NIH to Fund Research into Environmental Stress Biomarkers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences will lead a program to give a total of $2.6 million for five or six projects over two years that seek to validate candidate biomarkers and technologies that measure biological responses to chemical toxicants and other environmental stressors.

The specific goal of this research program, which also is supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is to validate markers and technologies by using existing epidemiological studies with extensive exposure information.

Called “Validation and Field Testing of Novel Biomarkers of Response to Environmental Stressors,” this grant program will give up to $300,000 in direct costs per year over two years.

The range of biomarkers studied under these grants could include gene expression signatures, protein markers, metabolites, measures of DNA damage, or epigenetic marks, provided that they can be detected in minimally invasive samples and potentially could be scaled up for large-scale studies.

These studies could include pilot testing and validation of biomarkers of response to exposures such as chemical toxicants, primary and secondary tobacco smoke, dietary constituents and contaminants, alcohol, and physiological measures of stress.

Research approaches could include, but are not limited to verifying that the markers or signatures can be detected in multiple populations with similar exposures; evaluating performance of biomarker tools and assays with samples collected under real world conditions; testing candidate markers to understand how biomarkers change over time, and whether a subset of biomarkers represent persistent changes associated with exposure; and comparing results from novel biomarker profiles to current methodologies or existing reference measures, where they are appropriate

NAS President named to Secretary of Energy Advisory Board

By William Kearney

August 11, 2010 – The U.S. Department of Energy announced yesterday that National Academy of Sciences President Ralph J. Cicerone will serve as a member of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, representing the NAS. Also joining Cicerone are five members of the National Academy of Engineering:

Norman R. Augustine, retired chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corp.; Nicholas M. Donofrio, retired executive vice president of innovation and technology, IBM Corp.; Charles O. Holliday Jr., chairman of Bank of America and former chairman and CEO of DuPont; William J. Perry, former U.S. secretary of defense and now a professor at Stanford University; and Arthur H. Rosenfeld, a guest faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and former commissioner of the California Energy Commission. The 12-member board has been re-established to advise Secretary of Energy Steven Chu on basic and applied research, economic and national security policy, educational issues, operational issues, and other activities related to DOE’s mission. Chu himself is an NAS member