Research Foundation News

May 22, 2019

Getting the lead and other metals out: Better detection can save lives

Fulbright Scholars award to help Purdue researcher establish innovative lab to identify common exposures to harmful metals, expand education through international alliance

Linda Nie Linda Nie, an associate professor of health sciences in Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences, won a Global Scholar Award through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Awards. (Image provided) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Some of the metals people are exposed to every day – even through typical activities such as eating and drinking water – have been linked to cancer, Parkinson’s disease and other serious illnesses.

A Purdue University researcher, who has developed novel technologies and created other research to address this issue, has won a Global Scholar Award through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Awards to continue her work.

“This award will help us continue to establish ourselves as one of the leading human body composition labs in the nation and in the world,” said Linda Nie, an associate professor of health sciences in Purdue’s College of Health and Human Sciences. “It will serve as one of the most advanced and integrated research and training labs for researchers and students who are interested in applying nuclear technologies in environmental health, medicine and life science.”

Nie has worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization on patenting some of her innovations to try to reduce the number of people affected by health problems associated with the accumulation of metals in the body. Now, through the Global Scholar Award, she will spend six months with Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron Research Center in Germany and the Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea to study metals and human health.

“These are the best synchrotron facilities in the world,” Nie said. “This visit will greatly enhance my lab’s knowledge and research collaborations in synchrotron x-ray technologies. My work provides unique methods to perform exposure assessment of toxic metals, to quantify essential and trace elements in the body in vivo, and to make use of this information to determine an individual’s metal exposure and nutrition status.”

Nie said she hopes some of her technology also can be used to provide data to show the need for improved worker policies and water supply practices to limit exposure to metals.

Nie’s work aligns with Purdue's Giant Leaps celebration, celebrating the global advancements in health research and technology as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. Health is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University.           

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Chris Adam, 765-588-3341, 

Linda Nie, 

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