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Your Environment. Your Health.

Alternative Models in Environmental Health Research: Improving Science and Reducing, Refining, or Replacing Animal Testing

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

January 23, 2014

Alternative Models in Environmental Health Research: Improving Science and Reducing, Refining, or Replacing Animal Testing Webinar slide

Laboratory animals are used in toxicology research as a surrogate for human exposure. Traditionally, rodents and other small mammals were the models of choice, but new research methods using zebrafish, C. elegans, cell cultures, and other models less reliant on higher vertebrates are gaining regulatory acceptance and proving to be highly relevant and more cost-effective. NIEHS is an established leader in this endeavor. This webinar highlighted some examples of the use of these alternative models in environmental health research.



Lisa Chadwick, Ph.D.

Lisa Chadwick, Ph.D., has a background in complex trait genetics, epigenetics, and chromatin biology. She is one of the program directors of the NIH Roadmap Epigenomics Program and is one of the scientific contacts for NIEHS-funded epigenetics studies. In addition, she directs extramural research programs in transgenerational inheritance, aryl hydrocarbon receptor biology, microbiome/environment interaction, and the development of non-mammalian model systems for environmental health research. She represents NIEHS in a number of trans-NIH programs, including the Human Microbiome Project, the Knockout Mouse Program, and the Trans-NIH Zebrafish Coordinating Committee.

Elizabeth Maull, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Maull, Ph.D., joined the National Toxicology Program’s Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicologic Methods in 2013. She has experience in toxicology, risk assessment, molecular biology, virology, nutrition, contract oversight, and interagency interactions. In a prior role as an Air Force toxicologist, she was responsible for reviewing available scientific literature pertaining to occupational and environmental chemical exposures of concern to the Department of Defense and summarizing the results for a variety of audiences, including affected community members, internal leadership, and scientists.

Kristine Willet, Ph.D.

Kristine Willet, Ph.D., received a B.A. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. in toxicology from Texas A&M University. She then had two postdoctoral fellowships: one in environmental chemistry at Indiana University and another in toxicology at Duke. Since 2000, she has been at the University of Mississippi’s Department of Pharmacology and Environmental Toxicology Research Program, and she is currently a Full Professor. Her research interests include using fish models for mechanistic understanding and toxicological significance of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure including reproductive, developmental, and multigenerational effects. Her lab also studies the environmental significance of nanosilver and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

For More Information

National Toxicology Program (NTP)
The NTP is a federal interagency program headquartered at NIEHS. Its goal is to develop and apply tools of modern toxicology and molecular biology to identify substances in the environment that may affect human health.

Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM)
ICCVAM's mission is to facilitate development, validation, and regulatory acceptance of new and revised regulatory test methods that reduce, refine, and replace the use of animals in testing while maintaining and promoting scientific quality and the protection of human health, animal health, and the environment.

National Toxicology Program (NTP) Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods: Call for Nominations of High Throughput Screening (HTS) Assays for the Tox21 Initiative
NICEATM supports the ICCVAM by providing scientific and operational support for ICCVAM activities; conducting and publishing analyses and evaluations of data from new testing approaches; and providing information to test method developers, regulators, and regulated industry.

High Throughput Screening (HTS) Initiative
The goals of the HTS Initiative are to prioritize substances for further in-depth toxicological evaluation, identify mechanisms of action for further investigation (e.g., disease-associated pathways), and develop predictive models for in vivo biological response (predictive toxicology).

Zebrafish Embryo Development – 24 Hours in 46 Seconds
Zebrafish develop rapidly, and because their embryos are transparent, we can follow their development from a fertilized cell to a swimming larvae.

Zebrafish Brain Activity Map
This is a short YouTube video showing zebrafish brain activity.

Fish for Science (Website for Students)
In this website, you can learn about how zebrafish help us understand human diseases. Zebrafish K-12 Information about "zebrafish," the organism, and "zebrafish (Danio rerio)," the popular model used for developmental and genetics research.

Zebrafish in the Classroom
A resource for teachers and students who are using zebrafish in undergraduate courses.

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