Environmental Factor

September 2011

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NTP researcher wins poster award at conference in Germany

By Ian Thomas
September 2011

Scott Auerbach, Ph.D.

Auerbach's research, presented with a poster titled "Bioinformatics-based identification of assays that inform on disease hazard," will help NTP select certain chemicals for additional targeted in vivo testing in specific disease models. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NTP scientist Scott Auerbach, Ph.D., took home top poster honors at the OpenTox 2011 InterAction Meeting(http://www.opentox.org/meet/opentox2011) Exit NIEHS for his work on bioinformatics and disease-informing assays. Hosted by the OpenTox community of collaborators and funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme, this year's gathering was held Aug. 9-12 at the Technical University of Munich in Germany.

“Most of the work presented at the meeting was focused on computational methods for predicting toxicity,” recalled Auerbach, a molecular toxicologist for the NTP Host Susceptibility Group in the Biomolecular Screening Branch.

Auerbach's work used bioinformatics to link in vitro assays to chronic disease processes, such as type 2 diabetes. It then leveraged the assay-disease relationships to identify chemicals with the potential to influence disease processes.

“It's clear that the existing assay data covers certain areas of disease reasonably well,” Auerbach explained. “Other areas, such as neurological disease for instance, aren't as well accounted for, in large part due to our limited understanding of certain disease processes and the inherent complexities surrounding them.”

Still, Auerbach is happy for the chance to share his work and broaden his research horizons, something he sees as key to the future.

“I'm incredibly grateful for the support I've received here at NIEHS,” Auerbach said. “I'm a firm believer that the future advancements of the toxicology field will begin with insights spawned from cross-disciplinary collaborations like this. Therefore, I'm thrilled to have been a part of it.”

(Ian Thomas is a public affairs specialist with the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)

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