Michigan State’s Alison Bernstein Honored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Alison Bernstein, an assistant professor of translational neuroscience in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University, has received the Outstanding New Environmental Scientist Award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The award is in recognition of her research into the interaction of genetics and environmental exposure, such as how some pesticides alter neurons in the brain that produce dopamine, a chemical that declines in Parkinson’s patients.

The award comes with a grant of $500,000 the first year and $250,000 in each of the next four years to support Bernstein’s research into the pesticide dieldrin and its possible connection to Parkinson’s disease. Dieldrin was commonly used on crops as an insecticide in the 1950s through 1970s and to kill termites into the 1980s. It eventually was banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“I’m ridiculously excited,” said Dr. Bernstein. “There are some amazing scientists who received this award before me. I’m humbled I’m now part of this group. It’s not me alone. It’s all the mentors who trained me to be a good scientist and everyone in my lab who worked on these projects.”

Dr. Bernstein joined the faculty at Michigan State in 2016. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and holds a Ph.D. in molecular genetics and genomics from Washington University in St. Louis.

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