Dr. Cohen named to EPA Science Advisory Board

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | December 11, 2017

Image with caption: Samuel Cohen, M.D., Ph.D.

Samuel Cohen, M.D., Ph.D.

Samuel Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., Havlik-Wall Professor of Oncology in the UNMC Department of Pathology and Microbiology, has been named to the Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board (SAB).

About the SAB

In 1978, Congress directed the EPA to establish an SAB to provide scientific advice to the administrator. The board is authorized to:

  • review the quality and relevance of the scientific and technical information being used by the EPA or proposed as the basis for agency regulations;
  • review EPA research programs and plans;
  • provide science advice as requested by the EPA administrator, and
  • advise the agency on broad scientific matters.
Most (though not all) preliminary work of the SAB is done by subcommittees or panels focused on various environmental science topics. These groups are chaired by SAB members. Recommendations of subcommittees and panels are transmitted to the SAB for discussion and deliberation. Recommendations are forwarded to EPA only if the SAB determines that it is appropriate.
Source: Environmental Protection Agency

"It's a lot of work, but it's an honor," said Dr. Cohen of the three-year appointment.

As a practicing medical pathologist who also is involved in basic research with a long track record in toxicology and chemical carcinogenesis, Dr. Cohen noted that he will be one of the few SAB members who "bridges that gap between human disease and animal models."

"I've been involved in many things over the years where that combination of expertise has been critical to address issues," Dr. Cohen said.

Dr. Cohen has been involved with the EPA in various roles for more than 25 years. He also has served on a number of other committees involved with the science of risk assessment at other national agencies.

He goes into the new appointment, he said, with "trepidation," but with the hope that he can make a difference.

"The reason I agreed to even apply for this position was that they said they were going to focus on the science," he said. "If we're going to do that, then I think that I can have an impact on the path forward. As a scientist and as a citizen, that's something I feel strongly about."

Dr. Cohen pointed out that many UNMC investigators serve on a variety of national committees, an effort he applauds.

"You're not going to get rich doing this kind of work," he said. "It's a lot, and you have to squeeze it into everything else you're doing. You don't do this lightly, because it will take a lot of effort, but the reward is that you can actually have an impact.

"One of the things I'm hoping we can accomplish is to bring better science, stronger science, to policy decisions."

He pointed to work he was involved with, through the EPA and Health Canada, that resulted in a framework to establish how things happen in the animal models, and, more importantly, how results from an animal model could be extrapolated to humans.

The results of this effort, which began in 1996, were initially published in 2003 in Critical Reviews in Toxicology and incorporated into the EPA and Health Canada cancer guidelines.

"I chaired that committee," he said. "I put in God knows how many hours, but this has had an enormous impact on the field of risk assessment."

And that is the essence of the reward of this type of work, he said.

"We brought real science to the process and it has impacted the way regulatory agencies evaluate the science."


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Tom O'Connor
December 11, 2017 at 11:24 AM

Great recognition for one of UNMC's longtime superstars. Know you'll make us proud, Sam!

Clarence Ueda
December 11, 2017 at 10:15 AM

Congratulations, Sam. The recognition is well deserved. Make a difference!

Peter Iwen
December 11, 2017 at 8:42 AM

Sam, a well deserved honor and I appreciate your willingness to participate in this important activity. Your expertise will surely be a welcomed edition!

Rebecca Rae Anderson
December 11, 2017 at 8:38 AM

Wow. So glad a person of integrity is stepping up to the plate.

Traci Clemons
December 11, 2017 at 7:56 AM

Congratulations Sam!!

Greg Karst
December 11, 2017 at 7:30 AM

Congratulations, Sam. At a time when the EPA is under siege, it's good to see a real scientist being appointed to this vital position, and I appreciate the sacrifice you're making in agreeing to serve.

Carol Russell
December 11, 2017 at 7:28 AM

Congratulations Sam!! Carol Russell

Howard E. Gendelman, M.D.
December 11, 2017 at 4:39 AM

Congratulations on this well deserved honor.