National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences—Superfund Research Program

STEEP is funded through a Multiproject Center Grant (P42ES027706) awarded by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP). The SRP funds university-based multidisciplinary research on human health and environmental issues related to hazardous substances. The central goal is to understand and break the link between chemical exposure and disease. In keeping with the NIEHS mission, teams of diverse professionals develop, test, and implement unique, solution-oriented approaches to address complex environmental health problems. STEEP is supported in its mission to research the environmental and human health impacts of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are emerging contaminants at sites across the U.S.

Interdisciplinary Team Building

Director Lohmann and co-Director Grandjean combine complementary expertise in environmental and epidemiological science. They worked to bring together a team of individuals from different disciplines that continues to function as an effective and integrated interdisciplinary team. Lohmann (University of Rhode Island), an environmental chemist, is a leading expert on emerging contaminants in coastal ecosystems and development of passive sampling approaches; Grandjean (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health) is a leading epidemiologist whose work has shown the effects of PFAS on immunodeficiencies during early development. They guide a team of both established senior core leaders and investigators.

Lohmann and Grandjean worked in concert to build the STEEP group of project and core leaders from University of Rhode Island, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, and Silent Spring Institute through regularly held meetings beginning in the fall of 2013. In the interest of team building and developing efficient work protocols, STEEP established a pattern of regular communication in support of the STEEP proposal development. STEEP has continued this practice of regular communication, which includes conference calls, face-to-face meeting, participation in training activities, and joint representation of University of Rhode Island and Harvard on thesis committees.

The opportunity to assess overall STEEP progress and redirect efforts where needed will be provided by an annual one-day retreat with all STEEP scientists, staff, and trainees; External and Internal Advisory Committee members; and NIEHS staff.