Project 2 Trainee Elana Elkin Receives the Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award

Dec 9, 2019 | Project 2 (Toxicology), PROTECT Events and Presentations, PROTECT Team, PROTECT Trainees

PROTECT Project 2 Trainee Elana Elkin was recently granted the prestigious Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award at the Annual NIEHS Superfund Research Program Meeting in Seattle on Nov. 19th. Elana received this award to honor her work examining how environmental contaminant exposure affects placental development and function.

When asked about Elana’s work and progress on her research team so far, Mentor and Project 2 Leader Dr. Rita Loch-Caruso had this to say. “Elana has proved to be among the very best Ph.D. students I have mentored and known during my 32-year career at the University of Michigan. She has a record of outstanding academic achievement, cutting-edge and impactful research, nationally-recognized scientific presentation skills, and leadership and service.”[1]

After receiving the award at the SRP Annual Meeting, Elana gave a talk on placental cell responses to the trichloroethylene (TCE) metabolite S-(1,2-dichlorovinyl)-L-cysteine, or DCVC. TCE is a Superfund contaminant used as an industrial solvent and often found in and around industrial sites, including several sites in Puerto Rico. DCVC is formed when the body metabolizes TCE. Elana’s research identified mechanisms by which DCVC contributes to placental cell death, which may impact pregnancy duration and other birth outcomes. These results were recently published in Toxicology.

Karen E. Wetterhahn was a respected researcher, professor, and Program Director of the Dartmouth College Superfund Research Program; she co-founded the Dartmouth’s Women in Science Project (WISP), which addresses underrepresentation of women in the sciences. The award is given annually to a graduate student or post-doctoral researchers from a Superfund Research Center who is not only an exceptional interdisciplinary researcher but who has been a leader and mentor among other researchers.

L>R: Jose Cordero, Elana Elkin, Rita Loch-Caruso, Akram Alshawabkeh


Elana is the first PROTECT Trainee to receive this award, and we are so proud of her success. Congratulations, Elana!

If you want to learn more about Elana, check out her recent feature in the NIEHS Newsletter.