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The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences Receives $750,000 EPA Grant

Environmental Protection Agency Awards Grant to Dr. Sudin Bhattacharya to Develop “Virtual Tissue” Model of the Human Liver

Research Triangle Park, NC, June 04, 2011 --( The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences ( has announced that the Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $750,000 grant to Dr. Sudin Bhattacharya, a research investigator in the Center for Dose Response Modeling and the Institute for Chemical Safety Sciences at The Hamner. The four-year grant will allow Dr. Bhattacharya and his colleagues to develop a computational model of the human liver capable of predicting liver cell response to varying doses of environmental chemicals. Ultimately the research will provide a multi-scale, computational model of a functional human liver that can be adaptable to health risk assessment for exposure to various liver cell toxicants. The research is funded through the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) and its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, which is working towards EPA’s research goal of understanding the possible consequences of global change on human health, ecosystems and social well-being.

The focus of Dr. Bhattacharya’s research at The Hamner is on computational modeling of cell signaling and key gene regulatory networks, and the disruption of these networks by toxic compounds and drugs. In collaboration with a team of scientists from The Hamner Institutes, the EPA and Michigan State University, he has developed models of B cell differentiation and the disruption of this process by the environmental contaminant TCDD. He also works on spatial modeling of the liver to study drug- and toxicant-induced liver injury. Dr. Bhattacharya has been actively involved in the development and teaching of short courses on computational systems biology and dose-response modeling offered by The Hamner Institutes.

“Dr. Bhattacharya is an outstanding investigator making significant contributions to our understanding of the effects of environmental toxicants and drugs on the human liver,” said Dr. William Greenlee, president and CEO of The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences. “During a time of significant governmental budgetary constraints, this major EPA award is a tangible recognition of Dr. Bhattacharya’s research program and the strengths and potential impact of the predictive health outcomes platforms being developed here at The Hamner.”

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- The proposed computational liver model will combine data from molecular circuits in individual liver cells, cell-cell interactions, and blood-mediated transport of toxicants in order to generate quantitative benchmarks in the prediction of liver response to varying doses of chemical exposure.
- The initial case study to be used in the generation and proof-of-concept of the model is the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) pathway in liver cells exposed to environmentally realistic low-dose mixtures of TCDD and other dioxin-like compounds (DLCs).
- The co-principal investigators on this project at The Hamner are Dr. Harvey Clewell, director of the Center for Human Health Assessment, and Dr. Melvin Andersen, director of the Institute for Chemical Safety Sciences. Both have extensive and pioneering experience in the use of PBPK modeling in toxicology and risk assessment and will play a key supervisory role in the liver model development effort.

About The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences:
The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences is a nonprofit research organization located in the heart of Research Triangle Park (RTP), N.C. The two flagship institutes at The Hamner, the Institute for Chemical Safety Sciences and the Hamner-UNC Institute for Drug Safety Sciences, build upon 35 years of preeminent research in toxicology and human health research to develop and validate new cutting-edge tools for safety assessment. Novel technologies currently being developed include in silico models for predictive toxicology, in vitro models that utilize human cells or cell lines to evaluate perturbations of cellular responses, and in vivo models to elucidate genes that play a role in susceptibility to drug-induced toxicities. The Hamner continues to grow its open, multidisciplinary campus through global partnerships with academia, industry, and government, and remains dedicated to positively impacting human health. For more information, please visit

Erin Smith
MMI Public Relations
(919) 233-6600

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