FIU-Stempel College neuroscientists invited to speak on National Academies virtual workshop

While many illnesses and diseases can be attributed to genetic factors, it has become increasingly evident over the last four decades that environmental factors, both naturally occurring and man-made, are greatly affecting human health. 

To further understand how the environment is impacting brain health, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders, in collaboration with the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, has invited two distinguished neuroscientists from FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work to participate in the workshop, “Environmental Neuroscience: Advancing the Understanding of How Chemical Exposures Impact Brain Health and Disease.”

Tomás R. Guilarte, dean and professor, will participate on a panel in session II, “Biology of Toxicant Interaction with the Nervous System,” from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jason R. Richardson, associate dean for research and professor, will be a speaker in session III, “Chemical Toxicants as Drivers of Abnormal Neurodevelopment and Neurodegeneration,” from 2:05 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.

The workshop, which is open to the public, will take place virtually, via Zoom, on June 25, 2020. Click here to register.

Guilarte, a world-renowned neurotoxicologist, conducts research that aims to understand the effects of environmental pollutants on the developing brain and their role in neurodegenerative and mental diseases. He is also known for the development and application of a biomarker of neuroinflammation using neuroimaging techniques to study neurological disorders.

“This workshop allows us to present our research and findings at this National Academies workshop, including understanding gaps in knowledge and how we can collaborate across various disciplines to find solutions,” Guilarte said. “Recently, my laboratory has been examining the similarities at the molecular, cellular, and behavioral level in animal models of schizophrenia and early-life lead exposure providing evidence of being an environmental risk factor for this devastating psychiatric disease.”

Meanwhile, Richardson’s research focuses on the role of environmental exposures and their interactions with age and genetic susceptibility as contributors to neurological disease using translational approaches.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to present our latest research and discuss the new methods and technologies that can be utilized to better understand how environmental toxins are impacting the brain,” Richardson said. “This workshop is an opportunity to discuss our translational research on environmental factors, specifically pesticide exposure, that contribute to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); including studies from the cellular level, traditional and alternative animal models and human epidemiology focusing on the impact of pesticide exposure affecting the epigenome and contributing to long-term changes in brain function and behavior.”

The workshop will bring together more than 20 of the nation’s top experts in academia, government, industry, and non-profit organizations to explore the current knowledge landscape and future opportunities in neurotoxicology.

“We are honored that the Academies of Science recognizes the amazing research that is coming out FIU’s Stempel College and that we are the only institution to have two participants taking part in this prestigious workshop,” Guilarte continued. “As we come together with the common goal of improving brain health, we hope that our work will have a significant and lasting impact for generations to come.”

Stempel College is home to one of FIU’s Emerging Preeminent Programs, the Brain, Behavior and Environment; a research and educational center that looks at how environmental factors impact brain health. Since the program’s inception in 2016, Guilarte and his team of experts have received more than $17 million in grant funding, primarily from the National Institutes of Health.

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