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Hazardous Substances Detection and Remediation Program


The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) is interested in applying biotechnology and bioengineering approaches to develop novel strategies to characterize, monitor, and remediate hazardous substances at contaminated sites. SRP encourages applicants to develop green / sustainable detection technologies and remediation approaches that improve energy efficiency and reduce waste generation.

Examples include but are not limited to:

A. Development of advanced technologies that allow for real-time, on-site monitoring such as nanotechnology–based sensors and probes, biosensors, self-contained miniaturized toxicity-screening kits and miniaturized analytical probes and data analysis tools.

B. Development of methods or devices to detect and measure vapor intrusion or to detect non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs) and dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) in the subsurface.

C. Development of assays or devices to determine the extent to which a contaminant is bioavailable.

D. Development of instruments to identify subsurface geological structures and hydro-geological configurations and to sample for the presence of contaminants in these structures.

E. Development of novel technologies for in situ remediation of contaminated sediments, soils, and groundwater.

F. Development of cost-effective devices to detect or remediate chemical mixtures in environmental media.

G. Development of nano-enabled structures, electrochemical methods, photocatalytic processes, thermal treatments, or filtration-based methods of remediation.

H. Development of bioremediation and phytoremediation technologies including the use of genetic engineering approaches.

SRP recognizes the important public health impact of detection or remediation technologies that are applicable to non point-source air pollution and drinking water; however, a higher priority will be placed on remediation and detection technologies with a clear connection to sites impacted by hazardous substances.

Improved Test Systems for Prioritization and Safety Evaluation

The NIEHS is interested in: (1) developing, standardizing, and validating sensitive and specific innovative tests and integrated testing strategies that can reduce, refine, or replace animal use and that will provide improved predictivity, and potential cost and time savings compared to current standard laboratory animal tests ( i.e., assays for carcinogenicity, immunotoxicity, reproductive or developmental toxicity, dermal toxicity, and neuro or other organ system toxicity including acute local and systemic toxicity); and (2) developing mid- and high-throughput screens and tests using phylogenetically lower animal species (e.g., fish, worms) to evaluate mechanisms of toxicity to identify mechanisms of chemically-induced biological activity, prioritize chemicals for more extensive toxicological evaluation, and develop more predictive models of in vivo biological response. The proposed tests and strategies should use computational and/or biochemical models, cell/ tissue cultures, and/or animal models that are relevant to existing safety assessment databases and human experience, and that can be extrapolated to estimate risks to humans. The endpoints for these tests or assays should take advantage of the new technologies such as genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics and of novel endpoints (biomarkers) including those that are non-invasive. Examples include but are not limited to:

A. Biokinetic models that include the integration of toxicodynamic and biokinetic modeling to predict acute and chronic systemic toxicity.

B. In vitro test methods and integrated strategies (e.g., undifferentiated/ differentiated human/mammalian cell model systems, organotypic model systems, biochemical activity (e.g., peptide binding; and computational models) that can be used to prioritize compounds for more extensive testing and/or to predict acute and chronic toxicity by taking into account, for example, metabolism, the ability of chemicals to pass through barriers (i.e., blood brain, kidney, lung, gastrointestinal), and organ specific effects, or which allow the development of endpoints that can be extrapolated to in vivo biomarkers of toxicity. An emphasis is placed on the development of engineered 3D tissue systems that include multiple cell types and that replicate the anatomy and function of intact tissue. Of particular interest are systems that replicate key functions of major organs (e.g., skin, kidney, lung and the gastro-intestinal track) and the ability to incorporate immunological function in these models.

C. Alternative assays and integrated strategies to assess dermal irritation, dermal absorption, dermal hypersensitivity phototoxicity, and ocular toxicity.

D. Non-mammalian or invertebrate models for specific toxicities that utilize endpoint that are conserved across species so the results can be extrapolated to human risk.

E. Identification and validation of predictive biomarkers that can be used to obtain improved mechanistic information and/or serve as the basis for earlier endpoints in toxicological studies.

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