Research in toxicology/pharmacology includes basic toxicology, toxicogenomics, aquatic toxicology using zebrafish and other experimental models, toxicologic risk assessment, environmental endocrine disruptors, drug residues in meat-producing animals, and the emerging field of nanotoxicology. The department also has faculty members working in metabolomics and lipidomics, and CRISPR technology.
Faculty involved in neurophysiology:
The research I am pursuing in my laboratory focuses on employing mass spectrometric methods at the chem/bio interface, with a long-standing interest in endocrine disruption and environmental chemistry. A new drive in the laboratory is focused on studying the interplay between external measures of exposure (e.g., anthropogenic contaminants) and internal measures of exposure (e.g., lipids, hormones), in the context of health and disease. The tools we use to study these relationships are either gas or liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry (employing both targeted and non-targeted workflows). Beyond the implementation of these workflows, a considerable effort in the laboratory also focuses on improving key metrological aspects, including method development and optimization, quantitation, and quality control. Current work primarily employs workflows capable of performing lipidomics, metabolomics, and the measurement of chemicals of emerging concern (e.g., perfluorinated chemicals). Application areas are varied, encompassing environmental sampling, nutritional studies, lab-based models, and both wildlife and human health.
Dr. Denslow’s research involves developing and using molecular biomarkers to evaluate changes in gene expression depending on stress or exposure to contaminants. Molecular approaches including transcriptomics, proteomics, and lipidomics were developed for several non-model species, including fish, gastropods, and coral. Fish swim in waters that are contaminated by superfund chemicals and emerging contaminants of concern and, thus, provide a direct measure of effects of the contaminants in vertebrates. Many of the chemicals behave as endocrine disruptors and, in particular, as estrogen mimics. To better study the direct effects of these contaminants on reproduction, three largemouth bass estrogen receptors (alpha and two beta-like subtypes) were isolated, sequenced, and integrated into expression assays. The receptors appear to bind and are activated differentially by organochlorine pesticides. In addition, the tissue expression patterns are different for the three receptors. Herbicides, such as glyphosate, are high volume use and affect the immune systems and kidney function of largemouth bass and manatees. Better monitoring of these herbicides is required.
- OMICS technologies
- endocrine disruption
- non model species
We study how environmental contaminants impact a broad range of biological systems such as the nervous system, endocrine system, and gut-microbiome axis. We use neuronal cell models (dopaminergic rat and human cells) and zebrafish in vivo toxicity assays to determine the mechanisms of environmental toxicants, focusing on pesticides that have been associated with neurodegenerative diseases and the mitochondria. We are also using CRISPR gene editing approaches to understand the functional significance of genes during pesticide exposures. Specialties: Molecular toxicology, omics, environmental science, neurodegeneration, high throughput in vitro screening, neurotoxicology
Christopher Vulpe MD, PhD
Dr. Vulpe’s group uses systems level approaches in eukaryotes from yeast to people to identify the functional components that respond to and modulate the consequences of environmental stressors. Most recently, his laboratory is utilizing genome wide and targeted CRISPR screens to understand the mechanisms of toxicity of environmental chemicals, chemotherapeutics, and other exogenous stressors. His group uses functional, genomic, and genetic approaches to provide insight into mechanisms of toxicity in diverse model systems including human models such as human cell culture, organoids, and rodents, as well as ecologically relevant organisms such as Daphnia magna.
Leah D Stuchal PhD
My interests and research include exposure modeling and refinement of exposure estimates for use in risk assessment. The University of Florida’s Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology holds the singular contract for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to provide technical reviews of risk assessments for the State of Florida. Over past years we have produced hundreds of these technical reviews advising the FDEP on all aspects of risk assessment and have created exposure models for seafood consumption for high-end consumers on the Gulf of Mexico, irrigation of vegetable gardens and ornamental beds, and swimmers in creeks and the ocean. Our recent work includes an NIH grant to generate a threshold dose for memory impairment from long term exposure to domoic acid in clams. Additionally, we are currently working with the FDEP to develop screening criteria for perfluoroalkyl substances in surface water that are protective of human and ecological health.