ESE’s Surratt wins Health Effects Institute’s new investigator award

March 16, 2013
Dr. Jason Surratt

Dr. Jason Surratt

Jason Surratt, PhD, assistant professor in the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, has received the Walter A. Rosenblith New Investigator Award from the Health Effects Institute.

The Institute is a nonprofit corporation chartered in 1980 as an independent research organization aimed at providing high-quality, impartial and relevant science about the health effects of air pollution. Named for the first chair of the Institute’s research committee, the award supports the work of a promising scientist early in his or her career.

Surratt, who joined The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill public health faculty in 2010, received a doctorate in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. His research has focused upon secondary organic aerosols, which are formed by the reactions of compounds in the atmosphere.
His research on the New Investigator project will involve evaluating the toxic, inflammatory effects on human lung cells of particulate matter derived from the photochemical oxidation of isoprene. Isoprene is a small organic molecule that serves as a building block for larger compounds that contribute to the formation of particulate matter aerosols.
Surratt will generate particulate matter in smog chambers at UNC and other North Carolina locations and will characterize the nature of the products. To simulate an urban environment, isoprene-derived particulate matter will be mixed with other compounds common in cities, including auto engine emissions. Surratt and his team then will add the mixtures to lung cells in culture and perform experiments to determine which particle components are responsible for specific effects upon the lung cells.The award will help fund the work of postdoctoral fellow Ying-Hsuan Lin and doctoral student Maiko Arashiro, colleagues in Surratt’s laboratory.
In selecting recipients for the New Investigator Award, the Institute’s research committee considers an applicant’s potential for a productive scientific career in air pollution research, the support provided by the
applicant’s institution, and the scientific merit of the research project and its relevance to the Institute’s mission.The committee noted that Surratt’s proposed approach was innovative and multidisciplinary, bringing together state-of-the art atmospheric chemistry, exposure science and toxicologic approaches.

Fourteen other scientists have received the New Investigator Award since the inception of the program in 1999.



Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or