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Computational Toxicology $3.2M Awarded to the University of Houston for a Comp-Tox Developmental Toxicity Center

EPA has awarded $3.2M to the University of Houston to develop a virtual developmental toxicity research center with Texas A&M and the University of Indiana. The Texas Indiana Virtual STAR (TIVS) Center will contribute to the evolution of more reliable chemical risk assessments by developing high throughput in vitro and in silico screening models of developmental toxicity. The models will use zebrafish and murine embryonic stem cells to analyze the effects of toxic chemicals on the developing embryo.

The primary aim of the three-year grant is to contribute to a more reliable chemical risk assessment that will generate clues as to how certain chemicals affect human health. This will provide researchers with a wealth of new information about what toxins may cause serious diseases. Zebrafish and murine embryonic stem cells will be exposed to a wide array of environmental pollutants to determine impacts such as damage to brain stem cells or neurons which may result in a greater risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases in adulthood, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, as well as detecting developmental effects like spina bifida, a common birth defect. The researchers will also attempt to determine if there is a certain window of time when embryos are more susceptible to toxins during their development. The data produced in zebrafish and embryonic stem cells will be used to simulate certain developmental processes to create computer models for toxicity screening.

Jan-Ake Gustafsson, Director of the Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling (CNRCS) at UH from which this research has emanated, will direct the new TIVS center.

For more information on:

NCER STAR research grant establishing TIVS

Other NCER STAR Comp-Tox Centers

Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling (CNRCS) exit EPA at UH

More information on the TIVS Center Director Jan-ake Gustafsson exit EPA

Other news coverage about this grant award:
EurekAlert: EPA awards UH lead role to study toxin effects on embryonic development exit EPA
UH Press Release - Lisa Merkl exit EPA

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