Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms These include cancer, infertility, birth defects, compromised immune function and compromised cognitive abilities. In order to fully assess the safety of exposure to synthetic and natural substances, a more comprehensive understanding of the physiological, cellular and molecular effects is required within the context of the whole organism, its genome and its proteome. In this laboratory, our focus is on mechanistic toxicology, which involves elucidating how synthetic and natural chemicals elicit adverse effects. Our approach includes in silico (bioinformatics), in vitro and in vivo models. We are specifically interested in exploring how chemicals interact with the estrogen receptor to cause changes in gene expression that result in hormone-dependent cancers, adverse reproductive effects and neurotoxicity. Research efforts in the lab are currently divided into the following areas:
- The aryl hydrocarbon receptor - ligand interactions
- Effects of xenobiotics (dioxins, PCBs, and other persistent organic pollutants) on gene expression
- Physiological effects of xenobiotic chemicals
Each project integrates aspects of molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics, biochemistry, and toxicology. Model systems typically include cells in culture and rodents. Many of the projects involve collaborations and interactions with other national and international academic, government and industrial research scientists.