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This special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health highlights selected papers presented at the Sixth International Symposium on Recent Advances in Environmental Health Research organized by Jackson State University (JSU) from September 13−16, 2009 at the Marriott Hotel in Jackson, Mississippi, USA. The Symposium was built upon the overwhelming success of previous symposia hosted by JSU and co-sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) RCMI-Center for Environmental Health, the U.S. Department of Education Title III Graduate Education Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the JSU Office of Academic Affairs, and the JSU Office of Research and Federal Relations.
In maintaining the strong tradition initiated with the first symposium in 2004, the program of the Sixth International Symposium on Recent Advances in Environmental Health Research provided a strong forum to contribute global solutions to major environmental and human health challenges. The Symposium had a special appeal to international scientists who have been committed to bioenvironmental and public health research, studying the toxic mechanisms of action of various environmental agents, developing new approaches for detecting or remedying environmental damage, identifying and characterizing genes involved in the manifestation of environmentally-related diseases, conducting basic and translational research, and providing the public and policy makers with scientific tools that are critical for environmental and human health decision-making. This integrated approach offers practical and cost-effective approaches to improving environmental quality and public health though translation of new scientific knowledge and discoveries from fundamental and basic sciences to environmental sustainability and public health protection. The symposium also offered unparalleled opportunities for networking and exchange of ideas, leading to scientific collaborations, resources sharing, and strategic planning for multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches to environmental and public health research.
Building on the foundation of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth symposia, the Sixth International Symposium on Recent Advances in Environmental Health Research served as a platform to exchange innovative ideas and communicate the latest advances in scientific research and new developments on important environmental and human health topics, including the following:
The symposium attracted 302 participants from 22 countries representing all five continents. A total of 194 scientific presentations were made across the disciplines of environmental health, biomedical and clinical sciences, and public health. As listed above, the scientific program was composed of seven plenary sessions where oral/platform presentations were given by more than 40 invited speakers. In addition, there were two poster sessions—one for faculty and professional scientists, and one for students that included awards for best posters presentations at four levels of the educational pipeline including high school, undergraduate, master’s and doctorate levels. The submitted full length manuscripts were peer-reviewed, and selected for publication by experts in their respective fields. The peer-review process was conducted as illustrated in Figure 1.
I wish to extend special thanks to Dr. Brian Athey (Founding Associate Director of the Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, Chair of Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, and Director of Academic Informatics and Information Technology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine in Ann Arbor, MI), and Dr. Bailus Walker (Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC) for serving as Distinguished Speakers for the Biomedical Sciences and Health Information Lecture Series that is held in conjunction with the Symposium. Dr. Athey spoke on behalf of Dr. Gilbert Omenn (Director of the Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics at the University of Michigan) on the Strategies for Proteomic Profiling of Cancer Specimens and Plasma in Mouse Models of Human Cancers, and Dr. Walker spoke on the Influence of Environmental Factors on Health Disparities. Other platform presentations and keynote addresses were made by prominent biomedical and environmental health scientists with research expertise in cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, infectious and parasitic diseases, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, gene-environment interactions, nanoscience and nanomedicine, emerging technologies, health disparities and other environmentally-related illnesses. These important health issues were associated with the symposium topics.
Special thanks are extended to Mrs. Rose Foster and Mrs. Wilma Templin-Branner of Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, Dr. Kenneth Ndebele and Dr. Barbara Graham for their continued support and help with the organization of the pre-symposium workshop on the National Library of Medicine Web-Based Resources for Environmental Health and Biomedical Research. Major emphasis of the workshop was training participants on how to access and retrieve important environmental health and biomedical research information from the Toxicology Network database and other relevant web-based biomedical resources. Special thanks are also extended Dr. Ronald Mason, Jr. (President), Dr. Felix Okojie (Provost and Vice President for Research and Federal Relations), and Dr. Mary Myles (Director of Title III Program) for their administrative support.
I would like to acknowledge the authors for their involvement and cooperation, and for their outstanding contributions to advancing scientific research and facilitating informed decision making in the critical area of environmental sustainability and public health protection. Special thanks are also extended to all the peer-reviewers who took time from their busy schedules to carefully and critically review each of the manuscripts. Special appreciations are also extended to all my colleagues and staff who worked very hard to make the symposium a total success.