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Your Environment. Your Health.

Oregon Health and Science University

Superfund Research Program

Neurotoxic Superfund Chemicals and Biomarkers

Center Director: Peter S. Spencer
Grant Number: P42ES010338
Funding Period: 2000-2006

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Summary (2000-2006)

The Oregon Health Sciences University Superfund Basic Research Program began in 2000. It consists of five research projects (4 biomedical, 1 non-biomedical), two research support cores (mass spectrometry, and technical support), and administrative and training cores. The theme of this program is investigation of neurotoxicants associated with Superfund sites, such as mixtures of organochlorine and benzene-related solvents. The focus is development of biomarkers, identification of mode of action, and bioremediation of these toxic chemicals. The four biomedical projects address the detection and health impact of animal and human exposure to low concentrations of these hazardous chemical species. One study is developing physiologically-based pharmacokinetic models to examine how chemicals enter the human brain using a new real-time breath analysis system. Another project is developing a sensitive biomarker of neurotoxicant exposure based on structure-activity relationships. The third is investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying the neurotoxic and neuro-oncogenic properties of Superfund chemical metabolites using neuronal and astrocyte cell cultures from different parts of the brain. The fourth biomedical project is investigating subtle impacts of chemical exposure on the development and adaptability of the immature brain. The non-biomedical project is investigating important aspects of the microbial degradation of environmental toxicants, with a specific focus on enhancing in situ anaerobic biodegradation processes in groundwater.