Systems Toxicology & Health Risk Assessment
Humans are exposed to many chemicals in the form of drugs but also through the environment. In order to understand the risk to human health of drug and chemical exposure, it is necessary to understand how these xenobiotics may affect normal cellular processes and so lead to toxicological consequence. The advent of high throughput genomic screens has led to the possibility of much greater breadth of understanding of the effect of xenobiotics in biological systems. Furthermore there has been interest in the possibility of using the output of these genomic assays as a signature of xenobiotic exposure, and thus as a test procedure for the recognition of toxicological hazard. Systems Toxicology and Health Risk Assessment aims to apply a system biology approach to describe and predict the effects of chemicals and other environmental stressors at different levels of biological organisation and identify key events leading to adverse health outcomes. The group aims to study the perturbation of biological systems by chemicals and stressors, monitoring changes in molecular expression and conventional toxicological parameters, iteratively integrating data to achieve a mechanistic understanding of the specific toxicity, and eventually develop and validate biomarkers for predicting these toxicological responses. The development of an integrated framework through the identification of toxicological pathways and data analysis tools is an integral part of the overall attempt to understand the adverse effects of chemicals and other stressors on human health and the environment. Particular focus will be placed on the development, assessment and application of methods for assessing the adverse effects of environmental chemicals. This will include the development and evaluation of Integrated Testing Strategies to describe all the toxicological interactions that occur within a living system under stress and use our knowledge of toxicogenomic responses in one species to predict the modes-of-action of similar agents in other species.