Monthly Archives: September 2014

Save the Date! NC Society of Toxicology – Career Panel Discussion 10/9

Category : Uncategorized

The NC Society of Toxicology is holding a career panel discussion, “Hot Topics in Toxicology. Fracking, Coal Fly Ash, E Cigarettes,” on October 9th from 12pm-1:00 pm at NIEHS Main Campus, Research Triangle Park. Pre-registration is required and there are a limited number of seats, so register now! Follow the links below for registration information.

NCSOT%20Fall%202014%20Meeting%20Announcement Fall%202014%20Meeting%20Agenda

Daniel Brown wins McClellan-Green Award

Category : Uncategorized

Congratulations to Daniel Brown, an ITEHP graduate student in Richard Di Giulio’s laboratory, who recently received the 2014 Pat McClellan-Green student travel award!

Dan will be using the grant to attend the 2014 SETAC (Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry) Meeting in Vancouver. The title of his oral presentation is “Sublethal Embryonic Exposure to Complex PAH Mixtures Alters Later Life Behavior and Swimming Performance in Fundulus heteroclitus.” 

Dan on a Pumpkin
Daniel visits a pumpkin patch with other ITEHP students. Here he claims the fairest pumpkin of them all. October 2013. Credit: Daniel Brown


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are important environmental contaminants in many aquatic systems. Acute embryonic exposure to PAHs is known to cause cardiac teratogenesis in fish, and research has shown that early life exposure to some types of hydrocarbons causes heart alterations and decreased swimming capacity in fish. A population of Atlantic killifish inhabits a Superfund site (Atlantic Wood Industries, Norfolk, VA—AW) that is heavily contaminated with a mixture of PAHs from former creosote operations. This population has developed resistance to the acute toxicity and teratogenic effects caused by the chemical mixture in sediment from the site. Little is known about the impacts of more subtle, early life exposures, which are arguably broadly applicable to environmental contamination scenarios. This study examined the later life behavioral and performance consequences of early life exposure to low dose concentrations of PAH mixtures in both the adapted and unadapted Atlantic killifish. Atlantic killifish from King’s Creek (KC—non-polluted reference site) and the AW site were manually spawned and F1 embryos were collected and screened for normal development at 24 hours post fertilization (hpf). Embryos from both populations were then exposed to non- teratogenic dilutions (0.1% and 1.0%) of Elizabeth River sediment extract (ERSE), from the AW site, for 144 hpf. Forty embryos per treatment from both fish populations that did not display cardiac abnormalities were split into groups of 20 treated killifish for behavioral assays and 20 treated for performance testing. Killifish used for behavioral screens and swimming performance were reared in flow-through systems for 3 months and 5 months respectively. Larval killifish were evaluated for light/dark swimming activity at 4 and 8 days post hatch (ph) as well as startle habituation, and diving/exploring behavior at 3 months ph. Larval KC killifish showed decreased swimming activity as ERSE exposure concentration increased whereas, AW killifish showed increasing swimming activity with increasing embryonic exposure. Juvenile KC killifish exposed to 1.0% ERSE were hyperactive in startle response testing relative to control killifish and demonstrated reduced exploring behavior in the dive test. KC killifish raised to 5 months ph had decreasing maximum velocity at failure and reduced critical swimming capacity (Ucrit) following embryonic exposure to ERSE. Conversely, AW killifish improved as embryonic ERSE exposure increased. AW killifish consumed less oxygen at rest than KC killifish. Supported by NIEHS Superfund Program, P42-ES10356.


Tox Seminar with Nicole Kleinstreuer, PhD 9/26

Category : News , toxseminar


Please join us this Friday, 9/26 for ToxSeminar with Dr. Nicole Kleinstreuer from the ILS/NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM). Her talk is titled “Computational Toxicology Tools: Constructing and Evaluating an Adverse Outcome Pathway for Embryonic Vascular Disruption.” The seminar will begin at noon in Environment Hall, Field Auditorium.

Congratulations Dr. Kuhn!

Category : Uncategorized

Our very own Cynthia Kuhn, Director of Graduate Studies, has earned a Golden Goose Award in recognition of her work on a federally funded study that has turned out to have a significant impact on society. Dr Kuhn and her collaborators received the award last week in a ceremony in Washington, DC. More on this prestigious honor and the thirty year old study that garnered the prize may be viewed here. 

Postdoc Positions Available at University of Arizona

Category : News

Two postdoctoral positions are available through the Toxicology Training Program at the University of Arizona. This training program titled “Training in Environmental Toxicology of Complex Diseases” is supported by NIEHS (T32ES006694) and administratively housed within the Center for Toxicology. The primary objective of the Training Program is to train toxicologists to apply state-of-the art techniques to investigate mechanisms of environmental toxicity affecting complex diseases in various organ systems. See for faculty research interests and details about the program.

Eligibility:  Students who have graduated with a Ph.D. or equivalent degree in basic or applied chemical or biomedical sciences may apply for this position.  Only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for support through the NIEHS Training Grant.

Candidates with solid graduate training and a strong background in biochemistry, molecular biology, systems biology, or chemistry are encouraged to apply. Please submit a letter of interest and CV to  For programmatic or scientific questions, please contact Dr. Serrine Lau, Director, Center for Toxicology (  

Serrine S. Lau, Ph.D. 
Professor and Director

Center for Toxicology 

Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center

Member, AZCC, Bio5 Institute
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

College of Pharmacy

University of Arizona

1703, E. Mabel Street

Tucson, AZ 85721-0207

TEL: (520) 626-0460

FAX: (520) 626-6944



Postdoc Opening for AOP-Oriented Research at University of Minnesota Duluth

Category : News


The Department of Biology at the University of Minnesota Duluth seeks a Post-Doctoral Associate to conduct research related to the development and application of pathway-based approaches to assess ecological risks of contaminants. Specifically, the candidate will focus on the description and development of adverse outcome pathways (AOPs) that link initial molecular changes in an organism due to chemical exposure to adverse outcomes at the individual- and population-levels (Ankley et al. 2010; Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 29: 730-741). Accordingly, the candidate will have an opportunity to work with and generate data at multiple biological levels of organization, including at the molecular, biochemical, histological, individual and population levels. Chemical stressors of interest will include a variety of environmental contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) including (but not limited to) those with the potential to impact survival, growth and reproduction through impacts on biological systems involved in energy metabolism, endocrine function, neurological processes and immunological responses. An important component of this effort will entail using existing in vitro and in vivo toxicological/biological information to hypothesize AOPs, followed by focused research to identify and expand upon key endpoints in proposed pathways. Primary species of concern from a research perspective will be aquatic vertebrates (fish and amphibians); however, given the conserved nature of many of the toxicological pathways likely to be of concern, the information/insights derived from the research efforts could have wide-ranging implications to multiple taxa, including humans. 

This opportunity is supported through the Cooperative Training Partnership program between the University of Minnesota and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The selected applicant would be an employee of the University of Minnesota Duluth. but would be stationed and conduct research at the US EPA Mid-Continent Ecology Division located in Duluth, MN. The selected applicant will conduct independent research in coordination with a team of US EPA scientists from multiple sites as well as collaborators from other Federal agencies (e.g., US Army Corps of Engineers) and academic institutions. Mentoring will be provided by both University of Minnesota Duluth and US EPA staff. 

Job Responsibilities: 

* Conduct data analyses and research related to the derivation and validation of AOPs relevant to assessing ecological risk of chemicals. 

* Integration and interpretation of complex data sets which may include toxicological, physiological and genomic (e.g., transcriptomic, metabolomics) data as a basis for deriving and comparing key biological pathways in different species. 

* Development of research plans 

* Communication of research results both written and orally. 

* Coordination of research activities with a local project team as well as external project partners and collaborators.  

The University of Minnesota requires that you apply online for this position via the University of Minnesota Employment System Alternatively, visit and search for Job Requisition 193070.


RSVP for Fall Symposium on Low Dose Effects / Non-Monotonic Responses of Endocrine Disruptors

Category : Uncategorized

Registration is now open for the Fall 2014 Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Symposium which will be held on Friday, October 24th at the Searle Center on Duke’s West Campus.

The topic for this Symposium is: Low Dose Effects / Non-Monotonic Responses of Endocrine Disruptors

Please register HERE

Agenda ITEHP Fall 2014 Symposium

ABSTRACT: The publication of “Our Stolen Future” helped to spur research on endocrine disrupting contaminants (EDCs) and investigating their potential affects on human health and development. In the 1990s, the Environmental Protection Agency developed an Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program to evaluate pesticides and chemicals in commerce for their ability to disrupt the endocrine system. In classical toxicology research, it is often assumed that increased exposures will correlate with an increase in effect or toxicity. However, some research studies have challenged this dogma, suggesting that some EDCs can have greater effects at low doses relative to high doses, an effect known as a non-monotonic dose response (NMDR). Interpretation of these results is challenging, particularly within regulatory landscapes and risk assessment frameworks that operate under the assumption of a linear relationship between exposure dose and adverse effect. In 2013, EPA charged a group of scientists to review the published scientific literature and write a paper on the state of the science on NMDRs. One of the key goals of this exercise was to identify whether or not NMDRs occur, and if so, under what conditions. A draft paper was written by the EPA and then reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences in 2014. This symposium will highlight several studies on NMDRs, and discuss the findings of both the EPA paper and NAS evaluation of this report.


Christina Bear Reflects on visit to Duke!

Category : Uncategorized

Christina Bear, a high school student from Golden, visited Duke this summer and toured ITEHP labs to learn about environmental health and toxicology. Christina shares some photos and reflects on her experience.


Christina Bear

Looking for the right balance of relaxation and summer learning as a rising high school junior can be quite the dilemma.

I wanted to pursue enrichment in Environmental Health, a field that grabbed my interest in middle school. My brother, Eric, and I initiated a Radon Awareness Project (RAP) in Colorado from 2010-2012. The geographic area where we live in Jefferson County, Colorado has unusually high levels of radon, a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer with long term exposure. We were motivated to initiate the RAP because so many homeowners we spoke to either did not know about radon or how to test for radon in their homes. The RAP project gave us opportunities for public speaking and to come up with innovative ways of outreach, such as recording a rap song. The highlight of the RAP project was going to the White House for the President’s Environmental Youth Award in April 2012 and speaking at a breakout session on youth getting involved in environmental projects and education within their community.

The skills to do the RAP spanned across science, art, writing, theater, and community service as well as talents outside of school.  There was also a social justice aspect related to the Navajo Indians exposure to radon while mining for uranium. Understanding about the interaction of policy and environmental issues was invaluable. The one thing missing was experience in lab research on environmental health issues. And that is when I began my quest for an informative and instructive summer activity for 2014 to supplement my RAP advocacy project. I am happy to say my quest was successful! Based on their national reputation for Environmental Health, I chose to attend Duke University’s Superfund Research Center and ITEHP (Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program) in the Nicholas School of the Environment for a 10-day lab exploration.

Nancy Lauer in Dr. Avner Vengosh's lab teaching me about the decay or uranium. PC: Ranee Shenoi
Nancy Lauer in Dr. Avner Vengosh’s lab teaching me about the decay or uranium.
PC: Ranee Shenoi

I shadowed in the lab of Dr. Avner Vengosh with Nancy Lauer, a graduate student who taught me about the potential toxicity of coal ash in North Carolina’s Dan River. Dr. Vengosh has published on radon in water and Nancy taught me gamma radiation is smaller and more radioactive than the alpha and beta particles of radon. I observed with Nancy and fellow grad student, AJ Kangosh, how to test water samples to find radiation after water has been treated. Dr. Bill Pan shared his work on global environmental health and Ms. Gretchen Kroeger discussed research translation. During the interaction with my instructors, I appreciated that research can have meaningful impacts beyond the scientific community and there is a need for effective communication to audiences with varying scientific backgrounds. I realized my work with the RAP was unique to make radon relevant to people in my community.

Reaching the mid-point of my lab exposure at Duke, I was comfortable standing in a real-live laboratory where undergraduate and graduate students were investigating environmental toxicity. I learned lab techniques of pipetting, centrifuging, embryo separation, fish development, and sediment sampling. Lunchtime was my favorite because one of the grad students would informally present on a topic to educate the rest. And then it was my turn. On June 6, 2014, I presented my work with the Radon Awareness Project. Facing allergies and butterflies in my stomach, the talk went smoothly. There was a good discussion of environmental health challenges in our respective states.

Dr. Richard DiGiulio’s lab, known for its Superfund site research, is filled with projects studying the toxicity of fish. Meeting Rich (Dr. DiGiulio) was like being with an old friend as he is funny and comfortable to be around. Rich fosters an atmosphere of an ‘environmental family’ with kind and patient grad students. Their relaxed style made it conducive to learn lab skills and integrate my knowledge about environmental health.

Christina and Savannah collect sediment from the Elizabeth River in Virginia. PC: Ranee Shenoi
Christina and Savannah collect sediment from the Elizabeth River in Virginia.
PC: Ranee Shenoi

The highlight of my lab program was a trip to the Elizabeth River in Virginia led by Savannah Volkoff of Dr. DiGiulio’s lab. We set off in the wee hours of the morning and made four stops for sediment collection in the Elizabeth River. We also collected mummichog fish to study the effects of toxic wastes of wood preservative, pollution, and other wastes that are affecting marine life. Savannah and I sloshed through the muck with waders and as messy as it was, sediment collection was my idea of working “in the field.”

Next, I toured the lab of Dr. Edward Levin and learned about neurobehavioral aspects of environmental exposure. Dr. Levin has a super neat lab in downtown Durham in a remodeled car repair shop. Postdoc and graduate student, Dr. Jordan Bailey and Anthony Oliveri, toured me around the labs where Dr. Levin studies the effects of addictive substances, such as tobacco, using rat models.


Christina attends a Durham Bulls game in downtown Durham, NC. PC: Ranee Shenoi
Christina attends a Durham Bulls game in downtown Durham, NC.
PC: Ranee Shenoi

Besides working in a lab, my visit to Duke was fun! There were several entertaining activities including a tour of historic downtown Durham, attending a Durham Bulls game, eating barbecue with a distinctive North Carolina taste, and sampling international cuisines of Germany, France and Spain. I can’t forget the ice cream at The Parlour and delectable cupcakes at The Cupcake Bar. The tour of Duke’s campus was gorgeous with the impressive Duke Chapel, basketball stadium, and the Duke Gardens.

My time with the Superfund Research Center at Duke helped me to connect the dots of how the findings from basic lab research on environmental health ties into community outreach and public education. It brought relevance to my Radon Awareness Project and an invaluable perspective for environmental studies in my future.

I am grateful to Savannah Volkoff, Eve Marion, and Dr. Richard Di Giulio for organizing a truly memorable lab program at Duke University.

-Christina Bear

Golden, Colorado

Seminar announcement



Presenting the Radon Awareness Project PC: Ranee Shenoi
Presenting the Radon Awareness Project
PC: Ranee Shenoi
Christina presenting the Radon Awareness Project PC: Ranee Shenoi
Christina presenting the Radon Awareness Project
PC: Ranee Shenoi
Dr. Edward Levin and Christina Bear PC: Ranee Shenoi
Dr. Edward Levin and Christina Bear
PC: Ranee Shenoi
Dr. Richard Di Giulio and Christina Bear PC: Ranee Shenoi
Dr. Richard Di Giulio and Christina Bear
PC: Ranee Shenoi























Savannah Volkoff, Christina Bear, and Eve Marion at Christina's ITEHP Seminar.  PC: Ranee Shenoi
Savannah Volkoff, Christina Bear, and Eve Marion at Christina’s ITEHP Seminar.
PC: Ranee Shenoi









Savannah and Christina bottle Elizabeth River sediment extract for storage.  PC: Ranee Shenoi
Savannah and Christina bottle Elizabeth River sediment extract for storage.
PC: Ranee Shenoi











Christina and Savannah collect sediment from the Elizabeth River in Virginia. PC: Ranee Shenoi
Christina and Savannah collect sediment from the Elizabeth River in Virginia.
PC: Ranee Shenoi






PC: Ranee Shenoi
PC: Ranee Shenoi


Duke Chapel PC: Ranee Shenoi
Duke Chapel
PC: Ranee Shenoi










Tox Seminar with Dr. Daniel Vallero 9/19

Category : News , toxseminar



Join us this Friday, 9/19 for ToxSeminar with Dr. Daniel Vallero from the US-EPA. Dr. Vallero’s talk is titled “Integrating Toxicology and Exposure to Prioritize Chemicals in the Marketplace”. The seminar will begin at noon in Environment Hall Field Auditorium.

Laura Macaulay receives Otto Hutzinger Student Award

Category : Uncategorized


Laura Macaulay, an ITEHP graduate student in Heather Stapleton’s laboratory, received the prestigious Otto Hutzinger Student Award at this year’s International Dioxin Conference in Madrid.

Laura presented a talk on her Superfund research which focuses on early life exposure to 6-OH-BDE-47 and developmental effects mediated by THR.

Please join us in congratulating Laura!