The scientific theme for the Superfund Research Center at Boston University is receptor-based toxic effects of Superfund chemicals on development and reproduction in humans and wildlife. The chemicals under study are organic compounds of special interest to the SRP Center mandate that initiate their toxic actions by interacting with specific molecules inside cells called receptors. This interaction sets in motion chain of events that often leads to production of new proteins that alter the development of the cells. The research ranges from basic laboratory investigations to large scale epidemiologic studies of populations exposed through drinking water or around a Superfund site or molecular studies of fish ecology in a contaminated harbor. The object is to gain a better understanding of the implications of disturbances of reproductive and developmental processes, including aging, from exposures to hazardous substances in the environment. A special feature is a coordinated set of parallel projects examining molecular and population effects of developmental toxins in the standard laboratory zebra fish model and a widespread environmental sentinel, the killifish. Epidemiological studies of developmental outcomes from exposure to the high-prevalence Superfund chemicals perchloroethylene (PCE, tetrachloroethene), PCBs, the pesticide methoxychlor, phthalate, organotins and metals target knowledge gaps identified as special research needs by EPA/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). A major feature is development of novel methods to address some of the most difficult problems associated with the typical hazardous waste epidemiological and toxicological datasets, temporal spatial distribution and interaction in mixtures. A Research Support Core provides expertise for highly sophisticated data analysis of Next Generation Sequencing and computer modeling of molecular structures, techniques used by five of the seven research projects. The Center includes two Core facilities dedicated to translating research for use in risk assessment by state and federal agencies and engaging the public and local health authorities in framing and shaping the scientific research agenda.

Public Health Relevance

US EPA and other regulatory agencies within the Federal system have a special interest in the possible reproductive and developmental effects of hazardous substances, including, but not limited to, those caused by endocrine disrupting agents. Despite increasingly sophisticated research, there is still much to learn about the seriousness of the problem.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Hazardous Substances Basic Research Grants Program (NIEHS) (P42)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZES1-JAB-J (SF))
Program Officer
Henry, Heather F
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Boston University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
Zip Code
Aschengrau, Ann; Janulewicz, Patricia A; White, Roberta F et al. (2016) Long-term Neurotoxic Effects of Early-life Exposure to Tetrachloroethylene-contaminated Drinking Water. Ann Glob Health 82:169-79
Mahalingaiah, S; Hart, J E; Laden, F et al. (2016) Adult air pollution exposure and risk of infertility in the Nurses' Health Study II. Hum Reprod 31:638-47
Hewlett, Meghan; Chow, Erika; Aschengrau, Ann et al. (2016) Prenatal Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors: A Developmental Etiology for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Reprod Sci :
Girguis, Mariam S; Strickland, Matthew J; Hu, Xuefei et al. (2016) Maternal exposure to traffic-related air pollution and birth defects in Massachusetts. Environ Res 146:1-9
Reid, Noah M; Proestou, Dina A; Clark, Bryan W et al. (2016) The genomic landscape of rapid repeated evolutionary adaptation to toxic pollution in wild fish. Science 354:1305-1308
Mahalingaiah, Shruthi; Winter, Michael R; Aschengrau, Ann (2016) Association of prenatal and early life exposure to tetrachloroethylene (PCE) with polycystic ovary syndrome and other reproductive disorders in the cape cod health study: A retrospective cohort study. Reprod Toxicol 65:87-94
Padilla, Cindy M; Kihal-Talantikit, Wahida; Vieira, Verónica M et al. (2016) City-Specific Spatiotemporal Infant and Neonatal Mortality Clusters: Links with Socioeconomic and Air Pollution Spatial Patterns in France. Int J Environ Res Public Health 13:
Townley, Ian K; Karchner, Sibel I; Skripnikova, Elena et al. (2016) Sequence and functional characterization of hypoxia inducible factors, HIF1α, HIF2αa, and HIF3α, from the estuarine fish, Fundulus heteroclitus. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol :ajpregu.00402.2016
Bolt, Alicia M; Grant, Michael P; Wu, Ting Hua et al. (2016) Tungsten Promotes Sex-Specific Adipogenesis in the Bone by Altering Differentiation of Bone Marrow-Resident Mesenchymal Stromal Cells. Toxicol Sci 150:333-46
Pennell, Kelly G; Scammell, Madeleine K; McClean, Michael D et al. (2016) Field data and numerical modeling: A multiple lines of evidence approach for assessing vapor intrusion exposure risks. Sci Total Environ 556:291-301

Showing the most recent 10 out of 355 publications