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Postdoc wins NIEHS Wetterhahn Award

Anne Spuches, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry, has received the 2004 Karen Wetterhahn Award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Spuches, who works in the laboratory of Professor and Chair of Chemistry Dean E. Wilcox, received the award and gave a keynote research talk at the national Superfund Basic Research Program annual meeting at the University of Washington in Seattle in November.

Anne Spuches
Anne Spuches has received the 2004 Karen Wetterhahn Award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. (photo by Bethany J. Fleishman)

Spuches, who earned her doctorate in chemistry at Yale University, is in her second year as a postdoctoral fellow at Dartmouth. Advised by Professor Wilcox, she is participating in interdisciplinary studies addressing the environmental and human health effects of arsenic. The toxicity of arsenic at low chronic exposures, primarily as arsenite in drinking water, poses a significant health risk for people around the world. Spuches is using isothermal titration calorimetry to quantify the interaction of arsenite and monomethylarsenite with various thiols. This information is fundamental to mapping the distribution and chemistry of arsenic in the cell, and may also help in the design of more effective chelating agents for the treatment of arsenic poisoning.

The NIEHS established the award to honor Dartmouth Chemistry Professor Karen Wetterhahn, who died in June 1997, after accidental exposure to highly toxic methylmercury in her laboratory. Wetterhahn was the initial program director of Dartmouth's Superfund Basic Research Program and was also instrumental in establishing the Women in Science Project at Dartmouth, which provides mentors and support to undergraduate women in the sciences.

Wetterhahn's contributions to the understanding of metals toxicology include the development of the chromium uptake-reduction model and the importance of cellular metabolism of chromium to its toxicity. The Karen Wetterhahn Award is given each year to a young scientist within the national NIEHS-funded Superfund Basic Research Program. The award recognizes investigators working on some aspect of metal toxicology who exemplify Karen Wetterhahn's dedication to both scientific research and the mentoring of young women scientists.

By NANCY SERRELL

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Last Updated: 12/17/08