February 5th 2007

Fellow William Au awarded top honor from ATSDR

The Collegium Ramazzini is pleased to extended our belated congratuations to Professor William Au, who on on July 17, 2003, received the top honor from the United States Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) for his outstanding contributions to the agency and to public health.

Professor Au received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1977. He received post-doctoral training at the MD Anderson Cancer Institute, University of Texas System Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. Subsequently, he became a staff member in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In 1984, he moved back to Texas. He is currently Professor in the Division of Environmental Toxicology, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas. He has an impressive track record in conducting outstanding research in genetic toxicology and genetic susceptibility to environmental disease. In addition, he is well respected for his tremendously successful outreach activities to scientific communities.

Professor Au directs a highly productive research program. He has published over 125 papers of original research work in peer-reviewed journals, 8 monographs, and 22 book chapters and reports. With his graduate student, E.G. Hanania, they made early contributions to the field of gene transfer and gene therapy (Hanania et al., 1995). With his visiting scientist and student, they made early and important observations regarding genetic susceptibility to environmental cancer (Anwar, et al., 1996; Cajas-Salazar, et al., 2003). With another visiting scientist, Carsten Harms, they developed a new molecular technique to identify novel genes or uniquely altered genes in organisms. The technique is patented in Germany and in the US, 2003.

Professor Au is well respected for his unselfish and untiring effort in conducting scientific outreach activities. With major support from the Environmental Mutagen Society, International Association of Environmental Societies, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (USA) and the University of Texas Medical Branch, he has organized many international workshops and conferences on environmental toxicology and health. The major objective of these activities is to bring scientific expertise to the locations where such expertise and collaborations are needed the most. These workshops and conferences have therefore been organized in Brazil, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Poland, South Africa, Thailand and Zimbabwe. These activities have sparked local and regional interest in environmental toxicology and health. Consequently, many successful and sustainable programs were developed.

Professor Au’s untiring effort in the promotion of achievements is most evident in the accomplishments of his former students, trainees and visiting professors. He takes tremendous pride in the success of his former associates. Dr. Wagida Anwar became the Assistant Minister of Health of Egypt. Dr. Moon Heo became the Dean of the School of Pharmacy at Kwangeon National University, Korea. Dr. Hasna Shafik is the Chair of the Department of Pathology and Microbiology at Texas Chiropractic College, Texas, USA. Dr. Elie Hanania is the Director of Cell and Molecular Biology at Oncosis, California, USA. Dr. Hernan Sierra-Torres is Director of Human Genetics Laboratory, University of Cauca, Colombia.

Professor Au is truly an outstanding scientist and a beloved individual. He is well qualified to receive the two international awards and we are certain that he will receive more recognition in the future.

Text adapted from International Journal of Hygiene & Environmental Health 207, 83-84, 2004



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