University of South Carolina

Arnold School hosts 800 environmental researchers

By Karen Petit, Arnold School of Public Health,

More than 60 countries and every continent will be represented when 800 epidemiology researchers converge on Columbia, S.C., Aug. 26-30 for the 24th International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) Conference.

The University of South Carolina and the Arnold School of Public Health will host the event, whose theme, Environmental Health across Land, Air and Sea, will be woven throughout presentations, scientific poster sessions and discussions at the Columbia Convention Center.

Held last year in Barcelona, Spain, and in previous years in locations such as Seoul and Paris, the conference puts USC and the Arnold School — as well as the City of Columbia — in an international research spotlight.

“We are attracting the world’s leading environmental academicians and researchers, as well as leaders from the World Health Organization, Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at NIH,” said Jim Burch, a USC associate professor of epidemiology and chair of the 2012 conference host committee.

“This conference could be considered the Olympics of environmental epidemiology,” said Burch, noting that planning began in 2006. Around 850 abstracts have been accepted through peer-review by the Scientific Program Committee, and will be presented at the meeting and published in the electronic conference proceedings in the journal, Epidemiology.

Tom Chandler,dean of the Arnold School and former chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, said having the ISEE Conference in Columbia brings special distinction to USC and to the Arnold School of Public Health in the environmental sciences arena.

“This international conference will bring worldwide attention to the study of environmental contaminants and how they affect the health of communities and the natural world,” Chandler said. “The hundreds of studies and research findings that will be discussed during this conference will impact future policy decisions in environmental protection relevant to human health. The significance of this kind of work for an increasingly crowded planet cannot be overstated.”

Pre-conference workshops will be held Aug. 26 with the official opening of the general sessions of ISEE 2012 beginning Aug. 27 and featuring remarks by USC President Harris Pastides, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn, and Annette Peters of Germany, president of the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology.

On Aug. 28, Ichiro Yamaguchi of Japan’s National Institute of Public Health will discuss public health activities in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power accident. His talk will be followed by a presentation from Lora Fleming,a professor and director of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry in the United Kingdom. Fleming’s talk is entitled “Natural Toxins and Human Health: the Brevetoxin Experience.”

Other speakers for plenary sessions include Marie Lynn Miranda, dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, Matti Jantunen, a research professor emeritus of the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland, and several other distinguished and accomplished environmental epidemiologists.

Topics being discussed throughout the event include arsenic exposure and diabetes risk, environmental public health tracking, the health impact of air pollution and climate change around the world, pulmonary health and outdoor air, cardiovascular effects of air pollution including a symposium on diesel exhaust and lung cancer, emerging global environmental impacts on respiratory diseases, controversies in children’s health and the environment, and many more.

One of the most interesting aspects of the conference is that some scientific posters, usually printed on large expanses of paper, will be shown electronically. The e-poster sessions — the first at an ISEE Conference — demonstrate a sustainable initiative in conferencing. This is one of several that the organizers have implemented to reduce the meeting’s overall environmental footprint.

The goals of the conference are to:

• showcase ongoing interdisciplinary and international research in environmental epidemiology

• emphasize emerging global environmental health issues

• refine and develop new strategies to ameliorate health impacts caused by contamination of land, air and sea

• exchange novel scientific findings and methodological approaches, including a focus on characterizing the “exposome” (the combined exposures that a person receives in their lifetime) and how it relates to disease

• highlight successful environmental interventions, including how hazard communication with the public has helped to achieve desired health outcomes

• provide a sustainable conferencing experience by incorporating new “green-conference” approaches and technologies

• facilitate international collaboration in environmental and epidemiological research and training.

The conference executive planning committee includes Burch, Wilfried Karmaus of the Arnold School’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Erik Svendsen of Tulane University, John Vena of the University of Georgia and Edward Fitzgerald of the University at Albany, State University of New York. Deborah Salzberg of the Arnold School is the conference planning director.

Visit for a complete list of events, symposia and poster sessions.

Registration is available through USC Continuing Education and Conferences. For complete information, visit


Arnold School of Public Health

Posted: 08/09/12 @ 3:30 PM | Updated: 09/03/12 @ 7:45 PM | Permalink