Biomarkers and Biological Processes of Exposure Use Case Environmental Health Use Cases


Use Case Champion

Stephen Edwards, US EPA

Chirag Patel, Harvard University


  • Active use case workgroup that usually meets every 3 weeks
  • Currently writing manuscript


The purpose of this use case is to explore how harmonized language can help answer the question “What are the biological processes and biomarkers associated with exposure and how do they relate to the potential for an adverse outcome associated with a given exposure?” We are doing this by building upon the other use cases by utilizing their interim results and providing feedback on the general utility of their outputs. Our goal is to connect measured biomarkers to exposure-response relationships by:

  • Extending the semantic description of the exposure event to explicitly include measurements as previously done for adverse outcome pathways
  • Semantically linking the exposure event to adverse outcomes by connecting the perturbed biological processes with toxicity mechanisms
  • Supporting the integration of existing data and resources (e.g., ‘omics measurements, adverse outcome pathways)

Progress to Date

  • Established that the common theme across all use cases would be “air pollution and asthma” to anchor discussions to a specific example
  • Refined the conceptual model based on workgroup feedback in April 2023
  • Captured exposure and biological pathways using a bottom-up approach
  • Prepared initial draft of manuscript
  • Session "Overcoming Barriers to More Scalable Environmental Health Science Research via Harmonized Language" for the 2024 Society of Toxicology (SOT) Annual Meeting was accepted (Co-chairs: Stephen Edwards and Andrew Rooney).

Next Steps

  • Map the exposure and biological pathways for asthma-related respiratory effects following exposure to particulate matter to the working conceptual model using example papers from the EPA’s 2019 Particulate Matter (PM) Integrated Science Assessment (ISA)
  • Continue working on the high-level opinion paper to discuss the Use Case and any findings

Expected Final Products

  • Conceptual model based on syntheses of the prior literature that links potential sources of particulate matter to human exposures and biological responses and outcomes related to asthma and its subtypes.
  • Publication that details the work of this use case. Working Title: Vision and Value of an Environmental Health Language to Promote Computable Descriptions for Reuse and Reproduction of Environmental Exposures and Their Biological Effects
  • Semantic description of the conceptual model in computer readable form.
  • Definition for a general scientific vocabulary capable of supporting the semantic description of the source to outcome model

How to Get Involved

Biomarkers and Biological Processes is seeking participation and feedback on their manuscript. Email [email protected] to be added to the Biomarkers and Biological Processes use case. You will receive meeting invitations, email updates, and access to the group’s collaboration platform on MS Teams.