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U.S. EPA Awards U.C. Davis $800,000 to Study How Chemical Exposures May Impact Brain Development

Release Date: 02/12/2014
Contact Information: David Yogi, yogi.david@epa.gov, 415/972-3350

SAN FRANCISCO – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced over $3 million in grants to research institutions to better understand how chemicals interact with biological processes and how these interactions may lead to altered brain development. The studies are focused on improving EPA’s ability to predict the potential health effects of chemical exposures. The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) is one of the four grantees to receive $800,000 to conduct research on developmental neurotoxicity.

“This research will transform our understanding of how exposure to chemicals during sensitive lifestages affects the development of the brain,” said Lek Kadeli, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “By better predicting whether chemicals have the potential to impact health and human development, these grants will not only advance the science necessary to improve chemical safety but protect the well being and futures of children in this nation.”

From the project, UC Davis will conduct research to demonstrate how the thyroid hormone (TH), which is responsible for neurodevelopment, is affected by toxic chemicals. Research will also provide insight into which parts of the neurodevelopment systems are susceptible to disruption, and improve assessments used to show impact to human health.

In addition to UC Davis, other recipients include: North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., The University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

These grants focus on developing better adverse outcome pathways (AOPs), which are models that predict the connection between exposures and the chain of events that lead to an unwanted health effect. AOPs combine vast amounts of data from different sources to depict the complex interactions of chemicals with biological processes, and then extend this information to explain an adverse health effect. EPA expects to use the knowledge gained from this research to develop efficient and cost-effective models to better predict if and how exposure to environmental chemicals may lead to developmental neurotoxicity.

These awards are advancing the science and technological capability to model and predict how chemicals behave when they come into contact with biological systems. This improved understanding supports the Agency’s mission of protecting human health and the environment and amplifies the impact of its chemical safety research efforts. EPA’s chemical safety research is accelerating the pace of chemical screening, helping to protect vulnerable populations and species, developing solutions for more sustainable chemicals and using computational science to understand the relationship between chemical exposures and health outcomes.

For more information about these awards visit: http://epa.gov/ncer/adversepath

For more information on EPA’s National Research Program on Chemical Safety, visit: http://www.epa.gov/research/chemicalscience/

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