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EPA awards research grant to Colorado State University


Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., will receive $748,582 in grant funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop a software tool to interpret biomarkers of human exposure to pesticides/insecticides.

With this grant to CSU, EPA is helping solve the mystery of the connection between measured biomarkers and chemical exposures. A biomarker is a substance, structure, or process that can be measured in biological samples, such as blood or urine, to indicate exposure, susceptibility or health effects. Examples of biomarkers include lead levels in blood or pesticide metabolite levels in urine.

These types of biomarkers indicate exposure to specific compounds. In many cases, biomarkers can be measured analytically, but it is not always clear what the levels mean in terms of how much exposure occurred or what amount of the chemical reaches a place in the body where it could possibly cause a health effect (dose).

CSU will work with Mississippi State University on this research project. This grant is one of five that EPA is awarding in response to a request for applications called “Interpretation of Biomarkers Using Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Modeling"

“Biomarkers can help us understand human exposure, dose and health effects and the interpretation of biomarker data can inform risk assessment,” said EPA Region 8 science advisor, Patti Tyler. "This research will help EPA scientists protect public health by improving our understanding of what measured biomarker levels mean.”

The EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) research grant will be used to develop a computer model that will be able to predict what biomarker levels mean in terms of human exposure and dose. The researchers will use chlorpyrifos and diazinon, two organophosphate (OP) insecticides, as the initial test compounds. The research results will allow scientists and risk assessors to understand more about the meaning of biomarkers resulting from exposure to OP insecticides.

EPA’s STAR program funds research grants and graduate fellowships in many environmental science and engineering disciplines through a competitive solicitation process and independent peer review. The program engages the nation’s best scientists and engineers in targeted research that complements EPA’s own research programs and those of our partners in other federal agencies.


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