September 2019 eBulletin.

Below are a few snapshots of recent University of Washington Superfund Research Program (UW SRP) accomplishments. 

Cadmium exposure interferes with neurogenesis in the adult brain

For adults, learning and memory formation depend on the production of new neurons in the part of the brain known as the hippocampus. New work by Dr. Hao Wang, a trainee in the lab of Dr. Zhengui Xia, shows that cadmium exposure not only impairs new neurons in the hippocampus from forming and maturing, but it also causes the death of the stem cells that produce them.
Previously, Drs. Wang and Xia used behavioral experiments to find that cadmium exposure impaired learning and memory-formation in adult mice, but the mechanism by which cadmium was affecting these behaviors remained unclear. Very little work had been done on the role that cadmium plays as a neurotoxin.

In the current study, Dr. Wang applied cadmium directly to petri dishes full of the stem cells responsible for forming new neurons in the hippocampus and found that it caused cell death and interfered with the production and maturation of new neurons. 

He also compared the brains of adult mice who were exposed to cadmium to the brains of untreated mice and found similar effects. 

These two complementary sets of results provide the first strong evidence of the mechanism by which cadmium impairs learning and memory-formation in adults and has implications for the role of environmentally-relevant cadmium exposure in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.
Read More

UW SRP engages with community at the Duwamish River Festival

On August 17, more than 700 people from South Park, Georgetown, and the greater Seattle area attended a multi-ethnic event on the banks of the Duwamish River. The festival was hosted by the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. UW SRP hosted a booth where community engagement and research translation staff BJ Cummings and Lisa Hayward Watts engaged with families on issues related to UW SRP science. More here.

Trainee Ken Burkhart wins undergraduate research award

Ken Burkhart was recently awarded the Mary Cline undergraduate Research Award which will provide $1000 for him to continue the research he does with UW SRP co-principal investigator, Dr. Jim Gawel. Burkhart and Gawel track arsenic in the water column and food chain of shallow lakes near Tacoma Washington that were contaminated by the now-defunct ASARCO smelter. More information on their project is available here

UW SRP hosts lab tours for youth

On August 20th, the UW SRP hosted a campus visit for a group of 13 interns from three different student groups- eight Duwamish Valley Youth Corps interns with Zero Waste Washington, three BRANCH interns from the Urban Indian Health Institute, and two SURE-EH student research assistants funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. As part of the tour, students watched zebrafish embryos developing under a microscope and viewed videos of behavioral tests hosted by UW SRP trainees Dr. Margaret Mills and Megumi Matsushita. Read more.

UW SRP leads a kayak tour on the Duwamish

On September 7th, 15 kayakers joined UW SRP Community Engagement Manager, BJ Cummings, to paddle the waters of the Duwamish River, learning about its history and status as a Superfund Site. Along the way, Cummings pointed out notable features like the daylighted Hamm Creek, a zero-discharge shipyard known as Delta Marine, and Boeing's Plant 2. She also described key findings from UW SRP projects one and two relating to cadmium contamination in the Duwamish River and its harmful effects on fish and mammals. Read more

UW SRP promotes healthy seafood consumption 

The UW SRP is participating in a newly-formed "Healthy Seafood Consumption Consortium" for the Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site. Hosted by EPA, the consortium is comprised of non-profit, community, agency, and academic partners promoting healthy seafood consumption among people harvesting fish and shellfish from the Duwamish River. Read more.

We want to hear from you!

We are interested in hearing from you. If you have feedback related to our work or are interested in a potential partnership don't hesitate to contact UW SRP Director, Dr. Evan Gallagher, Director of the Research Translation and Community Engagement Cores, Dr. Tom Burbacher, Research Translation Manager, Lisa Hayward Watts or Community Engagement Manager, BJ Cummings.

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Superfund Research Program
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Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences · University of Washington · Box 357234 · Seattle, WA 98195 · USA

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