Bernstein Receives Outstanding New Environmental Scientist Award

April 15, 2021

IIT-affiliated faculty member Alison Bernstein has received an Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for her project, “Dieldrin-induced differential gene methylation and parkinsonian toxicity.” The award is in recognition of her research into the interaction of genetics and environmental exposure, specifically how some pesticides alter neurons in the brain that produce dopamine, a chemical that is lost in Parkinson’s disease patients.

This grant will build on Bernstein’s previous research exploring how toxic exposures contribute to increased risk of Parkinson’s. The new research funded by this grant will enhance understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms underlying the well-documented epidemiological link between exposure to environmental toxicants and risk of Parkinson’s disease. Specifically, Bernstein and her laboratory will use a two-hit rodent model they recently developed that combines developmental pesticide exposure and the alpha-synuclein pre-formed fibril model and a 3D neuronal cell model. “These experiments will help to identify how developmental exposure to the pesticide dieldrin leads to increased susceptibility to Parkinson’s disease using the alpha-synuclein pre-formed fibril model,” said Bernstein. 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.

Bernstein is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Translational Neuroscience in the College of Human Medicine. Research in the Bernstein lab focuses on how epigenetic modifications mediate neurotoxicological effects and gene-environment interactions underlying sporadic neurodegenerative diseases.

To read more about Bernstein and her ONES award, please visit: