by Erick R. Schmidt // Fall 2010
Marcus Iszard likes to hear his phone ring. It usually means that someone needs help — and that’s something he can offer. Iszard, an expert in environmental toxic contaminations, works as director of assessment and as associate professor in pharmacology and toxicology at the UMKC School of Pharmacy. He has appeared on radio and TV stations for locally well-known stories like the proliferation of brain tumors in Cameron, Mo., and an ongoing investigation of environmental contamination at the Bannister Federal Complex in Kansas City.
“I’m representing the University, and I always want to put the University in the best light,” he says. “If I just happen to be a part of the UMKC family and institution, then that’s all well and good.” Iszard brings an energy and an enthusiasm to his work, and also says he tries to work with a sense of humility. He prefers to consider himself a “community resource” rather than a media expert. He says he often receives calls from people who have seen him on a news broadcast, hoping he can answer their personal questions.
He says he has helped people better understand a medical situation their family member suffered from or given them peace of mind about a loss they have suffered. One woman worried that her father’s death had been a result of exposure to dangerous carcinogens in his workplace. Iszard says he determined that her father’s death had likely been of natural causes. “If I can, I’m always willing to certainly help them,” he says.
Before he came to UMKC, Iszard worked at Xavier University in New Orleans. His research helped uncover issues of ecological damage being done in the city long before Hurricane Katrina in 2005.In October, he will submit his final proposal for a five-year, $1 million grant that he says would help further answer questions about the issues in Cameron. “I’m no big company. I’m a scientist who can hopefully answer some questions on some serious health concerns,” he says. “It could bring peace to those who are most worried and to those who are most affected by this.”