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Collaboration Will Further Speed U.S. EPA Program’s Efforts to Prioritize Chemicals

Release Date: 11/15/2007
Contact Information: Melissa Anley-Mills, (202) 564-5179, (202) 664-7272 (cell) /

(Washington, DC – Nov.15, 2007) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s National Center for Computational Toxicology (NCCT) announced its first partnership under the ToxCast™ Program with the Research Triangle Park based, The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences. Using approaches first developed in the pharmaceutical industry, the three-phased ToxCast™ Program will quickly and cost-effectively provide information on the potential impact of chemicals on the body’s systems such as the heart, lungs, brain or reproductive organs. The science-based information will enable EPA to prioritize chemicals for more detailed and expensive toxicological evaluations, and make the use of animals in testing more efficient and effective.

Guided by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two organizations, The Hamner will be looking at a subset of the initial 320 chemicals being examined in ToxCast™ using a complementary system of in vitro assays. The Hamner will be sharing expertise with EPA to help build a better understanding of the relevance of the in vitro results by using mathematical models to predict the exposures that would result in similar effects in whole animals.

“This collaboration, across two world-class research organizations, will move us toward understanding these potentially harmful chemicals faster” said Dr. Robert Kavlock, NCCT director. “While The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences is the first external group to join ToxCast™ under a Memorandum of Understanding, we welcome other partners to help accelerate the process toward ultimately improving the protection of public health and the environment.”

ToxCast™ is a key prototype for the future of environmental health protection as envisioned in the recent report of the National Academy of Sciences entitled "Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century". In the two years since the ToxCast™ Program’s inception, an Interagency Agreement has been established with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC), nine contracts have been awarded to companies to provide chemical management and various high throughput screening assays, and in August 2007 the list of chemicals (mainly pesticides and other select chemicals) to be tested under phase one’s proof-of-concept stage was announced. NCCT is currently profiling the preliminary responses of those chemicals. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has supported a project proposal developed jointly by the NCCT and EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances (OPPTS) to promote international cooperation and research on application of new molecular based approaches for the prioritization and screening of environmental chemicals for potential toxicity. These international research partnerships will be built under OECD’s Molecular Screening Initiative.

For more information:
• ToxCast™ Program
• U.S. EPA’s National Center for Computational Toxicology (NCCT)
• The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences

EPA relies on quality science as the basis for sound policy and decision-making. EPA’s laboratories and research centers, and EPA's research grantees, are building the scientific foundation needed to support the Agency’s mission to safeguard human health and the environment.

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