Environmental health sciences research has traditionally taken place within specific areas of interest, but partnerships among scientists who might not normally work together can help quicken the pace at which research moves forward.
The NIEHS Virtual Consortium for Translational/Transdisciplinary Environmental Research (ViCTER) program fosters the exchange of knowledge and resources to improve human health by bringing together an environmental health researcher and two new collaborators. Each consortium focuses on an area where environmental factors are known or expected to influence the development or progression of disease.
The consortia are virtual in that some or all of the participants can be at different institutions, collaborating through regular conference calls and annual meetings. Each member contributes new research goals that cross disciplines or that involve various research methods such as animal and human studies. The synergy resulting from the new research teams may stimulate fresh perspectives or new approaches to studying an environmental health topic.
Current consortia are examining the mechanism underlying established air pollution associations for Autism Spectrum Disorder through mouse and epidemiologic studies, the development of biomarkers for environmental manganese exposure from in vitro and in vivo model systems, and studying factors tied to asthma susceptibility using animal and human tissue samples. Other topics being examined include the effects of lead exposure on the brain, chemical hazard testing, PCBs and thyroid function, and methyl mercury exposure.