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Navigating the Science: Evaluating Research Quality

Jun 30, 2011

Scientific evidence on the health effects of environmental contaminants continues to mount. The range of research available is, however, of variable quality and largely unfamiliar to health care professionals. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco’s Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, along with multiple partners, have developed a methodology called the Navigation Guide that links evidence-based medicine and environmental health evaluation. As recently described in the journal Health Affairs, the Navigation Guide is a valuable tool to evaluate the quality of evidence and to support evidence-based decision making by clinicians, patients, professional organizations and governmental agencies for environmental chemicals.

CHE Fertility Working Group hosted this CHE Partnership call for an important discussion on the development of the Navigation Guide and its practical applications. Dr. Tracey Woodruff from UCSF presented the theoretical basis for the methodology. Dr. Jeanne Conry of ACOG District IX explained how to use the tool to find the best available evidence to make clinical decisions and recommendations. Dr. Kristina Thayer of the National Toxicology Program described the contribution of this methodology to the field of risk assessment. To round out the discussion, Dr. Kate Guyton of the US EPA discussed the relevance of the Navigation Guide to policy making human health risk assessments of environmental chemicals at US EPA.

Featured speakers included:

Tracey WoodruffTracey Woodruff, PhD, MPH. Dr. Woodruff is the Director of PRHE and an Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and Pediatrics. She has done extensive research and policy development on environmental health issues, with a particular emphasis on early-life development. Her research areas include evaluating prenatal exposures to chemicals and associated adverse health effects, assessing children’s health risks, and environmental health policy. Previously Dr. Woodruff held a position at the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) as a senior scientist and policy advisor in the Office of Policy.  She is the author of two EPA reports on children’s environmental health indicators, coauthor of the 2005 US EPA guidance addressing childhood susceptibility to carcinogens for use in risk assessment, author of numerous scientific publications, and an Associate Editor of Environmental Health Perspectives.

Jeanne ConryJeanne Conry, MD. Dr. Conry is Assistant Physician-in-Chief for Kaiser Permanente’s Sacramento Roseville region.  She also serves as Chair of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District IX, representing 5,000 OBGYNs throughout California.  At the national level, she is Chair of the Council of District Chairs, and serves on the Committee for Practices in the Twenty-first Century and the Task Force regarding The Medical Home.  Throughout her career, Dr. Conry has played a key leadership role in women’s health issues. Her current goal with Kaiser Permanente is to develop a comprehensive preconception care program by championing women’s health and pregnancy planning. Dr. Conry is currently serving as a member of the Select Panel on Preconception Care for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is past Chair for the Preconception Health Council of California and oversees Interconception Care Project, a March of Dimes Grant to ACOG to improve preconception health care in California.

Kris ThayerKristina Thayer, PhD. Dr. Thayer is Director of the National Toxicology Program’s (NTP) Office of Health Assessment and Translation (OHAT) located on the campus of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). OHAT conducts evaluations to assess the evidence that environmental chemicals, physical substances, or mixtures (collectively referred to as "substances") cause adverse health effects and provides opinions on whether these substances may be of concern given what is known about current human exposure levels. OHAT also organizes workshops, state-of-the-science evaluations, or other analysis activities to address issues of importance in environmental health sciences. Before becoming director of OHAT, she held positions in the NTP Office of Liaison, Policy, and Review, the NIEHS Office of Risk Assessment Research and the NTP Center for the Evaluation or Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR). Prior to joining the NTP/NIEHS, she was a senior scientist at the World Wildlife Fund and then at the Environmental Working Group.

Kate GuytonKate Guyton, PhD, D.A.B.T. Dr. Kate Guyton is a Toxicologist in the National Center for Environmental Assessment in the Office of Research and Development at the US Environmental Protection Agency.  Among her duties, Dr. Guyton contributes expertise in carcinogenesis mechanisms to US EPA’s human health risk assessments of prevalent environmental contaminants (including tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, chloroform, and phthalates). Dr. Guyton has been certified as a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology since 1998.  She has authored more than 40 scientific articles and book chapters in her areas of expertise.  Additionally, Dr. Guyton leads several projects to advance approaches for assessing chemical risk, in keeping with scientific developments in disease causation, chemical mechanisms, and testing methods.  Prior to joining EPA in 2005, Dr. Guyton worked at CCS Associates supporting the National Cancer Institute.  Her work concerned the screening, prevention, treatment and imaging of cancer in at-risk populations.

The call was moderated by Karin Russ, National Coordinator, CHE- Fertility & Reproductive Health Working Group, and recorded for archival purposes.

 

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