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New Dalla Lana Director Appointed Expert in occupational and environmental medicine to lead Dalla Lana

November 11/2011

The Dalla Lana School of Public Health’s new director brings with him an impressive pedigree from teaching and research stints at Harvard and the University of Michigan.

Dr. Howard Hu is an internist with credentials in occupational and environmental health, as well as a degree in epidemiology. The agenda committee of Academic Board approved his appointment at their Nov. 9 meeting.
Hu is currently the NSF International Department Chair in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan. He is also a professor of environmental health, epidemiology and internal medicine and director of the Michigan NIEHS Center for Research on Lifestage Exposures, Epigenetics and Adult Disease.

Prior to his appointment at Michigan, Hu taught at Harvard University where he was a professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Channing Laboratory of the Brigham & Women’s Hospital. He directed the Harvard metals epidemiology research group, the Center for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research and the Harvard University residency program in occupational and environmental medicine.

Known for creative and innovative research on environmental health, Hu has focused on issues such as the adverse health effects of lead and other heavy metals, the impacts of gene/environment interactions, the long-term effects of fetal exposure to lead and other chemical toxicants and interactions between aging and the environment.

A prolific researcher, he has authored or co-authored more than 300 scientific papers and book chapters and co-edited or co-authored seven books. He is also involved in disseminating valuable research; Hu was the founding medical editor and continues as an associate editor of Environmental Health Perspectives, the official journal of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Hu’s numerous awards and honours include: the 1999 National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Progress and Achievement Award; the 2006 Harriet Hardy Award; the 2009 Linus Pauling Lifetime Achievement Award; and most recently, the 2011 American Public Health Association Award for Excellence for his work on environmental health issues as well as his advocacy for human rights.

Hu successfully melds his medical expertise with human rights work. He has served as the principal epidemiologist and/or leader on fact-finding missions related to potential violations of human rights in South Korea, Iraq, Burma and Guatemala on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights, and he also served on that organization’s board of directors. He was chair of the Research Commission for the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, has served on the population and public health practice board of the Institute of Medicine and currently serves on the board on environmental studies and toxicology of the National Research Council.

“Dr. Hu is an eminent researcher, clinician and educator, and he is also a man with a strong sense of social responsibility,” said Professor Cheryl Misak, vice-president and provost. “He will undoubtedly be an excellent leader of the Dalla Lana school and an equally impressive role model for our students.”

Professor Cathy Whiteside, dean of the Faculty of Medicine, concurred.
“Dr. Hu brings a highly distinguished record of research and service to the Dalla Lana School of Public Health,” she said. “I know we will all welcome him to the University of Toronto.”