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About The Gelfond Fund



The Gelfond Fund for Mercury Research & Outreach aims to improve the understanding of how mercury cycles in our environment and the health effects of methylmercury from fish consumption. We are focused on providing information to the public and health professionals about how mercury gets into seafood and what the health effects can be from too much mercury.  We do not want to discourage people from eating seafood. We believe that once informed, people can make appropriate choices for themselves.  What makes the message challenging is that all fish are not equal--some fish have more methylmercury than others as well as varying amounts of nutritious components such as omega-3 fatty acids. We aim to help inform people about the seafood they choose to eat.

In addition to outreach, the Gelfond Fund also seeks to identify areas where there are gaps in the scientific understanding about methylmercury and provide pilot funding to launch research efforts. Lastly we aim to serve as a resource for scientists and others interested in data on mercury in seafood.

The Gelfond Fund was started in 2009 by Richard Gelfond, a donor and friend to Stony Brook University (SBU) who experienced serious health effects from consuming a lot of fish. As someone who ate seafood several times a week for the health benefits, he was unaware that there were any potential negative health consequences to his diet.  When his health became affected he spent many months seeing physicians and undergoing multiple costly tests before he was diagnosed. His intention with the donation was to raise awareness of the issue both among the general population but also because of his medical experiences, to help inform physicians so that others are diagnosed expediently. 



While learning himself about methylmercury, he also discovered that there is much to be learned about the mechanism of action of methylmercury both in the marine environment and with respect to human health effects. He chose the Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research(CIDER) as the home for his gift because of CIDER’s focus on the relationship of the environment and human health.  Under the direction of Nicholas Fisher, Distinguished Professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, the Gelfond Fund supports research to improve knowledge of methylmercury in the marine environment.  

The first activity of the program was to convene a workshop of experts to summarize the current status of understanding about methylmercury in the environment and its effects on human health, in order to provide guidance as to where the program should focus effort and resources. The workshop was held on May 20-21, 2009 at Stony Brook University’s Manhattan campus and a report was generated. Download the report »