CRECE team members from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico attended the NIEHS FEST held from December 5th through 8th, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina. The FEST was hosted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to commemorate the institute’s 50th year of working “to reduce the burden of human illness and disability by understanding how the environment influences the development and progression of human disease.” The goal of NIEHS FEST was to provide a platform for researchers, trainees, young investigators, community partners, and stakeholders to discuss past accomplishments and future endeavors of those working in the field of environmental health science.
One of the highlights of CRECE’s participation at the FEST included the Children’s Environmental Health Centers (CEHC) Meeting, which was held on Thursday, December 8th. The meeting, held for Children’s Centers Directors, members, and key personnel, had aims of addressing key essential elements of the Children’s Program such as translation of science, career development of young scientists, and community engagement. The meeting featured a lunch, poster session, and an interactive discussion session on a number of nominated topics.
A panel called “Diversity and the NIEHS—Opportunities and Challenges” was held on the second day of the FEST featuring Akram Alshawabkeh, CRECE Director. He spoke specifically on his experience with the Northeastern University ROUTES mentoring program, which was established to diversify the field of environmental health research by recruiting exceptional science, engineering and public health undergraduates from groups traditionally underrepresented in environmental health research. Also serving on the panel were Christopher Bradfield of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Christie Drew of the NIEHS Program Analysis Branch, Kelly Harris of the Food and Drug Administration, and Ericka Reid of the NIEHS Office of Science Education & Diversity.
Later in the week, Project 3 Leader John Meeker spoke on The Children’s Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR), an NIEHS led infrastructure which aims “to provide access to analytical capabilities to support the inclusion and expansion of environmental exposures in NIH funded research on children’s health and development.” The resource includes “a range of laboratory capabilities in targeted biomonitoring analysis, untargeted metabolomics, and biological response assessment as well as 66 data analysis and sharing.” Meeker’s presentation was titled “How to Make Use of CHEAR Laboratory Analyses,” and was a part of a larger session of speakers on the topic.
Overall, 43 team members associated with CRECE and PROTECT attended the FEST. The teams are thankful for being given the opportunity to come together for a week of learning and idea-sharing in such a driven and energized community.