DREAMing of smart crowds in toxicity testing

Recent research conducted by BRC Director Fred Wright and Ivan Rusyn of Texas A&M University (https://news.ncsu.edu/2015/05/wright-chem-sensitivity/) resulted in a treasure trove of data on variation of chemical sensitivities in human cell lines. In collaboration with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, the researchers had studied over 1000 cell lines and exposure to 179 chemicals, with the goal of mapping genetic variation in toxicity response. Says Wright “the data are so rich that we really are just scratching the surface.” Expanding the collaboration to include Sage Bionetworks and a crowd-sourcing initiative known as Dream Challenges, the bioinformatics community was enlisted to further mine the data, providing prediction algorithms that can aid future researchers in predicting toxicity based on DNA profiles and chemical structures. An article describing the results of this crowdsourcing effort recently appeared in Nature Biotechnology (http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nbt.3299.html).

Image credit: Nature Biotechnology (2015) doi:10.1038/nbt.3299, under Creative Commons License

Link: http://www.ebi.ac.uk/about/news/press-releases/life-dream


NC State Receives $6.5 Million from NIEHS to Study Effect of Environment on Human Health

Researchers from North Carolina State University’s Center for Human Health and the Environment (CHHE) have received a five-year, $6.5 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to investigate the effects of environmental factors on human health.

The primary mission of the CHHE is to understand how human health, of both individuals and populations, is affected by environmental factors and to use this knowledge to prevent or reduce negative environmental impacts on health. Through interdisciplinary research and collaboration, the CHHE wants to construct a complete picture of how environmental stressors interface with pathways, the genome and epigenome.

The grant will be used to further the CHHE’s work by advancing interdisciplinary research in the field of environmental health and supporting community outreach and engagement regarding environmental health issues.

The NIEHS grant will make the CHHE one of 22 centers across the U.S. dedicated to studying environmental health impacts. “Through the purposeful interfacing of different disciplines, CHHE will build on NC State’s unique research and community outreach strengths to make significant contributions to understand and prevent the adverse impacts of environmental factors on human health” says Rob Smart, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Biological Science at NC State and director of the CHHE.

The CHHE was founded in 2011 and brings together 70 investigators from 13 departments and six colleges at NC State and as well as investigators from East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine, North Carolina Central University, NC Department of Health and Human Services, and RTI NIH Eastern Regional Comprehensive Metabolomics Resource Core.