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University of Washington

Superfund Research Program

Effects-Related Biomarkers of Environmental Neurotoxic Exposures

Center Director: Evan P. Gallagher
Grant Number: P42ES004696
Funding Period: 1987-2023
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Summary (2015-2017)

The University of Washington Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center investigates the mechanisms and ramifications of metal neurotoxicity in humans and aquatic species, and developes biomarkers based upon this understanding. These biomarkers are (a) predictive of exposures to neurotoxic agents, (b) early indicators of neurotoxic injury at the cellular and organismal levels, and/or (c) genetic determinants that underlie unusual susceptibility to environmental neurotoxicants. The focus is on metal and metalloid neurotoxicity, including the metals and metalloids that commonly found at Superfund hazardous waste sites for which there are important data gaps impeding full understanding of their effects on human and ecological health. These data gaps include an understanding of mechanisms of toxicity, inter-individual or gender susceptibility, and biogeochemical factors that govern environmental fate.

The program includes four research projects (two environmental science and two biomedical projects). The research includes investigations of:

  • Mechanisms and biomarkers of metal olfactory injury to Pacific salmon, with a primary focus on Cadmium (Cd).
  • Cellular and molecular mechanisms of Cd-mediated neurotoxicity in rodents, including effects on olfaction and cognition.
  • The role of paraoxonases as modifiers of Cd, Manganese (Mn), and pesticide neurotoxicity in animal models and humans.
  • Biogeochemistry and bioavailability of Arsenic (As) in an urbanized lake system in Washington State.


The projects include key collaborators with other projects and cores, and thus each project is interdisciplinary in nature. The program includes a Training Core that is multi- and interdisciplinary, and will support pre-doctoral trainees. The Research Translation Core continues to ensure timely and appropriate communication of the center's research findings to NIEHS and other appropriate stakeholders, partner effectively with agencies, identify potential patents, and develop and support translation opportunities with other end-users of the center's scientific findings. The Community Engagement Core builds upon existing partnerships and expands partnerships with other communities, such as those directly affected by the toxicants under study, and with other community groups that have concerns about environmental toxicants. The Functional Genomics and Bioinformatics Core enables SRP investigators to utilize a wide range of cutting edge molecular biology- and bioinformatic-related methodologies in their research. The Administrative Core stimulates interactions among projects and cores, ensures communication with NIEHS and other governmental agencies, oversees personnel and budgetary matters, and organizes meetings and interactions with the External Advisory Board.

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