The NIEHS Superfund Research Program: Twenty-Five Years of Translational Research for Public Health

The Superfund Research Program (SRP) is an academically based, multidisciplinary, translational research program that for 25 years has sought scientific solutions to health and environmental problems associated with hazardous waste sites. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) coordinates SRP. It supports multi-project grants, undergraduate and post-doctoral training programs, individual research grants, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Technology Transfer Research (STTR) grants. SRP has had many successes: discovery of arsenic’s toxicity to the developing human central nervous system; documentation of benzene toxicity to hematologic progenitor cells in human bone marrow; development of novel analytic techniques such as the Luciferase Expression assay and laser fragmentation fluorescence spectroscopy; demonstration that PCBs can cause developmental neurotoxicity at low levels and alter the genomic characteristics of sentinel animals; elucidation of the neurodevelopmental toxicity of organophosphate insecticides; documentation of links between antimicrobial agents and alterations in hormone response; discovery of biological mechanisms through which environmental chemicals may contribute to obesity, atherosclerosis, diabetes and cancer; tracking the health and environmental effects of the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Hurricane Katrina; and development of novel biological and engineering techniques to facilitate more efficient and lower-cost remediation of hazardous waste sites. SRP must continue to address the legacy of hazardous waste in the United States, respond to new issues caused by rapid advances in technology, and train the next generation of leaders in environmental health science, while recognising that most of the world’s worst toxic hotspots are now located in low- and middle-income countries.

Authors: Landrigan PJ, Wright RO, Cordero JF, Eaton DL, Goldstein BD, Hennig B, Maier RM, Ozonoff DM, Smith MT, Tukey RH. ;Full Source: Environmental Health Perspectives. 2015 May 15. [Epub ahead of print] ;