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
Townley, Ian K; Karchner, Sibel I; Skripnikova, Elena et al. (2017) Sequence and functional characterization of hypoxia-inducible factors, HIF1?, HIF2?a, and HIF3?, from the estuarine fish, Fundulus heteroclitus. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 312:R412-R425
Whitehead, Andrew; Clark, Bryan W; Reid, Noah M et al. (2017) When evolution is the solution to pollution: Key principles, and lessons from rapid repeated adaptation of killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) populations. Evol Appl 10:762-783
Holland, Erika B; Goldstone, Jared V; Pessah, Isaac N et al. (2017) Ryanodine receptor and FK506 binding protein 1 in the Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus): A phylogenetic and population-based comparison. Aquat Toxicol 192:105-115
Hahn, Mark E; Karchner, Sibel I; Merson, Rebeka R (2017) Diversity as Opportunity: Insights from 600 Million Years of AHR Evolution. Curr Opin Toxicol 2:58-71
Martinez, Andres; Hadnott, Bailey N; Awad, Andrew M et al. (2017) Release of Airborne Polychlorinated Biphenyls from New Bedford Harbor Results in Elevated Concentrations in the Surrounding Air. Environ Sci Technol Lett 4:127-131
Parente, Thiago E; Moreira, Daniel A; Magalhães, Maithê G P et al. (2017) The liver transcriptome of suckermouth armoured catfish (Pterygoplichthys anisitsi, Loricariidae): Identification of expansions in defensome gene families. Mar Pollut Bull 115:352-361
Butler, Lindsey J; Janulewicz, Patricia A; Carwile, Jenny L et al. (2017) Childhood and adolescent fish consumption and adult neuropsychological performance: An analysis from the Cape Cod Health Study. Neurotoxicol Teratol 61:47-57
Reid, Noah M; Jackson, Craig E; Gilbert, Don et al. (2017) The landscape of extreme genomic variation in the highly adaptable Atlantic killifish. Genome Biol Evol :
Vieira, Verónica M; Villanueva, Carolina; Chang, Jenny et al. (2017) Impact of community disadvantage and air pollution burden on geographic disparities of ovarian cancer survival in California. Environ Res 156:388-393
Hoffman, Kate; Weisskopf, Marc G; Roberts, Andrea L et al. (2017) Geographic Patterns of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children of Participants in Nurses' Health Study II. Am J Epidemiol 186:834-842

Showing the most recent 10 out of 377 publications