About BUSRP

The Boston University Superfund Research Program (BUSRP) uses New Bedford Harbor (NBH) in Southeast Massachusetts, the largest (18,000 acres) marine Superfund site in the continental U.S., as a test case for determining the later life effects of early life exposures to high-priority environmental chemicals. Our human “biomedical” epidemiological studies assess behavioral outcomes including risk-taking and opioid use in adolescents, outcomes that may be linked to early life exposures to neurotoxic chemicals from NBH and in the drinking water on Cape Cod. We hypothesize that these chemicals affect early brain development and that the health effects of pollutants are exacerbated by non-chemical social stressors such as poverty and living in neighborhoods perceived to be dangerous. The “environmental science” studies use fish living in the highly contaminated waters of NBH as sentinels for possible human health outcomes including behavioral abnormalities and modification of the gene pool. A new and exciting engineering project will assess the efficacy and possible unintended consequences of the current remediation strategy being carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers (the dredging and dumping of contaminated sediment into deep holes within the harbor, aka Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) cells). A primary goal of the Program is to hear and respond to the concerns of the communities around NBH and on Cape Cod and to provide the hard scientific data required to change policy and to protect the health of those communities. Major BU SRP themes include:

  • Early life exposures and later outcomes in humans and wildlife, including transgenerational effects
  • The effects of pollutant exposure and social stressors on risk-taking behavior in humans
  • Resiliency of humans, wildlife and contaminated ecosystems
  • How chemical effects on the ecosystem presage health effects in humans
  • The efficacy and safety of dredging, burying, and capping contaminated sediment, i.e. CAD cells, as a solution to wide-spread contamination of marine waters
  • Environmental justice and the disproportionate effects of environmental contamination on the poor and under-represented

Learn more about sites in Massachusetts, BUSRP’s open science policy, and visit our Ask the Researcher page.

Download our BUSRP one-pager [PDF].

Program Director

David Sherr, PhD (Professor, Boston University Department of Environmental Health; Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine)

Deputy Director

David Ozonoff, MD, MPH (Professor, Boston University Department of Environmental Health)

Project 1

Leader: Ann Aschengrau, ScD (Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health)

Project 2

Leader: Jon Levy, ScD (Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health)
Co-Leader: Susan Korrick, MD, MPH (Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)
Verónica Vieira, DSc (Professor, College of Health Sciences, University of California, Irvine)
Patricia Fabian, DSc (Research Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health)
Research Assistant: Jessica Wilson
Trainees: Nikki Deville, Roxana Khalili

Project 3 (Ending March, 2020)

Leader: Jennifer Schlezinger, PhD (Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health)

Trainees: Lariah Edwards, Stephanie Kim

New Project 3 (Beginning April, 2020)

Leaders: Matthew Charette (Charles F. Adams Jr. Senior Scientist Chair, Director, Woods Hole Sea Grant, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution); Duncan FitzGerald (Professor, Department of Earth & Environment, Boston University)

Co-Leader: Zoe Hughs (Assistant Professor, Department of Earth & Environment, Boston University)

Project 4

Leader: Mark Hahn, PhD (Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Co-Leader: Sibel Karchner, PhD (Research Specialist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Project 5

Leader: John Stegeman, PhD (Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Co-Leader: Jed Goldstone, PhD (Research Specialist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Bioinformatics & Molecular Modeling Core

Leader: Stefano Monti, PhD (Associate Professor of Medicine and Biostatistics, Boston University School of Medicine; Affiliate member Broad Institute, Affiliate member Hariri Institute for Computation and Computational Science and Engineering)
Co-Leader: Sandor Vajda, PhD (Professor, Boston University Department of Biomedical Engineering; Director, Biomolecular Engineering Research Center)
Trainees: Amy Li, Eric Reed

Community Engagement Core

Leader: Madeleine Scammell, DSc (Associate Professor, Boston University Department of Environmental Health)
Mike McClean, ScD (Professor and Associate Dean, Boston University School of Public Health)
Community Engagement Coordinator: Erin Polka

Research Translation Core

Leader: Wendy Heiger-Bernays, PhD (Professor, Boston University Department of Environmental Health)
Madeleine Scammell, DSc (Associate Professor, Boston University Department of Environmental Health)
Research Assistant: Jessica Wilson

Training Core

Leader: Mike McClean, ScD (Professor and Associate Dean, Boston University School of Public Health)
Co-leader: Jean van Seventer, VMD (Clinical Associate Professor, Boston University Department of Environmental Health)

Administrative Core

Leader: David Sherr, PhD (Professor, Boston University Department of Environmental Health; Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine)
David Ozonoff, MD, MPH (Professor, Boston University Department of Environmental Health)
Program Manager: Ashleane Alabre

Contact Us

Boston University School of Public Health
Department of Environmental Health
715 Albany Street, T4W
Boston, MA 02118
Telephone: 617-358-1707
Email: dsherr@bu.edu

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