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Michigan State University

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Superfund Research Program

Environmental, Microbial and Mammalian Biomolecular Responses to AhR Ligands

Center Director: Norbert E. Kaminski
Grant Number: P42ES004911
Funding Period: 1989-2027
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Summary (2022-2027)

The pollutants under investigation belong to the halogenated aromatic hydrocarbon family that bind and activate the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). These chemicals, which include polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans, biphenyls, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, are environmentally persistent, lipid-soluble contaminants that bioaccumulate in the food chain, leading to human and wildlife exposure. This is a highly integrated, multidisciplinary research program consisting of five research projects and five supporting cores. The research team includes 25 investigators from Michigan State University (20), Emory University (1), Purdue University (1), Rutgers University (2) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (1).

The central theme of the program is to define specific aspects of environmental, microbial, and mammalian biomolecular responses to environmental contaminants that act as agonists for the AhR. The major research thrusts are providing new mechanistic information regarding: (1) the diversity and physiogenomic responses of (chloro)dioxin-degrading microbial populations indigenous to soils, sediments, and groundwater; (2) the geochemical parameters governing adsorption, bioavailability and long-term fate of AhR ligands through interactions with geosorbent compositions in soils and sediment components; and (3) the mechanisms of action and computational modeling of interactions between specific biochemical pathways and ligand-activated AhR associated with the liver, thyroid and immune system responses.

The Computational Modeling Core (CMC) develops dynamic computational models of biological responses induced by AhR ligands. An Administrative Core supports research, training, community engagement, data management, and information and technology transfer in this Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center. Within the Administrative Core, research translation will disseminate research findings to target audiences in government, industry, and academia. A Community Engagement Core (CEC) communicates with community stakeholders through engagement with county and city health officials in three new Michigan communities that continue to experience dioxin exposure. A Data Management and Analysis Core provides the technology, expertise, infrastructure, and training necessary to curate datasets, metadata, processing and analyses needed to properly manage and share high-quality, reproducible data. Lastly, a Research Experience and Training Coordination Core (RETCC) ensures cross-disciplinary training to pre- and postdoctoral trainees.

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