Center for the Investigation of Environmental Hazards Career Development Program
The leadership and members of NYU Langone’s Center for the Investigation of Environmental Hazards, or NYU CIEH, are highly successful in identifying and recruiting promising new and senior NYU CIEH members. New junior- and mid-level investigators continue to be attracted by collaborations within our center and by research support in the form of NYU CIEH–supported pilot project funding, access to shared facilities, and program guidance.
Many of these junior faculty members have developed successful independent and collaborative programs in the field with support from the Pilot Project Program. Established mid-level investigators have also been readily integrated into all center activities. Our center considers these efforts among our most important endeavors and continues to devote significant time, effort, and resources toward the mentoring of new environmental health sciences (EHS) researchers. As outlined below, the center’s Career Development Program includes mentoring of junior faculty, as well as guiding mid-level and established investigators who are new to the nuances of EHS, translational research, or both.
Recruitment of New Faculty
One of the center’s goals is to recruit outstanding researchers who are interested in applying their expertise to translational studies of humans who have been exposed to toxic or carcinogenic agents, or both. NYU Grossman School of Medicine institutional funds are available to support additional recruitment of junior and senior faculty members during the current five-year grant period. Center leadership has also budgeted additional funds in each year to support these new recruits as they explore the introduction of new technologies or novel scientific areas of expertise into EHS that enhance NYU CIEH research capabilities.
Another of the center’s goals is to recruit junior faculty to expand and enhance efforts in interdisciplinary research. We help to recruit highly promising young scientists to NYU Langone and optimize use of our resources (e.g., pilot project grants, access to the Integrated Health Science Facility Core and other facility cores, mentoring, and collegiality) to engage these investigators. For example, we recruited Angelica Ortiz, PhD, as an assistant professor. Dr. Ortiz has novel expertise in extracellular vesicles, and this new area of research has spawned a number of new collaborations at all levels using tissue culture and animal models, as well as collecting and using human samples.
Developing Talent from Within
We have a strong track record of growing talent from within, including Linda Kahn, PhD, MPH, a postdoctoral fellow who is transitioning to faculty member at NYU Langone with a K99/R00, and Akhgar Ghassabian, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Population Health, with research interests in identifying environmental exposures that contribute to the etiology of developmental disabilities in childhood. Both these junior faculty are being mentored by assigned mentoring committees consisting of senior center members.
Similarly, the careers of postdoctoral fellows and predoctoral students are being enhanced by the integration of NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s T32 Training Grant (Dr. Gordon, director of the Career Development Program) with NYU CIEH. These trainees will engage in similar training courses (e.g., grant and manuscript writing) and be invited as active participants in our Research Working Groups. This development plan for junior faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and PhD students represent an interdisciplinary venture that will bring together several departments at NYU and NYU Langone while leveraging T32 and NYU CIEH resources, thus providing a new foray into EHS research.
Mentoring Junior Faculty
Mentoring of junior faculty is the core of our Career Development Plan. To achieve our mentoring goals, the following targets are identified for each mentored faculty. Some of these target points are required for all NYU Langone junior faculty (for example, the first and second items), whereas others are to be instituted via our formal Career Development Plan:
- a formal mentoring committee comprising faculty members from relevant departments in NYU Langone and other NYU schools and centers
- a yearly evaluation of the mentored faculty member’s progress in career and research goals
- creation of an Individual Development Plan (IDP
- participation in scholarly environmental health activities (e.g., seminars, journal clubs), translational research, and community engagement
- development of grant writing skills through workshops held annually by NYU Langone
- participation in Faculty Advance: A Faculty Development Program
- participation and training in the course Ethics in Science and Responsible Conduct in Research
Eligibility for Support as a Career Development Candidate
Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP; Max Costa, PhD; and Terry Gordon, PhD, review junior faculty for consideration for financial support in career development. Each applicant is scored based upon past accomplishments and references, dedication to EHS research, and potential for success as a faculty member. The top scoring applicants are invited for personal interviews and seminar presentations. A final decision regarding center financial support is made by the director and deputy director and based upon the seminar presentations and meetings with center members.
Career Development Awardee 2019–20
Angelica Ortiz, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone. Dr. Ortiz’s research examines disruption of pathways that govern intracellular and extracellular vesicles during cancer progression, currently focusing on vesicle status following exposure to metals and toxic substances such as arsenic, nickel, and chromium compounds. Throughout her academic research career, Dr. Ortiz has implemented a variety of techniques to encompass the spectrum of cancer research from molecular biology and biochemistry to immunology and systems biology.