ASEF Luncheon, May 11, 2012

Trevor Penning: "The environment and the assault on your health: what happened to the precautionary principle?"

Trevor Penning, Ph.D., is director of the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology at the Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Penning is recognized in the postdoctoral community as a longtime advocate on behalf of postdoctoral scholars, both on the home and national fronts. He is also professor of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, and OB/GYN. Dr. Penning is internationally recognized for his research on steroid hormone enzymology and mechanisms by which polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) cause cancer. PAHs are ubiquitous environmental pollutants that result from fossil-fuel combustion; they are present in automobile exhaust, the food-chain, and tobacco smoke. Trevor is editor of several books including Chemical Carcinogenesis published by Springer in 2011. He received The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) 2010 Distinguished Service Award in Philadelphia.

When the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in April 2010, it triggered one of the largest oil spills in human history, with an estimated 200 million gallons surging into the Gulf of Mexico for three months. But the full impact of the spill is still unknown. Penning is co-leader of a project supported by an $8 million grant from the National Institutes of Environment Health Sciences to study possible toxicity of seafood. Local wildlife, especially shellfish, that were exposed to the oil will retain PAHs in their bodies and pass them on to whatever eats them in a process known as bioaccumulation. When people eat seafood contaminated in this way they could be ingesting a much higher level of PAHs than they would receive from environmental exposure. Penning's team will determine whether the kinds found in Gulf shellfish could cause cancer or birth defects.

The luncheon is at 12:00 noon on Friday, May 11, 2012 in the Lenape Room of the University Club. Cost and University Club details.