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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS and Five Research Organizations Join to Use Genomics to Study Toxicological and Environmental Health Problems

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

News Release

Archive - New Contact Information

For more information about this archival news release, please contact Christine Flowers, Director, Office of Communications & Public Liaison at (919) 541-3665.
Monday, November 5, 2001, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Contact: Tom Hawkins, NIEHS
(919) 541-1402

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences ( today announced five-year grants totaling more than $37 million to five academic research organizations that will join with NIEHS to form a Toxicogenomics Research Consortium.

Each of the academic research organizations will receive more than $7 million over five years for studies using recent advances in genomics to study toxicological and environmental health problems, NIEHS Director Kenneth Olden (, Ph.D., said.

Grants to the organizations were awarded on a competitive basis after the organizations responded to a request for applications issued by NIEHS. Each research organization has its own area of expertise to bring to the effort, but collectively, the consortium will use genomics to understand how disease occurs, identify potential environmental hazards, predict potential disease, identify exposed individuals and prevent disease.

The consortium will coordinate efforts by NIEHS staff scientists at the headquarters facility in Research Triangle Park, N.C., with those of scientist grantees at five major research organizations around the country.

"We know we can stretch the research dollar by having scientists at NIEHS and grantees at universities work in concert," Dr. Olden said. "But perhaps more important, we know that bringing ideas together in science increases the advances we achieve."

Each of the Consortium components, called Cooperative Research Members, has its own principal investigator(s) and its own areas of expertise and emphasis. Beginning with the NIEHS, they are as follows:

  • At NIEHS, Cynthia Afshari and Richard S. Paules head a group using gene expression profiling to explore environmental stresses on human health. The group performs gene expression microarray technology validation studies. Contact Tom Hawkins, News Director,(919) 541-1402.
  • William Kaufmann heads the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill team, where the theme is susceptibility factors in the genomic response to toxicants. Contact Lisa Katz, Director of Communications, School of Public Health, (919) 966-7467.
  • At the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at Seattle, Helmut Zarbl heads a group looking at gene expression profiling in transgenic mice and rats, and in human cell lines exposed to environmentally relevant agents. Contact Kristen Woodward, Media Relations Manager, (206) 667-5095.
  • Peter Spencer, at Oregon Health and Science University at Portland, and his group will conduct studies of cell-specific injury in the central nervous system and gene profiling of induction mechanisms associated with neurotoxicant exposures. Contact Jim Newman, University News, (503) 494-4158 or 8231.
  • David Schwartz will lead his group at Duke University using gene expression profiling to explore environmental stresses on human health. Contact Richard Merritt, Senior Medical Writer, (919) 660-1309.
  • At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Leona Samson will lead studies in the use of gene expression profiling to explore environmental alkylating agents stresses on human health. Contact Elizabeth Thompson, Science and Engineering News, (617) 258-5402.

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