Cores

Community Engagement Core

Our Work:

The Community Engagement Core (CEC) of the UNM METALS Center links impacted communities impacted by abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) with scientists examining how mixed metals exposures affect health and ways to reduce exposure and health risk.

The Native communities who live in close proximity to these AUM sites have faced generations of chronic exposures, but are unable to move away because, as one Navajo woman said, “We are culturally tied to the land.” The CEC has forged long-standing, respectful relationships with these communities, and together the researchers have made tangible gains in risk-awareness, risk-reduction, and policy changes that have elevated the mine sites and the impacted communities on tribal and federal remediation priority lists.

Significance:

The METALS Community Engagement Core (CEC) gives residents of the impacted communities on tribal lands and researchers opportunities to develop a common language and understanding of environmental health and traditional ecological knowledge through community-based listening sessions, training programs, and by facilitating community involvement in data collection and interpretation.

As a result, community members are able to mitigate further health risks from exposures to mine wastes, and have a direct role in working with researchers towards restoring the land and returning the health of their families and communities to balance and harmony for the generations that follow.

Research results of UNM METALS Center will not only improve Superfund remedial decision-making, but will also raise the validity of indigenous perspectives on health in regulatory frameworks. The research has wide applicability to similar problems in other tribal communities in the West.

Primary Contacts:

Chris Shuey
Southwest Research & Information Center
sric.chris@gmail.com

David Begay
University of New Mexico
dbegay@salud.unm.edu

 

Research Translation Core

Our Work:

The Research Translation Core (RTC) aims to increase multidirectional translation and communication for more informed prevention, research, and policy decisions. The RTC utilizes a unique network built over nearly four decades to facilitate translational interactions among our METALS researchers and trainees, impacted communities, governmental partners, other SRP Centers, and other important end-users to address real and immediate concerns related to mixed metals exposures.  The RTC also ensures the technologies and methods developed through the UNM METALS Center are made broadly available through direct training of partners and, when appropriate, through commercialization.

Our methods accommodate our partners’ range of comfort and familiarity with technical communication and access to the scientific literature to enhance environmental health literacy and evidence-based decision making for risk reduction. Through interaction with the Community Engagement Core, the RTC facilitates the integration of the indigenous point of view and traditional ecological knowledge with Western science in research projects and remedial decisions.

Significance:

The unique perspective of the RTC leadership on translating findings to indigenous communities and perspectives of tribes to regulators, clinicians, and scientists will ultimately influence the way research is designed and conducted with the engagement of Native communities.  The RTC also supports the needs for data on exposures and health impacts of AUM on indigenous communities, and broadens availability of new technologies and methods to reduce risk.

Primary Contact:

Melissa Gonzales, PhD
University of New Mexico
mgonzales@salud.unm.edu

 

Training Core

Our Work:

The UNM METALS Training Core supports the next generation of science leaders in transdisciplinary environmental health science to achieve excellence in applied research that incorporates culture and community.  In conjunction with the Indigenous Education Institute, the core provides formal training and consultations on working with the Native American communities served by the UNM METALS Center. Training also includes a wide range of research and career development activities and opportunities to develop effective communication skills with diverse academic, government, and community audiences. There is an emphasis on team and transdisciplinary activities and research, traditional ecological knowledge, and substantive community outreach experiences. Close associations with the Community Engagement Core and Research Translation Core ensure continuation of the established bi-directional relationships with the Native communities.

Significance:

The Training Core provides an integrated and comprehensive research training experience in translational, team-based science that incorporates indigenous culture and learning styles into effective, bi-directional research activities that are respectful and responsive to community needs.

Primary Contact:

Dr. Matt Campen
University of New Mexico
MCampen@salud.unm.edu

 

Biostatistics and Data Management Core

Investigators:

Li Luo, PhD
Li Li, PhD
Ruofei Du, PhD

Our Work:

The Biostatistics and Data Management (BD) Core provides the UNM METALS projects with statistical support and innovations in study development, study design, and data analyses, and has developed new statistical methods as necessary to optimize the UNM METALS study needs.

The BD Core also functions as the data coordinating center and provides database infrastructure and management for laboratory experiments and environmental and epidemiology studies. They work to develop multi-level strategies to ensure that sharing of METALS data is compliant with tribal and NIH agreements and policies. The BD Core also provides review and monitoring of intervention trials conducted within the Superfund UNM METALS, thereby ensuring data quality, study integrity, and subject safety.

Significance:

The Biostatistics and Data Management (BD) Core aims to ensure and maximize the quality of the information the UNM METALS team discovers and disseminates in its efforts to better understand ecological and human health impacts of abandoned uranium mine contaminants.  The BD Core is developing statistical risk models to predict the likelihood of disease from environmental characteristics of the waste materials based on the integrated results across projects.

Primary Contact:

lluo@salud.unm.edu

 

Administrative Core

Our Work:

The UNM Metal Exposure Toxicity Assessment on Tribal Lands in the Southwest (METALS) Superfund Research Program (SRP) and Training Center focuses on risk reduction for Native Americans exposed to hazardous mixtures of metals from abandoned uranium mines.  The Administrative Core provides the coordination and oversight to 1) ensure overall operational and scientific integration of the team, 2) ensure scientific integrity to promote linkage among the projects both scientifically and professionally, 3) facilitate integration of goals with community needs, and 4) enable effective translation of findings to the impacted communities.

Significance:

The Administrative Core provides the coordination and oversight to ensure overall operational and scientific integration of the UNM METALS research teams and cores, affected communities, and stakeholders.

Primary Contacts:

Johnnye Lewis, PhD
Director
University of New Mexico METALS SRP center
jlewis@cybermesa.com

Dr. Matt Campen,
Deputy Director
University of New Mexico METALS SRP center
MCampen@salud.unm.edu

Carolyn Roman, PhD
Science Research Manager
University of New Mexico
cwroman@salud.unm.edu