and the potential to advance the public health in Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean countries.

Congratulations to Alex Lu who received his first NIH research grant, R21- Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award “CBH Partnership on Environmental Public Health Exploration and Mitigation.”  Great news considering how competitive these awards are. Also, best wishes to Jing Li who is returning to China.  Jing worked with Alex as a post doc fellow.

Congratulations and best wishes to Greg Wellenius on his appointment as an Assistant Professor of Community Health at Brown University!

While the accomplishments are impressive they pale in comparison to the congratulations that go out to Dan Tschumperlin on the birth of Elizabeth Joy on September 18th!

Block time on your calendars for three notable events over the next two months.   The 12th Annual John B. Little Symposium will be held on October 23rd and 24th.  On November 10th, Jeff Drazen will give the Jere Mead Lecture.  Phil Landrigan will deliver the 12th James L. Whittenberger Symposium and Lecture on November 23, 2009.  Details and invitations to follow soon.

Have a great LONG weekend!!



Notes – 9/18/09

The department is very prominent in the just released Fall edition of the Harvard Public Health Review.  Excellent features on Bob and Roz Wright and John Briscoe.  Also featured are students Kathie Dionisio and Emmanuel Baja.  Kathy works with Majid Ezzati and Emmanuel with Helen SuhJohn Peters, former director of the Occupational Health Center is recognized as an alumni award winner.  Jere Mead, a 37 year HSPH veteran who passed away last July is acknowledged as well.  I encourage all, particularly our new students, to read these interesting and informative stories about your colleagues and their contributions to public health.

These articles bring to the forefront some of the great work being done in the department.  It’s important we share with our students what is going on in the Department outside the classroom.  In doing so we help them take full advantage of the educational experience here at HSPH.  To help facilitate that I plan to host periodic informal gatherings of faculty and students, fortified by pizza, to talk about our work and our students interests.  An invitation has gone out to students and faculty and I hope you will participate.  If not for the stimulating conversation then at least for the pizza!

We were very glad to see Greg Wagner back to teach today.  Greg is acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Mine Safety and Health Administration. He was appointed to the position on July 29, 2009, and is senior official at the agency pending confirmation of an Assistant Secretary.

Last week Dean Frenk hosted a one day retreat for all HSPH faculty.  It was a very productive and informative day.  Our department was well represented and very involved.  Collectively Dean Frenk and the faculty look forward to building on our past success to accomplish even more in the years ahead.  I would characterize Dean Frenk’s agenda as anything but a retreat!  More to follow in the days and weeks ahead.

The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) has declared Thursday, September 24 “Postdoc Appreciation Day.”  I want to add my thanks for the significant contributions the post docs make to our efforts and success in the department.  To celebrate Harvard’s postdoctoral fellow community, the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs has announced a number of events next week.  For more information see or 

Congratulations to John Evans and his outstanding team in Cyprus!  This week we received word that the government of Cyprus has approved a new agreement that will continue and strengthen our efforts in Cyprus through 2014.  I look forward to even greater accomplishments brought on by this important agreement.

Thanks to all preparing for next week’s CEPH accreditation site visit.

Best wishes to those celebrating Rosh Hashanah and to your family and friends.  “Ketiva ve-chatima tovah.”

Have a good weekend!



Notes – 9/7/09

On Friday we had the pleasure of notifying Russ Hauser of his being named the Frederick Lee Hisaw Professor of Reproductive Physiology. Russ became a Professor of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology at HSPH and Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical earlier this year. This honor is further testament to the high regard in which Russ is held by experts in his field and his colleagues here at HSPH and HMS. Congratulations to Russ and to all of you who support him and contribute to his scholarly activities. In the near future we’ll have a celebration of the assignment of professorships to both Russ and David Christiani (see 7/4/09 notes).

It was a beautiful week in Boston and I hope the weather helped compensate for the traffic caused by the annual migration of the students! Classes started last week and the increased energy level the students bring can be felt not only here at HSPH but throughout the city. My best wishes to all of our students as they begin this chapter of their academic careers. Hopefully that energy carries over to Fenway Park as Red Sox Nation starts the final push to the playoffs!

Classes have also started for the new class of 13 students at the Cyprus International Institute. This is the first class enrolling through the new association with the CUT, the Technical University of Cyprus, at the new campus in Limassol. We are looking forward to hearing more about the changes there.

Today is Labor Day when we recognize and celebrate the worker. It’s only appropriate that I add my thanks and appreciation to all of you who contribute so mightily to our continued success. Without you we simply couldn’t get it done, THANK YOU!



Notes – 8/31/09

It’s the start of the new academic year. I am happy to welcome back all of the EH community. I particularly want toe welcome our new graduate students. I was able to greet them by video conference from Ireland last week. We have 30 new students entering this fall, bringing the total EH student body up to 115. We have a truly global student body with 47% from outside the US representing 22 nations. I look forward to having the opportunity to meet each of you in person in the coming months. Please stop by our office on the 13th floor of Building 1, or stop me anytime in the hall, cafeteria, or wherever.

As I mentioned, last week I was in Dublin for the 21st Annual Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology. Our department has always had high visibility at this meeting. This year in particular, it seemed that everywhere I turned (both at the meeting and in the pubs) there was a current student, fellow, faculty, or scientist, or else successful alumni. It is very gratifying to see the influence and leadership that this department has in the field of environmental epidemiology, and the quality of the posters and presentations of our students and fellows. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the Irish hospitality.

Welcome back or as they say in Gaelic Céad Míle Fáilte!



Notes – 8/21/09

It’s been an incredibly hot week but the first sign of a waning summer is upon us. We’ll welcome our new students to orientation next Tuesday! Thanks to all who help put together the orientation and to those who will make presentations. I’ll have more details on a very strong entering class in future notes.

I’ll be welcoming the new students but via video conference from Dublin, Ireland. I’ll be in Dublin for the 21st International Society for Environmental Epidemiology meeting next week. We will be well represented at the conference as many of our faculty, students and fellows will be attending. More on the conference when I return.

Congratulations to Jack Dennerlein, Tom Smith, and Bob Herrick for a very successful conference they hosted this week – X2009 6th International Conference on Innovations in Exposure Assessment. Over 150 investigators from around world participated in the conference. It was a huge undertaking and great success, well done!

Also thanks to Steve Rudnick, Mel First, and Ed Nardell for once again teaching the very popular two week course “Building Design and Engineering Approaches to Airborne Infection Control”. The staff on the 14th floor enjoyed watching the discharge of fire extinguishers in the conference room as part of a teaching exercise!

Enjoy the weekend and the summer weather. Remember hurricane Bill will be stirring up the ocean at the beaches. I hope to be well above the hurricane as I fly to Dublin!



Notes – 8/2/09

Congratulations to the 2009 graduates of the Cyprus International Institute (CII)!!

Souzanna Achilleos (Cyprus), Despina Pampaka (Cyprus), Photini Photiou (Cyprus), Evangelia Andreou (Cyprus), Despo Ierodiakonou, (Cyprus), Eirini Kostantinou (Cyprus), Maja Saitovic (Serbia), Marlen Parari (Cyprus), Demetra Panayiotou (Cyprus), Christiana Symeou (Cyprus), Andri Yiangou (Cyprus), Funda Zaim (Cyprus), Emanual Dimont (Israel), Aleksandar Mitov (FYROM), Raphael Arku (Ghana), Charalambos Stefanou (Cyprus), Ioannis Hasikos (Cyprus)

Congratulations and thanks also to the faculty and staff at CII who have supported this program this year, including:

Ilias Vrezas, Konstantinos Makris, Panayiotis Yiallouros, Costas Christophi, Ourania Kolokotroni, Michalis Picolos, Spyros Pipis, Andreas Poullikkas

Yiannis Vakis, Lenia Josephides, Demetra Valtas, and Andri Kyriacou

You can see a picture of the graduates at the department web site spotlight and an album of photos at Cyprus 2009 Graduation Photos.

John Evans also asked that we thank Dr. Kazem BEHBEHANI (Director of the Dasman Institute for Research, Training and Prevention and Former Assistant Director of the World Health Organization) who gave the CII Commencement Speech (and received an honorary MS in Environmental Health from CII), and Minister PASCHALIDES (Commerce, Industry and Tourism – our current sponsor) and Minister DEMETRIOU (Education – our future sponsor) who both gave wonderful speeches. In addition the chairman of the CII Board, Ambassador Sotos ZACKHEOS gave the award to our valedictorian, Dr. Aleksandar MITOV. Other dignitaries in attendance included – Mr. George Georgiades (former director of the CII Board); Mr. Photius Photiou (member of the CII Executive Board), Dr. Elpida KERAVANOU (Rector, Technical University of Cyprus, CUT), Dr. Andreas Mallouppas (Vice President, CUT), along with the families and friends of the graduates.

Finally, thanks to the faculty here who have taught these students this year, and to our local administrative staff who have made this possible.

Hope you are enjoying the weekend!



Notes – 7/24/09

Judging from how quiet it was this week I suspect many in our department are enjoying a well deserved vacation! Fewer phone calls and email interruptions provided a great opportunity to get caught up and tackle those issues that I never seem to have time for.

Thanks to all involved in the fiscal year close. We continue to do well in a very challenging environment. Our financial staff do a great job of keeping us on the up and up!

Earlier this month White House economists predicted a 48 percent growth between 2000 and 2016 in health care support jobs. The officials also predicted a 52 percent growth during the same period for environment-based jobs. Jobs in growth sectors will require greater analytical thinking than jobs in industries that are in decline, the report concluded. Health, environment and more training – sounds like we’re in the right fields for the future.

I was pleased to chat with Mel First who stopped by the department office today. It is always great to talk with Mel, who started here before I was born, and continues to have an active research and teaching program. Mel, Steve Rudnick, and Ed Nardell are continuing to develop methods to control airborne infections, specifically tuberculosis. Mel indicates that we can look forward to some exciting new results from this research in the near future.

Joe Brain shared some sad news that I wanted to pass along. Ramon Molina‘s mother died last week in the Philippine village where she spent most of her life. Ramon’s mother celebrated her 100th birthday earlier this year – an incredible achievement. Although her physical health was declining and she was largely confined to her bed for the last year or two, her mind remained sharp, and she conversed with family and caretakers during her final days. She died in her own bed in her own home. Our condolences to Ramon and his family.

With the Red Sox recent fall from first place it is incumbent upon me to attend the game tonight and get them back to their winning ways. Count on a win for the old town team tonight!

Have a great weekend, the sun is starting to shine already!


Notes – 7/4/09

It was a great treat to have Linda Birnbaum, the new Director of NIEHS, visit the Department the week before last.  While the demands on her time have clearly increased, she has agreed to stay on Olivier Humblet’s research committee.  Our faculty and research scientists were able to meet with her informally, and question her on her vision for NIEHS. Thanks to Olivier and Russ Hauser for arranging her visit.

Congratulations to David Christiani who has been named Elkan Blout Professor.  This named Chair honors Dr. Blout who was the first Chairman of the combined Department of Environmental Science and Physiology (1986 to 1988) and Dean for Academic Affairs (1978 to 1989).  We are looking forward to congratulating David in person net week.

Finally, we are saddened to hear that Jere Meade, our colleague, intellectual leader, and mentor, took his final breath this morning.  We have lost one of the giants in respiratory physiology and one of the great teachers in our department.



Notes – 6/19/09

I returned this week from teaching in Cyprus. As usual, it was sunny every day in Cyprus, compared to clouds and rain every day here in Boston.

Always an enjoyable trip, not just because of the weather, but mainly because of the students, faculty and staff at the CII.  Thanks to Lenia Josephides, Yiannis Vakis, Demetra Valtas  and Costas  Christophi for the arrangements and warm welcome. I also was able to attend two veryinteresting workshops on Environmental Lung Disease and Asthma organized by Les Kobzik, Panayiotis Yiallouros, and Ourania Koloktroni.

We’re excited and anxious to sign a new agreement with Cyprus shortly that will result in a new location for CII among other administrative changes.  This will allow for a new administrative platform and an exciting future for CII.  A dedicated CII faculty and staff is handling a challenging transition remarkably well. Thanks to all in Cyprus for your efforts.

Please join me in congratulating Dan Tschumperlin and Francine Laden on their promotions to Associate Professor.  A well-deserved acknowledgment of their contributions and importance to our department and school.  Well done!

Next Tuesday Linda Birnbaum, the new Director of NIEHS will be visiting. Kelly has sent out email invitations to two informal opportunities to meet with Linda.  Senior faculty are invited to join Linda for lunch, junior faculty and research scientists for an mid afternoon tea. Contact Kelly ( for details.


Congratulations to Enhua Zhou and his colleagues on their paper appearing in PNAS this week (  I had asked Enhua to describe the results to me and he sent the following: “Imagine a opaque bag in front of you and you wish to figure out what’s inside, what would you do?  You can’t open it.  So you press and you feel the content, then you might be able to tell whether it is a bag of glass beads or soft balls.  The mammalian cell is like such an opaque, fully-packed, and yet miniature bag, the physical nature of its content elusive.  That is what our PNAS paper is trying to figure out.  Indeed we ‘pressed’ and ‘felt’ the cytoplasm.”  Sounds very interesting!!!

Tracy Mark tells me that EER has acquired a bicycle thru MASCO.  If it ever stops raining it might be a nice way to “commute” from Landmark to Building1! See Tracy for details.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads among us!  Let’s compare ties on Monday!



Notes – 6/5/09

Congratulations to all our students on their accomplishments at HSPH culminating in the commencement this week!  Our class of 25 students represented the US (17), Nigeria, Peru, India (2), Cyprus,  Hong Kong, Japan and China.

Commencement is easily the most enjoyable and rewarding day for me as the Department Chair.  I look forward to seeing the bright faces of our graduates and congratulating them on stage, and to meet their proud parents, families, and friends.  We are all proud of our new colleagues in Environmental Health and wish them success in future endeavors.

I want to thank our faculty for teaching, advising, and mentoring these new graduates.  Your dedication to teaching excellence, and your generosity with your time are essential to our training program. Thanks also to the staff who have guided these students through the academic maze of forms and websites, and the researchers who have been so generous in helping and guiding the students in their projects. There are countless ways you all contribute to our success as a department and to the success of our students.  As another academic year comes to a close I thank all of you for a job well done!


2009 Department of Environmental Health Graduates

Master of Public Health (MPH)  
Adedeji Adeleke (Nigeria)
Eric Amster (U.S.)
Gerardo Durand (Peru)
Bret Heerema (U.S.)
Todd Huhn (U.S.)
Tejaswini Kulkarni (India)
Jannah Tauheed (U.S.)
Chunbai Zhang (U.S.)

Master of Science (S.M.)
Eric Apeagyei (U.S.)
Kevin Francis Banahan (U.S.)
Ceren Barlas (Cyprus)
Ian Leigh Callander (U.S.)
Melissa Jeanne Ekstrand (U.S.)
Meiling Gao (U.S.)
Janet Heung (Hong Kong)
Don Kriens (U.S.)
Yusuke Kusakawa (Japan)

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Marleen Marie Welsh (U.S.)

Doctor of Science (SD)
Amar Jayant Mehta (U.S.)
Monique Murphy Perron (U.S.)
Glenn Edward Rice (U.S.)
Ananya Roy (India)
Monica Ter-Minassian (U.S.)
Elissa Hope Wilker (U.S.)
Ying Zhu (China)

Notes – 5/8/09

Last week I attended a reception in honor of Jim Ware to recognize his 19 years as Academic Dean at HSPH.  Jim has been provided biostatistical help to this department since he joined the School in 1979. As Dean for Academic Affairs, he has guided the academic life with a steady hand.  We know him a gentleman who is always positive and encouraging in his interactions with the faculty.  He has done a fantastic job handling numerous challenges with great skill and diplomacy over the years.  Joining us at the reception were the four HSPH Deans that Jim served under, Howard Hyatt,  Harvey Fineberg,  Barry Bloom and Julio Frenk.  A testament to the high regard the Deans have for Jim.  We will miss him in the Deans Office, but look forward to him returning as a colleague, teacher, and collaborator.

Congratulations to all the EH students and Post Doc prize winners at the annual Faculty Council Poster and Exhibit day last week.  Winners include:

Student winner: Emmanuel Baja (Traffic-related pollutants are associated with heart rate-corrected QT interval)

Postdoc winner: Alison Williams (Impact of adiponectin and T-cadherin deficiency on allergic airways responses in mice)

Student authors receiving honorable mention: Zhao Dong (Jellyfish: an in-situ equilibrium-based sampler for determining multiple metal ions in aquatic systems), Yen-Tsung Huang (Characterizing genome-wide copy number profiles in non-small cell lung cancer) and Monica Ter-Minassian (A large-scale study of candidate SNPs reveals an association of a TSC2 variant with sporadic neuroendocrine tumors)

Paul Riccardi tells me that HSPH has reached an agreement on lease terms for our Landmark space through 2015.  Good news for the Department, specifically for our EER program.

Thanks to all who helped with the equipment inventory, especially to those who applied the “Do Not Tag” tags to the equipment in their labs.

Don’t miss the student talent show “Rhythm Therapy – Return from the Deep” at 6:30 tonight in the Cafeteria.

Have a great weekend! Don’t forget your mothers.



Notes – 5/1/09

We survived the crazy weather week, breaking the all-time high on Tuesday followed by a fifty degree drop on Wednesday and ending with seasonable temperatures today.  Our colleagues in Cyprus might find that temperature variation amusing.  Of course our students here from Cyprus probably find it less than amusing!

Dean Frenk returned this week from Mexico where, while visiting family, he assisted the Mexican government with a response to the swine flu outbreak.  See the Boston Globe article for an interview with Dean Frenk on the outbreak.

Speaking of Mexico, keep in mind our friends and colleagues in Mexico as they celebrate Cinco de Mayo on Tuesday under less than ideal conditions.

This week Dean Frenk announced John Lichten’s move to the Provost’s Office.  A loss for us but good to know he’s close by and still working on HSPH International affairs.  John was and is instrumental in our work around the globe most notably in Cyprus, Japan, Greece and the Gulf States.  His steady hand has led to wonderful opportunities to improve the public health.  I’m sure you all join me in thanking John and wishing him all the best in his new role!

I had a most enjoyable lunch today with the Departments key administrators to celebrate Linda Fox’s 40 anniversary with Harvard.  She has spent 30 of them in the EH Department or its predecessors!  This will be Linda’s last Harvard anniversary as she will be retiring at the end of the year.   More as the time approaches.  If you’re looking for the skeletons in the Department closet Linda’s the one to talk to.  Hope she doesn’t write a book (she even has pictures)! Thanks to Linda, Jean Economos, Amy Gerson, Kelly Studebaker, Barbara Zuckerman and Ken Wenger for an enjoyable walk down memory lane.

Out my window I can see the TV trucks converging on the Dental School to report on the H1N1 flu.  For more information on the virus see:

Last week I hoped for Red Sox victories over the Yankees – my wish for three wins was granted.  Last Friday I enjoyed a wonderful evening of baseball and fine weather topped off by the Sox extra innings win. My next three wishes have to do with pending grants…..

Happy May Day!



Notes – 4/24/09

We are at the end of school vacation week, that is vacation for the kids, but a challenge to the parents who have to juggle their work and home. Not an easy task and not always a “vacation”!

Good time to remind all that HSPH has a work/life liaison, Ronnie Mae Weiss, in the HR Department.  Ronnie is the HSPH “google” resource for work and life resources and benefits (including elder care).

The paper Majid Ezzati, Arden Pope and I published earlier this year on improved life expectancy associated with improved air pollution continues to get press.  There is a brief article in the current Harvard Magazine (  Also the  BBC recently aired an interview I did several months ago (

I hope you had the opportunity to attend Alexey Fedulov’s presentation Wednesday entitled “Maternal Asthma and Environmental Exposures Lead to Epigenetic Alterations and Allergy Risk.”  Alexey’s work on these trans-generational predictors of asthma risk is very intriguing, and led to some lively discussion.  Today, we were happy to welcome Ning Wang back to describe his innovative work on mechanotransduction in the cytoplasm in cells.  It was terrific to see Ning who continues to succeed even though he left Harvard for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Next week Barbara Campbell will be visiting from the University of Delaware to present on Monday “Molecular Microbial Ecology – Detection of Human Pathogens in the Environment.”  Bldg 1, Room 1302, 12:45 pm to 1:45 pm.

I have been invited to talk to the doctoral students about preparing for and taking their Oral Examination on Thursday, April 30 at noon, Building 1, Room 1302.  Thanks to Angeliki Lambrou for coordinating this event.

I trust you all enjoyed Earth Week and the talks and information that was available throughout the school.  Hopefully we all learned something that we can put into practice to make our footprint a little smaller.

Tom Leamon is looking for help in developing a website to highlight, assess, and reduce the global burden of occupational injury.  Contact him at

Next week is the school’s twenty-third annual Poster and Exhibit Day(Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Kresge cafeteria). This event is an opportunity for the HSPH community to learn more about the exciting research and service activities being carried out by the school.  Two $500 prizes will be awarded – one for the best poster or exhibit prepared by students (or a team with a student as the first author) and one for the best poster or exhibit prepared by postdocs (or a team with a postdoc as the first author).  Our department has always been well represented among the presenters and the award winners. For more information and to register, go to:

Looks like spring has bowed to summer at least for the weekend.  Hopefully the Yankees bow to the Red Sox as well!

Have a great weekend!



Notes – 4/3/09

It’s great to have travel behind me for awhile and have the opportunity to be back in the thick of all that is happening in the Department.

Spring 2 classes began this week. We had very positive meetings with the HSPH visiting committee mid-week.  We ended with meetings for our accepted students.  I always enjoy meeting the accepted students and having the opportunity to discuss their backgrounds and interests.  It serves as a reminder of the wide ranging aspects of Environmental Health and the broad spectrum of talented people we work with and teach.   While I’ve been teaching for more years that I care to admit there is a great deal I can learn for these students given their impressive backgrounds and experiences.  Thanks to all who helped these prospective students feel welcome.

Congratulations to John Briscoe,  awarded the International Water Association’s Presidential Award at the World Water Forum in Istanbul on March 18. It’s wonderful to see the energy that John is bringing to our water program.

Next week the Environmental Health Colloquium features Ian Gilmour, Ph.D., “Chemistry and Toxicology of Airborne Particulates: Integration of Laboratory and Field Studies”.   April 9, 2009, 3:30-4:30 rm. 1-1302

Monday is opening day for Red Sox Nation – ($1 scoops at JP Licks!) all is right with the Universe.  (This also means the fish will be biting soon!)

Have a great weekend!



Notes – 3/30/09

I’m glad to be back after nearly two weeks on the road. I am impressed by all the work that has taken place in response to the stimulus plan.  Thanks to all the investigators and staff who have risen to the challenge.  New information continues to come out on nearly a daily basis.  See   and for the latest information.

The week before last I was in Abu Dhabi where Eileen McNeely and I gave talks at an International Conference on Environmental Health sponsored by the Environment Agency and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Centre for Environmental Health.  On the return I stopped in Geneva to see our colleagues, Kazem and Jaafar Behbehani.  I was happy to find Jaafar doing well.

This past week I visited the University of South Carolina where I gave the Winona Vernberg Lecture honoring the former Dean of their School of Public Health.  I was hosted by Robin Puett, one of our former post-docs, who is now on the faculty there. On Francine Laden’s recommendation, I tried the local delicacy – boiled peanuts.  They are allegedly very good with beer, but unfortunately none was at hand.

From there I went to Vancouver to give the David Bates Memorial Lecture sponsored by the University of British Columbia Respiratory Division and participate, along with Murray Mittleman, in the annual Air Quality and Health Workshop sponsored by the British Columbia Lung Association.  I received a beautiful hand-carved “Talking Stick” from the hosts in Vancouver.  Traditionally everyone is supposed to listen respectfully to whoever is holding this stick. I am anxious to try this at the next faculty meeting.

While traveling I did see on an article on the health and fitness of EMT’s and firefighters, work being done by Stefanos Kales, Congratulations!

Congratulations to Jeff Fredberg on the acceptance of a paper by “Nature Physics”.  Jeff’s work is on the subject of collective cell migration, which is a phenomenon that comes into play in many fundamental biological processes.

Note your federal income taxes withholding may have changes due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  Watch for a few extra dollars in your paychecks!

Have a great week!



Notes – 3/13/09

We were stunned to hear of the tragic and unexpected death of our colleague Michael Shannon on Tuesday.  Mike was Chief of Emergency Medicine and Co-Director of the Pediatric Environmental Health Center at Children’s Hospital.  He has been an important mentor and collaborator to many of us, particularly in studies and management of metal exposures in children.  Most recently he led our local team in our successful application as part of the National Children’s Study.   There are links to his obituary and memorial site below.

A great deal going on with grant development and submittals tied to the stimulus program.  It’s critical that the lines of communications are open to support collaborations as we position ourselves to take advantage of this unique opportunity.  The first deadline is March 23, 2009.  Good luck to all involved and thanks to the administrative team gearing up to meet the aggressive deadlines.

Thanks to Karin Michels for her presentation at Thursday’s EH Colloquium, ”Use of Polycarbonate Bottles and Urinary Bisphenol A Concentrations”.  A popular topic with lots of interest!

Next Wednesday the department is sponsoring the  DBS-BPH Distinguished lecture by Patrick G. Holt on “The Aetiology and Pathogenesis of Asthma: Insights into Persistent Disease from Studies in Children”, and separately, Dr. Andrea Baccarelli will be speaking on “DNA Methylation and Health Effects of Air Pollution”.

Please send all lectures/seminars announcements to Kelly Studebaker so she can post them on the department web site.

Next week the Longwood campus officially goes smoke free. Let’s support and be thoughtful of our colleagues that are working to kick the habit.

I’m off tomorrow to Abu Dhabi to give a talk at the International Conference on Environmental Health 2009 hosted by WHO and the Abu Dhabi Environmental Agency.  I hope you have a great weekend!


Notes – 3/6/09

Nice to have Bruce Boley and John Evans stop by this week.  Both have been busy traveling, spending time in Kuwait and Cyprus.  John reports good progress on the transition of the Cyprus International Institution(CII) to a base within the Cyprus University of Technology.  Thanks to the efforts of Phil Demokritou, Petros Koutrakis, and now John Evans our Harvard-Cyprus program has a solid foundation for the future.  John also brings positive news on continuation of the research studies in Kuwait.  Well done John and congratulations on your 30 years of service award!

Nice article on John Briscoe in the Harvard magazine’s most recent issue. John is off to a great start and we look for great things in our waterprogram.  We’ll have John in our web spotlight next week.

Kelly asked me to remind users of the conference rooms to please leave them neat and tidy for the next meeting and remember to turn off the lights, computer and projector.   Thanks!

Have a great weekend.


Notes – 2/28/09

Congratulations to all our “Stars” who were honored this week for their milestone years of service.  We had 28 Department staff recognized for a combined for a total of over 325 years of service!  That’s a great deal of expertise that we are lucky to have.  Another reminder that in challenging times we are up to the task.  I would highlight our longest service colleagues – Jeff Fredberg (20 years), Lynn McClelland (25years), John Evans and John Godleski (30 years), and Jack Spengler (35 years).   The spotlight section of our web site has a complete list of our “Stars”.

Great to see our colleagues at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety  at this weeks ERC seminar “Near miss and minor occupational injury: Does it share a common causal pathway with major injury?”  Ted Courtney, Helen Corns, Melanye Brennan and Santosh Verma (EH doctoral student) Center for Injury Epidemiology made the trip in from Hopkinton for the seminar

The program and department offices were all working hard this week to finish review of admission applications, and to get notices out to the accepted new students.  We had a large number of high quality applications this year, no doubt related to the economic conditions. Thanks to the faculty and staff who worked diligently to review and process these applications.

Enjoy the weekend.  Saturday I thought there were signs of spring?  However, Sunday and Monday look like winter again.


Notes – 2/20/09

A short week but busy one with lots going on.

The stimulus plan was front and center with good news on the NIH front.  The plan included $9.5 billion for biomedical research.  Faculty are hard at work to determine how best to position our research to take advantage of this rare opportunity to further our science.  Should be a win win with the economy and the public health both benefitting.

In my own attempt to stimulate the economy, I did invest in a hybrid, low emissions car this week.  I have been struggling with the tradeoff of purchasing a higher fuel efficiency, lower emissions vehicle, versus hanging on to a perfectly acceptable but pedestrian auto. Last weekend I found a low mileage (used) Toyota Camry Hybrid to replace my 10-year old Camry.  The cars look remarkably the same from the outside. However, with all the high-tech engineering, gadgets and displays, I feel totally “pimped” out when I am behind the wheel. My kids are embarrassed, but relieved that Dad is having an environmentally friendly mid-life car crises.  Take comfort in knowing that your Chair is talking the talk and riding the ride!

Don’t forget the town meeting with President Faust on Tuesday.  Submit questions in advance or at the meeting.

I’m sad to announce that Cheryl Magoveny is leaving this week, but happy to announce she is moving on to a great opportunity at Yale as Team Leader in the Office of Grant and Contract Administration.  Cheryl was our Associate Director of Finance and Administration in the MIPS Program.  In addition to the great opportunity at Yale, Cheryl is returning to her home town of New Haven.  We wish her all the best and thank her for her excellence through the years.

On the construction front I wanted to thank Li Su and Xing Chen for their help in getting FXB 102 ready for construction.  This week was the final push and thanks to them (and others) we’ll turn the room over for construction next week.  We hope to have all projects completed by June 30, 2009.

Enjoy the weekend


Notes – 2/13/09

We’re nearing the end of the review of student applications for the Class of 2009.  It looks to be a very strong group of students.  Thanks to all the faculty and staff for their dedicated review and processing of the applications.  Special thanks to Jean Economos, Linda Fox, Rose West, Cheryl Magoveny and Barbara Zuckerman for providing the administrative oversight of the process and implementing the online review of applications.  Well done!

I haven’t commented on construction activities lately but it’s still very prevalent in the department.  The folks in EOME on the 14th floor have been weathering the dust, noise and displacement for quite awhile now.  In a couple weeks the west side of the floor will be complete and work will begin on the east side.  With a little luck it will all be complete by June 30, 2009!  Thanks to Jean Economos and her staff for their patience and understanding.  Meanwhile Russ Hauser’s new lab in FXB 102 will begin construction in two weeks.  His staff office space in FXB 101 is complete and turned out great.  On deck is renovation of the Inhalation Lab on the first floor of Building 1.  That will begin in early spring.  In spite of all the construction research is getting done, papers written, grants are going out the door, budgets developed and on and on.  Amazing!!  The commitment of the school to provide a first class working environment in this economy speaks volumes about the value and importance of the work we do.  Thanks to all for their patience and can do attitude!

Your administrators are busy at work preparing our FY10 budgets.  The turnaround is short with a due date of March 3, 2009.  If they have questions for you please provide timely responses.

Speaking of budget planning, you might want to add to your calendars the “Town Meeting” with President Faust and Ed Forst on February 24, 2009.   Good opportunity to hear first hand from the decision makers in these challenging times.

Have a great and well deserved long weekend!


Notes – 2/6/09

Arrived safely back from my trip to Africa late Sunday night.  The goal of this trip was to lay the groundwork to establish an African prospective cohort study of chronic disease.  The trip was organized by the Epidemiology Department, and I went to assess opportunities to incorporate environmental and occupational health issues into the proposed study. We met with researchers in Nigeria, Tanzania, and South Africa, including colleagues of our faculty, former students and fellows. We were welcomed everywhere, but also kept to a very tight schedule.  Michelle Holmes and Shona Dalal did the groundwork for this trip, and along with David Havelick and Michelle Coleman, made sure we made optimal use of our time.  The sightseeing was largely as we traveled between potential study sights. At our last stop in Cape Town, we made a quick trip up Table Mountain, and had a special private tour of Robben Island where we visited the cell where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison.

We were challenged by the economic and health disparities we observed.  However, we were encouraged by the competence and commitment of the public health researchers and practitioners we met.  As one of our hosts said, Africa can become the “continent of hope,” and the Harvard School of Public Health can be an important contributor to that change.

Arriving back in Boston, we were hit with the New England winter.  However, on Wednesday it felt like Mexico.  It was great to see so many of you at our annual department winter party. After so much snow and such cold temperatures it was great to relax with Mexican food by Tom Quinn, Laurie Torf and the Sebastian’s staff, music by Mariachi Connecticut, balloons by Rami Salami, and of course our department jester, Tom Smith. I particularly enjoy seeing the children.  It’s nice for our parents to show their work space with the family and allow the children to see where their parents spend so much of their time.  I hope it helps in some small way as you wrestle to balance work and family.  Thanks to all who pulled the party together, particularly Barbara, Ken and my new executive assistant Kelly Studebaker, who has been with us only a month!  Take a look at the Department web site photo gallery for some special party pictures on Monday.

Next week we begin development of our FY 10 budgets.  With all the discouraging news about the economy, I want to note that we are doing everything possible to capitalize on our strengths in these difficult times.  Our strengths are of course you, our faculty and staff and I can’t think of anyone stronger, or better positioned, to face the challenges ahead than this Department.  Thank you for your continued efforts and commitment to our mission and goals.  (Special thanks to all who worked getting grants out this week – a busy week!)

Finally, our deepest condolences to Francine Laden on the passing of her father last week.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to her and her family in this difficult time.

Enjoy the warm up this weekend!


Notes – 1/23/09

Greetings from Africa!  I write from Abuja, Nigeria where I’m part a delegation led by Hans-Olov Adami to plan a prospective African cohort study. Have been meeting with some very talented local investigators. Great potential for collaboration.

Also met a banker here at the hotel who is very interested in supporting environmental health.  He represents an entrepreneur here in Nigeria who would like to sponsor a new faculty chair in environmental health in Africa.  We only need to cover the costs of transferring funds.  I’m asking Amy Gerson to organize the transfer.

Tomorrow we fly to Lagos, to Nairobi, and then to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania.  Flight connections are difficult.  Internet connections are poor and power is unreliable.  More when possible.

Back at HSPH:
Welcome to John Briscoe, Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Environmental Health, who officially joined us this week.  I’ve spoken of John in prior notes but wanted to mention his arrival.  John’s office is in Bldg 1, Rm. 1304B but he will likely join the EER faculty at Landmark in the future.

Next week we “Celebrate with the Stars,” the annual milestone appreciation event.  Join Dean Frenk in recognizing your colleagues for their dedicated long term service.  The event is on Wednesday, January28th at 2:30 in the Kresge cafeteria.

I’ll be back in time for our Winter Celebration on Wednesday, February 4, 2009.  Please remember to RSVP to Kelly Studebaker ( or 2-1270.  Sombreros welcome!

Have a good weekend, stay warm (strange but fun saying that while in Africa!)


Notes – 1/16/09

Jon Levy’s air pollution risk assessment work was instrumental in a recent legal decision.  North Carolina scored a legal victory forcing a major utility (TVA) to control emissions from coal-fired power plants outside the state’s borders. Jon did the analysis of the health benefits of air pollution controls on coal fired plants operated by the TVA.  Good work Jon!  To read more see

This week we said goodbye to Louise Ryan, Chair of the Biostatistics Department, who is returning to her native Australia.  Louise remains a valued colleague who will be missed but we look forward to continued collaborations in the future.

I’m off to Africa next Wednesday through February 1, 2009.  I’ll join Hans Olav-Adami, Walt Willett, David Hunter, Wafaie Fawzi  and several other colleagues from the school to visit Abuja, Nigeria; Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and Cape Town, South Africa.

The goal is to explore the possibility of a prospective population-based cohort in one or more locations – to study (primarily) chronic disease.  Ideally, interventions will be built in.  A main component of the project is training and capacity building – to create a sustainable infrastructure that can out-live Harvard’s involvement.  I’ll report back when I return.

REMINDER – our winter celebration will be held here at the school on February 4, 2009.  Planning is in fill swing and invitations will be out shortly.  Please mark your calendars and plan to join us in celebrating the New Year, New Dean and New President!

Have a great long weekend!


Notes – 1/9/09

Welcome back!  I hope you all enjoyed the break and were able to recharge for the next term.  It’s been a busy week judging from all the buzz of activity in the offices, conference rooms and labs, not to mention the paperwork crossing my desk!  It’s also been an exciting week as we welcomed our new Dean, Julio Frenk, to HSPH and to the Department.  One of Dean Frenk’s first acts was to join us at our faculty meeting on Thursday, his first official day at HSPH.  I think I can speak for those present that it was an informative and encouraging discussion with the Dean and while very early in his tenure it was clear that he is someone with the expertise and experience to work with us to achieve our mission.  Some of what he said was repeated later in his remarks at the HSPH reception where I hope you had the opportunity to listen to and meet Dean Frank.  Of note were two themes he mentioned, excellence and relevance and genes to global.  As he elaborated it was clear that these go hand in hand with what we do and what we are positioned to do in the future.  There are challenging times ahead but I look forward to working with Dean Frenk to meet these challenges.

We prepared a white paper on the department for the meeting that was distributed to the faculty and your program administrators.  It will also be posted on the web soon.  Thanks to all the faculty and staff that contributed to that effort.

I’d also like to welcome Kelly Studebaker who started this week as my new Executive Assistant.  Kelly joins us from her most recent position with CEI Boston, LLC a construction firm in Boston.  She is also a US Army veteran having served in Afghanistan.  Yesterday Dean Bloom presented a gavel to new Dean Frenk as a tool he can use if he ever needed to deal with “difficult faculty”.  One of the many skills Kelly brings is the ability to call in blackhawk attack helicopters, something I may find useful!  Stop by and say hello or give Kelly a call at 2-1270.

Finally,  Congratulations to Joe Brain on the birth of his third grandson, Nicholas (Nico) Jan Brain today!   The healthy Nico weighted in at just over 8 pounds.  He arrived promptly nine minutes after his mother arrived at the Mt Auburn Hospital!

Have a great weekend!





Notes – 12/23/08

It’s been very busy leading up to the holidays and the long anticipated break.  I want you all to know how much I appreciate and recognize the hard work that keeps the department incredibly productive and at the forefront of public health research and teaching.  I know I’ve said it before but I truly believe that regardless of your role you contribute to a larger effort that makes a meaningful difference in people’s lives. As we head into a well-deserved break you should take comfort and pride that you make a difference.  Thank you and happy holidays!

What better segue to acknowledge Mel First’s 94 birthday!  Hard to imagine anyone who has worked harder or longer to advance the public health than Dr. First.  Mel came to HSPH in 1947 and was appointed to the faculty in 1963.  His classes in air pollution control, industrial hygiene and air and gas cleaning have stimulated a generation of HSPH students.  His pioneering and innovative work on electrostatic precipitators, fabric filtration systems and acid gas scrubbers have made workplaces safer.  His work continues, stop by his office (1-B29)and wish him a happy 94th birthday.  Congratulations Mel!!

Congratulations to Russ Hauser for his article in Public Health Now and his spotlight on the HSPH web site.  See the links below for more information on Russ and to see the article.

Melissa Perry recently returned from a trip to Japan.  She discussed research collaborations with Environmental Health faculty at Teikyo Universityin Tokyo.  At the Japanese Society of Public Health Meeting in Fukuokashe spoke to a group of 300 Japanese public health researchers and educators.  She was hosted by Dr. Eiji Yano, Chair of the Department of Hygiene and Public Health, a longtime friend of this department, and director of the Teikyo-Harvard Program.  Melissa is advising members of his department on developing public health case-based teaching curricula.  All this while traveling with her infant son Justin!

We recently hosted John Groopman, Chair of the Environmental Health Department at Johns Hopkins.  John spoke on “Translation of Molecular Biomarkers to cancer Prevention Strategies”.  Given all that is going on with the economy and in public health it was good to have the opportunity to chat with John and compare notes.

I also had the opportunity to meet with Dean Frans Spaepen of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).  We exchanged information about what our department does and has to offer and how we can increase collaboration with SEAS.  Both Dean Spaepen and I look forward to building future collaborations that capitalize on our respective strengths.

After some early success the recycling rate in thecafeteria has dropped off.  Let’s practice what we preach and recyclewhen possible.  The economics are such that it pays to have a personsort through the compost bags to take out non compost products.  Keepthat employee in mind before you fail to sort properly or pour liquidsin the compost bags.


Notes – 12/5/08

On Wednesday, we learned that Dr. Linda Birnbaum was named the new Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).  Many of us have had the opportunity to work with Linda in the past and know her well from her years at EPA.  She is an excellent choice and I look forward to working with her in her new role at NIEHS. For more info see:

Jack Dennerlein just returned from Bogota, Columbia where he visited with HSPH graduate Lope Barrero to teach a Fulbright course entitled “Applications of Electromyography in Occupational Health.”  The fifteen students from academia and industry included engineers, physical therapists, and physicians,  all with a common interest in occupational ergonomics and safety.  Many of you know Lope who received his Sc.D. in 2007.  After graduating from HSPH, Lope returned to Columbia to continue his public health work.  Great to see our alumni doing well and making a difference.

Congratulations to Jon Levy for his National Academies work on the Committee on Improving Risk Analysis Approaches Used by the Environmental Protection Agency.  The committee published a report this week entitled “Science and Decisions, Advancing Risk Assessment”.  The impact of Jon’s work continues to grow as does the recognition of the importance of his contributions to risk assessment science.  To read the report see:

Next Wednesday, John Groopman, the Chair of the Environmental Health Department at Johns Hopkins will be visiting.  He will speak on “Translation of Molecular Biomarkers to cancer Prevention Strategies” on Wednesday at 10:30 in I-1302.   On Thursday, Tom Webster, Associate Chair of the Department of Environmental Health at Boston University, will speak on “Exposure to PBDEs: From Product to Person”.  Both are terrific speakers. Hope you can attend.

Congratulations to Petros Koutrakis on his milestone birthday this week. The Mediterranean diet (and lifestyle) must delay the aging process.  Hasn’t aged a bit!

Have a great weekend.


Notes – 11/21/08

Last Friday the Department hosted the 11th James L. Whittenberger Symposium at the Conference Center.  The focus of this Symposium was the “Fetal Origins of Chronic Disease: Effects of Perinatal Environmental Exposures”.  Dr. David J.P. Barker gave the Whittenberger Lecture on “Nutrition in the Womb: The Origins of Chronic Disease”.  Dr. Barker is credited with developing the so-called “Barker Hypothesis” on the fetal origins of disease.  All who attended found his talk fascinating.  For those who missed it, we will be puttin the video up on the website.

We also had three terrific talks from our own researchers working on the effects of perinatal environmental exposures – Rosalind Wright, Alexey Fedulov, and Susan Korrick.

It was a wonderful afternoon with stimulating speakers followed by a lively reception.  I trust those of you who attended agree.  It was also nice to host and visit with members of the Whittenberger family.  Tom and Debbie Whittenberger joined us from Wisconsin and Francine, Hannah, and Scott Whittenberger from nearby Weston.  Thanks to Robert Wright, Russ Hauser, and John Godleski who organized this fascinating program, and to Barbara Zuckerman and Ken Wenger who organized the logistics of the event.  Again, check out the website for links to more pictures.

Dr. Ian Noy, Director of the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in Hopkinton presented at our monthly Environmental Health Colloquium yesterday.  Ian spoke on “Occupational Safety Science: Where to from Here?”  using examples from the Liberty Mutual Research Institute experience and the partnership with the Harvard Education Resource Center. Our long partnership with Liberty Mutual has been instrumental in helping us maintain our leadership in occupational safety, injury prevention, and ergonomics.

I was in Dubai last week speaking along with Petros Koutrakis and Phil Demokritou at the “EnviroCities 2008 International Air Pollution Conference.”  We cosponsored this conference along with the Environmental Centre for Arab Cities and Towns of the Dubai Municipal government.  This conference brought together experts from the US, Europe, and the Gulf region to discuss the specific air pollution problems being faced in this rapidly developing region.  We were all amazed at the scale of construction, and the magnitude of the planned development.  Traffic congestion is a huge problem, although they are building a massive public transportation system.  Per capita water consumption in this desert kingdom is the highest in the world.  Almost all is from desalinization plants.  Alice Smythe did a great job coordinating the logistics of this meeting.

Please check out the terrific story on Monica Ter-Minassian in the Harvard Public Health Review.

Have a great weekend!


Notes – 10/31/08

Happy Halloween!  I saw many scary “things” walking the halls, including some people in costume!

Thursday we had a terrific lecture by Dr. Randy Jirtle on “Epigenetics in Human Health and Disease.” Thanks to Les Kobzik for organizing this event.  For those interested in this topic, the James L. Whittenberger Symposium on November 14th will be addressing the “Fetal Origins of Chronic Disease:  Effects of Prenatal Environmental Exposures.” We are particularly excited that Dr. David  Barker will present the Whittenberger Lecture on “Nutrition in the Womb: The Origins of Chronic Disease”.

The EER students had a lot of fun at their October Festival Party on Thursday.  There was a terrific turnout at the “Cambridge 1” across from Landmark. Leon Hsu and Mathilda Chiu did a terrific job putting this event together.  I never thought I would like potato pizza.  Thanks for the invitation.

I want to add my voice to the many messages you’ve received encouraging you to participate in the ongoing staff survey “What’s Your Harvard Like”?  It’s a great opportunity to have a say on your work environment and that never ending quest for work life balance.  It’s almost as important as voting in the Presidential elections next week!  Make a note to vote on Tuesday and to complete your survey by the Wednesday.   See the supplement in this month’s Resource for more on the 2008 workplace survey or the HSPH Staff Survey page ( or HARVie (

Have a great weekend!


Notes – 10/17/08

I just returned from the 2008 Joint Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology and the International Society of Exposure Analysis in Pasadena.  Our Department was well represented and had high visibility at the scientific sessions.

I always enjoy this conference, not only for the science but for the opportunity to see so many of our former students, fellows, and faculty.  We had a get together of more than 50 Harvard alumni on Monday night, but there must have been 2 or 3 times that many attending. As has been the tradition, I was presented with, and photographed in a silly hat.  I expect the evidence will appear on the web site.

Joel Schwartz received the John Goldsmith Award for Outstanding Contributions to Environmental Epidemiology.  This award recognizes “sustained and outstanding contributions to the knowledge and practice of environmental epidemiology.” Congratulations to Joel for this well-deserved honor by your peers.

Jaime Hart was recognized for Best Student Abstract for her poster entitled “Long-Term Ambient Multipollutant Exposures and Mortality.”  Well done Jaime.

I hope you saw the news that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson yesterday lowered the ambient air quality standard for lead by a factor of ten from 1.5 to 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter.  This major decision is the result of decades of research and advocacy by many of our current and former faculty and fellows.

The news of this important environmental health achievement was lost for many in the coverage of the elections and the financial markets. The instability in the financial markets is certainly impacting institutions across the country.  Colleges and universities are being particularly affected, and Harvard is no exception. The financial landscape is changing rapidly, making it difficult to predict how we will be affected.

President Faust and leaders from across the schools have been meeting to understand options and weigh issues brought about by the crisis in the global financial markets.  Our Deans and the Department Chairs are closely watching indicators that might suggest potential impact on programs.  We are reviewing these indicators in regular meetings of the financial and administrative deans.  On a department level, I have been meeting the Program Directors to monitor our own financial situation.  Ken Wenger met with John Lichten this week and Amy Gerson is developing internal indicators to aid the Executive Committee discussions.  We will share these indicators with the faculty at our upcoming meeting.  We are not standing still but working proactively to understand our position and share this information.

Despite our concern, it’s important to note the remarkable resiliency and creative power that has allowed Harvard to weather good times and bad as noted by President Faust in her recent letter to the Harvard community.  We feel that as an institution, we are well positioned to weather this storm, but we must be diligent as we face the uncertainty and challenges ahead.

We also recognize that each member of our Department may be anxious about their individual financial position. Harvard Human Resources is mobilizing a wide array of resources for employees, coordinating with the providers such as the Employees Assistance Program, the Harvard Credit Union, and others to provide financial, debt, and retirement counseling and education.  A comprehensive list of services and programs has been posted at, and a chat series will launch next week.

I will use this space to continue to keep you informed as information becomes available.


Notes – 10/3/08

Our Department was well represented at the Gene Environment Initiative Mini-Symposium and Poster Session today.  I counted 18 of 43 posters(42%) by our students, post-docs, and faculty. And two members of our department were chosen as Outstanding Poster Awards – Adrienne Ettinger ( Using Evolutionary Theories of “Gestational Conflict” to Understand Maternal-Fetal Interactions at the Molecular Level) and Elissa Wilker (Gene-environment interactions for respiratory disease candidate genes and PM2.5 predicting serum markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction in community exposed elderly men: the VA Normative Aging Study).  Congratulations. Thanks to Joel Schwartz and David Christiani for helping to organize this event.

Tough week for the economy with continuing news of Wall Street troubles and fiscal foibles by “smart money people.”  Makes me thankful for the talented and dedicated staff of grant managers and fiscal watchdogs that keep our financial house in order.  Thanks to each of you for all you do!

MIPS- Carla Silva, Cheryl Magoveny

EER- Renee Costa, Sheila Stewart, Susan Cohn-Child, Tracy Mark, Linda Fox

EOME- John Yong, Anthonia Grant, Jean Economos

Dept Office- Amy Gerson

Enjoy the foliage this weekend and go Sox!


Notes – 9/29/08

First, congratulations to Jack Dennerlein on his marriage this past Saturday.   We wish him and his partner Jeffrey Gonyeau all the best!  See dennerlein&st=cse&oref=slogin

On Thursday good friend and alumni Gerald Chan hosted an evening honoring Professor Jack Little.  As many of you know, our faculty honored Jack in June with the HSPH Faculty Emeritus Award in recognition of his continuing commitment to his field and to HSPH.  It was a wonderful evening and a great opportunity not only to honor Jack but also to see the leaders in the field of radiation biology.  Many friends, alumni and current faculty enjoyed the chance to get together and reconnect.  Thanks to Monique Bertic for organizing this event, and especially to Gerald Chan for hosting a fabulous evening for a gentleman scientist.

Eiji Yano from Teikyo University, Tokyo and the Teikyo-Harvard Program visited last week.  While the scientific discussions were great the fishing was even better.  See the photo of Eiji and the 46 inch stripper he landed in Boston Harbor (note Deer Island digesters in background)!

In a sad follow-up, we learned this morning that Dr. Okinaga, the President of Teikyo University, died on Thursday, September 25th. Dr. Okinaga was visionary leader, and a long-term friend and supporter of the department.

On Thursday, Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar will be presenting a guest lecture entitled “Cardiovascular Toxicity of Environmental Aldehydes”, at 2:30 pm, Building 1, Room 1302. Dr. Bhatnagar’s research focuses on mechanisms by which oxidative stress affects cardiovascular function. Lipid-derived unsaturated aldehydes are believed to be a major source of oxidative stress, and these toxicants appear to be critical mediators of tissue injury due to lipid peroxidation. He is evaluating whether environmental aldehydes derived from air pollution have adverse effects similar to endogenous aldehydes on myocardial dysfunction and heart disease.

Have a great week!


Notes – 9/11/08

I hope everyone had an opportunity to meet and hear our new Dean, Julio Frenk, at his reception last week.  President Faust made it clear how highly she regards Julio and how well his background and expertise will serve the mission of HSPH.  I had an opportunity to meet privately with Julio and I am excited with the expertise and talent he brings to the School, the future is bright!

Alex Lu, the Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Environmental Exposure Biology officially joined us last week.  Alex has set up his lab in Building 1, B10 and will have an office in EER at the Landmark Center.  It’s great to have him on board and we look forward to a bright future for him here at HSPH.  Be sure to say hello and welcome Alex.  See the department web site
for pictures of the specialized moving equipment used to transport his laboratory equipment from Atlanta.

We also welcomed Joanne Lamond to the Department office as my new Executive Assistant this week.  Joanne joins us with a long resume as an executive assistant and returns to her roots in Massachusetts after several years in the corporate world in California and Las Vegas.  Please stop by and say hello and welcome her to the department.

While we’re excited with the new additions to the school and department I must share some sad news as well.  Avis Stiller, a long time employee and administrator in the EER program lost her battle with cancer on Wednesday night.  Avis was a true asset to the department and an inspiration to us all.  I have the privilege of working closely with her for many years and have lost a dear friend.  Our condolences to her family and to all of her many friends at the school and particularly her colleagues in EER.  Arrangement details (tomorrow) can be found at

There continues to be a significant amount of department construction activity, now focused in the EOME program.  Thanks to all for their cooperation and patience as we near the final stages of our “makeover”!  This time next year (or sooner) it will all be behind us.


Notes -8/28/08

The new students have arrived for orientation this week.  We are pleased to welcome the Department’s incoming class of 45 students from 15 different countries.  With representatives from Canada, China, Cyprus, France, Ghana, Indian, Israel, Kuwait, Nigeria Peru, Singapore (one student from each country), Brazil (2 students) Taiwan (2 students), South Korea (5 students) and the United States (25 students) we are delighted to continue to attract and expand the diversity of our student body.  They join our returning cohort of 58 students who, in addition to the countries noted in our incoming class, hail from Greece, Hong Kong, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico and Thailand. Welcoming these bright, talented, and enthusiastic new students always brings a sense of renewal to us. Please say hello and make our new students feel welcome.  You can find a few pictures at

This week we are host to a delegation from Cyprus here to work on a revised agreement for our continuing work in Cyprus. Representatives from the Government of Cyprus and the Cyprus Institute of Technology will be meeting with Petros Koutrakis, Phil Demokritou and John Lichten.  They will be meeting in the Landmark offices, say hello if given the opportunity.

On Friday, September 5 we will host a former student, Winston Dang, who is the former head of the Taiwan EPA. Winston was recently recruited to Taipei Medical University to help revamp its MPH and global health program.  Given the recent publicity on Beijing’s attempt to control air pollution, Winston has agreed to present a talk entitled “Innovation in sustainability policy development and implementation in Asia.”  Time and location to be announced.

I’m back from my travels to Brazil and Switzerland.  In Brazil I had the opportunity to meet with John Briscoe who heads up the World Bank program in that country.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, John will be joining Harvard in January as a Professor of the Practice in Environmental Health.  We’ll share John with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and his primary responsibility will be to provide leadership in building partnerships, developing programs, and generating support for a renewed inter-faculty Harvard water program.

I was in Switzerland teaching environmental epidemiology with Joel Schwartz, the sixteenth year we have done so in Basel.  We counted up a total of 435 students who have taken this course.  This is part of the Masters of Public Health degree program in Switzerland.

Have a great weekend,


Notes – 8/8/08

On Tuesday, August 5th, the Cyprus International Institute graduated its second class of 12 students.  Another important milestone in our joint effort with the Cyprus Government to promote public health training and research in the region.  Thanks to all our faculty who teach in the program and provide an important contribution to the success of CII.  Congratulations and thanks to Phil Demokritou for his tireless efforts to make CII a reality.

Ted Courtney passed along some good news from the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety (LMRIS) in Hopkinton.  A study team headed by Bill Shaw, and including Santosh Verma, won the 2008 NORA Innovative Research Award from NIOSH ( award was presented on July 29 for a collaboration that developed and tested a successful strategy for strengthening the key role of supervisors in reducing workers’ risk for painful and costly work-related musculoskeletal injuries.  Congratulations to Bill and Santosh!

The department received a commendation from Human Resources for exceeding a 90% completion rate for performance reviews. This at times challenging function is a critical aspect of good management and an important tool in developing and rewarding our staff. Thanks to all our administrative managers and staff who made this happen.

I’ll be in Brazil next week attending the 2008 Harvard-Brazil Symposium on fostering research and teaching collaboration in the environment and sciences.  I’ll be part of a focus group of 25 individuals including Harvard faculty from across disciplines and schools and Brazilian scholars and policy leaders. Looking forward to seeing our friends Paulo Saldiva and John Briscoe. The following week I’ll be in Basel, Switzerland teaching an MPH Course in Environmental Epidemiology.

Best of luck on 8/8/08. Have a great weekend and week!


Notes – 8/1/08

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and taking some well-deserved time off to enjoy the warm weather.  As I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve also taken time off from writing these notes but want to assure you that the department remains quite busy despite my occasional long weekends on the Cape pursuing my piscatology research.

On Monday I learned that our Harvard-NIEHS Environmental Health Center application which we submitted in February, received a score of 150.  This sounds good, but we won’t know about funding until the fall. Everyone keep your fingers crossed that our Center will be funded for it’s 46th year.

Congratulations to Amy Gerson and Salvatore Mucci who received recognition awards this week.   The awards include a certificate, a check, and a balloon presented by Dean Ricardi.   Well deserved Amy and Salvatore.

We have been delighted to have Dr. Arjumand Warsy, Professor of Biochemistry at King Saud University visiting us this past week.  On Thursday Dr. Warsey presented on “Diversity of sickle cell disease and thallasemias in Saudi populations – genes and the environment”.  She had a dense schedule of meetings which we expect will lead to many new collaborations.  Thanks to Joe Brain for organizing this visit.

For the past 3 weeks we have hosted two high school students from the Netherlands, Malou Elisabeth Slichter and Joren Brunekreef (son of our colleague Bert Brunekreef).  Thanks to all who contributed time to make this an educational and culturally rewarding experience for these impressive young students.

On August 12, Dr. Annette Peters from the GSF in Munich will join us as a Visiting Associate Professor.  Annette was here as a post-doc and is now joining us for the fall semester to teach a new Environmental Cardiology course, and to continue collaborations with our faculty, post-docs, and research scientists.

On August 21 Barbara Hoffmann will join us as a Visiting Associate Professor for the academic year.  Dr. Hoffmann joins us from the medical faculty at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.  While here she will be working on epidemiologic studies of cardiovascular effects of air pollution.  Both Barbara and Annette will be based at Landmark.

Finally, we are delighted to hear that Dr. Julio Frenk has been appointed as our new Dean (although this is the rumor that has been going around for many weeks now). Dr. Frenk called me on Tuesday. He is excited to be taking on this position and looking forward to working with our department.  Over the next four months he will be commuting between jobs in Seattle, Mexico City, and now Boston. I have invited him to meet with our faculty early in the fall if we can find a time on his very busy calendar.


Notes – 6/20/08

The Commencement ceremony two weeks ago was once again a great celebration of the accomplishments of our students.  It was a great honor for me to represent the Department at the awarding of the degrees.  I was very happy to congratulate our graduates and to meet many of their families.

I was a bit overwhelmed by the size of the event particularly the post-commencement reception.  The number of people made it difficult to find our graduates and offer my personal congratulations.  Indeed my experience made me wonder if we as a Department should sponsor an event that would allow our graduates and their families to share the celebration with our faculty and their colleagues.  I am therefore looking for suggestions for next year.  Possibilities might include a post-commencement reception, a luncheon between the morning exercises in Cambridge and afternoon commencement at the School, or a reception the day before commencement.  I would particularly welcome suggestions from our recent graduates. I am sure you had a great day, but what could we have done to make the experience better for you and your families?

For our graduates who are still looking for jobs, we have received the vacancy announcement for the Director of the National Institute of Environmental health Sciences.  This announcement will be posted shortly on our web site at
While you might not feel qualified for this specific job, there are many other positions posted there which might be of interest.

While we are saying goodbye to many of our graduates, some are returning as post-doctoral fellows or as doctoral candidates.  Indeed, in the academic cycle we are preparing to welcome our new students in just a couple of months.  Student orientation starts August 25th, and many are coming for the summer session which starts July 2nd.  We have 36 new students entering in the fall — 17 ScD, 15 MS, 2 MPH in Occupational Medicine, and 2 MS in Occupational Health Nursing.  We had a very substantial increase in our “yield” this year, that is, the number of admitted students who have committed to come.  This reflects active follow-up by our faculty and the program staff with our top applicants. It also reflects the increased financial support we have been able to offer.  This year we are providing over $1 million in support for the incoming students from training grants, school and university grants, and department and program funds.  This is in addition to the support for our continuing students.  The University and the School have defined student support as a priority, and we are starting to see the benefits of these efforts.

For those of you who were wondering, I had a great day fishing off Nantucket with my family on Monday.  You can see a picture of some of our catches on the online version of these notes (

Congratulations on their 17th Championship to the Celtics.  Now we can get a full nights sleep.


Notes – 6/13/08

At this time of year, we celebrate the accomplishments of our students. We also have the chance to recognize and congratulate our outstanding teachers.

Robert Pojasek received a Petra T. Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award from the Harvard Extension School during Commencement exercises in Cambridge on June 5, 2008.  Bob is adjunct lecturer in our department and instructor for the “Strategies for Environmental Management” course at the Extension School. He was described by his students as “my savior” and “a font of valuable information,” and is lauded for his generosity of time, praised for his sage guidance, and commended for his depth of knowledge.  This is a great honor given by the 14,000 extension school students to Bob as one of approximately 600 instructors at the Extension School.

Adrienne Ettinger received a 2008 Mentoring Citation from the HSPH student body at the Commencement Eve Social on June 4th.  Adrienne was selected by a student committee that noted her desire and willingness to give up time to help others, maintaining a positive outlook, yet is able to be realistic, and having a strong interest in growth and self-development of the students. Note this is anew award by the students this year recognizing the importance of mentoring in addition to classroom instruction.

Jack Dennerlein was honored by the Residents in the Occupational & Environmental Medicine Program as the Academic Professor of the 2007-2008 year at a dinner on May 9th.  Jack was recognized for his “exceptional contributions to the training and residency program.”  Congratulations Jack!

We also want to congratulate Patrice Ayers on her promotion to Faculty Assistant III.  Patrice has been an employee at HSPH for over 30 years and in the Respiratory Biology/Physiology/MIPS Program for almost 25 years.  In announcing this promotion, Cheryl Magoverny noted “Patrice’s original job description was clearly outdated compared to what she is doing now.  It is amazing to me that this promotion didn’t take place at least 10 years earlier.  She is an integral part of our Administrative team and is clearly the Historian of our Program.  I depend heavily upon Patrice’s knowledge of past, present, and future post-doc’s, as well as in understanding the Psyche of the average Faculty Member. While her new working title is Faculty Assistant III, because of her devotion to MIPS faculty, I will fondly consider her Faculty Diplomat X.”

Christina Hemphill, a doctoral student in EER, has been awarded a Switzer Foundation Fellowship for2008-9.  These are highly competitive awards, and HSPH has not had a Switzer Fellow for many years.  There is a terrific story about and picture of Christina at the Switzer web site ( Congratulations Christina!

Good luck to two of our Associate Professors in the MIPS program who will be leaving us this month. Best wishes in their future endeavors to Bea Gonzalez-Flecha and Jay Mizgerd.  We hope to have the opportunity to continue to work together. Since Jay is taking a position will be close by, as Professor at BU Medical, there is no excuse!

Finally, congratulations to Wally Hayes on the publication of the fifth edition of PRINCIPLES AND METHODS OF TOXICOLOGY. A great deal of work well done.

Have a great weekend and remember the Fathers.  My kids are taking me on a chartered boat fishing for stripers and blues.  Having just seen mercury data from Jim Shine and PCB data from Larissa Altshul from local striped bass, we will only be keeping the smaller ones (>28inches) to eat.

Go Celtics!


Notes – 6/5/08

Today has to be the best day of the academic year. I am so proud to recognize the accomplishments of our students. It is a unique honor to be able to represent the Environmental Health faculty as we present degrees to our graduates.

Doctor of Science degrees in Environmental Health to:
Che-Hsu Chang
Maria Patricia Fabian
Shona C. Fang
Meredith Franklin
Jaime Elizabeth Hart
Ilana Lina Lander
David Lin Lee
Jeffrey David Yanosky
Huanyu Zhou

Doctor of Science in Environmental Health and Health Policy and Management to:
Gretchen A. Stevens

Master of Science in Environmental Health to:
Jonathan James Buonocore
Chiung-Yu Chang
Erica Ann Gonyo
Christina Kelly Hemphill
Hyung Joo Lee
Seok Won Lee
Thomas Jay Lee
Neha Mukhi
Margaret Parks
David Naoki Powers
Christopher James Ronk
Jose Vicente Santin
Shalu Mahesh Shelat
Adriana Maritza Triana Florez
Claire Elizabeth Willscher

Doctor of Philosophy in the Biological Sciences
Brock C. Christensen
Anita S. Patel

Congratulations to each of our graduates, and to our faculty who have trained and mentored these outstanding scholars. I look forward to greeting each of you individually this afternoon.

Ken Wenger and I were visiting the Cyprus International Institute last week. I was teaching the first week of the Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology course. In addition, we were trying to see how we at HSPH can better support the effort in Cyprus.

It was a great pleasure to connect with the local faculty there including our old friends Costas Christophi and Panayiotis Yiallouros, and the recently arrived Konstantinos Makris. Phil Demokritou was back here in Boston, but we have caught up here this week.

I was able to introduce Ken to our administrative colleagues there including Lenia Josephides, Demetra Valtas, and Yiannis Vakis. Always good to put faces with names (and e-mail addresses). We had some terrific lunches with the research staff. It was a particular treat to see out former students/fellows Ezgi Alhum and Nicos Mittletton. Thanks for your wonderful hospitality.

Unfortunately, I missed Richard Monson’s party last week marking his transition to Emeritus Professor. Richard has been a leader of our occupational health program, the developer of our environmental and occupational epidemiology training, and more recently director of the MPH program. He is known for his directness and his economy of words. He is a valued mentor and advisor to many of our faculty, fellows, and students. He is also a beloved curmudgeon. Enough said.


Notes – 5/4/08

Congratulations to Dr. Anita Patel (“Immunity and Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer: Environmental and Generic Risk Factors”) and Dr. Brock Christensen (“Epigenetic Profiles, Asbestos Burden, and Survival in Pleural Mesothelioma”) for their successful defense this week!  It was also nice to see Heather Nelson and Karl Kelsey back in support of their students.

Ihope you had a chance to see the poster session on Thursday. Congratulations to post-doctoral fellow Sunny Nguyen who  won a prize for his poster on Epigenetic Changes in T Cells in Asthma Susceptible Neonates (along with co-authors Alexey Fedulov and Lester Kobzik).

Jon Levy will be speaking at the Environmental Health Club Lecture on Monday, May 5, 12:30 – 1:30 in Kresge 213.  His talk is entitled “Tools for Environmental Decision Making.”  I’ll have more about the Environmental Health Club in future notes.

On Thursday, Dr .Leona Samson will be speaking at our monthly Environmental Health Colloquium on “Complex Responses to Environmental Agents”.  Leona is Director of the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and Professor of Toxicology and Biological Engineering at the MIT Center for Cancer Research.  Leona and I have been discussing opportunities for collaborations between our two NIEHS sponsored Environmental Health Centers.  I hope you will come to learn about what Leona is doing at MIT and opportunities for collaborations with our colleagues across the Charles River.

I have received an announcement for an interesting job opportunity as Environmental Program Officer for the Heinz Endowments.  I hope to soon have a spot on our web site for these types of job opportunities but until them we’ll post them on the bulletin board outside the department office.  If you receive any job announcements please send them to the Department office and we’ll post them.


Notes – 4/25/08

This week we marked Administrative Professionals Week.  I thought this was a holiday created by Hallmark to sell cards.  However, searching the web I found it was organized in 1952 as National Secretaries Week by the National Secretaries Association.  In 2000 the renamed International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) changed the name to Administrative Professionals Week.

No matter what the name, this event is a reminder of the importance of the support and work that gets done behind the scenes.  We are fortunate to have a dedicated group of administrators that play a large but frequently unrecognized role in the success of our Department.  With limited resources and increasing demands they find a way to get things done and shield our faculty and researchers from all but the essential administrative tasks.   A heartfelt thanks to all of our Department administrative staff and the HSPH administrative staff who support us.   And a very special thanks to Jean Economos, Cheryl Magoveny and Linda Fox our Program Administrators and Ken Wenger our Department Administrator for leading our administrative efforts.

Thanks to all of you we are a very productive and successful department making a very real and meaningful contribution to promoting Environmental Health.

By the way, Linda Fox celebrates her 39th anniversary at Harvard on May 19, 2008 – congratulations Linda!!

Have a great weekend!



Update on this year’s prize winners for Poster and Exhibit Day. Congratulations again to Sonny Nguyen who received one of the two prizes for best poster by a Post-Doc.  Also congratulations to Marleen Welsh and Yen-Tsung Huang who each received awards for the two best posters by a Student.  Congratulations also to their faculty advisors –Heather Nelson, David Christiani, and Les Kobzik.

Student winners:
Marleen M Welsh, Karagas MR, Applebaum KM, Nelson HH  CTLA4 haplotypes, UV-induced tolerance, and risk of non-melanoma skin cancer

Yen-Tsung Huang, Rebecca S. Heist, Lucian R. Chirieac, Xihong Lin, Vidar Skaug, Aage Haugen, Michael C. Wu, Zhaoxi Wang, Li Su, Kofi Asomaning, and David C. Christiani Genome-wide analysis of survival in early-stage non-small cell lung cancer

Postdoc winners:
Phuong-Son Nguyen; Alexey Fedulov; and Lester Kobzik; Maternal asthma causes epigenetic changes of IL4 and IFN-g promoters in asthma-susceptible T cells

Please join us on Thursday at 3:00 before the EHColloquium to congratulate Russ Hauser on his promotion to Professor. We will have cake and punch in the “Tea Room” outside the Department Office on the 13th floor.


Notes – 4/18/08

Congratulations to Jaime Hart and Lina Lander who successfully defended their doctoral dissertations in the past week.  Great work.

As I mentioned last week, we were fortunate to have photojournalist Earl Dotter join us this week.  Be sure to see his photos of migrant workers in Maine located in the FXB lobby.

The Harvard-NIEHS Center will collaborate with the MIT Center for Environmental Health Science to produce the day-long event on April 26 for the Cambridge Science Festival at the MIT Museum. We are looking for volunteers to spend 3.5hours assisting us with this event.  The hours would be 10-1:30 and1:30-5.  This is a great event for families.

Cambridge Science Festival
Environmental Health Science: A Closer Look at Environmental Exposures

Curious about how the environment affects you? Come learn how exposures can affect your lung and airway health. Try out a simple peak flow meter to assess your own airway health.  Watch an image of your face as the computer morphs it with age.  It will show you how you would look with exposure to tobacco smoke and UV radiation.  Did you know that exposure to UV radiation can cause DNA damage too?  Come experiment with LEGODNA models and learn how you can protect your skin from DNA damage.

Please check out the website

Next Tuesday is Earth Day.  Watch the Events Calendar for a host of activities including a free screening of the film “The 11th Hour”, Tuesday, April 22nd at 5:00 pm, Armenise Building, Amphitheater (near the Courtyard Cafe at the Med School)

Have a great weekend! Peace and happiness on Passover.


Notes – 4/14/08

Thanks to Bob Wright for his leadership and tremendous personal effort in preparing the Superfund Basic Research Program proposal which was submitted this week.  Bob would be quick to point out the terrific work of Jean Economos and her crackerjack admin team in pulling all this together, and to the multiple faculty and scientists who prepared pieces of the proposal.  This grant has provided core support for many activities in the Department, and we all benefit from the hard work by the team that put this proposal together.

Frank Speizer is being awarded the William Silen Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award from the Medical School.  The award will be presented on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 from 4:00pm in the Carl Walter Amphitheater(HMS, Tosteson Medical Education Center).  Many of us in the department, myself included, have benefitted from Frank’s mentoring over the years. Congratulations to Frank on this well deserved recognition and thank-you! See our web site Spotlight for more information:

On Monday we welcome back Earl Dotter with his photography exhibit on farmworkers in Maine, “The Labor and Health of Migrants in Maine”.  The exhibit will be in the FXB atrium.  There will be an opening celebration at 4:00.  See the department web site for more details. Thanks to Ann Backus for coordinating this event.  A little over a year ago Earl visited us and shared his work on coal miners in West Virginia.  His work is both informative and moving and well worth a visit to the exhibit.

It was a pleasure and indeed a rare opportunity to host Dr. Theo Colburn yesterday.  She is best known for her 1996 book “Our Stolen Future” which brought attention to the exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals and their ability to interfere with the natural signals controlling development of the fetus. Her presentation was sponsored by the Organics Research Core of the Harvard-NIEHS Center, and was organized by Russ Hauser, Nick Ashford, and Ann Backus.

Have a great weekend!


Notes – 4/8/08

Thanks to all who helped make our admitted student Open House a success last week.  All of our top recruits attended, and the feedback from the attendees was very positive.

Congratulations to Chensheng (Alex) Lu on his selection as the Harvard University nominee for the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation new faculty award.  The new faculty Award program provides a research grant before the new faculty member formally begin their first tenure-track appointment.  Alex was selected as Harvard’s sole representative to compete for this prestigious award.  Alex will be joining the Department and EER program in September.

In addition to baseball season it’s also Thesis Defense season. Good luck to IIana Lina Lander and Jamie Hart as they step to the plate.

Improving Near-Miss and Case-Crossover Designs to Reduce Risk Factors for Traumatic Injuries

Ilana Lina Lander

Date: April 11, 2008 Time: 11:00AM
Location: Building 1, Room 1306A

Mortality Risk from Ambient and Work Exposures in Two Working Populations
Jaime Hart
Date: April 16, 2008 Time: 3:00PM
Location: Building 1, Room 1302

This week marks National Public Health Week ( ) and we have a number of interesting talks this week and this month.  I encourage you to check the listings on the Department web site   I did want to single out a couple of talks of particular note:

The Male Predicament: The Role of the Environment
April 10, 2008 12:00-1:30PM
HSPH, Kresge 502
Theo Colborn, PhD (author of Our Stolen Future)
Note – seating is limited but watch for a notice about a simulcast location.

Environmental Health Colloquium: The Blue Death: The Past, Present and Future of the Water We Drink
April 17,  2008 12:30-1:30PM
HSPH, Building 1, Room 1302
Robert Morris, MD, PhD

It may not feel like spring yet but when those F-16’s flew over this afternoon to mark the Red Sox home opener I consider it officially spring and at least for a short time all is well with Red Sox Nation.

Have a good week,


Notes – 3/21/08

Congratulations to Dr. Bob Wright who has been promoted to Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School.  Bob has had important leadership roles in our Department as Director of our Metals Epidemiology Research Group, Director of the Metals Research Core of our Harvard-NIEHS Center, Associate Director of our Center for Children’s Environmental Health, and Principal Investigator of our Superfund Basic Research Program.  This promotion is well deserved and recognition of the significant contributions Bob is making at HSPH and HMS.

On April 3, Dr. Subra Suresh, Dean of Engineering at MIT, will visit as the HSPH Distinguished Lecturer, sponsored by the Division of Biological Sciences. He will be speaking on “Cell Nanomechanics and Pathological States”.  I had the chance to hear Dr. Suresh speak on this topic in November, and recommended him for this Lecture.  I think you would find the topic very interesting and Dr. Suresh to be a terrific speaker.

Our new students Open House will be held on April 4, 2008.  It’s an all -day event but the Department information sessions are 10:00 – 12:30.  Rooms and more specific information will be available shortly from Barbara Zuckerman.  Faculty and current students are encouraged to attend and share their insight and suggestions with the new students.

On Thursday, April 10th,from 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm in Kresge 502, Dr. Theo Colborn, author of the seminal book Our Stolen Future about endocrine disruption and chemical contamination, will speak on “The Male Predicament: The Role of the Environment.”  The event is co-sponsored by the Organics Research Core of the Harvard-NIEHS Center and the New England Chapter of the Society for Risk Analysis.

Construction is moving right along on the14th floor, with phase 1 scheduled to be completed mid-May.  Phase 1A,the completion of the MIPS space on the 13th floor, will begin in mid-May and is scheduled for completion early in July. See Ken Wenger with any questions.

Enjoy the weekend!


Notes – 3/10/08

I’m happy to share the news that several members of the HSPH Occupational & Environmental Medicine Residency Program were recently recognized for their outstanding work:

Philip D. Parks, Chief Resident, received the 2007-2008 FMCSA/American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Medical Research Fellowship to study Obstructive Sleep Apnea Screening in a cohort study over 350commercial motor vehicle drivers.  One scholar is selected each year to conduct important research related to commercial driver health and safety by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Peter C. Lee, a first year resident, received one of the 2008 National Quality Scholars Program Award of the American College of Medical Quality, recognizing excellent medical students, residents and fellows for leadership in improving our health care system. Dr. Lee was recognized for his project: “Enhancing Quality and Patient Safety by Increasing Employee Influenza Vaccination Rate: The No Flue Zone Campaign”.  More details on these awards are at:

Finally, both Drs. Parks and Lee, as well as Dr. Aaron Thomson will be giving oral presentations at the current research session of next months’ national ACOEM conference.
( program will deliver 3 of 5 resident talks and including a talk by Stefanos Kales, 4 of 15 of the entire session’s papers.   More evidence of an outstanding program led by Steve Kales.  Congratulations!!

I also want to introduce Annie Charbonnier who has joined the Department Office as an Executive Assistant.  Annie joins us from Lexington Insurance Company where she was Executive Assistant to the Senior Vice President and the Vice President/Director of Marketing.  She has had similar roles in the past at the Genetics Institute, Ernst and Young and at MGH where she was the Executive Assistant to the Director of Cardiac Anesthesia and the Chief of Radiology.  Annie can be reached at432-1270 and  Please stop by and welcome Annie to the Department and HSPH.

We will be beginning the renovations of the 14th floor this month in a multi-phased project that will take roughly one year.  We will also begin the final phase on the13th floor.  As part of the renovations we will need to remove the large copier on the 14th floor as well as the refrigerator/microwave.  Both the MIPS and EOME programs have alternative copiers available during construction so the large copier will not be replaced during construction.  Usage figures indicate that alternative copiers can handle the demand.  See your program administrators for alternatives. Unusually large jobs will have to be sent out to a private contractor. The refrigerator will not be available during renovations but there are underutilized refrigerators available on the 13th floor.  Jean Economos will oversee the staff moves and Ken Wenger will oversee the construction.  Thanks to all in advance for your patience and understanding while we improve our working environment.


Notes – 2/15/08

Congratulations to Jay Mizgerd for his just published invited review entitled “Acute Lower Respiratory Tract Infection” in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Our congratulations also to the faculty who received high course evaluation ratings for teaching during the Fall 2007 semester.  Your efforts are very much appreciated!  Jack Dennerlein (EH 243), John Evans (EH 510), Bob Herrick (EH 262), Francine Laden (EH 507), Ed Maher (EH 279), Stephanie Shore (EH 205), Greg Wagner (EH 236).

On January 14th we co-hosted, with the HSPH China Initiative, a delegation of environmental officials from the Chinese Society for Environmental Sciences and the State Environmental Protection Administration of China.  As you well know, China will host the Olympic games soon, and in doing so has brought world attention to the environmental issues they face.   The downside of a booming economy is environmental degradation on a grand scale that many of our faculty have witnessed firsthand.  We hope we were able to provide insight that helps the Chinese address the enormous challenge ahead.  Pictures of the delegation and meeting are available at: Delegation/

We welcomed John Briscoe as our speaker for our Environmental Health Colloquium on Wednesday.  John is currently responsible for the World Bank’s program of lending and analytic and advisory services to Brazil, one of the World Bank’s biggest borrowers, with a loan portfolio of $ 12 billion.   He is a true citizen of the world having worked and lived in many countries as he pursued his life’s work of improving water quality and supplies in developing countries.  I look forward to future collaboration with John given his wealth of knowledge and experience in worldwide water issues.  My thanks to John for his presentation literally minutes after arriving from India.   You can view the presentation at:

I hope everyone who joined us for our mid-winter Mardi Gras celebration enjoyed themselves.  It was fun to see everyone and always nice to spend some time with the families of our colleagues. If you haven’t seen them on our web site check out the post party pictures!  I welcome suggested captions for the Tom Smith “shooting” Marc Weisskopf  photo.    There will be a prize commensurate with Tom’s party performance.

Given our ongoing renovations I don’t normally note all the associated office moves but here’s one I did want to mention.  Anita Patel, Brock Christensen and Marleen Welsh are students in our department but have been housed in GCD space for most of their stay with us.  We have just moved them to Environmental Health space in FXB 102A where they will soon be joined by other students in FXB 102.  Welcome!

Enjoy the long weekend!


Notes – 2/1/08

Our Winter Celebration is on for Tuesday February 5 from 5 p.m. until 8p.m. at the Conference Center at Harvard Medical on Avenue Louis Pasteur!  Based on the final list of RSVP’s we’ll have over 200 joining us to celebrate Fat Tuesday, Super Tuesday elections and the Patriots celebration (any doubt?)  The menu pays homage to New Orleans cuisine while having a little Patriot football tailgate flavor (New Orleans ribs anyone?). For entertainment, we will have the Hot Tamale New Orleans Brass Band (, Jenny the Juggler ( and our own Environmental Health Jester (

Please also mark on your calendars the next Environmental Health Colloquium on February 13th (12:30 to 1:30).  Dr. John Briscoe, Senior Water Advisor and Country Director for Brazil for the World Bank, will speak on Water and Health: What Are the Connections and What Might be Done?

Congratulations to Guillaume Lenormand who was promoted to Research Scientist in the MIPS program, and who also has been awarded a prestigious Parker B. Francis Foundation Fellowship to study the biophysical basis of bronchodilation. Of all known mechanisms of bronchodilation, the single most efficacious is a simple deep inspiration.  During the spontaneous asthmatic attack, however, this potent agency fails.  Congratulations Guillaume, I can hear the champagne corks popping in the lab!

Congratulations also to Marshall Katler who was recognized for his extraordinary service to the Department and MIPS program.  Marshal wears many hats and is always willing and able to help when needed.  One of the hats he wears is overseeing lab safety so Guillaume’s champagne in the lab better be quick!  Thanks Marshall!

We celebrated with the stars this week and honored our milestone service employees.  Congratulation and thank-you to:

Julie Bradley, Ramace Dadd, Lynn NeJaime, Bob Boley, Denise Lamoureux, John McCracken, and David Senn for 5 years of service;

Cristina Kehoe, Eileen McNeely, Li Su, Caroline Boles, Joseph Mizgerd and Henry Terwedow for 10 years of service;

Larisa Altshul, Jim Shine, Jean Lai and Nancy Long Sieber for 15 years of service;

Joan Arnold for 20 years of service;

and last but certainly not least, our own Joe Brain received special recognition as one of two faculty members with the longest service at Harvard. Congratulations Joe and good luck on the next 41 years at Harvard!

I’m up to my neck in preparing the competitive NIEHS Center renewal application, which is due February21st.  I wanted to thank those contributing to this effort.  This is only one of the many grants we are constantly working on, and I want to thank all who contribute to these exhaustive efforts, yet another phenomenon!  Without your tireless efforts we couldn’t ….well work! By the way, Les Kobzik passed along this tidbit of wisdom for those working on a grant during the game – spilling an adult beverage on the computer during a burst of excitement will quickly deflate that excitement.  Back up your work!  (Sounds like he’s conducted research on this phenomenon).

The school is increasing efforts to control and properly dispose of confidential information.  You may have noticed, or tripped over, the new locked gray bins in the hallways. The school is providing these for disposal of confidential information.  Material placed in these bins is secure and will be shredded by a contractor.  Please be mindful of confidential information and be sure to dispose of it in these bins.

Have a Super Bowl weekend, remember to vote before the party on Tuesday and go Patriots!


Notes – 1/11/08

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone enjoyed the break and the chance to be with friends and family.  It already seems like it was months ago but it was certainly nice to take a break from the routine and focus on things we like to do and don’t necessarily have to do.

The importance of family and friends as well as our work to prevent disease hits home when I have to pass along sad news.  One of our former doctoral students, Ho-Yuan Fred Chang, died last month from liver cancer.  Fred worked with Tom Smith and was just 47.   He leaves a wife and two teenage daughters.  A memorial service was held at National Cheng-Kung University in Taiwan on January 7.  Our condolences to Fred’s family and to Tom Smith.

Earlier this week, I was in Abu Dhabi with John Evans, Petros Koutrakis, and Jim Hammitt, presenting a proposal to develop a strategic environmental plan for the country.  Next Monday we host a delegation of environmental officials from China.  We have fourteen of our students studying hard in Cyprus, and hopefully enjoying the local culture.  We also have another cadre of students on a field trip to Taiwan.  There certainly are no borders when addressing Environmental Health.

Please keep Tuesday evening February 5th (“Fat Tuesday”) for Department Holiday (“Mardi Gras”) Party.  We looking forward to a chance to unwind and fortify ourselves before starting the spring semester.  More details to follow soon!

Have a great weekend!  Don’t forget the Pats games tomorrow night.





Notes – 7/20/2007

Last month at the 100th Annual Conference of the Air and Waste Management Association in Pittsburgh, Jack Spengler received the Lyman A. Ripperton Award for distinguished achievement as an educator in air pollution control. It is awarded to “an individual, who by precept and example, has inspired students to achieve excellence in all their professional and social endeavors. It recognizes the abilities that only a few in the education profession possess — to be able to teach with rigor, humor, humility, and pride. The recipients of this award are representative of the educators we would have chosen if we had a choice. They are known by the accomplishments of their students.”  I had the good fortune to be one of Jack’s first doctoral students.  I want to thank Jack personally for his mentoring over my many years here at HSPH, and to thank him for all of us for his outstanding service as a teacher, advisor, and mentor.  Congratulations Jack on this well-deserved award.

Jack came to the Department as a MS student in 1971.  David Leith was his fellow student who went on to complete a ScD studying fabric filtration of particles.  David was on our faculty for several years before moving to the University of North Carolina where he is now Professor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. David has been hiking in the White Mountains, and will stop by on Monday, July 23rd to give a seminar on his “Passive Sampler for Aerosols” (10:30, Landmark, 4thFloor Conference Room).  Hope you can come by, greet David, and hear about his current research.

There was a nice piece in US News and World Report on a recent article by Jane Burns (research fellow in EOME) reporting that teens with low dietary intake of fruits and vegetables were more likely to report coughing, wheezing, episodes of bronchitis, and asthma, and to have lower lung function. You can link to the article at:

Have a great weekend.



Notes 12/7/2007

First, congratulations to Melissa Perry who became the proud mother of a baby boy on Thursday this week.  Details are limited but I’m told Melissa and her new son are doing well.

Congratulations to Joe Chang and Jeff Yanosky who successfully defended their doctoral dissertations in November.  Well done.

Don’t miss the chance to hear about Russ Hauser’s work as he will be presenting “Environmental Challenges to Fertility and Pregnancy:  The role of modern chemicals” next Friday, 12:45-1:45 in Kresge G-3.

On Thursday Louise Ryan and colleagues will lead a presentation at the EH Colloquium entitled “Environmental Statistics and Bioinformatics: The new Generation of Quantitative Research in Environmental Health” in Room 1302 at 3 p.m.  Note the change in the room. We gave up Kresge G-3 so it could be set up for the visit by President Drew Faust at 4:00.

Our coffee research continues but I believe I’m noticing a direct correlation between the 13th floor MIPS post-doc coffee consumption and productivity.  Gee…

Have a great weekend!


Notes – 11/19/2007

You probably have heard by now that Dean Barry Bloom announced he is stepping down at the end of the academic year ( I think President Faust’s email made clear the significant contributions Dean Bloom made to the school in his ten years of leadership.  It’s very difficult to always be successful in such a challenging job but Barry can look back at many successes over the past ten years.  Barry has had the difficult task of being our advocate to the University, and also the messenger from the administration. While we have not always been in agreement, I have found Barry to be an advocate and friend of the EH Department and a supportive colleague in my time as Chair. I am pleased that he will remain at the school as a member of our faculty. I hope you will join me in thanking Dean Bloom for his leadership over the past ten years.

Photos from the Whittenberger Symposium are now up on the web site.  The first link is a photo essay of his life and work.  The second link shows the photos from the symposium, poster session and reception. Whittenberger_Symposium/ Click on the thumbnails to see a larger view of each photo.

To streamline the reservation process for the Department’s conference rooms in Building I (1302, 1306A and B), we have created an online reservation system using the Groupwise calendar.  Everyone in the department (faculty, students and staff) have been given access.  All current reservations have been transferred to the online system. Details were sent out by Barbara on Friday.  The system will be launched on today, November 19th.  If you have any questions, contact Barbara Zuckerman at ( or at 432-1471.

The Harvard University Center for the Environment is seeking six post-doctoral Environmental Fellows to begin September 2008. Environmental Fellows at Harvard will work for two years, supervised by a faculty host in any part of the University. These fellowships are highly competitive, and are targeted at innovative approaches to environmental problems.  For our doctoral students and fellows, there is an explicit expectation that “their research and host arrangements take them in new directions and forge new connections within the University. Harvard candidates should not propose to continue to work with the same professors or lab groups with whom they are currently associated. No candidate should propose to work extensively with his or her thesis advisor.”  If you are interested in applying, please give mea call so we can discuss how to you can optimize your chances o fsuccess. For complete details on the application process, fellowship requirements, and the 2007 Fellow are available at the Center’s website: Applications for the Environmental Fellowships are due on January 15,2008.  Accepted applicants will be announced in early April 2008.

I’ll be traveling next week returning December 3, 2007.  If you have items that need my attention before then please get them to Lisa (432-1270) by Wednesday of this week.


Notes – 10/16/2007

I hope you were able to attend the James L. Whittenberger symposium, “Environmental Genetics and Epigenetics”, on September 28, 2007.  Andrea Baccarelli and Bob Wright gave terrific presentations on their genetic and epigenetic research.  We were very pleased to welcome David Schwartz back to HSPH to give the James L. Whittenberger Lecture.  If you missed these talks, you can see the streaming video on the EH website (

The posters were informative and very well done.  Jim Whittenberger would have been very proud of the work currently being done by all in the EH Department.  My thanks to all involved in putting the symposium together, particularly Ken Wenger, Lisa Smith, and Barbara Zuckerman. Note check for photos from this event on the EH web site later this week.

The memorial service on Saturday was a fine tribute to Jim and a lifetime of service to the improvement of the public health.  Thanks to Joe Brain for organizing such a fitting remembrance.

Congratulations to Birgit Claus Henn who has been awarded an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Science To Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship.  These are highly competitive awards, and this is a great achievement by Birgit.

Behrooz Behbod and Maggie Parks are the new Department of Environmental Health representatives for the Student Government.  They welcome input from all students and faculty on any issues or ideas you would like them to raise. They can be contacted at and

The quest for the perfect Department coffee machine continues. Please stop by the 13th floor kitchenette and try out the new Flavia coffee/tea machine!  We will have a three-day trial from Monday, October 22 through Wednesday, October 24 in the afternoon. There will be several flavors of coffee and tea, including cappuccinos that so many of you love!  Let us know what you think about this machine. You can leave comments on the white board or email Lisa Smith (

Lisa also asked that I remind those using the conference rooms to please return them to the setup you found them in when you leave.  In particular, please make sure that all the computers, displays, and projectors are turned off.

We are glad to have Ken back in the office after his two week vacation to northern Italy.  Somehow we managed to muddle through without him.  We also are glad to have Lisa back, who has been out with a serious oral infection.

I also have been in and out over the past two week.  Our family lost my wife Jeanne’s dad last week to heart failure.  We were fortunate to have him home receiving hospice care at our house on the Cape.  He was well prepared for this transition, and even had written his own obituary (


Notes – 9/26/2007

We are looking forward to the ENVIRONMENTAL GENETICS & EPIGENETICS Symposium on Friday.  We will start with an Introduction to Epigenetics by Dr. Andrea Baccarelli followed by  a description of Genetics &Epigenetic Studies of Neurodevelopment in Children presented by Dr. Robert Wright.  After a break and refreshments, Dr. David Schwartz will present the 10th James L. Whittenberger Lecture on Epigenetics and Environmental Asthma.  After the Whittenberger Lecture you are invited to a reception and poster viewing in the Kresge Cafeteria.

For those of presenting posters, please set up your poster(s) in the Kresge Cafeteria room 101  sometime between 1:00 and 3:30 pm.  There is room for a few more posters. If you have a poster you would like to display, or if you have any questions, contact Barbara Zuckerman or at 432-1471.

Congratulations to Alexey Fedulov who was awarded a K99 ‘Pathway to Independence’ Award by the NIEHS for his project entitled “Inhaled environmental particles, pregnancy and neonatal allergy”. This is a highly competitive grant program that provides 5 years of funding, two with mentorship and the final three as an independent phase with ‘portable’ funding to assist transition to a tenure-track faculty position.

Congratulations also to David Lee who presented and successfully defended his doctoral dissertation “Effect of Computer Input Device Designs on Hand Biomechanics and Motor Control” last Friday.

Several of the students are proposing to form an Environmental Health Student Organization here at HSPH. The organization would address issues defined by the members including hosting a student discussion forum, inviting outside speakers to present on topics of interest to members and hosting a web site with relevant student information (i.e. job fairs, conferences, speakers, etc.). Neha Mukhi is coordinating this initiative.  If you are interested in participating please contact Nehaat

See you Friday at the Symposium!


Notes – 9/10/2007

I am back from the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology(ISEE) meetings in Mexico City last week. The meeting was organized and hosted by our colleagues (and HSPH graduates) Mauricio Hernandez-Avilia and Isabelle Romieu, with help from Francine Laden (Secretary Treasurer of the ISEE) and Joel Schwartz (ISEE Councilor). While there were presentations and posters on the full range of environmental problems, two topics stood out – air pollution and metal exposures.  I was veryproud of the high visibility that research from our department received at this meeting.  Congratulations to Jennifer Cavallari, Carrie Breton, Shona Fang, and Amar Mehta who received scholarships based on the quality of their abstracts.

On Friday night we had a dinner for about 50 EH faculty, students, fellows, graduates and friends attending the meeting.  This year we met in an amazing, but informal outdoor restaurant overlooking the main square (zocalo) in Mexico City (the Plaza de la Constitución). This annual dinner is one of the highlights of the meeting for me. For some attending, the highlight appeared to be embarrassing the senior faculty. I expect that there are some interesting pictures circulating. Thanks to Adrienne Ettinger who organized this event.

The department will be hosting the James L. Whittenberger Lecture on September 28 here at HSPH.  David Schwartz, a graduate of our MPH program in occupational health, will be presenting the Whittenberger lecture entitled “Epigenetics and Environmental Asthma”.  Andrea Baccarelli and Bob Wright will also be presenting and a poster session and reception will follow.  If you have a poster to present, please send the title to Barbara Zuckerman (, 2-1471) by Friday, September 15th.

Amy Gerson joined us this week as our new Associate Director of Finance.  Amy will be responsible for department financial planning, forecasting, reporting and tracking. She will provide financial management support to the programs and assist the department executive committee with strategic financial planning. She joins us from MGH and prior to that she worked at Harvard Medical School so she is familiar with Harvard systems.  Amy’s office is in room 1304 and her number is 432-2109.  Amy joins Barbara Zuckerman and Lisa Smith to complete the staffing of our department office.  Stop by and say hello.

While you are up on the 13th floor please try the coffee machine in the “Tea Room” opposite the department office.  Lisa has taken on the challenge of finding the optimum coffee maker, and she currently has an espresso machine for a one week trial.  She welcomes your feedback on the current trial.  (Hope she filled out the human subject forms!)


Notes – 8/29/2007

Orientation started this week, and we are excited to welcome our 23 new students.  We have 10 Master of Science students, 12 Doctor of Science students and one student entering a one year residency program.  There are ten students from the United States, three from Mexico, two each from Lebanon and Taiwan and one each from Cyprus, Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, UK/Iran and Serbia/Montenegro.

Speaking of the new academic year, we want to welcome Barbara Zuckerman who started yesterday as our Academic Administrator.  Barbara is new to Harvard, but has worked in academic administration at Johns Hopkins, Emory, the University of Texas in Austin, and Northwestern.  Ken and I will be showing Barbara around the Department, and hope to get a chance to introduce you.  But please feel free to come by Room 1301 and introduce yourself to her.  Barbara can be reached at 3-1471.

The PREMUS 2007 International Conference on Prevention of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders is currently underway at the Conference Center on Avenue Louis Pasteur.   The meeting was over subscribed with more than 450 attendees from 36 countries.  I have been able to stop by briefly, and the meeting appears to be a great success.  Three of our students have presented their results, including Joe Chang who was one of the five winners of the “Best Student Abstract”.  Jack Dennerlein put a huge effort into organizing this meeting.  Congratulations and thanks to Jack, Glenn Pranksy who was also on the organizing committee, and to everyone else who has helped make this Conference so successful.

Please keep the afternoon of Friday, September 28st on your calendar for the James Whittenberger Symposium.  We will be honoring Dr. Whittenberger who was the founding director of our NIEHS Environmental Health Center in 1964, and Chair of our Department of Physiology from 1948 to 1980. Dr. Whittenberger died earlier this year at age 93.    We will hold a memorial service for Dr. Whittenberger on Saturday, September 29th.

The theme of this symposium will be the “Epigenetic Effects of Environmental Exposures”.  The program will include an introductory talk on epigenetics by Dr. Andrea Baccarelli, and a description of current epigenetic studies in our Center by Dr. Robert Wright.  After a break, we would have the Whittenberger Lecture.  This will then be followed by a reception with viewing of posters.  This would be a great opportunity to kick off the new academic year by showing your posters from recent conferences.  Let my assistant, Lisa Smith, know if you have a poster to present.

Many of us are heading off to the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology meeting in Mexico City next week.  This is one of those events where we see many of our former students and fellows.  In addition, it is a forum where our research activities really stand out.

With the new academic year, it is time to update the distribution list for thee notes.  If you get these and want to be off the list, or if you do not get them and would like to be on the list, please e-mail Lisa Smith (



Notes – 8/21/2007

I returned back from Switzerland over the week-end. I returned to find the department still in good order, and my office barely recognizable for its neatness.  My new assistant Lisa Smith has taken it as a personal challenge to bring order to my office.  I was concerned that she seemed a little too eager for me to leave on this trip. Nevertheless, no damage was done, and everything is findable. Thanks Lisa.

I have received two very bits of news since getting back.  Yesterday, Dr. David Schwartz announced that he is stepping aside as Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, during an independent review of these programs ordered by Dr. Zerhouni. You can find additional details in Science News (

In an e-mail sent to NIEHS investigators, David said; “As you know, there have been recent inquiries by members of Congress and others regarding certain activities and management decisions at the National Institute on Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP).  Dr. Zerhouni has responded to these inquiries and is taking appropriate action to ensure that the issues being raised are reviewed and, if necessary, properly addressed.”

“To ensure the independent nature of the review, while it is being conducted, I will temporarily step aside as Director of the NIEHS and NTP.  During this period, I will … continue to serve as Chief, Laboratory of Environmental Lung Disease, NHLBI.”

“Although this development is personally painful, I am committed to a full and comprehensive review of the management of NIEHS/NTP.”

David is a graduate of our Master of Occupational Health program, and has been a good friend of the Department. He led the External Review of the Department two years ago.

This morning I received a copy of a press release from the California Air Resources Board ( our friend and colleague Henry Gong died last week.  Henry hasbeen one of the leaders in air pollution research, particularly inclinical studies.  Many of us just saw Henry last month at a meeting inNorth Carolina.  I will let you know as I learn more details.


Notes – 7/30/2007

We are at the end of July and the second summer term has begun which must mark mid-summer.  I hope everyone has taken or has plans to take a well deserved vacation break.

Jim Shine was back at the Tar Creek Children’s Study site in Oklahoma last week, examining the effects of the recent flooding.  The Children’s Study has been examining the exposures of children to heavy-metals from the huge mine waste (chat) piles in the community.  Six weeks ago Jim led a team which sampled metal contamination in the Tar Creek flood plain.  Since then there has been massive flooding of the Neosho River.  Jim organized a quick follow-up to retest the same sites they had tested before the flooding.  This will allow separation of the heavy-metal contamination from the mine waste from that due to river sediment.  This was a terrific effort by Jim to get this organized, reviewed and approved (IRB), funded, and accomplished so quickly.  These efforts were greatly appreciated by the community; see the front page article in the Joplin Globe.   Well done Jim! We are looking forward to seeing the results.

Last week we finally got signage on the glass doors to the Department office.  We have been surprised at how many incidents we have had of people walking into the glass.  Deep in thought I presume.  Hopefully the signage will prevent more of that.

On Wednesday Lisa Smith will join our team in the Department Office as my new Executive Assistant.  Lisa has been working in private enterprise with a strong background in customer support. Please introduce yourself and welcome her to the academic environment. Thanks to Christian Halmi who has done a terrific job of filling in this position over the past month.

On Tuesday I will be talking about Boston Air Pollution in the Hot Topics series.   This will be largely a repeat of the talk I gave in the HSPH Community Forum in January.  However,  I do not plan a reprise of the exploding projector in the middle of my presentation that we experienced in January.

Have a good week.


Notes – 7/20/2007

Last month at the 100th Annual Conference of the Air and Waste Management Association in Pittsburgh, Jack Spengler received the Lyman A. Ripperton Award for distinguished achievement as an educator in air pollution control. It is awarded to “an individual, who by precept and example, has inspired students to achieve excellence in all their professional and social endeavors. It recognizes the abilities that only a few in the education profession possess — to be able to teach with rigor, humor, humility, and pride. The recipients of this award are representative of the educators we would have chosen if we had a choice. They are known by the accomplishments of their students.”  I had the good fortune to be one of Jack’s first doctoral students.  I want to thank Jack personally for his mentoring over my many years here at HSPH, and to thank him for all of us for his outstanding service as a teacher, advisor, and mentor.  Congratulations Jack on this well-deserved award.

Jack came to the Department as a MS student in 1971.  David Leith was his fellow student who went on to complete a ScD studying fabric filtration of particles.  David was on our faculty for several years before moving to the University of North Carolina where he is now Professor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering.  David has been hiking in the White Mountains, and will stop by on Monday, July 23rd to give a seminar on his “Passive Sampler for Aerosols” (10:30, Landmark, 4th Floor Conference Room).  Hope you can come by, greet David, and hear about his current research.

There was a nice piece in US News and World Report on a recent article by Jane Burns (research fellow in EOME) reporting that teens with low dietary intake of fruits and vegetables were more likely to report coughing, wheezing, episodes of bronchitis, and asthma, and to have lower lung function. You can link to the article at:

Have a great weekend.


Notes – 7/6/2007

I hope everyone enjoyed the July 4th festivities and had the opportunity to be creative with time off during the week.  The Wednesday holiday made for some interesting work schedules.  It also felt like the week had two Mondays.  Thankfully it will be awhile before the 4th falls on a Wednesday again.

July is a busy month for our administrators and financial staff in particular.  Thanks to all working so diligently on the Fiscal Year close.  The first close-out was yesterday.  I think few of us realize how much effort goes into this.  Please support your administrators as they complete this challenging and vital process.  Second close is July 12 and third close July 19th.

I haven’t mentioned our renovations lately but be assured that we continue to make progress.  The third floor is complete and Stephanie Shore and her staff are settling into their new lab and office space.  The current construction on the 13th floor is on schedule for a Labor Day completion.  After Labor Day we begin the two relatively small final phases on 13 to complete the job.  I look forward to the MIPS folks getting resettled on 13 before we move on to work on the 14th floor.

Our newest faculty member, Dr. Quan Lu joined the MIPS program as a assistant professor this week.  Dr. Lu has a B.S. and M.S. in Zoology and Virology at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at Iowa State University. He has been conducting post-doctoral research in the Department of Genetics at Stanford University in Stanley Cohen’s laboratory. His interests include molecular mechanisms of protein trafficking and receptor signaling in mammalian cells and the use of genetic screening approaches to study how pathogens and environmental agents cause cellular dysfunction. Dr. Lu is moving this week into the lab and office space adjacent to Stephanie Shore.

Christian Helmi has joined us as a Temporary Executive Assistant in the Department Office while we fill our open positions.  He can be reached at 432-1270.

One additional new arrival. Howard Hu and Sudha are the happy parents of a baby boy, Arjun Vijay Liang Hu, born June 14.  See attached picture.  Congratulations.

Have a great weekend, the summer heat is back!


Notes – 6/25/2007

Greetings from Cyprus! I arrived Tuesday evening to teach for a couple weeks and have enjoyed reconnecting with the faculty and students here at the Cyprus International Institute. I was particularly happy to see two of the students, Behrooz Behbod and Rima Habre who will be starting as doctoral students at HSPH in the fall.

Also nice to see Nicos Mittleton and Ezgi Alhum here. Nicos has been a post-doctoral fellow in EER for the past year. Ezgi graduated from our Master of Science program earlier this month. Both now working at the Cyprus Institute. Ezgi is a Turkish Cypriot. Twice a day she crosses the border, which is only a few hundred meters from the Institute, to get to work. Everyday someone teases her, asking how the weather is in her country.

Joel Schwartz and I are teaching Environmental Epidemiology. Joel taught the first seven lectures, and I am giving eight classes through the end of this week. Then Stephanos Kales and David Christiani will be teaching Occupational Health the following two weeks. Simultaneously our friend Lance Wallace has been leading an exposure assessment class.

The weather has been warm. The high temperature today was 38 degrees Centigrade (100 degrees F). However, reasonably dry. More importantly I have not seen a cloud since I arrived.

In Boston the end of June is a time of transitions for us. Frieda Marsh, Susan Pollak, and Katondra Murphy will be leaving the department this week. Katondra has been the smiling face of the department office for the last seven years. Susan has been managing the finances of the department office for ten years, but has been at the University for over 26 years. Frieda has had many roles in the department during her 34 years of service, most recently serving as our Academic Administrator. We are very grateful to all of them for their dedicated and loyal years of service.

This is also the last week for Ken Olden who has been our first Yerby Visiting Professor. It has been such a treat to have him here at the school and he has set the bar high for future Yerby Professors. I have valued the opportunity to have him across the hall as a colleague and confidant. He has been a terrific source of wisdom and counsel for me, our faculty, fellows, and students. If you have not taken advantage of the chance to meet with Ken, I would advise you to try to squeeze yourself into his calendar. His door always seems to be open.

Melissa Perry also formally assumes her new role as Associate Professor of Occupational Epidemiology on July 1st. You can find a spotlight on her on the EH home page. Congratulations Melissa and keep up the good work.

Next week we will also be welcoming Dr. Quan Lu, a new Assistant Professor in the MIPS program. Look for a web page spotlight on him soon.

Have a good week!



Notes – 6/11/2007

Commencement on Thursday was a great event.  Altogether we awarded 12 Doctor of Science degrees, 1 Doctor of Philosophy, 9 Masters of Science, and 2 Masters of Occupational Health.  My job on Thursday was to read off the names of the Doctor of Science recipients, congratulate the other degree recipients, and not fall asleep on stage (or at least not on camera).  It’s not heavy lifting, but the pressure is on to make sure you don’t mess up anyone’s name, especially considering that their families have so anxiously awaited this event and hearing their loved one recognized. While I have known these new graduates for several years now, I still stumbled once. If you are curious who tripped me up, watch the tape on the school web site. I think I was forgiven.  However, if I start calling you by your first, middle, and last name, it is only in preparation for next year.


In other transitions, Frieda Marsh will be leaving the Environmental Health Department at the end of this month after 34 years. Harvard is fortunate to have many long service employees but few have worked in the same department for their entire careers.  Frieda has been the rock of this department and it’s predecessors since she first came to Harvard.  That’s a lot of students, faculty and visitors that have been greeted and supported by Frieda. Note I didn’t say retire, a word that is not in Frieda’s vocabulary!  Her plans aren’t final but you can be sure she will be very busy and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her helping out at future graduations and other events.

Katondra Murphy will also be leaving at the end of the month.  Katondra has been the always cheerful face of the Department for the last seven years.  She has been my right hand since I became Department Chair almost two years ago.  It won’t be the same without Katondra and Frieda running the “front office”.  Join us on Friday June, 15 at 3:30 in the Kresge cafeteria as we say goodbye and thank them for years of loyal service to the Department.

On Tuesday, June 12 in Building 1 Room 1302, Diane Gold will speak at our final EH Colloquium of the year.  Her talk is entitled “T cell regulation at birth–can it be related to in utero environmental exposures?”  Note the Tuesday date is a departure from our normal Thursday dates. Thanks to all our presenters for making this years EH Colloquia particularly informative and educational.

Next Monday I am heading off to Cyprus to teach at our International Institute for Environmental and Public Health for two weeks.  If you need something signed before the end of the month, please try to get it to our office before Friday.  Ken will of course be able to help you while I am away.

Have a great week!

Notes – 6/1/2007

The big tent should be going up this week-end as we begin preparations for graduation next Thursday. I have always looked forward to the commencement ceremonies and consider congratulating the graduates as one of the best parts of my job.  Our students have been preparing for this day for years and we congratulate them on reaching this goal. This year we have thirteen who have earned a Doctor of Science and eight who have earned a Master of Science.

Doctor of Science in Environmental Health:
Jennifer Adibi, Lope Barrero, Lisa Baxter, Jennifer Cavallari, Robin Dodson, Karen Lachmayr, Christopher Lewis, Chen-yu Liu, Pradeep Rajan, Ami Zota

Doctor of Science Environmental Health and Epidemiology:
John McCracken, Cathyrn Tonne

Doctor of Science in Health Policy and Management and Environmental Health:
Katherine von Stackelberg

Master of Science in Environmental Health:
Ezgi Alhum, Juan Barrera Cordero, Shelley Ehrlich, Victoria Jackson, Rebecca Moran, Ramon Sanchez Pina, Kayo Shibata, Jodi Smith

Each of our graduates has the talent, intelligence, and the skills necessary to make a meaningful contribution to improving public health.  I know all our faculty and staff, and the other students join in congratulating our graduates.  We are proud of your achievement and are confident you will accomplish great things in the future. Well done and congratulations to you and your families.  I look forward to sharing the festivities with you on Thursday.

Speaking of accomplishments, we were excited to hear from Melissa Curran (nee Veno) that she had delivered a new baby girl, Gretchen Elizabeth (7 lbs 15 oz) on Wednesday morning.

Enjoy the weekend!


Notes – 5/21/2007

Lots of good news as our faculty and students are recognized for their outstanding work….

Dr. Melissa Perry has been promoted to Associate Professor of Occupational Epidemiology.  Melissa is currently in New Zealand working on farm worker occupational health issues.   Join me in congratulating her in person when she returns next week.

Congratulations to Dr. Alexey Federov, who was appointed Research Scientist.

Also congratulations to our student winners of the Faculty Council Poster Exhibit!

First prize in the student category ($500 prize) went to Shona Fang, (EOME), for Vascular responses to metal-rich particulate matter: acute changes in arterial stiffness among welders, with Ellen Eisen, Jennifer Cavallari, Murray Mittleman, and David Christiani

Student authors receiving honorable mention included Carlo Bartoli, MIPS, for Mechanisms of particulate air pollution-induced arterial blood pressure changes, with Gregory Wellenius, Edgar Diaz, Joy Lawrence, Brent Coull, Ichiro Akiyama, Lani Lee, Tracy Katz, Kanzunori Okabe, Richard Verrier, and John Godleski

Postdoc authors receiving honorable mention included Yen-Tsung Huang, EOME, for Genome-wide survival analysis in early stage non-small cell lung cancer using GeneChip 250K Nsp array, with Zhaoxi Wang, Lucian Chirieac, Michael Wu, Xihong Lin, Wei Zhou, Matthew Kulke, Rebecca Heist, Li Su, Kofi Asomaning, and David Christiani

Many members of our Department are at the American Thoracic Society meeting in San Francisco.  I noted last week Alexey Federov and Robin Puett had their abstracts highlighted in the Final Program and received travel awards for this meeting.  In addition Shakira Franko Suglia received this same recognition for her abstract.  We also learned last week that Shakira received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to analyze data from a national birth cohort (Fragile Families and Child Well being Study) to look at stress in relation to children’s health.  Well done Shakira!

Stacey Ackerman-Alexeeff, a research assistant working with Dr. Joel Schwartz Stacey, was selected to receive a Gertrude Cox Scholarship Honorable Mention Award from the American Statistical Association.  Stacey will receive this award at the ASA meeting in July.

As I mentioned last week, I was in Washington, DC over the weekend for my son’s graduation from George Washington University.  I flew down on the same plane with our former Dean and Provost, Harvey Fineberg.   I was surprised and delighted to learn that he was receiving an honorary degree from George Washington on Sunday.

Have a great week as we all look forward to a long Memorial Day weekend!!


Notes – 5/14/2007

The end of the term is here as classes end this week. Students are finishing up final projects and preparing for final exams.   Students, faculty, and the teaching assistants are all looking forward to the end of the semester and having an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather outside.  Good luck to all as you put the finishing touches on a semester of hard work.

Speaking of finishing up, my son is doing just that as he graduates from college next weekend.  Due to his graduation I’ll miss the American Thoracic Society Meeting that starts at the end of the week in San Francisco.  Our Department always has good visibility at this meeting. I’ll have to depend on some of you who are attending to fill me in on the presentations by our faculty, fellows, and alumni.

However, we already know that Alexey Fedulov, Research Associate in Les Kobzik’s laboratory, has earned two distinctions for his abstract entitled “Allergen-Naive CD11c+ Dendritic Cells from Neonates of Asthmatic Mothers Transfer Increased Allergic Susceptibility.”  This paper provides new insights into the cellular mechanisms by which offspring of asthmatic mothers have greater susceptibility to asthma.

Alexey received a travel award based on the merit of the abstract from the Assembly on Allergy, Immunology and Inflammation. In addition the ATS International Conference Committee has highlighted his abstract in the Final Program as an example of the focus and quality of the original research presented at the conference. Congratulations Alexey!

Robin Puett, a Research Associate working with Francine Laden, has also earned a travel award and had her abstract “Particulates, mortality and cardiovascular disease in the Nurses Health Study” highlighted in the Final Program.  Her abstract focuses on the association of monthly PM10 with death from all causes and incident fatal MI in the Nurses’ Health Study.

This Wednesday at 12:30 at Landmark we will have a special guest lecture on “Children’s Health and the Environment: The Problem and the Solution” by Phil Landrigan. Phil is Chairman of the Department of Community & Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, but more importantly is Instructor in our Department. It is nice to have him back here briefly.

Enjoy the week!


Notes – 5/7/2007

On April 25th, Ann Backus testified on safety in the commercial fishing industry in Washington, D.C. before the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Marine Transportation.  Based on her work with the New England fishing industry, Ann highlighted the generic lack of safety training for fisherman.  She also appealed for consistency in the regulatory safety equipment requirements for fishing vessels registered with the state and those registered with the federal government.  We appreciate, and the New England fishermen certainly appreciate Ann’s continuing concern and advocacy for safety in this dangerous industry.

The Department was well represented at the Poster Day on Friday.  I tried to get around to see all the EH posters, but ran out of time.  Thanks to all the students, post-docs and staff who presented their work.

There was a well-deserved pre-“Cinco de Mayo’ celebration on Friday for Xavier Trepat, Jeff Fredberg, and their co-workers who had their paper “Universal physical responses to stretch in the living cell” accepted in Nature.  Congratulations.

The NIEHS Environmental Health received 17 pilot project applications last week, which might be a record.  It also might be an indication of the tough funding climate.  Nevertheless, we are happy to see so many creative ideas.  Thanks to Melissa Veno and Henry Terwedow who are working to get these applications processed and sent out to reviewers.

Note that the NIOSH-funded Harvard Education and Research Center (ERC) is also accepting pilot project proposals.  The deadline is May 30th. If you need a copy of the announcement, please contact Tatyana Varshavsky (

On Wednesday, Dr. Alexandra Shields, Director of the Harvard / MGH Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations and Health Disparities will be speaking at the Gene-Environment breakfast, 8 AM in Kresge 110.   Her talk might be of interest to people outside of the normal participants in this working group.

In construction related activities, Phase III on the 13th floor of Building 1 is down to the final punch list items and Phase IV demolition began today.    On the third floor contractors ran into delays on Phase II that will result in occupancy being pushed back until June.  Thanks to Stephanie Shore for her continued patience and understanding!


Notes – 4/27/2007

There seems to be a general sigh of relief throughout the campus and a lot of empty champagne bottles around!  Congratulations to Jennifer Adibi, Lope Barrero,  Lisa Baxter, Jennifer Cavallari, Chen-Yu Liu, Robin Dobson, Karen Lachmayr, and Ami Zota who all successfully defended their doctoral research this week. Their final task is to get bound copies of their signed dissertations into the Registrar’s office by next Wednesday.  We are looking forward to adding these to the impressive collection we have outside the Conference rooms on the 13th floor.

A couple of IMPORTANT reminders: Tomorrow there will be an electrical power shutdown between 5:00 AM and 7:00 PM here at HSPH. You will not be allowed in any of the main campus buildings. Operations will supply emergency generator power to critical operations. If you are responsible for equipment that should not be shut down and you aren’t sure if Operations is aware of your need contact them directly at 2-1152. Everyone should shut down computers, monitors, printers, copiers and all other electrical equipment as a precaution at close of business today.

For those of you at Landmark, or planning to work at home, you should expect that all IT network services also will be down including email and Novell file access.

Secondly, all NIEHS Center Pilot Project applications need to be submitted to Henry Terwedow (FXB-101) by Tuesday, May 1st.

Hoping for another sweep of the Yankees.


Notes – 4/20/2007

All else pales this week in comparison with the events on the Virginia Tech campus.  Our hearts go out to the families of those senselessly murdered and our academic colleagues, students, faculty and administrators alike at VT.  Campuses across the country and the world have come together to express their outrage and offer condolences. Candlelight vigils, memorial services, letters of condolences, an unending list of expressions of heartfelt sympathy to those in pain continue.   I hope we all can find some solace in the good that inevitably comes from all tragedy.

Here we are finally seeing the first signs of spring.  Academically, we are seeing signs that the end of the academic year and graduation are approaching.  Next week we have nine of our doctoral students defending their theses.

Monday: Ami Zota, Lisa Baxter, Karen Lachmayr, and Chen-Yu Liu.
Tuesday: Jennifer Cavallari
Thursday: Robin Dobson, Lope Barrero, Patricia Fabian, and Jennifer Adibi

Congratulations to each of you on reaching this academic milestone, and good luck as you present and defend your work. I am sorry that I won’t be able to attend all of these presentations and ask questions.

I see on my calender that Wednesday is “Administrative Professionals Day”.  While the name is cumbersome, the concept is right on.  Let us remember to thank our administrative staff who work so hard to make the Department run.

We are thinning our library collection of text books and reference manuals.  Over the next couple weeks we will place books available to a good home on the counter top in Room 1306, just below the monitor.  Fell free to stop by and take what interests you.  We’ll be adding books as we empty out boxes so stop by often.  If you had a treasured book in the Library please let us know if you want it and we’ll set it aside.

Phase III renovations on the 13th floor are complete with a few remaining punch list items.  Thanks to all who moved this week and contributed to a smooth transition.  Phase IV demolition is scheduled to start in May. The third floor labs are scheduled for completion next week.  Allowing some time for punch list items they should be ready for occupancy by May 15.

Spring has finally arrived and along come the Yankees, have a great weekend!


Notes – 4/13/2007

With the home opener at Fenway this week and the Boston Marathon on Monday I was looking forward to a little warmer weather.  Not quite spring yet in Boston but hopefully soon!

Thursday we celebrated Tom Leamon’s work on injury prevention and support of our department.  We started with a symposium on the Global Buren of Injury with guest speakers Kavi Bhalla, David Kriebel and Helen Wellman addressing injury prevention in developing countries.  Jack Dennerlein did an excellent job summarizing the injury prevention work we do at Harvard and the great work done by our students and post docs.  Later that evening Joe Brain and I hosted a dinner for Tom and his family at the Faculty Club.  It was great fun to share memories with Tom and his family and underscore the importance of the work and gains in injury prevention over more than a decade of association with Tom.  Thanks to all who worked to make this a day a success.

On the construction front we are approaching home plate on Phase III on the 13th floor with expected completion within the next two weeks.  Completion includes bathroom facilities!!  Sometimes I think it’s easier to find a men’s room at Fenway than in Building One.

We’re also rounding third and heading home on the third floor with completion scheduled for the beginning of May.  Time for those involved to start thinking about the move to new space.  Phase IV on the 13th floor is on deck with plans and schedules are being drawn up.

I hope you have had a chance to look at our new web site (  Jaime Hart and Ken have done a lot to make it more timely and useful.  Jaime is working on having the upcoming events automatically linked to the school calendar.  In the meantime, if you want your events included in the Department events list, please just include Jaime Hart ( ) and Katondra Murphy ( ) in your e-mail list.

We are almost ready to go live with a web section we call “Working Groups”.   This is a site where the special interest groups can describe what they are doing, list meetings, and solicit new participants.  If you have a working group that you would like included, please contact Jaime.

Also, please note that NIEHS Environmental Health Center Pilot Project Proposals are due in a couple of weeks (May 1st).  Please submit proposals or send queries to Henry Terwedow ( ).

I am off to the HEI meeting in Chicago and will miss the Marathon.  Good luck to all the runners in the Department.  Please let me know if you are running. I am sure we would all like to root for you on the course or monitor your progress (and cheer you on) from our PC.


Notes – 4/6/2007

I am very happy to share the news of our most recent faculty hire.  On April 1, 2007, Dr. Marc Weisskopf joined us as the Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology.  Marc had a number of attractive options to consider and we are thrilled that he has decided to join our faculty and work with David Christiani in the EOME program.  Marc has a PhD in neurobiology and an ScD in epidemiology.  He is using this cross-disciplinary training to study how environmental factors affect neurocognitive function.  He is coupling his laboratory experience in studying the nervous system to epidemiologic studies of adults and children. He is using advanced physiologic measures of neurocognitive development in children and loss of cognitive function in adults to assess the life-course of cognitive development and decline, and the influences of environmental contaminants on that life course.  In addition, he is investigating how genetic characteristics influence our response to these environmental contaminants.  Dr. Weisskopf is shining light on the potential environmental causes of the epidemics of neurocognitive disorders in children and the elderly.  Please welcome Marc in his new role at HSPH.

Next Thursday, 4/12 we will host a  Symposium on the Global Burden of Injuries.    Join us 3:30-5:00 in FXB G-12.  More information is posted around the building or contact Katondra (2-1270)

There was an wonderful article in the Globe this week about the work of Philippe Grandjean.  We know how important Philippe’s work has been. It’s nice to see him being recognized outside the scientific community.  If you missed it go to the announcement section of our new web site .

Speaking of the web site, we are happy to see the successful roll-out of the new school and department web site. We are adding more features to make it an informative resource. These notes are available on the web site and we will continue to improve the site now that the platform is operational.  For example, won’t it be nice to check availability and book conference rooms via the web – coming soon!  Thanks to Brad Emerson and Jaime Hart for the work they have put into this redesigned site.

Hope you have a great week-end.




From my last note, you know I was in Cyprus last week. From there we went to Athens.  Daylight Savings Time started on Sunday in Greece.  Does that mean I have to fall back twice in the fall?  It seems we have been eating our way across Cyprus and Greece. I can attest that the Mediterranean diet is not in and of itself a weight loss plan. We met up with Jim Shine and Jack Spengler who were on their way to Cyprus to teach this week, and Joe Brain who is on his way to Israel. We did conduct an air pollution symposium in Athens, and Jim gave a talk on international water issues.  We were also able to connect with friends of the school and our department who have been major contributors. Hopefully this trip will lead to some additional support for our water program.

We arrived back late Wednesday night. In the morning we found that an air pollution monitoring station had been installed in our back-yard while we were gone.  Actually, I remember now that Lynn McClelland said it was coming.  Also found a flat tire on my car.  Arriving in the office, I found the conference rooms either torn up with reconstruction, or occupied as staging areas for furniture being installed on the 13th floor. Nevertheless, it looks like things did not collapse while I was away. Thanks Ken, Katondra, Frieda, and everyone else.

Conference room 1302 was improved with the installation of new white boards, this to address the “shadow” defect in the original installation.  This is the first of a complete replacement of all recently installed white boards by the manufacturer.  We also added flip up tables in 1302 to assist with food service.  This allows more flexibility with seating configurations when serving food.

The furniture arrived and was installed for the post doc offices on the 13th floor.  Our move in date for this space is the week of April 16th.  Consultants are finalizing plans for noise mitigation on the 3rd floor.  I hope to see (not hear!) a resolution soon.  The lab space on the 3rd floor is progressing nicely.  Move in scheduled for next month.  The temporary door will have to come down soon to allow for final work to be done.  I’ve been assured every effort will be made to minimize disruption.

The Red Sox opener is on Sunday. The Celtics and Bruins have collapsed.  Spring must be around the corner.  The Spring 2 session starts on Monday.  We are all getting ready for the final push towards graduation .

Note the school is launching its’ new web site on Sunday.  As part of this we hope you will also see a new EH Department web site .  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.



Greetings from Cyprus!

Jeanne and I are in Nicosia, Cyprus.  We are here to celebrate the success of the Harvard-Cyprus International Initiative (CII) .  This institute has been an amazing success.  In the two years since it’s inception, the institute has trained more than 3000 students from 70 countries in workshops, symposium, and classes.  There are currently 16 outstanding students enrolled in the CII master of science program.  We have six pre-docs and post-docs enrolled at HSPH, and two new pre-docs coming in the fall.

There is amazing activity here. Today CII sponsored a symposium on stopping smoking in youth. It was organized by Greg Connelly and Howard Koh, and attended by 375 educators and scientists from all over the middle east.  This afternoon I observed Steve Hannah teach his air pollution modeling course (in person). In addition, I observed  Jonathan Levy teach his risk assessment course live from Boston by teleconference. (Last week Don Milton was here teaching.)  On Thursday, the first paper coauthored by a CII faculty member, Costas Christophi, will appear in the New England Journal of Medicine. Stefanos Kales is first author of this paper describing heart disease mortality among firefighters.

This evening we went to a dinner at the Presidential Palace, where President Papadopoulus presented Dean Bloom with the Markarious Medal of Honor .  See the email from the Dean’s Office for more details.

The success of the CII is due to the vision and hard work of many of our colleagues, including Petros Koutrakis, Phil Demokritou, Joe Brain, Linda Fox, John Lichten, and Barry Bloom.  Many of our faculty have come to Cyprus to teach and initiate research.  Thanks to them and congratulations to us all on the success of this initiative.

I also am very happy to hear that the Superfund Grant application was mailed today.  This application is the result of many months of work by a team of investigators from our Department, Biostatistics, and faulty from the Dental School, the Medical School, and MIT.  Special thanks to Bob Wright for his leadership, vision and team building. He  pulled this team together and along, and Jean Economos did a superb job pulling budget, subcontracts, and all the essential supporting materials together.

Finally, please remember Jim Whittenberger who died on Saturday at age 93.  Let’s look forward to getting together to celebrate the life of this remarkable leader and mentor, to share personal memories of Jim and his many contributions to environmental health.  A private family ceremony was held this week and a public gathering is planned for sometime this summer.


I am sorry to report that Heather Nelson has now joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.  She and her husband Toben will have faculty positions there.  Heather and her family are around for a few more days, but will soon be moving to Minneapolis-St. Paul.  We asked for the bitter cold this week to give her a foretaste of  what she will be experiencing. We will miss her but wish her continued academic success.

A warm welcome to HSPH goes out to long time friend of the Environmental Health Department, Tom Leamon.  Tom recently retired from the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety and has joined us as a visiting professor.  Tom’s office is located in FXB Rm 101 (formerly home to Ken Olden who has moved to Building 1 Rm 1304).   Tom brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in occupational health to the Department, be sure to take advantage of this wonderful resource.  Stop by and say hello.

In conjunction with Tom’s arrival we will be hosting a symposium  April  12, 2007 entitled  ” The Global Burden of Injury”.  More details to follow but save the date.

It’s been a typical busy week at HSPH.  Monday through Thursday there was a well attended job fair  in the cafeteria (which meant many fewer seats at lunch.  An impressive assortment of companies sought to speak with our equally impressive HSPH students.

Today was the start fo the BPH recruitment weekend.   There are about 22 prospective PhD students coming to look for opportunities, and to be interviewed. Thanks to Dan Tschumperlin and Stephanie Shore who have worked hard to find students and make them aware of  opportunities in Environmental Health.  I hope you were able to stop by the poster session today and speak with the potential students.  I had an opportunity to do so and was impressed with several of the candidates.

Our renovations continue to progress with no significant schedule delays.  The noise issue on the third floor is being addressed and the white boards will all be replaced due to a mysterious “ghosting” problem.  A different brand will be installed soon.  I’m sure this is known to those it matters but the mens room on the 13th floor is closed for renovations.  If you have male guests attending a meeting in the conference room you might want to direct them to the 12th floor.  Women have to trek upstairs to the 14th floor until renovations are complete.  The computer in the 13th floor “tea room” now operates as a kiosk similar to those around the school classroom areas.  Access to the web and HSPH sites is available to everyone without requiring a log in.

Have a great weekend. I’m looking forward to some warmer weather tomorrow and next week. Don’t forget the clock change!



It was noticed that I got the Department notes out on Friday evening last week. This week I have fallen back to being late. Sorry.

We continue to work on the Department web site.  Thanks to those who offered to contribute to the final push.  Ken will be contacting you shortly if he hasn’t already.  In addition we are preparing a newsletter to go out to all our alumni.  We would like to add some photos for both venues.  If you have some that you would like to share, please e-mail to me or Ken.

Also Tom Smith is looking for any photos from last-years Winter Party.  He is particularly interested in any record of the two of us singing “Satisfaction”.  If you have such photos, I would ask you to destroy.

It’s clear from all the closed doors around the office that a number of grants applications are in the final stages of preparation for submittal.  Thanks to all for their diligent work on these important efforts.  Your contributions and commitment to excellence don’t go unnoticed.

I have received a request from the Harvard Club of the Netherlands for one of our faculty or researchers to make a presentation on an environmental health topic at one of their regular meetings.  Many of us have active collaborations in the Netherlands.  Many more change planes in Amsterdam.  There is no money for travel, but if you are in the Netherlands and could make such a presentation, I am sure it will be worth your time and effort.  Plus I would be grateful.

Speaking of grateful, Molly Kile and I are looking for two additional teaching assistants for the Principles of Environmental Health class in spring 2.  Class is Monday and Wednesday 10:30 to 12:20.  About 50 students have signed up.  Interesting speakers, stimulating discussion, and gratitude of your department chair.

We’ll be updating the HSPH catalog over the next couple of weeks and will be looking to profile at least one of our students.  If you have an interesting candidate that you’d like to see profiled please let your Program Administrator know.

Our renovation work continues on schedule and we continue to make progress on our punch lists.  Two particularly challenging items receiving attention are reducing the noise levels on the third floor and resolving problems with the white boards.  A manufacturer’s representative will be onsite to review the white board issue this week and the architect and construction team are reviewing designs for noise reduction.  Now if we can just do something about the circular saw and drill on the other side of my wall….



Our Financial Administrators are hard at work preparing the FY08 budget for submittal next week.  Thanks for their efforts and everyone’s cooperation on this important planning process.

We’ve all kept our fingers crossed with the  beginning of online grant submissions via this month.  Reminded me of the 1/1/00 computer scare.  I’ve heard no horror stories yet so thanks to all our committed grants administrators for staying on top of this change and helping us faculty folks look good!

Phase 2 renovations on the third floor continue on schedule for a May completion/move in. Phase 1 punch list items are being address and resolved, some linger a little longer than I’d like but I know the effort to get it right is being made.  That goes for the 13 floor as well.  Phase 3 furniture will be delivered the beginning of April with completion later that month of the post-doc space.  The architect (Steve Hurley) will begin interviews of those involved in phase 4 sometime in the next week or so.

The Department needs someone with web site skills and interests to help update the Department web site.  Duties are primarily loading and updating content.  Good opportunity for a student with the right skills to pick up a little extra money.  Also looking for someone with Microsoft Access experience to assist with a project.  See Ken Wenger if interested.

Enjoy the long weekend!


I had a great time last Thursday night at our Winter Celebration, and think everyone else who attended did also.  It’s always nice to get together after hours and let our hair down (ok, in my dreams) in a relaxed environment and share good food and conversation about our “other lives”.  Thanks to Tom Smith for another of his wonderfully entertaining performances, he’s truly a fun gi!  (Good thing he has tenure!)  Thanks to Ken, Katondra, Frieda, Susan, Gail, and all the Department planners for a job well done!

I particularly enjoy having the children join us.  I know how challenging it is to strike that work/life balance and it’s nice to have the opportunity for the children to join us and enjoy themselves.

Our new conference rooms were busy with activity this week with faculty meetings, project meetings, training and the Superfund External Advisory Board meeting.  I was pleased with how well the facilities worked.

Speaking of the 13th floor, we welcomed Ken Olden to a new office in Rm 1304 this week. I’m happy to now have Ken closer to the pulse of our activities and encourage all to take advantage of this opportunity to get to know and learn from our distinguished colleague.

I checked renovation progress on Friday and was surprised to see substantial progress made on the thirteenth floor despite the number of times we shut down work so that meetings would not be disturbed.  I’m told the 3rd floor is progressing as well, I didn’t check personally as the Asbestos warning sign was enough to keep me away.   April remains the target for completion.

Congratulations to Matt Jones who we understand will receive a Parker B. Francis Fellowship in Pulmonary Research.  Matt was a postdoctoral fellow and is now a research associate in Jay Mizgerd’s laboratory.  The award will support Matt’s research into the mechanisms by which a protein called Zcchc11 dictates the expression of cytokines and related inflammatory mediators crucial to defending the lung against infectious and other environmental challenges.


P.S. This morning I realized I had prepared these notes last Friday, but forgot to pull the trigger to send them out.  Nobody said anything.


Happy Ground Hogs Day.  Looking out the winter of my new office, I only see clouds and no sunshine.  I think that means 16 more weeks of classes.

Students are back from their Winter Term studies in Cyprus and Taiwan. I have heard the educational experience was terrific, and the weather was better than in Boston.  Maybe we can see some pictures (or maybe there are things we don’t want to know).

It was an honor to participate in Annual Appreciation Event on Wednesday.  I was surprised at how many long-service Honorees we had.

We note in particular the Top Service Honorees:
Top Staff Service – Frieda Marsh (34.1 years)
Top Academic Appointment – Mike Wolfson (32.1 years)
Top Faculty – Frank Speizer (44.9 years)

5 Years of Service:
Andrew Blicharz
Tony Gomez
Tracy Katz
Milos Kojic
Steve Melly
Anna Teresa Trisini
Marc Weiskopf
Zhiping Yang

10 Years of Service:
Jean Economos
Raisa Stolyar
Xin Xu

15 Years of Service:
Ed Dixon
Beatiz Gonzales Flecha

20 Years of Service:
David Christiani
Amy Colby
Stephanie Shore

25 Years of Service:
Martha Fay
Steve Ferguson
Susan Pollak
Rebecca Stearns

30 Years of Service:
Patrice Ayers
Jim Butler
Marcia Chertok
Douglas Dockery (who?)
Marshall Katler
Sheila Stewart

40 Years of Service:
Joe Brain

Also thanks to Ken Wenger, one of the newest members of the Department, who was drafted into being a presenter, and to Frieda for being such a good sport.

Don’t forget the Department Colloquium on Thursday in 1302 from 3:30.  Petros Koutrakis will be talking about his research on Measuring Air Pollution Exposures.

After that you can walk over to our Mid-Winter party at the Conference Center on Avenue Louis Pasteur.  If you have not responded to Katondra, this is your last chance!



Last week several of our MIPS colleagues moved into their new office and lab space on the third floor.  As I mentioned in my last notes, moving into new offices and new lab space is a challenging endeavor.  Only with careful coordination and communication is it possible to move successfully.  We had that, plus incredible cooperation from faculty and staff.   The result was a move that went about as smoothly as could be expected. We’ll be working on punch list items for a few weeks but Jay Mizgerd tells me his lab is operational and all the office occupants are hard at work. My compliments and thanks to all involved.   A long time coming but well worth the wait.  Phase II demolition work has begun and in a few more months the entire third floor will be complete.

Demolition  began today on Phase III up on the 13th floor.  We have a good deal of work left to do on 13 but it should move along quickly once the demolition is done.  Phase III should be done by May.  We returned the small conference room tables and replaced them with a size that allows for better use of the space.  We await some chairs but we’re almost done with the punch list.  The glass doors…..they’ve been up, down, right side, wrong side, down…… enough said about them.

Brush off that dust from all the renovations, it’s time for our  Department Winter Celebration on February 8, 2007!  Invitations have been emailed, if you haven’t received one consider yourself invited.  Katondra anxiously awaits your RSVP’s by the end of this week.  Please join us for a relaxing and fun evening with friends, family and colleagues.



Wednesday to Sunday of this week I was in San Francisco with David Christiani and Majid Ezatti at an NIEHS strategic planning meeting on Global Environmental Health. (For those that think these meetings are fun, I was away for six days, and over that time I had only one meal that was not in the hotel or the airport.)  I also took off Sunday to watch the Pat’s game. This is not to complain, but rather to let you know why I missed sending out any Notes last week (although no one has complained).

Yesterday I gave a talk on Boston Air Pollution at the HSPH Community Forum.  I was surprised (and flattered) by the number of people who came to hear me speak (or was it the free lunch?).  For those of you who were not able to make it into the room (or for some other reason could not attend), the highlight of event was seeing me try to speak without slides when the projector went out midway through my talk.  Media Services told me later that this was a new projector and the projector lamp overheated and exploded.  Amazingly Media Services unmounted the broken projector from the ceiling and switched in another in less than 10 minutes. Fortunately, I had shown my best graphics (including animated movies) before the burn-out, and able to show some beautiful graphics display of asthma in East Boston by Steve Miley and Jane Clougherty once the projector was replaced.  Thanks to Media Services for a nice recovery, and to everyone who helped me with slides and material for this talk.  I have already been asked to reprise this talk in the summer Hot Topics.

Next week is a busy week on the third floor as we move into renovated offices and labs.  Finishing touches are being applied this weekend and all systems are go for the move on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Moving offices is always a challenge but moving labs and associated equipment is an entirely different equation.  All this while preserving ongoing work is not easily done and requires careful coordination and cooperation among many involved parties.  My thanks to all contributing to the effort.  It is a beautiful work area with state of the art lab space, well worth the wait.

Up on the 13th floor we’re moving staff to make way for the next phase of work on that floor.  Demolition will begin this month.

Have a great weekend!  Go Pats!


It may not look like winter outside but that’s no reason not to celebrate.  We’re planning our annual EH Winter Celebration for February 8 this year.  Mark your calendars for an evening of fun and festivities.  Given the convenience and popularity of last years location we will again make use of the Conference Center at Harvard Medical.  Thanks to our volunteer party planners who are hard at work.  We could use a few more volunteers to help select the menu and entertainment.  Let Katondra know if you want to help out.

We’re working through the punch list for our new space on the 13th floor and anxiously await the arrival of our glass doors.  While I support and encourage the open concept it’s a little extreme without any type of door!  Relocations have begun to make way for Phase 3 demolition scheduled for this month.  Phase 3 (of 7) is scheduled for completion in March.  Ken  has drawings of the remaining 13 th floor construction.  Stop by and he’d be happy to share them.

On the third floor of Building 1 we continue to have a move in date of January 22 for the Phase I area.  Preparations are underway for the move with Marshall Katler coordinating activities.  Phase II demolition will begin January 25 with completion in the spring.

Once again thanks to everyone for their continuing cooperation with this major project.  Having just moved into my new office I can say that it was worth the wait!





After the many weeks (months) of talking about the renovations, we are happy to report that we moved the department office down to our new digs on the 13th floor on Wednesday.  We are still unpacking, and as of today, we still do not have doors.  The carpenters and the IT staff are still putting the finishing touches on the offices and common spaces. But come up and see us. We would be happy to serve you and show you around.

By the way, the single elevator on the south end of Building 1 is now operating (although I am not sure it is officially open).  I guess this means we will soon be losing the use of one of the paired elevators at the other end of the hall.  After moving back from Landmark, I am still not used to adding the 5 minutes or more that is necessary for the elevator ride down from the upper floors.  I consistently just miss the shuttle.

Professor Mel First will celebrate his 92nd birthday on Saturday.  Best wishes to Mel, and thanks for his continuing contributions to our intellectual community.  Mel’s work these days focuses on control of airborne infectious agents.

On Wednesday we were saddened to learn of the death of Professor Elkan Blout. We remember Dr. Blout as chairman of our Department of Environmental Science and Physiology between 1986 and 1988.  Dr. Blout also served the school as dean for academic affairs, and director of the Division of Biological Sciences.  He was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1990. There is a very nice tribute to Dr. Blout on the school web site (

Professor Whittenberger, chair of the Department of Physiology from 1948 to 1980, is currently resident at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Hospital in West Roxbury.

I want to thank Drs. Rose Goldman and Bob Herrick for the terrific job they did with the EH201 (Introduction to Environmental Health) course this term.  Along the TAs (Jamie Hart, Rebecca Lincoln, Amar Mehta, Ananya Roy, Elissa Wilker, and Ying Zhu) they put a huge effort into innovative approaches to engage this large class in case-based learning. The course finished Wednesday with the students presenting their projects in a very animated poster session.  We are looking forward to reviewing the feedback from the students.

I am looking forward to our extended holiday. We spend Christmas here in Boston with my wife’s family. My son is home from college and the grandparents have arrived. On the day after Christmas we drive down to Washington for a second Christmas with my family. I hope you and your families have a wonderful and refreshing holiday.



On Wednesday, December 20 the students of Rose Goldman’s EH 210 class will have a poster session in Rm 101a, just off the cafeteria.  Stop by 10:30 – 12:30 to see their work.

The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Seminar Series continues on Monday, December 18 with a presentation by Mark A.R. Kleiman entitled:  “The Dynamics of Deterrence”  3:30-5:00 p.m.  Landmark 414A.  Refreshments will be served.  All welcome.

Next Wednesday the Department Office will be moving to our newly renovated space on the 13th floor.  Prior to that we’ll need some time to pack. We will make every effort to be available during this time for normal business activities.  Please let Ken know if you have urgent needs at any point during the transition.  Please note that the office fax number will be changed to 617-432-6913 effective Friday 12/21.

Phase I construction on the third floor is scheduled for completion in January with a move in date of January 22, 2007.  Demolition for phase II begins January 25, 2007.

The next phase on the 13th floor is progressing to the point that we are planning where to move folks to accommodate the construction.  We’ll do our best to minimize disruption but some is unavoidable.  Thanks in advance for your cooperation. More on this as plans develop.

Thanks to the MIPS folks for a great party yesterday!  I was spared any great embarrassment and Les assures me there were no spills on our new carpet (or if there were I won’t notice them!)


Last week we passed the 54th anniversary of the Great London Fog.  At least 4000 people died from the smog caused  by the trapping of air pollution from coal burning over the period of December 5 to 9, 1952.  This anniversary was particularly poignant  given the loss of our friend and colleague David Bates three weeks ago.  David had been a  physician in London during this period.  He has written very eloquently about the event (e.g. see  I also have a DVD of a BBC show featuring David on the fog event which is available if you would like to view it.

The semi-monthly breakfast meeting of the Gene-Environment Working Group on Wednesday, December 13th (8:00 in Kresge 110) will feature Andrea Baccarelli a Visiting Scientist in EER.  He will be presenting on “Molecular Epidemiology of Dioxin Toxicity in Seveso”.

Mark your calendars with 2007 dates and speakers for the Environmental Health Colloquium .  We will be featuring some of our senior faculty,  January 11 (Les Kobzik), February 8  (Petros Koutrakis),  and March 8 (David Christiani).  Future dates include April 12, May 10 and June 19, 2007.

While a few finishing touches remain, the small conference rooms on the 13th floor can be booked with Katondra for dates after the holiday break.  The two rooms are identical and perfect for small meetings,  stop by and take a look.  The rooms have been used already for a few meetings and Katondra will try to accommodate emergency requests but we are limited by the need to use them for staging of construction materials until December 20.

A floor plan for the next phase of renovations on the 13th floor has been developed and drawn up by the project architect.  Ken will be working with MIPS and Operations to develop a construction plan and schedule over the next couple weeks.


My schedule has been taken over by meetings this past week.  We hosted the annual meeting of the EPA PM Centers here (at the Newton Marriott).  Petros Koutrakis and Alice Smythe did a terrific job of organizing this meeting, with John Godleski working to provide an interesting program.  Brent Coull organized a concurrent workshop on biostatistical issues.  Our colleagues at the Health Effects Institute took advantage of having so many PM experts in town and arranged a workshop on the use of ambient PM data in health studies.  These meetings and workshops highlighted for me the continued leadership position that our Department has in air pollution research.

Today Joe Brain and I are at the annual NIEHS Centers meeting in Galveston, along with Jeffrey Adams, our Center Administrator, Ann Backus, the CEOP Director, and Louise Ryan, the Center Co-Director.  This is an important meeting for us as we look to the future of our Center and other funding. Earlier this year NIEHS Director David Schwartz announced he intended to cut the number of Centers from 24 to 18.  This is being driven by the flat NIEHS budget and to make more funds available for R01’s.  While we have several years before we have to reapply, it is important that we understand the priorities being set by NIEHS, and begin to position ourselves for the next application. At dinner last night, Dr. Schwartz indicated that he is looking for leadership, scientific accomplishments, innovation, and development of young investigators by the Centers.  To accomplish this, the Center Directors will have much more flexibility in the way the resources are used.  Joe and I see this as an opportunity to re-evaluate how our Center is organized, and to implement changes which will insure continued support.

Our construction efforts are beginning to show tangible results.  The furniture for the small conference rooms on the 13th floor should be arriving this week and I hope to open those rooms for use next week.  The Department Office is scheduled to move to the 13th floor on December 20.  Design drawings for the next phase on the 13th floor should be complete this week allowing us to plan how to proceed with the construction.  The current work phase on the 3rd floor is on schedule for January completion and is looking very good.  Every effort is being made to minimize disruption and I appreciate everyone’s continuing cooperation.

I am flying back tomorrow to attend Stephanie Shore’s presentation on “Obesity and Asthma: Lessons from Animal Models” at the Environmental Health Colloquium (3:30 in Kresge G2). Hope to see you there.  Note: the presentation is tomorrow, Tuesday, which is a change from our normal Thursday schedule.


Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoyed the break!  My wife and I had 24 family, friends and assorted college students for dinner at our house on the Cape.  We always look forward to this day when our family gets together, overindulges, and reflects on we have to be thankful for.

Now that we’re all in the holiday spirit it’s time to think ahead to our EH Holiday Party. We have traditionally had our party at the beginning of the spring semester, that is the week of January 29th to February 2nd. Once again we are appealing to the creative, imaginative and outlandish among us to plan this annual soiree!  We are looking for input from faculty, staff, fellows, and students!  Last years volunteers set the bar high, so it’s time to get to work.  If interested in helping everyone have a good time please let Katondra (2-1270) know as soon as possible.

The Women, Gender and Health Lunchtime Speaker Series will feature Yerby Visiting Professor Ken Olden next week.  Dr. Olden’s talk is entitled “Environment and Women’s Health”.  The talk will be on Tuesday December 5, 2006 12:30pm -1:20pm in FXB Rm G12.

Later on Tuesday, Dr. Stephanie Shore will be speaking on “Obesity and Asthma: Lessons from Animal Models” at the EH Colloquium , Tuesday December 5, 2006 3:30pm -4:30pm in Kresge G2.


I got back from Kuwait on Wednesday evening.  We are proposing to continue studies of the environmental exposures and public health consequences of the 1990/1 invasion and occupation of Kuwait.  This would be a collaboration of the Environmental Health and Population and International Health departments here with investigators at Kuwait University, the Ministry of Health, the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, and the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science.  Our presentations this week were very well received, and we received encouragement from the potential funding agencies following the meeting.  Thanks to all who have helped put this project together, and particularly to John Evans and Bruce Boley for their leadership (and persistence).

There is no missing that the Holiday Season is upon us. I’d like to remind everyone of the sole source contract with Sebastian’s for food service here at HSPH.  At the request of the HSPH students, faculty, and staff, Sebastian’s agreed to pay a fair wage and provide benefits to their employees.  In exchange HSPH agreed that all food and beverages would be purchased from Sebastian’s.  I would like us to honor that agreement.  If given enough notice Sebastian’s can provide a very creative menu.  Some programs have had great success with more exotic foods by identifying their favorites from local menus and having Sebastian’s recreate the dish.  I’ve heard that they do a great job with Indian and Thai dishes!  Contact to explore menu options.

This enjoyable but unseasonably warm weather has caused some less than ideal office temperatures.  Thanks for your patience.  The long range forecast indicates cooler temperatures on the way.

Construction:  Third floor Phase I move-in on target for February 1,  Phase II target move in May 07,  2007.  13th floor move in date December 20, 2006.  Ken’s working with the builders to have the small conference rooms available in advance of that, possibly after the Thanksgiving break.  Schemes for renovation of the remainder of the 13th floor are being drawn up by the architect for review.

Have a good weekend!


Hope you all  enjoyed the long weekend!

I spent a good portion of the weekend traveling to Kuwait.  I am in Kuwait now with a large number of our faculty and staff discussing our proposals to continue the epidemiologic and exposure assessment studies we began in 2003 to assess the effects of the oil fires.  Our party includes Mey Akashah, Bruce Boley, Phil Demokritou, John Evans, Martha Fay, Petros Koutrakis, Rosalind Wright plus our friends Mike Voligny, Richard Wilson and Pierre Zalloua.  Here Friday is the holiday, and we have been in meetings steadily Saturday, Sunday, and today. Most of us are wiped out from the long days and the jet lag. On the other hand we have great colleagues here and have enjoyed the visit.  The weather is cool this time of year, and we have even seen a little rain.

Last week we were proud to award degrees to several of our students in Environmental Health.
Degrees were awarded on November 7, 2006 and included:

Doctors of Science in Environmental Health:  Christopher Guy Lewis and Pradeep Rajan.

Doctor of Science in Environmental Health and Epidemiology: Cathryn Cecelia Tonne

Doctor of Science in Health Policy and Management and Environmental Health: Katherine Ellen von Stackelberg

Congratulations to all and best wishes for future success!  Thanks to all in the Department that contribute to our educational process.  We all can be proud of the talent and expertise our students bring to the field of Environmental Health.

Construction continues to make progress.  A phone line was installed in the large conference room today for those that were asking.  The next anticipated milestone of note is the completion of the two small conference rooms on the 13th floor.  I’ll know better when I return but I’m hopeful that both rooms will be ready when we return from the Thanksgiving break.

Enjoy the week!


Our Department is well represented at the On My Own Time exhibit at the FXB atrium.  I encourage all to visit the display and enjoy the talents of our colleagues.  It was liberating to view a display without chemical formulas and big words!   I had offered to display the results of “my own time” passion, fishing, but was turned down.  Of course some would say that nothing to display is the typical outcome of my fishing trips!

At the risk of leaving someone out, my compliments to  Gail Fleischaker (Ceramics, electronic micrography and stichery), Patrice Ayers (Photography), Joy Crowther (sewing/quilting), Janna Frelich (photography), Beatriz Gonzalez-Flecha (poetry),  Celine Moniz (cake decorating), Denise Schwerzler (Halloween costumes),  Stephanie Shore (quilts), and  Rebecca Sterns (Poetry).  Well done and thanks for sharing your talents with us.

Thursday of next week following the EH faculty meeting, Tom Smith will be presenting at the Colloquium in Environmental Health.  His talk is entitled “Disease Process Models: A Way to Link Exposure and Outcomes in Epidemiology.  Please join us in Kresge G-2 at 3:30.

The Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) will take place at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center this Saturday, November 4, to Wednesday, November 8.
Visit for Harvard conference information.

Construction Update:  13th floor conference room available for use.  The move in date for the office work on the 13th floor has slipped to 12/20/2006.  The move in date on the 3rd floor has slipped to 2/1/07.  Not a good week for schedules but it is possible time will be made up going forward.

Have a good weekend!



As expected, I did miss one of our colleagues who is presenting at the On My Own Time exhibit at the FXB atrium.  Please stop by and see the glass art work and jewelry by Trang Nguyen plus the other exhibits by our talented colleagues through the end of the week.

Rose Goldman has extended an invitation to anyone who would like to sit in on the EH201 (Introduction to Environmental Health) class on Wednesday. Dr. Howard Frumkin, an alumnus of our program and Director of the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will speak on Urban Settings and Effects on Health.  The class meets from 10:30 to 12:20 in Kresge G1.


First, congratulations to David Christiani and his colleagues on the 25th anniversary of the Shanghai Textile Worker Study.  This is one of the longest-running epidemiologic studies funded by NIOSH.  It is assessing the development of respiratory disease in cotton mill versus silk mill workers.  David just received a competitive renewal from NIOSH to complete the 25 year follow-up that will include further examination of the relations of airborne dust and endotoxin exposure with respiratory function in these workers, and gene-environment interactions for COPD in non-smokers. That’s a terrific anniversary present!

David Lee, a Doctoral Candidate in Ergonomics and Injury Prevention, is back from the 2006 Asia-Pacific Conference on Computer-Human Interaction in Taiwan.  David’s paper, “Characterizing Passive Forces at the Fingertip Across Various Finger and Wrist Postures Found During Computer Mouse Use,” received the “Best Doctoral Student Paper Award”.  Congratulations David.

This week a team from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), conducted a three day site visit to review our Industrial Hygiene Program.  This review is a critical step in the accreditation of this important program.  Preparing for this review took a good deal of effort and my thanks go out to all those behind the scenes who contributed.  Thanks also to Tom Smith and Bob Herrick for championing the process and more importantly for contributing to a top notch program.

At yesterday’s Faculty Meeting the main item of business was a presentation of the Allston Initiative plans by Eric Buehrens, HU Deputy Provost for Administration, and Christopher Gordon, COO of the Allston Development Group.  This was our first look at the plan envisioned for Allston. The proposal has the School of Public Health assigned to the premiere location in the center of the development.  The planners are working to create a lively community with much more open green spaces and walkways.  They plan to embrace the river as a part of the campus, rather than as a barrier. Buildings would use natural light and ventilation, with a goal of obtaining LEEDS certification for the whole development.  There has been a lot of attention to transportation issues, but there are still issues with the connections to the Longwood campus.  Nevertheless, the prospect of new space central to this new development, with adequate room to grow at least over the next twenty years is very exciting.  I was told that we will get copies of the drawings that were presented which we can share with you.

In our local construction, I have been assured that the conference room will be available for use on November 1, 2006. Amen!  The rest of the work moves forward at a rapid clip. Thanks to those of you on the 13th and 3rd floors as the noise level increases during this final push toward completion.

Remember the John B. Little Symposium next Friday and Saturday (Nov 3 and 4).  The theme is “The Environment or the Enemy Within? Cellular Mechanisms to Offset Genotoxic Threats”.  Today is the last day to register at:

Also coming up is the American Public Health Association Conference here in Boston beginning November 4, 2006. We hope to see many of our alumni stopping by before and after the meeting.

I am heading off this afternoon for the Division of Biological Sciences retreat in Chatham.  It is a great location, but the weather forecast is terrible.

Speaking of bad weather, note that you can call 617-432-NEWS (6397) for inclement weather updates and information regarding cancellations and closings.  We also have a HSPH phone tree and a Department phone tree for emergencies.  Let Katondra know if you aren’t sure if you are on the list.



In my notes last week I forgot to thank Patrice Ayers and the other folks in MIPS for the nice party celebrating (belatedly) Les Kobzik’s promotion to Professor at the Brigham and here at HSPH.  It is refreshing to see talent and accomplishment appropriately recognized.  Tim Suahian and Amy Imrich produced a terrific video tribute.

At the monthly Department Chair’s Meeting this week, we had to chance to meet with two members of the Corporation and search committee (Nan Keohane and Robert Reischauer) to discuss qualities we would like to see in the new President.  The search committee is still gathering names and input, and has not started interviews. Names that were suggested included Howard Varmis (former Director of NIH), Harvey Fineberg (former Dean and current Institute of Medicine President), and Diane Chapman Walsh (President of Wellesley and former Chair of Health and Social Behavior).  There was also discussion of Allston plans and the impact on HSPH.

Speaking of Allston, all our faculty should plan to attend the HSPH faculty meeting next week on the 25th.  Chris Gordon will be presenting the Allston plans.  This will be our first comprehensive look at the plans.  This is an important opportunity to not only see how HSPH will be positioned in the development, but also a critical time in expressing our support and/or concerns for this enterprise.

I met with the Executive Committee (that is the three Program Directors) this week.  We discussed new procedures for review of promotions, and plans for environmental toxicology.  Marianne Wessling-Resnick, Chair of the Committee on the Concerns of Women Faculty (CCWF) reported to us on their review of faculty recruiting.   Over the past five years there have been 33 junior faculty searches at the school, with 36% of the hires being women.  In Environmental Health, we had four women hired in 10 junior faculty searches (40%).  We are concerned that this percentage of women is lower than the percentage women in the student body, 58% for both the school and the department.  Of greater concern is the fact that this department has never had a tenured woman faculty member.  We will continue working with the CCWF to improve our record.  We appreciate the work of Melissa Perry and Jonathan levy who are our represents on the CCWF.

Remember the second Gene-Environment meeting next Wednesday at 8:00 in Kresge 110. Joel Schwartz will speak on “Smoke and Genes”.

Construction:  The rumor is true, We spontaneously held a meeting this morning in the new conference room.  No the room is not done yet, we slipped in between the painter and the A/V installation.  It’s very nice but a door sure would help.  I’m told the room will be available starting Monday, October 30, 2006.  See Katondra for bookings.  The rest of construction on the third floor and 13th is on schedule.

Have a good weekend.


We were all saddened by the death of our colleague Joe Harrington last Monday.  Joe had been a member of our faculty since 1963.  Between 1982 and 1986, Joe was Chair of the new Department of Environmental Science and Physiology, bringing together the Departments of Physiology and Environmental Health Sciences.  He was one of the few faculty members to have joint appointments at School of Public Health and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  Joe taught many courses, most recently Water Systems Management (EH 264), and mentored many of our current faculty.

Recently Joe has sheparded our academic appointments and promotions through the School and University bureaucracy. He knew the history and precedents of the School and the University. He supervised our annual student admissions process.  He also played an important, but unrecognized role, as a passionate advocate for our faculty and students within the bureaucracy.

At the funeral service on Friday, Jack Spengler recalled Joe’s service to the Department and his commitment to public health.  After the service, there was a luncheon at the Sullivan Water Works in Cambridge.  Joe was President of the Cambridge Water Board since 1990, and the design and construction of this state of the art facility was one of his proudest achievements.

Thanks to Ken Wenger, Mary Jane Curran, and Tina Goldsmith for arranging transportation to the services.

Last Wednesday we had the first meeting of the Gene Environment Working Group. Joel Schwartz, one of the organizers, described this as a “dating service” for those working in this area. The majority of attendees were for the Department of Environmental Heath, but there were also attendees from Biosatistics and Genetic and Complex Diseases.  David Christiani, one of the organizers, presented an overview of this working group, plus summarized some of his own work on genetic express in workers exposed to metal particles.  The goal is to stimulate scientific interchange. Indeed there was a very animated discussion about David’s presentation and the gene-environment research in general. We noted that exposure assessment was a critical area for assessing gene-environment interactions, but there were very few faculty, fellows or students with an exposure perspective at this first meeting.   Hopefully, we can encourage some exposure folks to come to the next meeting on October 25th.  Joel Schwartz will be presenting.

Note, the Working Group welcomes participation from anyone at the School working on or interested in gene environment research.  Meetings are on the 2nd and 3rd Wednesday of the month from 8:00 to 9:15.  Breakfast is provided.  If you would like to be on the e-mail list, please contact Alix Smullin (  I hope everyone in this Department recognizes the need to understand these methods and to apply them in our research.

Philippe Grandjean will be presenting the next Colloquium in EH on Tuesday (October 17, 3:30 – 4:30, Kresge G-2), on “Developmental Neurotoxicity of Industrial Chemicals: A Silent Pandemic.”  Philippe has spoken passionately to me about this issue, and I know it will be an interesting and challenging talk. Look forward to seeing you there.

On the construction front we continue on schedule on all projects.  As you can see the large conference room on the 13th floor is tantalizingly close to completion.  Katondra is accepting reservations starting in November but I’m hopeful that start date can be moved up pending progress this week.  Planning is underway for the next phase on the 13th floor.  The third floor progresses nicely with a Phase I move in date of January 15, 2007 looking good.

Have a good week,



I had the pleasure today of meeting with the Landmark Methods Group.  This is a self-described “motley group of Landmark-based doctoral students, post-docs, research scientists and very junior faculty who meet every other Friday to discuss methodologic problems (and solutions), mainly of the epidemiologic variety.”  There was a lively discussion of practical, intellectually challenging problems, and I would encourage doctoral students who are in dissertation-writing mode, new postdocs and researchers located at Landmark, or even those willing to make the trek from HSPH to drop in on this lively discussion.  Contact Jennifer Weuve ( of the Metals Epidemiology Research Group for more information.

Please put on your calendar the next Environmental Health Colloquium, “Developmental neurotoxicity of industrial chemicals: A silent pandemic” by Philippe Grandjean, Adjunct Professor of Environmental Health, on Tuesday, October 17th  at 3:30 in Kresge G-2.

A meeting of the Senior Faculty this week resulted in a strong endorsement of the value of Environmental Toxicology in our training and research program.  I will be working with the Program Directors to put together a specific proposal on the future of Environmental Toxicology in the Department to present to the Deans by the end of the month.

The first meeting of the UCE Genetics and Environmental Health Series will be Wednesday, October 11, 2006 at 8:00 AM in Kresge Room 110.  David Christiani will present an “Introduction to the Series and Big Picture Issues In Genetics and Environmental Health”.  Please contact Alix Smullin ( if you plan to attend.

Don’t forget the State of the School address next Thursday, October 12, 2006 at noon in the cafeteria.

Construction Report:  Work on the third floor continues on schedule.  Thanks to Jeff Fredberg, Jay Mizgerd and Bob Banzett for their cooperation on access issues this week.  (Jay, send me a bill for the broken beaker!)

The 13th floor work is moving along smoothly.  I’m happy to announce that Katondra (2-1270) will now accept reservations for the large conference room for dates beginning November 6th.  The carpet is now being installed and when the A/V, furniture and punch list items are taken care I may be able to move that date up.  I’ll update you next week if the schedule changes.  Next week Les, Marshall, Ken and myself will meet with the architect regarding the next phase of construction on the remainder of the 13th floor.


The first month of the Academic Year comes to a close today and we and our students seem to have settled into a constructive routine.

This morning I am pleased to announce two new grant programs to support our tenure-track Junior Faculty with a primary appointment in Environmental Health.  In my discussions with our faculty, and from my own experience as a junior faculty member, I know that even a small amount of flexible funds can go a long way. Through Career Development and Strategic Seed grants, my goal is to provide flexible funding for innovation and creativity in a timely and painless process.  Details have been sent directly to the eligible faculty.

Congratulations to Joel Schwartz on his successful epigenetic grant application!  Joel continues to do groundbreaking work on the association of cardiovascular disease (CVD) with exposures to air particles, arsenic, cadmium, and lead. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among the elderly in the United States, accounting for 1 of every 2.6 deaths. Since the percentage of Americans over the age of 75 years is expected to increase from 6% in 2000 to 11% in 2050, the number of persons dying from CVD will likely rise dramatically in the coming years. Joel has assembled a strong team of investigators with the expertise to increase our understanding of the link between CVD and air pollution.

Speaking of air pollution:
The New York Times ran a story on Steubenville, Ohio this week.  This area is near and dear to a number of us as Steubenville was as the Times says a “Test Lab on Dirty Air”.  Times have changed for Steubenville but what hasn’t changed is the contribution the residents of Steubenville made to the clean(er) air we all breathe today.  Many of us in the Department worked with these residents collecting the data that made a large contribution to ground breaking regulatory changes in air pollution control.  It was also nice to see the picture of our friend and colleague, Jim Slater in the paper.  If you haven’t seen the article it’s worth reading.  The article is on the HSPH web site or use this link

I want to thank Rose Goldman, who along with Bob Herrick and Moly Kile has taken over responsibility for our core Introduction to Environmental Health (EH201) class.  Rose proposes to enhance the hands-on learning in this class through a case-based learning.  Rose has obtained a modest grant from the Dean’s to support innovative approaches to case-based learning in such large, traditionally lecture based classes.

On Thursday, the senior faculty will be meeting to discuss a proposal to formally incorporate environmental toxicology into our scientific research and training.  We will be discussing the role that environmental toxicology could have in strategically strengthening the Department in mechanistic based understanding of the effects of environmental contaminants.

The Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center is sponsoring a course on radioterrorism entitled “Radiological Science in the Context of Radiological Terrorism” on Friday, October 6  at the Conference Center at Harvard Medical.  Bruce Demple has more information if interested.

The Ninth Annual JBL Symposium: THE ENVIRONMENT OR THE ENEMY WITHIN? CELLULAR MECHANISMS TO OFFSET GENOTOXIC THREATS.  Scheduled for November 3, 2006.  See Bruce Demple for information.

Our construction projects are showing great progress with the conference room tantalizingly close to completion.  Roughly two weeks to go.  The other projects continue on schedule as well.



Yesterday, the EPA Administrator announced the new air quality standards for particulate matter. The 24-hour standard for fine particles was reduced to 35 micrograms of particles per cubic meter instead of 65 micrograms per cubic meter. However, the Administrator rejected tougher standards for long term annual average recommended by the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee.  Many of our faculty have worked hard in support of tougher particle standards.

The research done here in the department defined the importance of fine particles, and has provided most of the core information on exposures, community health effects, understanding of mechanisms, and valuing benefits of proposed regulations.  This has been a long struggle to develop a strong scientific basis for this decision, and the apparently political decision by the Administrator is a disappointment.  You can hear Joel Schwartz’ blunt assessment of this decision on NPR (You can hear the full NPR story at ).

We can be proud of what we have done in the fight for Clean Air, and can take this decision as a challenge to further strengthen the evidence.

You may have heard of the new Harvard Center for Geographical Analyses (CGA).  This is potentially an important centralized university wide resource which can help us understand and display the distribution of environmental exposures and health status.  I would encourage you to go to the upcoming presentation by the Harvard CGA  “Introduction to CGA Services and Relevance to Medicine” on Wednesday, October 4, 2006 at the Countway Library, Minot Room (5th floor) at 4 PM.

The Harvard 2006 Staff Survey (What’s your Harvard Like?) results were released this week.  If you missed the lunchtime presentation and have any questions please see Ken Wenger.  A number of issues raised are University or HSPH wide and I look forward to contributing to their resolution.  On Department issues I am committed to working with all our staff to address these concerns and my goal is that collectively we make this a Department we can all be proud of.

A good deal of progress on the construction this week with both the 13th floor and the 3rd floor progressing nicely.  We begin the planning for the next Phase on the 13th floor next week.  If you have any questions please see Ken Wenger.

Fall begins early Sunday morning (12:04 AM).  Rosh Hashanah begins tonight (Shanah Tovah), and Ramadan begins on Sunday (Ramadan Mubarak).

Enjoy the weekend and this beautiful time of year!



Dr. Ken Olden kicked off our Environmental Health Colloquium series describing his research on “Possible Role of Fatty Acids in Tumor Progression and Metastasis”.  Thanks to Ken for a terrific start to this series, and to Jeff Fredberg, Patrice Ayers, and Katondra Murphy for organizing this event.  Please watch for announcements of future presentations in this series.

Be sure to take the time to view the compelling photo exhibit in the school lobby — “Our Future in Retrospect? Coal Miner Health in Appalachia: Photographs by Russell Lee -1946 & Earl Dotter – 2006″. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I think you will agree that Earl’s work is worth many more times that in putting a face on workplace health issues.    Thanks to Ann Backus and David Christiani for helping to bring this exhibit to HSPH.

We are happy to welcome Dr. Majid Ezzati as a new member of our department faculty. Majid has a primary appointment in the PIH Department. Majid has been working on international environmental health issues.  Many of you are familiar with and indeed have worked with Majid in assessing environmental health in developing countries.  This joint appointment in EH and PIH formalizes those ties, and I hope will lead to new initiatives in understanding environmental health issues in the developing world, acting on that understanding, and building capacity in those countries.

Construction activities continue.  The conference room is a few deliveries away from being able to nail down a completion date.  Early October is looking likely at this point.  The other construction (Phase II) on the 13th floor is on target for a December completion.  The third floor is on schedule.  There remains a little too much to do to predict an accurate completion date.  The anticipated dates of Phase I in January and Phase II in May are still valid based on the work done to date.

This week we reflect on the fifth anniversary of 9-11 and how our lives have changed since then.  We all have chosen a career here at HSPH that contributes to a better world.  Your contribution may be answering the phone, typing a letter, preparing a grant application, teaching the next generation of scientists, or conducting research.  In the day to day routine it may at times seem small or insignificant but when combined with your colleagues’ efforts it is very important.  Collectively we make a difference, and for that we all should be very proud.



This week I was at the International Conference for Environmental Epidemiology and Exposure in Paris. This was a joint annual meeting of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) and the International Society of Exposure Assessment (ISEA). There were approximately 1500 attendees.  Our Department was well represented in students, fellows, faculty, and alumni.

Indeed Sue Greco organized a terrific dinner for our Department members and alumni on Monday night at a restaurant appropriately called “Dock’s Café”.  We had 64 current and former EH Department members, and easily could have had twice as many based the number of alumni I saw at the meeting.  It was a terrific opportunity to catch up with the EH family.

I was also very proud of our current students and recent graduates who were recognized for their outstanding presentations.

Ami Zota received an Honorable Mention for Outstanding Student Abstract from ISEA for her paper entitled “Spatial Variation in Metal Biomarkers of Peripartum Women Near A Mining-Related Superfund Site”.

Catherine Tonne received an Honorable Mention for Outstanding Student Abstract from ISEE for her paper entitled “Long-term Exposure to Traffic Particles is Associated with Acute Myocardial Infarction”.

Jennifer Cavallari also received an Honorable Mention for Outstanding Student Abstract from ISEE for her paper entitled “Particulate Exposures and Heart Rate Variability during Sleep in Boilermaker Construction Workers.”

Molly Kile received the ISEE Rebecca James Baker Memorial Prize. This award recognizes a new investigator who follows Rebecca’s example in undertaking “a challenging area of research, requiring skills such as obtaining and processing new or hard to access data, or working with populations and/or collaborators of different cultures or socio-economic circumstances.”   Rebecca James Baker was a talented environmental epidemiologist who tragically died in 2004 at age 33 of a pregnancy-related heart condition. We are particularly honored to have one of our students receive this award, as Rebecca earned an MPH here and was well known by many in our Department.

Note the next ISEE meeting (Sept 2007 in Cuernavaca, Mexico) is being organized by our colleague Mauricio Hernandez-Avila.

I came back to find good progress on the Conference Room on the 13th floor.  If you get to look in, you will see that additional cooling units have been installed in the ceiling, which should make it much more comfortable when there are many people in that room. If all continues to go as planned we will have a welcoming open house in our new space soon.

Enjoy the weekend!


As you undoubtedly have seen, the students are back!  While I don’t relish the lines in the cafeteria I do welcome the energy and vitality that our students bring every September.  This year we have 38 new students, including 14 Doctoral candidates, 18 Master of Science candidates, 5 Master of Public Health (OEH) and 1 non degree student.  By program, there are 23 new students in EER, 13 in OHP, and 2 in MIPS.

Combined with our returning students, the Department has 86 students total — 52 Doctoral of Science and 1 Doctor of Public Health candidates, 26 Master of Science candidates, 6 Master of Public Health (OEH) and 1 non degree student.  The following is a breakdown of the students by region and country:

North America:
USA 52, Canada 2, Mexico 1

PRC 6, Taiwan 5,  Korea 4, Japan 1

Greece 2, Israel 1, Lebanon 1, Cyprus 1

Southeast Asia:
India 3, Philippines 1, Thailand 1

United Kingdom 1, Columbia 2, Ghana 1, Brazil 1.

Orientation was held on Wednesday and classes begin next week.  Thanks to all who contributed to our Orientation effort.  We all remember what it was like to begin as students and how we appreciated those who helped us acclimate and feel welcome.  Our largest class, Introduction to Environmental Health, will have over 100 students.  Rose Goldman and Bob Herrick along with Molly Kile will lead this teaching effort.  I am excited by their plans to build on Howard Hu’s past efforts with a case based teaching experience.  They have great ideas on how to engage the students in the case discussions using a core web site and blogs. This will certainly be a challenge with this large class.   Under their leadership I have every confidence that the students will have a rewarding educational experience.

Construction activities continue on schedule.  Ken has advised me that my constant “peaking” at the work will not make it happen faster.  On the 13th floor the large conference room is beginning to look like a conference room and I am looking forward to putting it to use.  If all continues on schedule it will be available before the end of this month.

Hope you all enjoyed the long weekend! I am at the ISEE/ISEA meeting in Paris this week with many of our faculty, fellows, and students.


In my last notes I mentioned that Dr. Ken Olden will be joining us as the Yerby Visiting Professor in September.  I met with Dr. Olden last week and am happy to say he will start with us on September 6, 2006.  He will typically work at the Landmark Center on Mondays and the remainder of the week from his office in FXB 101.  His FXB office number is 432-6840.   Melisa Veno (432-2959) will be handling Dr. Olden’s calendar if you would like to schedule some time with him.  Please be sure to welcome our new distinguished faculty member to Harvard once again.

Our construction projects are continuing under the watchful eye of Jim Devito.  The third floor is progressing nicely and on schedule.  On the 13th floor progress is clearly evident on the new conference room and to a lesser degree the adjacent office space.  All work is on schedule.  See Ken Wenger with any questions.  Thank-you for your continuing support for this effort.

Next week we welcome our new students.  I am excited by the backgrounds and qualifications of the entering class and look forward to them joining us.  Please welcome them and offer a helping hand or word of advice as they adjust to their new surroundings.  Orientation will be held on Wednesday beginning at 1:30 p.m. in Kresge 213.  EER students will then visit the Landmark Center for the EER Program orientation followed by individual meetings with specialty-area faculty leaders.


Last week I sent the first of a number of emails that will keep you informed of progress with the renovations and some of our Department Activities.  Today I want to share a few general items as well as the construction schedule.  I know those of you impacted by the 13th floor renovation are anxious to hear the schedule.

We are finalizing plans for Department Activities for the 06/07 Academic year.  Jeff Fredberg is organizing the monthly EH Colloquium.  These colloquia will be preceded by Department Faculty meetings or the
Department Executive Committee meetings.   Faculty meetings will be the second Thursday of every other month starting in September (2 pm -3 pm).  Executive Committee Meetings will be on a Tuesday, every other month
starting in August.

Teaching continues in the summer session.  Drs. Rose Goldman, Molly Kile and myself are leading the EH 202 (Principles of Environmental Health) course with lectures by many of our faculty and assistance from Shona Fang
and Ananya Roy.   The class is fully subscribed with 60 students.

Next week I will be in Switzerland teaching in the Public Health course at the University of Basel.  Katondra and Frieda will also be on vacation.  However, Ken Wenger is settling in and should be able to sign for me or handle administrative issues.

As you can see if you walk through the 13th floor, demolition has started and is moving along at a good pace.  That pace of activity will accelerate August 14 when we begin to shift from demolition to construction.

I encourage all to take this disruptive opportunity to clean out “stuff” that is no longer relevant or needed.  It becomes clear in any move, whether it be at home or at work, that we all have more stuff than we need.  With space at a premium it is important to regularly evaluate what we have and what we need.  Keep in mind that there is a cost associated with every box and piece of furniture moved.  If storage is involved the cost (and space required) increases (I’m reminded of the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark!)  Please contact Katrondra if you are unsure of HSPH policies on record retention.

This week I wanted to pass along the tentative schedule that was discussed at the construction meeting Thursday.  Construction schedules are typically very fluid so changes should be anticipated.  Given that, here
is where we stand today:

Construction Schedule Bldg 1- 13th floor west

August 14 – Demolition complete, Construction begins;

September 18 – Large conference room construction complete;

September 25 – Large conference room available for use;

November 24 – All construction complete (offices, large conference room,
two small conference rooms);

November 29 – Tentative move-in date;

December 4 – Fully Operational

Renovations on the 3rd floor continue on schedule.

Feel free to touch base with Ken Wenger if you have any questions about
the renovations. Again, thank-you to all for your continuing cooperation
in this important endeavor.