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Toxicogenomics Research Consortium

Program Description


Toxicogenomics Research Consortium Toxicogenomics is a scientific field that studies how the genome is involved in responses to environmental stressors and toxicants. Toxicogenomics combines studies of genetics, mRNA expression, cell and tissue-wide protein expression and metabonomics to understand the role of gene-environment interactions in disease. An important aspect of toxicogenomics research is the development and application of bioinformatics tools and databases in order to facilitate the analysis, mining, visualizing and sharing of the vast amount of biological information being generated in this field. This rapidly growing research area will have a large impact on many other scientific and medical disciplines, including systems biology, as researchers strive to generate complete descriptions of how components of biological systems work together and across organisms to respond to specific stresses, drugs, or toxicants.


In November 2000, the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training (DERT) issued a Request for Applications (RFA-ES-01-002) for extramural programs to participate in a national Toxicogenomics Research Consortium (TRC). Through the use of a U-19 Cooperative Agreement, selected participants work on coordinated, multidisciplinary toxicogenomics research with the support of NIEHS extramural staff, the NIEHS National Center for Toxicogenomics (NCT), and NCT-supported Resource Contractors.

Program goals for the Toxicogenomics Research Consortium include: enhancement of research in the broad area of environmental stress responses using microarray gene expression profiling; development of standards and practices which will allow analysis of gene expression data across platforms and provide an understanding of intra- and inter-laboratory variation; contribute to the development of a robust relational database which combines toxicological endpoints with changes in gene expression profiles; improve public health through better risk detection, and earlier intervention in disease processes.

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Structure of the NIEHS Toxicogenomics Research Consortium (TRC)

The Toxicogenomics Research Consortium consists of six Cooperative Research Members (CRMs), Resource Contractors, and NIEHS Extramural Staff.

Cooperative Research Members (CRMs) - The CRMs include 5 academic centers and the NIEHS Microarray Group.

  • Duke University
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/University of Washington
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • NIEHS Microarray Group
  • Oregon Health and Science University
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Each CRM is structured similar to a Program Project with investigator-initiated research projects and microarray and bioinformatics core support. In addition, each CRM has a Toxicology Research Core Project, through which the dependent, collaborative toxicology work is being performed under the Cooperative Research Program. Thus, each CRM has the dual function of performing cutting-edge independent research employing microarray gene expression profiling, while also performing collaborative toxicology experiments for inter-laboratory standardization and validation. CRM researchers work with species as divergent as yeast, c elegans, zebrafish, rodents and humans.

Cooperative Research Program

The Cooperative Research Program of the Toxicogenomics Research Consortium represents the coordinated, dependent research projects performed through the Toxicology Research Cores of each CRM, as well as interactions with the Resource Contractors.

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Impact of Toxicogenomics on Public Health

Developments in Toxicogenomics will have important impacts on toxicology, systems biology, and in improving public health. Toxicologists will look for unique or common signatures of toxicity. Gene expression profiling will enable researchers to determine genes and pathways that are activated and/or suppressed during cell injury and recovery, and whether organisms exhibit evolutionarily conserved responses to stress. Gene expression changes may also become a major tool in medicine for diagnosis/prognosis, for determining drug sensitivities and effectiveness, and for personalized risk assessment based on genetic polymorphisms.

Program Contacts

William Suk, Ph.D.
Program Administrator

Tel (919) 541-0797
Fax (919) 541-4937
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop EC-27
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709
Delivery Instructions

David Balshaw, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator

Tel (919) 541-2448
Fax (919) 541-4937
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop EC-27
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709
Delivery Instructions

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Last Reviewed: September 21, 2007