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Duke Report on Early Life Lead Exposure Wins Top Paper of the Year

Aaron Reuben, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in the Moffit & Caspi lab at Duke, has been awarded the 2022 Cozzarelli Prize from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) for his 2022 research paper on the wide-spread exposure to leaded gasoline in early life.

Reuben’s paper was selected as one of just six papers published in 2022 among more than 3,200 research articles published in the journal last year.

Back in March 2022, Reuben and his co-authors found that more than 170 million Americans (more than half of the U.S. population) had clinically concerning levels of lead in their blood when they were children, likely resulting in lower IQs and putting them at higher risk for other long-term health impairments, such as reduced brain size, greater likelihood of mental illness, and increased cardiovascular disease in adulthood.

The paper was widely shared throughout academic circles, as well as picked up by national media outlets who covered their important work, including the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the Associated Press, and many others.

The Cozzarelli Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the scientific disciplines represented by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), including “Behavioral and Social Sciences”, the category under which Reuben and his colleagues were awarded.

The annual prize acknowledges papers that reflect scientific excellence and originality. The award was established in 2005 as the Paper of the Year Prize and was renamed in 2007 to honor late PNAS Editor-in-Chief Nicholas R. Cozzarelli. The 2022 awardees will be recognized at an awards ceremony during the NAS Annual Meeting in April 2023.