Peek-Asa, Thorne honored at Celebrating Excellence awards

Peter Thorne, Sue Curry, and Corinne Peek-Asa
Peter Thorne, Interim Provost Sue Curry, and Corinne Peek-Asa

Recognizing a year of innovation, scholarship and service, the University of Iowa Celebrating Excellence: Discovery and Innovation Awards Ceremony was held April 24.

The annual event honors faculty, staff, post-doctoral fellows, undergraduates and graduate students, and mentors who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in their fields. It also recognizes faculty, staff and student innovators who launch their research findings out into startups, options and/or licenses.

The winners received a commemorative gift and cash award.

College of Public Health recipients were:

Scholar of the Year Award: Recognizes outstanding research, scholarly and/or creative activities by tenured and/or research/clinical track faculty members

  • Peter S. Thorne, Ph.D., Professor and Head, Occupational & Environmental Health, Environmental Health Sciences Research Center, College of Public Health

Faculty Communicating Ideas Award: Recognizes excellence in communication about research and scholarship in the sciences and humanities and the study of creative, visual and performing arts to a general audience directly or via print and electronic media.

  • Corinne Peek-Asa, Ph.D., Professor/Associate Dean for Research, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, College of Public Health

See a full list of award recipients.

UI receives grant to study airborne engineered nanomaterials

A portrait of Peter Thorne of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
Peter Thorne

Researchers at the University of Iowa have received $2.06 million funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to study the toxicology of airborne engineered nanomaterials.

Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are ultra-small man-made materials such as carbon nanotubes, silica-coated gold particles, graphine, and copper oxide particles that are used in an array of products to provide them with special characteristics including strength, flexibility, anti-microbial activity, and unique optical and electrical properties. Some ENMs serve as tiny packages for drug delivery in the body.

Peter Thorne, professor and head of occupational and environmental health at the UI College of Public Health, is the primary investigator on the study. His team also includes Drs. Andrea Adamcakova-Dodd and Patrick O’Shaughnessy from the UI College of Public Health along with Dr. Aliasger Salem from the UI College of Pharmacy.

Iowa is one of eight research sites nationwide participating in the study, each examining different aspects of ENM toxicity. The UI site will focus on inhalation of ENMs and developmental toxicology via cell-culture studies and multigenerational studies of laboratory mice.

According to Thorne, human exposure to ENMs can occur during manufacturing, product use, and disposal, but little is known about the effect on people. “The use of engineered nanomaterials is moving faster than the study of their toxicity,” he says. “By understanding the biological response profiles underlying their toxicity, it will be easier to predict which are likely to be hazardous.

“Our studies seek to determine if inhalation of novel ENMs during pregnancy can interfere with the immune or endocrine systems in ways that may harm the developing fetus,” Thorne says.

The researchers hope a better understanding of the toxicity of ENMs will help establish a framework for improving the safety profile of commercial ENMs and guide their safe and sustainable use.