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SIUE bestows New Investigator Award on assistant professor

EDWARDSVILLE – Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Dr. Pui-Ling “Melissa” Chan, assistant professor of environmental sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, is the chan melissarecipient of the SIUE 2014 Vaughnie Lindsay New Investigator Award.

The SIUE Graduate School presents the award to tenure-track faculty members whose scholarly activities have the promise of making significant contributions to their fields of study and to the university in general.

Chan’s current research focuses on understanding how the blood brain barrier, or BBB, can impact the neurological absorption of potentially harmful consumer products, such as pesticides or pharmaceuticals. The goal of her research is to fundamentally advance the field of extrapolation from in vitro (in test tubes( to in vivo (in the body) and to test how the BBB might absorb harmful environmental toxins. She anticipates that the preliminary results of this research will be used to improve laboratory methods used in producing these materials, and to develop useful tools and biomarkers for public health risk assessment.

As part of the award, Chan received a research grant from the university to pursue her research agenda.

“Supporting young investigators who have the potential for making significant advancements in their area is important to the development of their research careers,” said Jerry Weinberg, associate provost for research and dean of the Graduate School. “It is even more important to the development of ground breaking discoveries that can make on society.”

Originally from Malaysia, Chan joined SIUE in the fall of 2011 after earning a PhD from the Kyoto University in Kyoto, Japan. She spent an additional two years in Kyoto pursuing post-doctoral work on risk assessment and developing mathematical models and numerical simulation methods, specifically physiologically based pharmacokinetic and fugacity models for various types of pollutants.

She also laid the groundwork in developing in vitro blood-brain barrier model and other toxicity bioassays in her lab. She continued to work as a visiting fellow for three more years at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina. She expanded her research to environmental systems biology, which includes developing models to evaluate the relationship of various environmental health outcomes and environmental variables using statistics and numerical simulation methods.

Chan then made a change in the direction of her research by moving to the National Toxicology Program at NIEHS, where she remained for another year and expanded her research to include tools and models used for qualitative and quantitative extrapolation of in vitro to in vivo data for pollutants.

During her career, Chan has published 11 peer-reviewed articles, as well as contributing to a book, Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: An overview. She has also served on several service organizations, and is the current chair of the Environmental Science Division at the Illinois State Academy of Science.

Dr. Steve Hansen, dean emeritus at SIUE, established the Lindsay Research Professorship Endowment that funds the Vaughnie Lindsay New Investigator Award. The award honors Dr. Vaughnie Lindsay, who served as graduate dean at SIUE from 1973 until 1986 and was responsible for creating much of the infrastructure that supports faculty research and scholarly activity. SIUE faculty and emeriti faculty donated the funds to endow the award.

For more information on the program go to siue.edu/give.

Dr. Melissa Chan, above

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