Program Summary Archive
2000-2006 Program Summary
The University of California-Berkeley Superfund Basic Research Program began in 1987. The program consists of eight research projects (5 biomedical, 3 non-biomedical), two research support cores (biomarkers, and statistics and computing), and administrative, training and outreach cores. The central theme is to investigate the relationship between hazardous substances in the environment–both organic compounds (benzene, trichloroethylene), and heavy metals (arsenic and lead)–and their impact on human health. Researchers are also studying methods to mitigate the impact of hazardous substances. The projects focus on biomarker research, particularly the role of individual susceptibility to toxic compounds, and also includes non-biomedical research in site evaluation and remediation. Development and application of exposure biomarkers (i.e., DNA and protein adducts) for benzene and TCE at low doses using sensitive detection systems such as accelerator mass spectrometry is the aim of one research project. Development of biomarkers of genetic damage (including micronucleus assays and chromosome specific alterations using FISH) important to the pathogenesis of cancer and their application in epidemiological studies are the focus of several integrated research projects. Project investigators are initiating three molecular epidemiology studies–childhood leukemia, bladder cancer, and genetic damage and reproductive outcome. The focus of one is the relationship between environmental exposures and the risk of childhood leukemia in the greater San Francisco area using molecular endpoints to characterize genetic changes as a function of time. A case control biomarker study of bladder cancer is investigating the relationship between arsenic exposure from drinking water and molecular alterations in bladder tumors as a function of exposure dose. A sperm aneuploidy assay based on FISH will be employed to investigate the relationship between genetic defects in sperm and probability of fathering a chromosomally defective child as well as factors affecting rates of aneuploidy in sperm. The three non-biomedical projects include: 1) development and validation of a method for reconstructing historical exposures to trace metals in estuarine systems in order to anticipate human disease endpoints; 2) identification of conditions under which toxic combustion products are formed, establishment of kinetic mechanisms that identify major pathways of formation, and development of intervention and control systems for reliable real-time monitoring techniques and instrumentation; and 3) development of non-culture-based tools for evaluating the progress of in situ bioremediation of chlorinated solvents. In addition to the research projects, the outreach core (Children’s Environmental Health Network) is the first national project to employ a multidisciplinary and multicultural perspective to focus on prevention of childhood exposures to environmental hazards.
1995-2000 Program Summary
The dominant theme in this program centers on the relationship between toxic substances in the environment and their consequential effect on human health and ecosystem viability. The program stresses mitigation of such substances, specifically organic compounds (trichloroethylene (TCE) and benzene), and heavy metals (arsenic and lead), in order to reduce their impact. The program is comprised of eleven research projects (eight biomedical, three nonbiomedical) and four cores.
The biomedical component of the program focuses heavily on biomarker research, and on the role that individual susceptibility plays in understanding the health effects of toxic chemical exposures. Three projects aim at the development and application of exposure biomarkers (i.e., DNA and protein adducts) for benzene and TCE at low doses. These projects are using sensitive detection systems such as accelerator mass spectrometry, 32P-postlabeling, and mass spectrometry. Other projects focus on the development of biomarkers for genetic damage, including micronucleus assays and chromosome specific alterations using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), important to the pathogenesis of leukemia. These projects are assessing genetic polymorphisms in glutathione-s-transferases for potential use as human susceptibility markers. Such biomarkers would be characterized for gender and ethnicity differences so as to be able to investigate the interactions between genes and environmental exposure.
There are three molecular epidemiology studies. One project focuses on the relationship between environmental exposures and the risk of childhood leukemia in the greater San Francisco area. Researchers are using molecular endpoints to demonstrate if exposures correlate with genetic changes, and the temporal nature of occurrence of these changes. Another project consists of a case-control biomarker study of bladder cancer. This study is investigating the relationships between arsenic exposure from drinking water and molecular alterations in bladder tumors as a function of exposure dose. The third project is using a sperm aneuploidy assay to investigate the relationship between genetic defects in sperm and the probability of fathering a chromosomally defective child. This project is also examining factors affecting rates of aneuploidy in sperm.
The three nonbiomedical projects concentrate on research in fate/transport and remediation. One project is investigating conditions which contribute to acid rock drainage and is working on developing an abatement method using biocides. Another project is focussing on the development and application of thermal techniques for removing, immobilizing or detoxifying volatile contaminants. A third project is directed toward identifying conditions under which toxic combustion products are formed. This project is establishing kinetic mechanisms that identify major pathways of formation, and to develop intervention and control systems by generating reliable realtime monitoring techniques and instrumentation.
The outreach core consists of the Children’s Environmental Health Network, (CEHN) which is the first national project with a multidisciplinary and multi-cultural perspective focusing on prevention of childhood exposures to environmental hazards.
Collaborating institutions include: Lawrence-Livermore National Laboratory, U.C. at San Francisco, California Public Health Foundation, Children’s Hospital of Oakland, University of Washington, Lawrence-Berkeley Laboratory, California Department of Health Services, Impact, Inc., Univesity of Minnesota, University of Southern California, Duke University, San Diego State University, California Pacific Medical Center.