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Research Team Earns Largest NIH Grant in College of Ag History

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a grant of more than $6.6 million to the UK College of Agriculture to study the toxicity of environmental pollutants with a focus on nutrition, health and disease. It is the largest single NIH grant ever received by the college. The grant will support the employment of over 50 UK faculty, research scientists and students.

Under the leadership of Bernhard Hennig (nutrition and toxicology) and Leonidas Bachas (chemistry), this funding is the latest to support the work of UK’s Superfund Basic Research Program (SBRP), an interdisciplinary research group formed in 1997. The SBRP examines the potential links between various diseases and contaminants found at Superfund sites, including chlorinated pollutants such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).

“Kentucky has some of the worst health statistics in the United States, with a high incidence of age-related diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, and poor dietary habits such as high intake of processed foods,” says Hennig. “The state also has numerous Superfund sites, identified by the federal government as specific areas containing high levels of toxic pollutants, which could markedly contribute to the pathology of age-related diseases.”

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—Laura Skillman and Carl Nathe

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