A multidisciplinary team of researchers from Michigan State University was awarded a five-year fellowship National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to make Michigan’s water safer. The team will use these funds to conduct innovative and collaborative biomedical and remedial technology research.
In 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency identified high levels of dioxin-like contamination in the Tittabawassee River and the adjacent floodplain near its confluence with the Saginaw River in Michigan. Based on the potential human health and environmental impacts of this contamination, a highly specialized research team from MSU SRP will now investigate dioxin-like compounds in this area. The goal of the MSU SRP team is to develop innovative solutions to reduce these toxins and better understand the health risks they cause.
Chemicals from the halogenated aromatic hydrocarbon family are persistent environmental pollutants that accumulate in the food chain. Chemicals of greatest concern to human and environmental health bind with high affinity to a protein called an aryl hydrocarbon receptor and are often described as “dioxin-like.” These chemicals, which include polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans, biphenyls, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, are persistent fat-soluble contaminants in the environment that accumulate in the food chain, leading to human and wildlife exposure.
Although dioxin-like compounds have been studied extensively, there is no precise understanding of the relationship between alterations in specific biochemical processes and the particular toxic responses observed in animals or humans. There is also limited understanding of how dioxin-like compounds interact with soil components, which may act as a type of filter and help limit their effects on living organisms. In addition, not much is known about the enzymes present in microorganisms in the environment that may be capable of degrading dioxin-like compounds.
Building on these crucial data gaps, three complementary and highly integrated biomedical research projects are the foundation of the recently funded SRP Center grant with the goal of linking biochemical processes induced by dioxin-like compounds with specific toxic responses elicited. in the liver, thyroid and immune system. system. In addition, two environmental science and engineering projects will work to advance existing knowledge about the bioavailability of dioxin-like compounds when attached to soil components and to characterize environmental microbial organisms capable of degrading dioxin-like compounds, including the specific enzymes involved.
“The SRP Center provides a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary approaches and collaborations, which is critical when tackling complex scientific problems,” said the principal investigator. Norbert Kaminskidirector of the Institute for Integrative Toxicology at MSU.
These research projects will be supported by five nuclei:
- The Computational Modeling Core will develop dynamic computational models of biological responses induced by aryl hydrocarbon receptor ligands.
- The Administrative Nucleus will support research, training, community participation, data management, and information and technology transfer. Within the Administrative Core, a research translation group will share research results with target audiences in government, industry, and academia.
- Community Engagement Core will reach out to community stakeholders through engagement with county and city health officials in three new Michigan communities that continue to experience dioxin exposure.
- The Data Management and Analytics Hub will provide the necessary technology, expertise, infrastructure and training to curate the datasets, metadata, and processing and analysis required to appropriately manage and share reproducible, high-quality data.
- The Center for the Coordination of Training and Research Experience will guarantee the transversal training of predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows.
The SRP Center team includes 25 researchers from the following institutions: Michigan State University (20), Emory University (1), Purdue University (1), Rutgers University (2), and the Department of Health and Human Services from Michigan (1). The grant is administered by the MSU Institute for Integrative Toxicology. The results of the SRP Center studies will be integrated using data science approaches to develop predictive computational models of adverse effects in support of risk assessment efforts.
Learn more about each of the Projects and nuclei of the SRP Center.