Future Directions

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The last decade of the 20th century and the turn of the 21st century have produced dramatic technological advances in molecular biology and computer science. During this period, scientists have increasingly identified critical cellular and molecular events (mechanisms) that lead to adverse responses to toxicants. The NTP recognizes that over the next decade the expanding knowledge of the physiological, biochemical, and molecular basis of disease will lead to improvements in our ability to predict the toxicological impact of environmental agents. As a focal point within the federal government for providing information about potentially hazardous agents, the NTP seeks to take advantage of these advances and identify and incorporate more mechanistic approaches into its toxicology assessments. The NTP Vision for the 21st Century is to support the evolution of toxicology from a predominantly observational science at the level of disease-specific models to a predominantly predictive science focused upon a broad inclusion of target-specific, mechanism-based, biological observations. The intent of the NTP vision is to expand the scientific basis for making public health decisions on the potential toxicity of environmental agents. The NTP has developed a "roadmap" or framework for implementation of the NTP vision that it believes will strategically position the program at the forefront for providing scientific data and for guiding the interpretation of those data to maximize their impact on public health.