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Dartmouth College

Superfund Research Program

Toxic Metals in the Northeast: From Biological to Environmental Implications

Center Director: Joshua W. Hamilton (Marine Biological Laboratory)
Grant Number: P42ES007373
Funding Period: 1995-2021

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Summary (2000-2005)

The Dartmouth College Superfund Basic Research Program began in 1995. The program is focused on understanding how arsenic and other toxic metals affect human health and the environment. The program consists of seven research projects (5 biomedical, 2 non-biomedical), three research support cores (molecular biology, trace metal analysis, and biostatistics), and administrative, training, and outreach cores. There are three areas of emphasis within this program: (1) laboratory-based investigations on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of toxic metal actions in humans; (2) studies on the fate and transport, ecology and epidemiology of toxic metals in the environment; and (3) development and implementation of molecular biomarkers of toxic metal exposure and health effects. The biomedical projects focus on understanding: (1) the effects of exposure to arsenic on the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for changes in vascular cell phenotype and proliferation; (2) the mechanistic basis for the effects of carcinogenic metals (arsenic and chromium) on gene expression, and the roles of transcription factors and/or regulatory elements; (3) arsenic effects on cytochrome P450s; (4) the carcinogenic risks due to arsenic exposure by conducting a molecular epidemiology case control study of a U.S. population; and (5) the molecular basis for the effects of toxic metals (arsenic, chromium and nickel) on the functional properties of model proteins. The two non-biomedical projects focus on: (1) characterizing the sources, transport and fate of arsenic in groundwater systems in New Hampshire, using electron microprobe mapping and column experiments to measure chemical conditions under which arsenic is mobilized; and (2) developing a mechanistic model to explain variation in metal burdens in plankton and fish across a variety of systems that arise from differences in the food web structure, and the ability of different taxa to accumulate, magnify or dilute metals.

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