MSU Receives Superfund Research Center Grant | MSUToday

A multidisciplinary team of researchers from Michigan State University received a five-year internship, $10.5 million from the Superfund Research Program Center, or SRP, grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to make Michigan’s water safer. The team will use these funds to conduct innovative and collaborative research on biomedical and remediation technologies.

In 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency identified high levels of contamination by dioxin-like compounds in the Tittabawassee River and adjacent floodplain near its confluence with the Saginaw River in Michigan. Based on the potential for human health and environmental impacts of this contamination, a highly specialized MSU SRP research team will now study dioxin-like compounds in this area. The goal of the MSU SRP team is to develop breakthrough solutions to reduce these toxins and better understand the health risks they cause.

Halogenated aromatic hydrocarbon chemicals are persistent environmental contaminants that accumulate in the food chain. The chemicals of greatest concern to human and environmental health bind with high affinity to a protein called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and are often described as “dioxin-like”. These chemicals, which include polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans, biphenyls and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, are persistent fat-soluble contaminants in the environment that accumulate in the food chain, resulting in exposure of humans and wildlife.

Although dioxin-like compounds have been widely studied, there is no precise understanding of the relationship between alterations in specific biochemical processes and the particular toxic responses observed in animals or humans. Understanding of how dioxin-like compounds interact with soil components, which can act as a type of filter and help limit their effects on living organisms, is also limited. Additionally, not much is known about the enzymes present in microorganisms in the environment that may be able to degrade dioxin-like compounds.

Based on these critical data gaps, three complementary and highly integrated biomedical research projects form the basis of the newly funded SRP Center grant with the aim of linking biochemical processes induced by dioxin-like compounds to responses specific toxins produced in the liver, thyroid and immune system. system. In addition, two environmental science and engineering projects will aim to advance existing knowledge on the bioavailability of dioxin-like compounds when they adhere to soil components and to characterize environmental microbial organisms capable of degrading dioxin-like compounds. , including the specific enzymes involved.

“The SRP Center offers a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary approaches and collaborations, which is essential for solving complex scientific problems,” said the principal investigator. Norbert KaminskyDirector of MSU’s Institute for Integrative Toxicology.

These research projects will be supported by five nuclei:

  • The computational modeling core will develop dynamic computational models of biological responses induced by aryl-hydrocarbon receptor ligands.
  • The administrative core will support research, training, community engagement, data management, and information and technology transfer. Within the administrative core, a research application group will share research results with target audiences in government, industry and academia.
  • The Community Engagement Core will communicate with community stakeholders through dialogue with county and city health officials in three new Michigan communities that continue to be exposed to dioxin.
  • The data management and analytics core will provide the technology, expertise, infrastructure, and training needed to curate the datasets, metadata, and processing and analytics needed to properly manage and share reproducible data from high quality.
  • The research experience and training coordination core will ensure the interdisciplinary training of pre- and postdoctoral trainees.

The SRP Center team includes 25 researchers from the following institutions: Michigan State University (20), Emory University (1), Purdue University (1), Rutgers University (2) and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (1). The grant is administered by MSU’s Institute for Integrative Toxicology. Results from SRP Center studies will be integrated using data science approaches to develop predictive computational models of adverse effects in support of risk assessment efforts.

Learn more about each of the SRP Center’s projects and cores.