Zinc fingers, heavy metal toxicity on the Navajo Nation

November 2015 – The UNM Center for Advanced Research Computing recently debuted its short documentary Zinc Fingers and Heavy Metal Toxicity on the Navajo Nation at the International Supercomputing Conference in Austin, Texas. This film was created in conjunction with the Social Media Workgroup (SMW), a Center for Advanced Research Computing (CARC) partner that investigates the social and ecological impacts of media technology through practice-based research.

See Zinc Fingers and Heavy Metal Toxicity on the Navajo Nation here.

The video features interviews with Dr. Johnnye Lynn Lewis, director of the UNM Community Environmental Health Program at the College of Pharmacy, the UNM Metals Group, and the Center for Native American Environmental Health Equity Research; Dr. Laurie Hudson, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the UNM Health Sciences Center; and Dr. Susan R. Atlas, director of the UNM Center for Advanced Research Computing and Research Professor in the UNM Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The Navajo Nation was heavily mined for uranium for weapons development during World War II and the Cold War. As a result, there are more than 500 abandoned uranium mines and a total of over 1,100 waste sites scattered throughout the nation. Heavy metals, including arsenic, uranium, copper, and cadmium are common contaminants in groundwater used for drinking by human beings and livestock.

Zinc Fingers and Heavy Metal Toxicity on the Navajo Nation explores the multi-disciplinary research that is being conducted at UNM to identify the problem of mine waste and heavy metals toxicity within communities on the Navajo Nation.

The documentary also focuses on research into zinc-finger proteins, and how that research offers a potential way of reversing the toxicity of some of the heavy metals, and the possibility of supplementing zinc to reverse damage from ongoing exposure.

Huge data sets with multiple outcomes matrices collected from environmental assessments and laboratory experiments performed by Dr. Lewis and Dr. Hudson’s groups are processed and stored at the Center for Advanced Research Computing.

Center for Advanced Research Computing

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