Medical Research Institute Awarded $800,000


Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced over $3 million in grants to research institutions to better understand how chemicals interact with biological processes and how these interactions may lead to altered brain development. The studies are focused on improving EPA’s ability to predict the potential health effects of chemical exposures. The Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. is one of the four grantees to receive $800,000 to conduct research on developmental neurotoxicity.

The Sanford-Burnham Institute has hypothesized that many environmental toxins are likely to affect neural development in the adult brain. Through this grant, the institute will develop and implement a high-throughput screening assay using human embryonic stem cells. The Institute will use the developed assay to screen chemicals from EPA’s ToxCast effort to identify adverse outcome pathways that lead to and predict developmental neurotoxicity. Through this project, the institute hopes to better understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of developmental neurotoxicity and will help to develop the next generation of safer agricultural and industrial chemicals. Other recipients include: North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., The University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., and the University of California in Davis, Calif.

These grants focus on developing better adverse outcome pathways (AOPs), which are models that predict the connection between exposures and the chain of events that lead to an unwanted health effect. AOPs combine vast amounts of data from different sources to depict the complex interactions of chemicals with biological processes, and then extend this information to explain an adverse health effect. EPA expects to use the knowledge gained from this research to develop efficient and cost-effective models to better predict if and how exposure to environmental chemicals may lead to developmental neurotoxicity.

These awards are advancing the science and technological capability to model and predict how chemicals behave when they come into contact with biological systems. This improved understanding supports the Agency’s mission of protecting human health and the environment and amplifies the impact of its chemical safety research efforts. EPA’s chemical safety research is accelerating the pace of chemical screening, helping to protect vulnerable populations and species, developing solutions for more sustainable chemicals and using computational science to understand the relationship between chemical exposures and health outcomes.

For more information about these awards visit:

For more information on EPA’s National Research Program on Chemical Safety, visit:


Posted by Cynthia Le