Accelerating chemical hazard assessment for a safer tomorrow

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the new Center to Advance Toxicology and Chemical Hazard Assessment (CATCHA) to develop and advance new science strategies for chemical hazard identification and risk assessment.

Led by Joshua Robinson, PhD, and supported by Tracey Woodruff, PhD, and Jennifer Fung, PhD, the new center will bring together investigators from multiple disciplines to establish systems that enable more-rapid identification of toxic chemicals and generate science-based information regarding risks to help decision makers act more quickly to prevent harmful chemical exposure and disease.

“This new center will facilitate innovative research aimed at rapidly identifying and preventing various harmful chemical exposures, ultimately reducing human exposure to toxic chemicals and the associated disease burden,” said Dr. Robinson, Director of CATCHA.

Initial efforts will foster research projects focused on in vitro and in silico modeling, developmental and reproductive toxicology, genomics, data integration, pharmacokinetic approaches (e.g., IVIVE), exposomics and susceptibility factors. The center has already received an inaugural Repro Grant of $50,000 to identify novel chemicals contributing to preterm birth in underserved communities and inform policies to reduce exposures to high-risk chemicals and improve health equity.

To kick off the launch, CATCHA is sponsoring a webinar series with experts in toxicology and data analysis. The first speaker will be Dr. Xiaoqing Chang PhD, who works as a senior computational toxicologist for the National Toxicology Program Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICETAM) and Inotiv, a research company that provides data generation and analysis.

Dr. Chang’s PhD is in Molecular Toxicology and she has an MS in Biostatistics and five years of postdoctoral training as a fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). She is a pioneer in developing computational methods that enable translation of in vitro information for use in chemical hazard identification and risk assessment. Her innovative work was recently showcased in a special symposium at the Society of Birth Defects Research and Prevention meeting where she received the prestigious James G. Wilson Publication Award.

In the November 2nd webinar, Dr. Chang will discuss how in vitro to in vivo extrapolation (IVIVE) approaches (i.e., a method that allows researchers to predict the rate at which substances are metabolized and eliminated from the body) can help translate in vitro data (i.e., data produced in a tube or petri dish) into an in vivo (i.e., data produced from living bodies) context.

On December 7th, at Noon PST, CATCHA will co-sponsor a second webinar with Dr. Joshua Everson, PhD, from the University of Texas at Austin, where he is leading innovative research to better understand mechanisms underlying craniofacial malformations using zebrafish models. Dr. Everson is a recent recipient of the prestigious K99 award to explore genetic and environmental interactions that may lead to craniofacial birth defects.

CATCHA is made possible with support from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), the Environmental Research and Translation for Health (EaRTH) Center, and a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences RO1 grant.

“We are so excited about this new initiative, which will improve our ability to more rapidly identify toxic chemicals with the ultimate goal of preventing these exposures from causing health harms,” said Dr. Woodruff.