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Your Environment. Your Health.

New York University School of Medicine

Superfund Research Program

Genetic/Epigenetic Susceptibility to Superfund Chemicals

Center Director: Max Costa
Grant Number: P42ES010344
Funding Period: 2000-2006


The New York University Superfund Basic Research Program began in 2000. The central theme is to utilize the disciplines of biomedicine, molecular biology, ecology and engineering to assess the potential hazardous impact of toxic metals on humans and aquatic ecosystems. The program consists of seven projects (4 biomedical, 3 non-biomedical), one research support core (molecular biology), and administrative and training cores. The four biomedical projects focus on the toxicity and carcinogenicity of metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Two projects are focusing on the mechanisms of metal-induced carcinogenesis and potential synergistic interactions with PAHs. These studies consider both epigenetic (i.e., hypermethylation) and genetic (DNA adducts) mechanisms by using PCR and micro-array chip technologies. A third study is evaluating the role(s) of inflammatory factors and oxidative stress in epigenetic mechanisms of tumor promotion and assessing whether human lymphocytes show inter-individual differences in the levels of certain inflammatory factors in response to nickel and arsenic. The fourth biomedical project is studying the mechanism of arsenic resistance, in order to understand the differences in susceptibility to arsenic compounds. The first non-biomedical project is examining mechanisms of resistance in fish to PAH exposure by examining regulation and expression of P450s. The second project is testing the hypothesis that microbial degradation of aromatic organics can be coupled to chromium reduction. Moreover, microbial activity can affect the availability and transport of both organic and inorganic contaminants through the environment. The third non-biomedical project is developing a chemical basis for establishing sediment quality criteria for arsenic and chromium and constructing coupled water column-sediment fate and transport models.