Research focuses on how exposure to chemicals affects the development of the brain
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced more than $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.
“This research will transform our understanding of how exposure to chemicals during sensitive life stages 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.”
The 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.
Recipients of EPA’s funding for developmental neurotoxicity adverse outcome pathway research include:
- North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C.
- The University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.
- University of California, Davis, Calif.
- Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif.
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.