University of Louisville Magazine

WINTER-SPRING 2018

The University of Louisville Alumni Magazine: for alumni, faculty, staff, students and anyone that is a UofL Cardinal fan.

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9 WINTER/SPRING 2018 T he University of Louisville joined an elite group of research enterprises across the nation late last year as a Superfund Research Center. The Superfund program, created in 1980, is part of a federal government effort to clean up U.S. land that has been contaminated by hazardous waste and identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a poten- tial risk to human health or the environment. With a $6.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Uof L was one of five new Superfund Research Center sites funded in 2017, bringing the number across the nation to 23, including such institutions as the Mas- sachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University and Duke University. The five-year grant came after a 20-year effort by the university to secure Superfund money for environmental study. It established a new, multidisciplinary center at Uof L that will support the federal Superfund Hazardous Substance Research and Training Program. Examining the impact of environmental determinants to health conditions is a grow- ing field of study. At Uof L, researchers will study how chemical exposures, particularly to chemicals known as volatile organic com- pounds (VOCs), contribute to the incidence, prevalence and severity of cardiometabolic disease as it relates to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and fatty liver dis- ease — all big problems in Kentucky. "The work performed here will impact the field for generations to come, not only from the research findings that come from the program, but from the next generation of researchers who will be educated and trained," said Interim President Greg Postel. The Superfund program was started in part by the discovery of a waste site near Lou- isville in Bullitt County. Known as the "Valley of the Drums," the site contained thousands of steel drums full of chemical waste that accumulated over decades. Currently, there are hundreds of Superfund sites across the country; Louisville has one near the Rubbertown industrial area in the western part of the city. The grant to Uof L comes through the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program, which funds university-based research on human health and environmental issues related to hazardous substances. The program's goal is to understand the link between chemical exposure and disease, reduce that exposure and better monitor the effects on health. "This will help raise the awareness of environmental issues as they relate to health, and train the next generation of environ- mental scientists," said Sanjay Srivastava, a professor and researcher in cardiovascular medicine at the Uof L School of Medicine who leads the project. HAVE A (GREEN) HEART UofL researchers and partners propose using trees as a public health strategy An ambitious research project launched by the University of Louisville and part- ners has the potential to create a new blueprint for cities around the world. The Green Heart Project, launched late last year, will examine the link between neighborhood greenery and human health. This research, a col- laboration led by UofL, The Nature Conservancy, Hyphae Design Labora- tory and the Institute for Healthy Air Water and Soil, will inform a new munic- ipal decision-making process, one that prioritizes health. Aruni Bhatnagar, a professor and researcher with the UofL School of Medicine, has been developing the idea and building the team for more than two years. "No one knows whether and to what extent trees and neighborhood green- ery affects human health and why," said Bhatnagar. "This work will tell us exactly how to design a neighborhood that supports human health and could pro- vide protection from everything from asthma to heart disease to dementia." Existing research , including a pilot study in Louisville by the Institute for Healthy Air Water and Soil, supports a link between urban greening and health outcomes. However, the Green Heart Project is the first controlled experi- ment to test urban greening in the same way new pharmaceutical interventions are tested. The project is a broad collaboration that includes several universities as well as Hyphae Design Laboratory, a con- sulting, design and engineering firm in Oakland, California, that works with architects, biologists and engineers to create new solutions to urban environ- mental challenges. UofL becomes Superfund Research Center Keeping it clean Professor Sanjay Srivastava works in one of UofL's labs.

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