Superfund Research Program
Functional Genomics and Bioinformatics Core Laboratory
Project Summary (2017-2022)
Research from many laboratories, including those of Superfund investigators, has established that chemical exposure of biological systems results in expression changes of numerous RNA and protein molecules and these changes are correlated with, and are indicative of toxicity. In addition, several molecular epidemiologic studies have identified correlations between genetic polymorphisms and incidence of environmental-related disease. Toxicological monitoring increasingly involves the assessment of genetic and other molecular measurements derived from individuals and sentinel animals, for the purpose of detecting possible markers of disease susceptibility, as well as identification of early indicators of chemical effect, such as alterations in gene expression profiles due to exposure to environmental toxicants.
Various targeted molecular methods as well as OMICs based approaches have been developed in recent years and continue to develop rapidly. These methods complement each other and allow for mechanistic investigations of entire biological pathways and networks, as well as their individual components. The optimal application of these state-of-the-art methodologies requires considerable expertise in sample preparation and processing, generation and quality assessment of the data, rigorous statistical and bioinformatics analysis, as well as interpretation of the complex data sets. It would be very challenging and costly for UW SRP project investigators to acquire expertise in all of the aforementioned areas.
The University of Washington Superfund Research Program (UW SRP) Center Functional Genomics and Bioinformatics Core (FGBLC) addresses this challenge. It provides leadership and expertise for genomics, transcriptomics, epigenetics and proteomics based methods, as well as a service facility for UW SRP Center investigators that supports the study of gene-environment interactions in the context of environmental health sciences research. The UW SRP Center FGBLC enables SRP investigators to utilize a wide range of molecular biology and bioinformatics related methodologies suited to perform mechanistic studies and to identify markers of exposure to toxicants, impaired physiologic and neurologic function, and susceptibility to neurotoxicity induced by environmental toxicants, particularly those that are commonly present at hazardous waste sites. The UW SRP Center FGBCL shared resource facility provides the aforementioned leadership and expertise, as well as a large range of genomics, transcriptomics and other molecular based assays in a cost-effective and efficient manner, thereby maximizing the availability of these resources for UW SRP investigators. Thus, the UW SRP Center FGBCL plays a crucial role in supporting the UW SRP mission to identify the interactions between genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors that contribute to neurotoxicity and other physiological impairment.