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$14.5 Million Grant Renewal for Toxic Metals Research Group

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Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) scientists were awarded a renewal grant of $14.5 million from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) through the Superfund Basic Research Program to understand the human health impact of exposure to arsenic and mercury. This renewal grant, which will carry through to 2013, supports one of the longest running, continually funded interdisciplinary science projects at Dartmouth. Since its inception in 1995, the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Research Group has been awarded $42.8 million from the NIEHS.

Members of the Dartmouth Superfund Research Team: (back row, l-r) Angeline Andrew, Bruce Stanton, Jason Moore, and Brian Jackson; (front row, l-r) Carol Folt, Celia Chen, Tracy Punchon, Margaret Karagas, and Dean Wilcox. (Photo by Mark Washburn)

The late Professor of Chemistry Karen Wetterhahn, a world expert in chromium toxicology, first assembled the research group 12 years ago. The team included epidemiologists, molecular toxicologists, geochemists, ecologists, and physicians. Over the past decade, the group has published hundreds of scholarly articles, mentored roughly 100 trainees-undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows-and formed research collaborations with more than 30 faculty across the institution.

Four Dartmouth faculty members have conducted research with the group since it was founded: Professor Carol Folt, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Margaret Karagas, an associate director and professor and chair of Community and Family Medicine at DMS; Celia Chen '78, research associate professor of biological sciences; and Dean Wilcox, professor of chemistry. Josh Hamilton, currently chief academic and scientific officer of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., is also an original member. A principal investigator on the renewal grant, he and directed the program from 1997 to 2007.

Other principal investigators include Bruce Stanton, the program director and professor of physiology at DMS; Mary Lou Guerinot, professor of biological sciences who joined the program for the first time with this renewal; and Core Leaders Nancy Serrell, Dartmouth's director of outreach; Jason Moore, associate professor of genetics at DMS; and Brian Jackson, research assistant professor of environmental studies and director of the Trace Elements Analysis Laboratory. Learn more about the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Research Group and the grant renewal.

Karen Wetterhahn Award Winners

Numerous students have participated in laboratory and fieldwork through the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Research Group, and many have been honored with citations and awards. Of particular note are students who have received the Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award from the Superfund Basic Research Program (SBRP). The three recipients with Dartmouth connections are:

  • Roxanne Karimi, Ph.D. 2007, now a postdoctoral fellow at the State University of New York at Stony Brook
  • Angeline Andrew, Ph.D. 2000, now an assistant professor of community and family medicine at DMS
  • Anne Spuches, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry and currently an assistant professor of chemistry at East Carolina University

The award is presented annually to a graduate student or postdoctoral scholar within the SBRP. It honors Wetterhahn, a Dartmouth professor of chemistry who died in 1997 as a result of an accidental exposure to dimethylmercury. Wetterhahn was an internationally recognized scientist and a pioneer in efforts to encourage and support women in the sciences. Learn more about the accomplishments of Toxic Metals Group students.

Toxic Metals Research Group Publications

Scientists with the Toxic Metals group have published extensively, including these notable papers published from 2002 to 2007:

"Stoichiometric Controls of Mercury Dilution by Growth"; Roxanne Karimi, Celia Y. Chen, Paul C. Pickhardt, Nicholas S. Fisher, and Carol L. Folt; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2007)

"Arsenic Exposure Is Associated with Decreased DNA Repair In Vitro and in Individuals Exposed to Drinking Water Arsenic"; Angeline S. Andrew, Jefferey L. Burgess, Maria M. Meza, Eugene Demidenko, Mary G. Waugh, Joshua W. Hamilton, and Margaret R. Karagas; Environmental Health Perspectives (2006)

"Human Papillomavirus Infection and Incidence of Squamous Cell and Basal Cell Carcinomas of the Skin"; Margaret R. Karagas, Heather H. Nelson, Peter Sehr, Tim Waterboer, Therese A. Stukel, Angeline Andrew, Adele C. Green, Jan Nico Bouwes Bavinck, Ann Perry, Steven Spencer, Judy R. Rees, Leila A. Mott, and Michael Pawlita; Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2006)

"Biomonitoring Workshop Report: Biomonitoring Study Design, Interpretation, and Communication-Lessons Learned and Path Forward"; Michael N. Bates, Joshua W. Hamilton, Judy S. LaKind, Patricia Langenberg, Michael O'Malley, and Wayne Snodgrass; Environmental Health Perspectives (2005)

"Genomic and Proteomic Profiling of Responses to Toxic Metals in Human Lung Cells"; Angeline S. Andrew, Amy J. Warren, Aaron Barchowsky, Kaili A.Temple, Linda Klei, Nicole V. Soucy, Kimberley A. O'Hara, and Joshua W. Hamilton; Environmental Health Perspectives (2003)

"Algal Blooms Reduce the Uptake of Toxic Methylmercury in Freshwater Food Webs"; Paul C. Pickhardt, Carol L. Folt, Celia Y. Chen, Bjoern Klaue, and Joel D. Blum; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2002)

Learn more about research group publications.

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/17/08