Theo Colborn

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Theo Colborn
Theo Colborn (1927-2014).jpg
Theo Colborn in 2010
Born Theodora Emily Decker
(1927-03-28)March 28, 1927
Plainfield, New Jersey
Died December 14, 2014(2014-12-14) (aged 87)
Nationality United States
Fields Zoology
Institutions University of Florida
Alma mater Rutgers University
Western State Colorado University
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Known for Pioneer in the field of endocrine disrupting chemicals

Theodora Emily Colborn[1] (née Decker; March 28, 1927 – December 14, 2014) was Founder and President Emeritus of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX), based in Paonia, Colorado, and Professor Emeritus of Zoology at the University of Florida, Gainesville. She was an environmental health analyst, and best known for her studies on the health effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals. She died in 2014.[2]

Academic career[edit]

Colborn earned a PhD at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in Zoology (distributed minors in epidemiology, toxicology, and water chemistry); an MA in Science at Western State College of Colorado (fresh-water ecology); and a BS in Pharmacy from Rutgers University, College of Pharmacy. In 1985, Colborn received a Fellowship from the Office of Technology Assessment, U.S. Congress. From there, in 1987, she joined the Conservation Foundation to provide scientific guidance for the 1990 book, Great Lakes, Great Legacy?, in collaboration with the Institute for Research and Public Policy, Ottawa, Canada at the request of the Canada/US International Joint Commission. She established and directed the Wildlife and Contaminants Program at World Wildlife Fund, US. She also held a Chair for three years, starting in 1990, with the W. Alton Jones Foundation, and was given a three-year Pew Fellows Award in 1993.[3]

Colborn served on numerous advisory panels, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board, the Ecosystem Health Committee of the International Joint Commission of the United States and Canada, the Science Management Committee of the Toxic Substances Research Initiative of Canada, the U.S. EPA Endocrine Disruptor Screening and Testing Advisory Committee, and the EPA Endocrine Disruption Methods and Validation Subcommittee. She published and lectured extensively on the consequences of prenatal exposure to synthetic chemicals by the developing embryo and fetus in wildlife, laboratory animals, and humans.[3]

In 2003 she founded a non-profit, TEDX, to carry on the work of providing objective, technical information about endocrine disruption and related low-exposure hazards for academicians, policy makers, government employees, community-based and health support groups, public health authorities, physicians, the media, and individuals.[4]

Endocrine disruption[edit]

Colborn's 1988 research on the state of the environment of the Great Lakes revealed that persistent, man-made chemicals were being transferred from top predator females (including birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles) to their offspring and undermining the development and programming of their youngsters’ organs before they were born or hatched.[5] In light of this evidence, in 1991 she convened 21 international scientists from 15 different disciplines to share their research relevant to trans-generational health impacts.[6] Specific participant and specialty information is provided in the Wingspread Consensus Statement.[7]

During that meeting, the term “endocrine disruption” was coined; and a book followed in 1992 titled Chemically Induced Alterations in Sexual and Functional Development: The Wildlife/Human Connection, which is a collection of technical manuscripts provided by those who attended the session.[7] The information from this volume and numerous subsequent scientific publications on the result of low-dose and/or ambient exposure effects of endocrine disruptors was popularized in her 1996 book, Our Stolen Future, co-authored with Dianne Dumanoski and John Peterson Myers, now published in 18 languages.[8][9] Colborn’s work has prompted the enactment of new laws around the world and redirected the research of academicians, governments, and the private sector.

Awards and honors[edit]

Colborn received many awards and honors for her work, including: The Jonathan Foreman Award, American Academy of Environmental Medicine, October 2014; The Jean and Leslie Douglas Pearl Award, December 2013; Twenty-Seventh International Neurotoxicology Conference, Theo Colborn Award, November 2011; Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, University of Colorado Boulder, May 2011; French National Museum of Natural History, Medal, April 2011; The Swedish Goteborg Prize for the Environment and Sustainability, November 2008; TIME Global Environmental Heroes Award, October 2007; National Council on Science and the Environment, Lifetime Achievement Award, February 2007; University of California San Francisco Medical School/Collaborative for Health and the Environment 2007 Summit Award: A Woman on the Forefront: Leadership and Integrity in Science, January 2007; Beyond Pesticides, 2006 Dragonfly Award, April 2006; The Center for Science in the Public Interest, Rachel Carson Award, May 2004; Society of Toxicology and Environmental Chemistry, Rachel Carson Award, November 2003; International Blue Planet Prize, Asahi Glass Foundation, Japan, October 2000; Norwegian International Rachel Carson Prize, June 1999; Audubon Magazine: A Century of Conservation, 100 Champions of Conservation, 1998; State of the World Forum, Mikhail Gorbachev, “Change Makers Award,” November 1997; Rachel Carson Leadership Award, Chatham College, June 1997; United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Women Leadership in the Environment Award, March 1997; National Conservation Achievement Award in Science, National Wildlife Federation, 1994; Pew Scholars Award in Environment and Conservation, June 1993 – 1996; W. Alton Jones Foundation, Fellowship, June 1990 – 1993; The National Water Alliance Award for Excellence in Protecting the Nation's Aquatic Resources, June 1991; US Congressional Fellowship, Office of Technology Assessment, 1985.[3][10]

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c TEDX. "About TEDX: Our People: Theo Colborn, Ph.D., President Emeritus". Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  4. ^ TEDX. "About TEDX: Introduction". Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Colborn, Theo; et al. (1990). Great Lakes, Great Legacy?. Washington, D.C., Ottawa, Ontario: The Conservation Foundation, Institute for Research on Public Policy. ISBN 0-89164-115-7. 
  6. ^ Markey, Caroline M. (2002). "Endocrine disruptors: from Wingspread to environmental developmental biology". Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 83: 235–244. doi:10.1016/S0960-0760(02)00272-8. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Colborn, Theo (1992). "Chemically-induced alterations in sexual and functional development: the wildlife/human connection". Advances in modern environmental toxicology, USA. 
  8. ^ Colborn, Theo; Dumanoski, Dianne; Myers, John Peterson (1997). Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival? - a Scientific Detective Story. Abacus. ISBN 9780349108780. 
  9. ^ "W. Alton Jones Foundation helps to fund hundreds of environmental groups". Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  10. ^ Yount, Lisa (2003). "Colborn, Theo E.". A to Z of biologists. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing. pp. 49–50. ISBN 978-1-4381-0917-6. 

External links[edit]