The The 19th Pacific Basin Association International Conference on Environment and Healthheld from August 29 to September 1 on Jeju Island, South Korea, brought together global experts to discuss advancing environmental health and translating scientific knowledge into action in a changing climate.

Stefania Cormier, Ph.D., Akim Ali, Ph.D., Kyung Wong Kim, Ph.D. From left to right: Cormier; Akim Ali, Ph.D., World Health Organization, Asia Pacific Center for Environment and Health; Kim at the PBC conference in South Korea. (Photo courtesy of LSU SRP Center)

The conference was sponsored in part by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP). SRP has a long-standing relationship with the Pacific Basin Consortium (PBC) that allows SRP staff and grant recipients to facilitate PBC goals and engage in collaborative research to develop solutions to pressing environmental health challenges facing the Pacific Basin region and beyond.

“The PBC provides a unique opportunity to hear from diverse perspectives while continuing to build important environmental health research networks,” said Brittany Trotier, SRP health specialist.

Protecting children’s health

Stefania Cormier, Ph.D., Director Louisiana State University (LSU) SRP . Center( and Chairman of the PBC Board of Directors, both presented at a pre-conference workshop on air pollution and children’s health.

Speakers and moderators at the conference representing more than 30 institutes, organizations and universities for the photo shoot.

Conference speakers and moderators represented more than 30 institutes, organizations, and universities from around the world at the meeting hosted by GIST. (Photo courtesy of Michael Hickok)

According to Cormier, children exposed to higher levels of environmentally persistent free radicals – air pollutants from the combustion of hazardous waste – are more likely to develop respiratory illnesses.

“Children under the age of five are especially vulnerable to air pollution,” Cormier said. “As children’s lungs and immune systems are still developing, exposure to toxic pollutants at an early age can lead to lifelong respiratory problems, with significant health and economic implications.”

William Sock, Ph.D., Director of the NIEHS SRP, also presented at a plenary session on programs that ensure children’s well-being. Covered Seok’s show Electronic Joint Research Program for Asiaan initiative to facilitate collaborative international research and promote innovation in the East Asian region.

Trottier and Michelle Heacock, PhD, director of SRP Health Scientist, chaired poster sessions and presentations for interns covering topics ranging from prenatal exposure to quality of life in cancer patients.

Nutrition and disease prevention

The role of diet in mitigating risks from environmental factors was presented by Bernard Hennig, PhD, project leader and former director at University of Kentucky SRP مركز Center(

“Adopting positive lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy diets rich in nutrients and plant-derived fiber, may reduce an individual’s susceptibility to diseases associated with environmental toxins,” Hennig said.

Hennig also joined researchers from Uruguay, Timor and Bangladesh as part of a panel discussion focused on the interaction between nutrition and environmental health.

joint commitment

Founded in 1986, PBC provides a forum for researchers, health professionals, policy makers, and students across the Pacific Basin to meet, discuss and present research priorities to address the unique challenges facing the region including geography and disproportionate access to technology.

A model for SRP-funded centers with episodes encapsulating biomedical research, environmental science and engineering, research translation, community engagement, training, and data science. Similar to the goals of the PBC, SRP-funded centers combine biomedical research with environmental science and engineering, research translation, community engagement, training, and data science. To understand and address a specific problem. (Photo courtesy of Bill Sock)

Kyung Wong Kim, Ph.D., Conference Chair and Director of the International Environmental Research Institute at Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), emphasized the role of the PBC in prioritizing information exchange, training, and collaborative research.

These components reflect the SRP’s mission to protect people from hazardous environmental exposures and highlight the work of the PBC and SRP as they continue to promote human health and the environment through education, oversight, and support.

(Lauren Sprouse is a science communications specialist and Dylan Williams is a research analyst at MDB Inc., contracted with the NIEHS SRP.)

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