Environment link may be ‘major finding’

Everyone has something that keeps them going. For Michael Skinner, director for the Center for Reproductive Biology at WSU, those things are a basic curiosity and a drive to find the answers to questions.

Over the past couple of years, Skinner and his research team discovered a direct link between environmental exposures and human reproductive health. In essence, this research suggests that a toxicant your great-grandmother was exposed to could affect your health without changing the genes themselves.

“If verified, this discovery could be on the level of the discovery of how genes work — a major finding in biology,” said Michael Griswold, dean of the College of Sciences.

For his groundbreaking research, Skinner is recognized internationally, and he is frequently on review panels, review boards and editorial boards. WSU is recognizing this work by awarding Skinner the 2006 Faculty Excellence Award for Research, Scholarship and the Arts.

“Mike is exactly the kind of leader we want to have occupying all faculty positions,” said Griswold. “We’re lucky to have him here.”

Skinner served as a faculty member of several universities before coming to WSU, but was drawn here not only because of the quality of the program, but for the quality of life Pullman affords. There are not too many places in the country where you have a large university located in a small town, he said.

“WSU is fortunate to have Dr. Skinner on the faculty,” said Edward M. Eddy, biomedical research service senior investigator with the National Institutes of Health. “He is an exceptional and highly productive scientist.”

He also insists on sharing the praise. “No researcher is autonomous,” Skinner said. “It is my research lab that should be receiving equal credit.”

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