The Gelfond Fund for Mercury Related Research and Outreach, established by SBU alum Richard Gelfond, CEO and Director of IMAX Corporation and Chair of the Stony Brook Foundation, will advance scientific understanding of methylmercury accumulation in human diets and its effects on human health.
Almost 25 percent of all New York City adults and nearly 50 percent of Asian New Yorkers are estimated to have blood mercury levels at or over the New York State reportable level, according to a 2007 study by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Humans are primarily exposed to mercury through consumption of seafood that contains methylmercury. While all fish have some contamination, the bigger, longer-lived fish such as shark, swordfish, and species of larger tuna have the highest levels.
“It is my hope that this program will highlight the dangers of methylmercury toxicity in the environment and lead to a greater understanding of the sources of toxicity and how that can be reduced,” said Gelfond, who personally experienced mercury poisoning related to frequent consumption of mercury-rich fish. “I also hope that the research will help physicians in diagnosing and treating this debilitating condition. SBU’s Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research (CIDER) is the perfect place to administer the gift because of its expertise in the relationship between health and the environment.”
“Mr. Gelfond’s generous donation will help to advance the science concerning mercury in the environment and its impact on marine life and on people who consume that marine life,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “It is our hope that this research will better inform both the medical community and the general public about the symptoms and dangers of mercury poisoning and lead to the development of better treatments for poisoning.”
“We want to assure that physicians are aware of the risks associated with consuming certain kinds of seafood and are delighted to have the participation of a group of medical experts focused on informing the medical community,” said Nicholas Fisher, Distinguished Professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and CIDER Director.