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Director of National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to Visit


  Linda Birnbaum Linda Birnbaum

The nationally lauded director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program will visit Eastern Illinois University on Tuesday, Oct. 26.

Linda Birnbaum will present a lecture on research, "A Good Start Lasts a Lifetime," at 2 p.m. in Lumpkin Auditorium (2030 Lumpkin Hall). The public is invited to attend.

Birnbaum will also meet with students and faculty throughout the day, and then serve as the keynote speaker for the EIU Women in Science and Mathematics "You Can Have It All" program for female EIU students.

This month, Birnbaum was elected to the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, which is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. The honor recognizes those who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

In 2009, Birnbaum began her tenure as the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' fifth director in its 43-year history. Birnbaum oversees a $730 million budget that funds multidisciplinary biomedical research programs, as well as prevention and intervention efforts that encompass training, education, technology transfer and community outreach.

The mission of the NIEHS is to reduce the burden of human illness and disability by understanding how the environment influences the development and progression of human disease. NIEHS is located in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Birnbaum is also an adjunct professor in the School of Public Health, the Toxicology Curriculum, and the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, as well as in the Integrated Toxicology Program at Duke University.

Prior to her NIEHS appointment, she was a senior adviser at the Environmental Protection Agency, where she has served for 16 years as director of the Experimental Toxicology Division.

A native of New Jersey, Birnbaum earned her master's degree and doctorate in microbiology from the University of Illinois, Urbana. She is a board-certified toxicologist and has served as a federal scientist for nearly 29 years -- the first 10 of those at NIEHS -- first as a senior staff fellow at the NTP, then as a principal investigator and research microbiologist, and finally as a group leader for the Institute’s Chemical Disposition Group.

Birnbaum has received numerous awards, including the Women in Toxicology Elsevier Mentoring Award, the Society of Toxicology Public Communications Award, EPA’s Health Science Achievement Award and Diversity Leadership Award, and 12 Science and Technology Achievement Awards, which reflect the recommendations of EPA’s external Science Advisory Board, for specific publications.

The author of more than 600 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, abstracts and reports, Birnbaum’s research focuses on the pharmacokinetic behavior of environmental chemicals; mechanisms of actions of toxicants, including endocrine disruption; and linking of real-world exposures to effects.



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Josh Reinhart, Public Information Coordinator

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