Distinguished Lecture Series on Advances in Toxicology and Risk Assessment

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The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is hosted a Distinguished Lecture Series on Advances in Toxicology and Risk Assessment.  These lectures were intended to promote a better understanding of key emerging scientific issues with the aim of improving risk assessment.  Pre-eminent researchers in toxicology were invited to present their findings and discuss their application to risk assessment. All the lectures were held in Sacramento and simultaneously webcast on the website of the California Environmental Protection Agency.  

The inaugural series in 2008 focused on Epigenetics and Environmental Diseases.  The invited speakers presented on epigenetic mechanisms that may be involved in common human diseases such as neurodevelopmental disorders, breast cancer, and prostate illness.  The first six lectures in the series are listed below.

Epigenetics: the Interface between Environment and the Genome

Dr. Shuk-Mei Ho, Jacob G. Schmidlapp Professor and Chair
Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati

Dr. Ho is the Chair of the Department of Environmental Health at the University of Cincinnati Medical School.  She is an expert in hormonal carcinogenesis and steroid hormone action.  Dr. Ho utilizes genomic, epigenomic, proteomic, and bioinformatic analyses for the discovery of diagnostic and prognostic markers for human diseases and for the prediction of patients’ responses to interventions. In addition, her current programs emphasize mechanisms of fetal-based adult disease development, cadmium-induced disorders, and oxidative stress/inflammation-mediated cellular changes.  In this inaugural lecture, Dr. Ho presented fundamental theories governing laboratory techniques that have been commonly used in epigenetic research.  She highlighted epigenetic mechanisms that have been recognized to be involved in the development of common human diseases. Dr. Ho also presented recent findings that shed light on how environmental chemicals can alter biological systems through epigenetic mechanisms.

Developmental Origins of Disease and Dysfunction: Role of Environmental Exposures
Dr. Jerrold J. Heindel, Scientific Program Administrator
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Dr. Heindel is the scientific program administrator at the Extramural Research and Training Division of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). He led the efforts at the NIEHS to develop the research program on the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD).  Dr. Heindel will present an overview the scientific basis for the DOHaD concept and discuss existing experimental data on how nutritional deficits and exposure to environmental chemicals during development can increase susceptibility to cancer, infertility, obesity, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

Environmental Influences on Mammary Gland Development and Function
Dr. Suzanne E. Fenton, Research Biologist
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Epigenetic Mechanisms in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Dr. Janine M. LaSalle, Professor
Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, University of California, Davis

Gene Pathways Targeted during Phthalate-induced Testicular Dysgenesis
Dr. Kevin W. Gaido, Senior Investigator and Director
Center for Integrated Genomics, The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences

Early Life Estrogen Exposures Alter the Prostate Epigenome and Increase Cancer Risk
Dr. Gail S. Prins, Professor
Department of Urology, University of Illinois at Chicago

Dr. Prins is a Professor of Physiology in the Departments of Urology and Physiology & Biophysics at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  The research at Dr. Prins' laboratory focuses on hormonal regulation of prostate gland growth and carcinogenesis.  Dr. Prins will present her findings that indicate early-life exposure to natural, synthetic or environmental estrogens, such as low levels of bisphenol A, increased susceptibility to precancerous prostate gland lesions with aging.  Dr. Prins will discuss recent data indicating that neonatal estrogen reprogramming may promote prostate disease in the aging male through epigenomic alterations during development.