The Alternative Test Systems & Ecotoxicology Faculty facilitates inter-Institute communication and coordination of efforts relating to the development and evaluation of new testing methods and to ecotoxicology. Ecotoxicology, as it relates to the mission of the NIEHS, is the study of the relationship between ecosystem damage and human health and well being, e.g., studies in ecotoxicology provide new models useful for predicting adverse human health effects associated with ecosystem damage.
Faculty involvement in alternative test systems and ecotoxicology potentially has the following broad objectives:
expansion of the scientific underpinning of regulatory decisions concerning environmental and human health;
development and evaluation of improved alternative testing methods to reduce reliance on toxicity tests using traditional laboratory mammals and to provide scientific data more useful for risk assessment;
development of new approaches employing relevant, representative species for detecting adverse effects of agents in the environment;
characterization of the toxicity of agents or media containing environmental toxins and toxicants using appropriate models;
investigation of approaches for the extrapolation of data derived from natural sentinel species to other exposed species, including humans;
evaluation of test systems using alternative species that could potentially replace laboratory mammals used in conventional toxicity test systems;
communication of research results to the public and the scientific community;
promotion of the development, evaluation, and regulatory acceptance of improved toxicity test methods;
support for workshops or conferences that would identify priorities for additional research, development, or evaluation efforts for new testing methods;
proposal of RFAs and RFPs that involve support for method development and validation; and
further Institute-based evaluation of new test systems, particularly those that are mechanistically based and/or involve transgenics, nonmammalian species, in vitro systems, or computer-based prediction systems.