Superfund Research Program
Detection and Models of Toxicant Exposure
Center Director: Robert H. Tukey
Grant Number: P42ES010337
Funding Period: 2000-2023
Understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of hazardous chemicals in the environment is a critical national objective. CERCLA was established to gain knowledge on the public health risks associated with exposure to Superfund site hazardous waste. Thus, a greater understanding of the exposure pathways and the health consequences resulting from human exposure to uncontrolled hazardous waste from Superfund and other hazardous waste sites are high priorities. The UCSD SRP Center's objective is to generate new perspectives on the molecular and genetic basis of the biological effects of toxicant exposure, leading to new methodologies for gauging health risks and assessing health effects; innovative detection and monitoring systems for toxicity; and novel models for bioremediation. Research findings from the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) Superfund Research Program (SRP) have shown that chemical exposure leads to alterations in patterns of gene expression which are controlled and regulated by underlying signal transduction pathways. SRP researchers will test the hypothesis that alterations in biological response by Superfund site chemicals can be exploited to develop models for the detection and bioremediation of chemical toxicants. The UCSD SRP has developed a multidisciplinary effort consisting of five biomedical research projects, two non-biomedical research projects, two research support cores and Research Translation and Community Engagement cores. The research will be supported in part by a Ph.D. training program. The environmental problems unique to California’s coastal environment proximate to the populous U.S.-Mexico border create issues involving water-borne pollutants that are of special relevance. Through the Research Translation and Community Engagement cores, partnerships have been formed with local industry and community groups to utilize the UCSD-SRP’s developing technologies as applied biological tools for assessment of exposure levels and to predict health risk. Investigators with complementary expertise from 10 UCSD Departments, Organized Research Units and Centers are participating in this project, as well as two outside organizations. The combined efforts are anticipated to provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms that lead to environmental illness, and improve the understanding of the consequences of exposure to Superfund site contaminants.