Meet the ISTERH 2019 plenary speakers
Dr Alehagen is Professor of Cardiology at the University of Linköping, Sweden. He is also senior consultant at the Ostfold Hospital Trust, Norway.
Dr Alehagen received his PhD based on a thesis on heart failure epidemiology and natriuretic peptides. His main clinical interest has been focused on biomarkers for heart failure, but has also been working with left ventricular assist devices and since 1995.
The biomarkers used in heart failure has been focused on natriuretic peptides, as the blood samples that was the base for the development of the now widely used NT- proBNP from Roche, came from Dr Alehagen´s laboratory.
The last 15 years a growing research interest in selenium and coenzyme Q10 has formed new collaborations as a result of the first surprising clinical results.
Dean, Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work
Professor, Environmental Health Sciences
Professor, Cognitive Neuroscience & Imaging
Director, Brain Behavior & the Environment—FIU Emerging Preeminent Program
Member, Biomolecular Sciences Institute
Respected scientist, educator and academic leader, Tomás R. Guilarte, Ph.D., became dean of Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work at Florida International University (FIU) in January 2016. He joined FIU after serving as the inaugural Leon Hess Professor and Chairman of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University-Mailman School of Public Health in the City of New York.
Prior to Columbia University, Guilarte received his doctorate and spent three decades as a professor and researcher in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. As of 2018, Guilarte is a member of the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars, which was established in 1967 on the recommendation of then president Milton S. Eisenhower and was approved by the University’s Board of Trustees.
Guilarte’s research explores the impact of environmental pollutants on neurological and mental disease. His work uses behavioral, cellular and molecular approaches, ranging from studies using primary culture of brain cells to the application of brain imaging technologies.
He is renowned for revealing the effects that low-level lead exposure has on the central nervous system during brain development, a discovery that led to strategies for mitigating learning deficits. In fact, these strategies are now translated to human populations.
Guilarte’s research team played an important role in the validation and application of a biomarker for brain injury and inflammation that is used clinically in major medical centers around the world. In 2017, Guilarte worked closely with Anna Rothschild, the host of NOVA’s Gross Science, to translate his National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) research into insights for WGBH/PBS Digital Studios’ web segment "What Does Lead Poisoning do to the Brain?" and feature-length documentary on Flint’s "Poisoned Water". Both productions take a deeper look at lead poisoning in adults and children, while illustrating how damaging this heavy metal is to the body—especially the brain—and how science may be on the right path to eventually finding a treatment.
His laboratory has also made seminal findings in the neurotoxicology of manganese and associated neurological disease.
Guilarte’s research is funded—and has been for more than 23 years—by grants from the NIEHS, for which he served as a member of the Advisory Council until 2017. Guilarte has also participated in many NIH study sections, review panels, and committees at the national and international level. In Miami, he has served as a member of the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s HIV/AIDS Getting to Zero Task Force and Opioid Addiction Task Force.
In 2018, the Hispanic Organization of Toxicologists (HOT) honored Guilarte as the recipient of the Distinguished Toxicologist Award, which celebrates a toxicologist of Hispanic origin for his or her outstanding professional achievements, excellence in research and level of service to the Society of Toxicology (SOT).
Brain Science and Neurotoxicology
Per M Roos MD PhD is a fully qualified physician with licence to practice as specialist in neurology and clinical neurophysiology, currently affiliated to department of environmental medicine (IMM) Karolinska Institutet. He holds a BA from Stockholm University with a major in biochemistry.
Dr Roos defended his thesis entitled Studies on metals in motor neuron disease in 2013 at the Institute of Environmental Medicine (IMM) at the Karolinska Institutet. It has reached international recognition and is downloaded and read some 5 thousand times. The thesis unveils neurotoxic metals in the nervous system contributing to the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Dr Roos is working as senior consultant at the St.Goran Hospital Stockholm conducting electrodiagnostic investigations in selected patients from the department of neurology, and teaching medical students and junior neurologists.
Dr Roos is vice president of the International Society of Trace Element Research in Humans (ISTERH) and has published about 25 original scientific papers in the intersection between neurology and inorganic chemistry, including the chapter on motor neuron disease in a recently published book entitled Biometals in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Mechanisms and Therapeutics.
His research focus is on environmental contributions to neurodegenerative disorders, specifically the role of metals with neurotoxic properties in the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In parallel he is investigating metal-to-protein interactions related to Alzheimer´s disease and metal chemistry in Parkinson´s disease. Dr Roos has organized a sampling facility for sampling of cerebrospinal fluid and blood under ultraclean conditions, necessary for contamination free analysis of metals. Another line of research is medical geology in relation to degenerative disorders of the nervous system.
Tanja Schwerdtle full professor and chair of the Department of Food Chemistry in the Institute of Nutritional Science at the University of Potsdam. She is vice president of the German Society on Minerals and Trace Elements (GMS), board member of the Federation of European Societies on Trace Elements and Minerals (FESTEM), member of the CONTAM Panel of EFSA and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology.
The Schwerdtle group has many years of research experience in the field of the toxicity of metal species. Predominantly, team Schwerdtle focuses on the molecular mechanisms of metal(loid) species induced carcinogenicity and neurotoxicity, investigating the impact of toxic metal(loid) species (especially arsenic and mercury species) but also trace element species (especially Mn 2+ , Cu 2+ as well as inorganic and organic Se species) on DNA damage response and DNA repair pathways. Moreover, the group is very experienced and internationally recognized in the field of metal(loid) analysis in biological samples by the use of state of the art instrumental techniques including ICPMSMS. In this context, the team has successfully established new test systems to assess ADME, indirect genotoxicity, epigenetic as well as stress related effects. The combined use of their instrumental analytical and toxicological testing expertise enables the group to contribute efficiently to and to chair the DFG research unit TraceAge (https://www.uni-potsdam.de/traceage/) especially by reliably quantifying the trace element profiles and species in all human, mouse and C. elegans samples as well as by studying these effects in the context of genomic instability, epigenetics and aging. In the BMBF-funded competence cluster NutriAct “Nutritional Intervention for Healthy Aging: Food Patterns, Behavior and Products” Tanja Schwerdtle actually coordinates 10 groups in the field of biomarker research, providing the possibility to interpret the outcome of the NutriAct intervention study also in the context of trace elements and aging.
The work of the Schwerdtle group has resulted more than 150 publications in scientific journals.<
Associate Professor of Geochemistry in the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Life Sciences at University of Wollongong.
Dr Dosseto received his PhD from Université Paris 7 Denis Diderot (Paris, France) in 2003. In 2004, he took a postdoctoral researcher position at Macquarie University (Sydney, NSW, Australia). In 2009, he moved to University of Wollongong (Wollongong, NSW, Australia) to take up a teaching-research position. The same year he was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship. After the Fellowship ended, Dr Dosseto returned to a teaching-research position.
Dr Dosseto is an Editor for Geochimica et Cosmochimca Acta, and Chemical Geology, two of the leading journals in Geochemistry. He is also a referee for several journals as well as for the ARC and US NSF. He has given 11 invited talks at international conferences and invited presentations at over 25 different institutions around the world. He is also a member of several societies (American Geophysical Union), Geochemical Society, Australasian Quaternary Association, Soil Science Australia, Geological Society of Australia, Australia New Zealand Geomorphology Group).
Dr Dosseto is the founding director of the Wollongong Isotope Geochronology Laboratory which, since 2012, has trained over 80 staff and students, as well as facilitated research for a large number of researchers in Australia and worldwide.
Dr Anthony Dosseto has a broad range of research interests, which illustrated the range of applicability of isotope geochemistry:
His research has been supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and University of Wollongong internal grants.
Dr Dosseto authored one book, five book chapters and 62 peer-reviewed articles (including two in Nature).
Dr. Shen obtained her Ph.D in Physiology from Qingdao University and underwent the postdoctoral training in Toxicology in School of Health Science at Purdue University. Since 2010, her research has been focused on the trace elements in the etiology of neurodegenerative disease and the pertinent therapeutic interventions. Through an ecological study, she found that high concentrations of iron and copper in the soil were associated with the high annual mortality of Alzheimer’s disease in mainland China; this study provides a direct evidence on the involvement of metals in the development of AD. More recently, Dr. Shen is working on the transport of beta-amyloid peptides by brain barrier systems to identify how lead exposure interferes the amyloid homeostasis in brain, which may underlie the etiology of lead-induced AD. Her laboratory also continues the study on nesfatin-1, which is a brain-gut peptides discovered in 2006, for its protective effect on dopaminergic neurons against MPP+/MPTP-induced neurotoxicity through the C-Raf-ERK1/2-dependent anti-apoptotic pathway, which may have the therapeutic potential for treatment of Parkinson-type disorders including metal-induced Parkinsonism.
Associate Professor White is a Principal Research Fellow (Group Leader) and NHMRC Senior Research Fellow (SRFA) (2017-2021) at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute where he leads a group researching cellular processes in neurodegenerative diseases with a focus on developing new human cell models of neurodegeneration. He received his PhD from Murdoch University (1996) followed by post-doctoral appointments at the University of Melbourne (1996-2001) and Imperial College, London (2001-2003). Since 2003, he was appointed at the University of Melbourne (2003-2016) and moved to QIMR Berghofer in 2016. He has over 140 research publications, obtained over $10 million in competitive research funding and co-founded a start-up biotech company (Procypra Therapeutics). His research has led to the development of first-in-class metal-drugs as a new therapeutic approach to neurodegeneration, leading to a novel copper-based metal-drug currently in clinical trials for motor neuron disease and Parkinson’s disease.
The Cellular and Molecular Neurodegeneration Laboratory investigates the cause and potential treatments for brain diseases including dementia (Alzheimer’s disease), motor neuron disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and Parkinson’s disease. These disorders (collectively known as neurodegenerative diseases) are a growing health issue in Australia and worldwide, with few treatment options available. In order to gain a better understanding of these diseases and develop new therapeutic approaches, the research team is currently developing new human brain cell culture methods.
A major focus of this research is the development of a 3D human ‘brain on a chip’ cell culture platform that combines different human brain cell types into a 3D microfluidic culture plate. The advantage is that the 3D system provides a far better model of the actual human brain while still allowing manipulation and experimentation in a culture plate.
The cells used in the 3D brain on a chip include neurons, astrocytes and microglia (resident brain immune cells) and are generated from human induced pluripotent stem cells, natural olfactory stem cells, and blood-derived cells from normal people and those with brain disease. This 3D platform is being used to build new models of the brain for dementia and motor neuron disease research, in particular to understand the role of the immune system in brain diseases, and develop new therapeutic compounds targeting the immune cells of the brain.
Professor of Health Sciences and Toxicology in the School of Health Sciences at Purdue University
Dr. Zheng received his B.S and M.S. from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China and his Ph.D. from University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. He was an assistant professor and later associate professor at Columbia University in New York City (1993-2003). He has been working at Purdue University since 2003 and is currently a Director of Purdue’s Trace Element Toxicological Research Laboratory. Dr. Zheng is active in the trace element research field, serving as an elected President of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Metal Specialty Section (2009-2011), and the President of the International Society for Trace Element Research in Humans (ISTERH) (2017-2021). He received the Best Publication Award by the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine in 2005, a title of University Faculty Scholar by Purdue University, the Distinguished Chinese Toxicologist by the American Association of Chinese in Toxicology in 2010, a Carrier Achievement Award by the SOT Metal Specialty Section in 2015, and a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences (ATS) in 2016.
His research has been supported by the funds mainly by continuous NIH R01 grants (since 1994), U.S. Department of Defense contracts, and other awards from pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly.
Professor of Public Health at the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences and at Research Department, Innlandet Hospital, Norway.
Dr. Aaseth received his MD and PhD degrees from University of Oslo, Norway. He is authorized specialist in Internal Medicine & Endocrinoly, and in Occupational Medicine & Medical biochemistry. He has been the head of departments of Medical biochemistry and Endocrinology at Innlandet Hospital, and Professor in Occupational and Environmental medicine at the Arctic University of Tromsø, Norway. He is currently working as research adviser and professor em. in Innlandet, Norway.Dr. Aaseth is active in the trace element research field, serving as President of the Nordic Trace Element Society (NTES). Dr. Aaseth’s research focuses on metal-induced neurotoxicities.
Dr. Aaseth has collaborated with other experts in the field of toxicology as author of a book on metal chelation in medicine, and he is author of about 150 original research manuscripts in medical journals and about 300 papers when book and proceeding chapters are included.
Dr. Anumantha Kanthasamy is Clarence Harley Covault Distinguished Professor, Chairman of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, Eugene and Linda Lloyd Endowed Chair and Eminent Scholar in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University, USA.
Dr. Kanthasamy obtained his BS in chemistry and his MS, M Phil, and PhD in biochemistry from the University of Madras, India. After completing his post-doctoral fellowship in pharmacology and toxicology at Purdue University (1989-1994), Dr. Kanthasamy was a faculty member at the University of California, Irvine (1995-99), before joining the tenure track faculty in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Iowa State University in 1999. While at ISU, he served as chair of the Interdepartmental Toxicology Graduate Program for eight years, is the founding director of the Iowa Center for Advanced Neurotoxicology, and is currently serving his 2nd five-year term as BMS Chair. He has been strongly committed to graduate education, establishing a one-year M.S. program in BMS to help launch students onto career paths in healthcare, biotech, and pharma or additional graduate or professional training programs. He has also been serving as an Associate Editor of Toxicological Sciences for the last three years. Dr. Kanthasamy was recently elected as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as well as Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences (ATS). Dr. Kanthasamy served as the president of the Central States Chapter of the Society of Toxicology and also served sequential terms as vice president and president of the Neurotoxicology Specialty Section in the Society of Toxicology.
Dr. Kanthasamy’s research focuses on the cellular-molecular and epigenetic mechanisms and protein misfolding underlying chronic exposure to metals, pesticides, and other neurotoxicants as it relates environmentally chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
He has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, has been continuously supported by multiple NIH grants for over 20 years, and currently includes both NIH- and DoD-funded research program applying modern metallomic, metabolomic, and genomic technologies to characterize how chronic exposure to manganese-alone and manganese-vanadium (Mn/V) mixtures contributes to neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s Disease. His team recently discovered that exosomes mediate cell-to-cell transmission of pathologic α-synuclein aggregates in cell culture and animal models of metal neurotoxicity, and developed a real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) assay to detect ultra-low amounts of α-synuclein oligomers in biological samples including human samples. Dr. Kanthasamy also leads the Big Data Brain Initiative, a Presidential Interdisciplinary Translational Research Program that aims to identify new treatments and diagnostic biomarkers for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
The Harold and Muriel Block Chair in Molecular Pharmacology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Dr. Aschner serves as the Harold and Muriel Block Chair in Molecular Pharmacology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He served on numerous toxicology panels (Institute of Medicine, US Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control), and is a member of the Neurotoxicology and Alcohol study section (NIH).
Professor of Biophysics at the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Stockholm University, Sweden.
Dr Gräslund has a basic engineering degree in Applied physics from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, and her Ph.D. degree in Biophysics from Stockholm University. She has worked as Assistant and Associate Professor at Stockholm University, became Professor of Medical Biophysics at Umeå University in 1987, then Professor of Biophysics at Stockholm University in 1992. She became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Class of Chemistry, in 1992, and was Secretary of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry 1996-2014. She has been 2 nd Vice President of the Academy of Sciences, Member of the Board of the Swedish Natural Science Research Council and Deputy Member of the Nobel Foundation. In Sweden she has received the Lindbom Prize in 1982, the Arrhenius Plaque in 1995, the Björkén Prize in 2007, and the Bror Holmberg Medal in 2018. She was elected Fellow of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in 2009, and Fellow of the Biophysical Society (USA) in 2018.
Dr Gräslund´s recent research focusses on the basic chemical mechanisms behind neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer´s disease, studied by biophysical methods such as NMR and fluorescence spectroscopies. Early work by Dr Gräslund concerned the enzyme ribonucleotide reductase and its diiron - tyrosyl free radical center (identification of radical structures and metal redox properties, mostly by Electron Spin Resonance studies). Here a major achievement was the identification of the first stable amino acid free radical on tyrosine in an enzyme. Later work, mainly using NMR methods, involved determination of structures and interactions of neuropeptide hormones, cell penetrating peptides, and amyloid peptides. Her recent work on amyloid has clarified the interactions between the amyloid beta peptide, important in Alzheimer´s disease, and metal ions such as Zinc(II) and Cu(II).
Dr Gräslund´s work has resulted in more than 350 publications in scientific journals, and has been supported by funds from mainly the Swedish Natural Science Research Council, and from European Community sources.
Dr. Hu is Affiliate Professor in the University of Washington and Adjunct Professor in the University of Michigan. He is a physician-scientist, internist and preventive medicine specialist, with a doctoral degree in epidemiology. Previously, he had been Professor, Founding Director of the NIH/NIEHS Center for Children’s Environmental Health, Director of the Occupational Medicine Residency at the Harvard School of Public Health and Associate Physician in the Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston (1988-2006); the NSF International Endowed Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Professor, Founding Director of the NIH/NIEHS Environmental Health Core Sciences Center, and Associate Physician at the University of Michigan and University of Michigan Health System (2006-2012); and the Founding Dean and Professor, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto (2012-2017). In 2017-2018, while on sabbatical from the University of Toronto, Dr. Hu was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Washington before transitioning into his current position.
In 1999-2000, Dr. Hu was a Senior Faculty Fulbright Scholar in India. He served on the Board of Directors and on four fact-finding missions for Physicians for Human Rights; on the Board of Population and Public Health Practice of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences; on the Board of Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the National Research Council; on the NIEHS External Advisory Council; and as the Chair of the Research Commission for the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. In his current position, Dr. Hu is continuing his NIH-funded environmental birth cohort research (the Early Life Exposures in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants project) while co-leading the Global Burden of Disease-Pollution and Health initiative, which aims to improve understanding of pollution’s “footprint” on the global burden of disease.
Since 1990, Dr. Hu has led international teams of scientists investigating the environmental, nutritional, social, psychosocial, genetic and epigenetic determinants of chronic disease and impaired child development in birth cohort and aging cohort studies in the U.S., Mexico, India, China, and elsewhere around the world.
His team’s work has generated over 300 publications and won several awards, such as the 1999 Progress and Achievement Award from the U.S. NIH/NIEHS, the 2009 Linus Pauling Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the American Public Health Association, and the 2015 John Goldsmith Award for Outstanding Contributions from the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology.
China National One-Thousand Talents Professor and Director, Regenerative Medicine Research Center at Sichuan University; President and CEO, Sichuan 3D Bio-printing Institute; Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Sichuan Regenerative Medicine Research and Technology Center; Professor and Executive Director, Memphis Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
Dr. Y. James Kang currently is a China National One-Thousand-Talents Professor and Director of the Regenerative Medicine Research Center at Sichuan University West China Medical College, and Executive Director of Memphis Institute of Regenerative Medicine, UTHSC, USA. He also is the President and CEO of Sichuan 3D Bio-printing Research and Technology Institute; the Director of Sichuan Regenerative Medicine Research and Technology Center; the Editor-in-Chief of the journals Cardiovascular Toxicology and Regenerative Medicine Research; and the Editor of the book series of Methods in Pharmacology and Toxicology. Dr. Kang received his Ph.D. in Toxicology and Zoology at Iowa State University in 1989 and completed postdoctoral training in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Cornell University Medical Center in 1990. He was Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of North Dakota School of Medicine (1991-1996); Associate Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Toxicology and University Scholar, University of Louisville School of Medicine (1996-2001); Professor and Distinguished University Scholar (2001-2017). He served several NIH study sections from 1997 to 2006, and other federal agencies including USDA, US-EPA and US-Veterans Administrations from 1996 to 2005. He was elected to Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences in 2001.
His research interests are in regenerative medicine, focusing on 3D bio-printing and cardiovascular regeneration, as well as mineral manipulation of cardiovascular disease, liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, and non-human primate models of human diseases.