University of Mississippi
School of Pharmacy Division of Environmental Toxicology

Environemntal Toxicology Research Program

What's New?

Research underway on the effects of at least two major environmental events (Katrina and the BP Gulf Oil Spill), are becoming noteworthy and newsworthy.

Click to read up on what's making news as it relates to our department.

  • View our Slideshow

  • School of Pharmacy Recognizes Faculty for Research, Instructional Innovations and Service

  • The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy recognized four faculty members for research, instructional innovation and service during its annual fall faculty retreat. Mahmoud A. ElSohly, research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, was presented with the Cumberland Pharmaceuticals Inc. Research Award, and Soumyajit Majumdar, associate professor of pharmaceutics, received the New Investigator Award. Daniel Riche, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and medicine, received the Faculty Instructional Innovations Award, and Robert Doerksen, associate professor of medicinal chemistry, received the pharmacy school's Faculty Service Award.

    The entire story can be read at the link below:


  • UM-Led Research Team Awarded $20 Million to Study Long-Term Effects of Gulf Oil Spill

  • A scientific consortium led by the University of Mississippi has been awarded $20 million over three years to study lingering environmental effects of the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The funding is part of $112.5 million awarded to eight research teams by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, or GRI, a group formed to help understand and mitigate the impacts of hydrocarbon pollution and stressors of the marine environment, with an emphasis on conditions found in the Gulf of Mexico. The GRI was established with a 10-year, $500 million commitment from BP.

    The entire story can be read at the link below:


  • Environmental Toxicology Researchers and Students Work to Assess Environmental Damage from Gulf Oil Spill

  • The University of Mississippi's graduate program in environmental toxicology began just four years ago, but the massive oil spill this summer in the Gulf of Mexico promises to provide research opportunities to keep faculty and students busy for decades. Several UM researchers are studying the spill's effects on the region's fish, shellfish and plant life. The work has serious implications for tourism, fishing and other activities across the Gulf Coast region, said Kristine Willett, associate professor of pharmacology and graduate program coordinator for the Environmental Toxicology Research Program in the School of Pharmacy.

    The entire story can be read at the link below:

    Watch video:


  • Students Have Career-Changing Experience In Bahamas Underwater Laboratory...
    Help marine biologists examine coral reef extinction risk

  • Marc Slattery (seated in rear) takes a group of students out for a morning of snorkeling on the reef. UM photo by Michelle Edwards.

    Marc Slattery (seated in rear) takes a group of students out for a morning of snorkeling on the reef. UM photo by Michelle Edwards.

    Teaching assistant Lindsay O'Donahue (left) and graduate student Sly Lee mix food for a pufferfish experiment in the lab at Lee Stocking Island. UM photo by Michelle Edwards.

    Teaching assistant Lindsay O'Donahue (left) and graduate student Sly Lee mix food for a pufferfish experiment in the lab at Lee Stocking Island. UM photo by Michelle Edwards.

    OXFORD, Miss. – After spending part of their summer exploring coral reefs in the Bahamas, several University of Mississippi students are contemplating new career choices.

    Researchers from UM and the University of Alabama led the students on a underwater study in a protected marine reserve off Lee Stocking Island, part of the Great Exuma chain of the Bahama Islands. Funded by the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology, part of NOAA'S Office of Ocean Exploration and Research at Ole Miss, the aim was to motivate a new generation to explore the continued survival of coral reefs.

    "This was a great opportunity to give our students an introduction to the tropics, something they would probably not be able to do otherwise," said NIUST executive director Ray Highsmith. "I was lucky as an undergraduate to be taken to a wonderful tropical coral reef as a research assistant, and it changed my life. I'll be surprised if that doesn't happen to some of these students."

    That seems to be the case for Sly Lee, a 21-year-old UM environmental toxicology graduate student from Oxford. "The class in the Bahamas made me realize that coral reefs are completely doomed if we continue our current path and lifestyles as inhabitants on this planet," Lee said. "I also discovered that I want to study these marine ecosystems and maybe even discover new compounds. Plus, 'I travel the world scuba diving' has a nice ring to it."

    One of the most diverse, richest ecosystems on the planet, coral reefs are threatened by pollution, climate change and human activities. The risks of coral reef extinction are so real that marine biologists worldwide are frantically studying the problem. Scientists from UM and UA are trying to better understand coral disease and ocean acidification in the reef near Lee Stocking Island. With a fish-eye view of the crystal clear turquoise waters, the team observes one of nature's most fragile, yet bountiful tropical marine ecosystems.

    "Coral reefs help provide food, medications along with other goods and services to hundreds of millions of people worldwide, yet they are disappearing at alarming rates," said UM pharmacognosy professor Marc Slattery, an expert on briny invertebrates and algae. "The Caribbean is a biodiversity hot spot, and without study they too may be lost to future generations."

    This summer, the team examined reefs submerged 200 to 300 feet below the surface, depths overlooked by prior surveys, said Slattery, director of NIUST's Ocean Biotechnology Center and Repository. Slattery hopes to discover new pharmaceutical compounds from coral reef organisms.

    Lee and other students also got their feet wet as Slattery and colleagues led a related two-week graduate course, "Coral Reef Stressors: Adaptation in Tropical Marine Ecosystems," at the nearby Perry Institute for Marine Sciences. Students described their maritime encounters with multicolored fish, corals, sponges and sea fans as life-changing.

    "The course was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Mallory Johnson, a 21-year-old first-year UM pharmacy student from Brookhaven. "I was able to visualize, firsthand, the process of developing potential pharmaceuticals from the marine environment."

    In addition to scuba diving and snorkeling up to three hours for daily afternoon fieldwork, the typical day onshore included morning laboratory experiments and nightcap lectures. The course will be offered again next summer, and Johnson encourages her peers to consider taking the class.

    Other researchers working with Slattery on the project include UM's Deborah Gochfeld, an expert on corals and fish from the National Center for Natural Product Research, and UA's Julie Olson, a microbial ecologist with expertise in biological oceanography. The team brought home plenty of samples of the coral and other sea life, and Slattery said they will be busy for months examining them for signs of changes in the reef's health.

    For more information about NIUST, visit (tobie baker)

    * * * * For more news from the University of Mississippi, visit