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Suk and Perera Honored for Advocacy

By Eddy Ball
November 2008

NIEHS Acting Deputy Director Bill Suk (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health Frederica Perera (Photo courtesy of Eric Evans and Columbia University)

CEHN Executive Director Nsedu Obot Witherspoon also serves as an NIEHS Public Interest Partner and National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council member. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Veteran NIEHS leader Bill Suk, Ph.D., and NIEHS grantee Frederica Perera, Dr.PH., of Columbia University were honored for their advocacy of children’s health in separate ceremonies held during October in Washington, D.C. and New York City by the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN).

Suk was presented his award by CEHN board member Joy Carlson at the Third Annual DC Children's Environmental Health Advocate Award Reception on October 20. Perera was presented her award by CEHN board member and NIEHS grantee Peggy Shepard at the First Annual NYC Children's Environmental Health Advocate Award Reception on October 7.

Suk, who has been a member of the senior leadership at NIEHS for more than 20 years, is director of the Superfund Basic Research Program and currently serves as NIEHS acting deputy director. According to CEHN Executive Director Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, Suk has been instrumental in collaborative efforts worldwide to improve the lives of children by working to improve the environment and understand better its impact on their health.

“Dr. Suk has been a great friend to the children’s environmental health field and specifically the Children’s Environmental Health Network since its start,” Witherspoon explained. “He was instrumental in working with CEHN ( Exit NIEHS to set the first research agenda on children’s environmental health in the early 90’s and has served on our science committee for many years.”

Perera, a professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, is also the director of the NIEHS-funded Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCEH). She was also honored in May with the Measure of Children Award from the Healthy Schools Network.

“Dr. Perera pioneered the field of molecular epidemiology, beginning with studies of cancer and is now applying molecular techniques within studies of pregnant women and their children,” Witherspoon said. “Her areas of specialization include prevention of environmental risks to children, molecular epidemiology, cancer prevention, environment-susceptibility interactions in cancer, developmental damage, asthma and risk assessment.”

Honored along with Suk were Liz Blackburn, a leader in education, nursing and community service; Bettina Poirier, majority staff director and chief counsel of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee; and Greg Famer, senior vice president of Government and Community Relations at Nortel. Also receiving an award in New York was Wendy Gordon, founder of the National Geographic Green Guide.

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