07 December 2016

University expert joins task-force to reduce impact of chemicals on long-term health

Project will look at chemicals including natural fungal toxins which can contaminate food as well as manmade chemicals such as pesticides
Project will look at chemicals including natural fungal toxins which can contaminate food as well as manmade chemicals such as pesticides

A University of Aberdeen Professor will investigate how exposure to chemicals can impact on health in the long-term as part of a world-wide consortium.

Professor Paul Fowler will join the team led by Queens University, Belfast to investigate whether natural toxins and manmade chemicals are creating potentially dangerous compounds that affect our natural hormones and cause major illnesses such as cancer, obesity, diabetes or infertility.

Chemicals under the microscope as part of this €4m international initiative include natural fungal toxins which can contaminate food as well as manmade chemicals such as pesticides.

Dr Lisa Connolly, a leading academic in Toxin Food Safety and an expert in the Bioassay Analysis of Endocrine Disruptors at Queen’s University’s Institute for Global Food Security, will lead the European Commission Funded study and collaborate with global experts in an international consortium involving thirteen organisations across nine countries to tackle the world-wide challenge.

Dr Connolly said: “Endocrine disruptors are suspected factors and sometimes proven agents behind several major human diseases, poor productivity in agricultural animals and stress upon ecosystems. If we can identify chemicals and mixtures of concern, we can use this knowledge to inform legislators, improve monitoring and reduce exposure.

This exciting project and expert training network includes a crucial focus on human pregnancy. This is important because of the susceptibility of the developing baby in the womb to chemicals" Professor Paul Fowler

“The exact effects of endocrine disruptors are difficult to assess so far because of the complexity of the chemical mixtures involved and the lack of efficient methods to assess their effects.

“This newly established consortium is an exciting opportunity as it provides unique, world-leading and cutting-edge training for a new generation of experts who will have the ability to develop innovative analysis tools which will help protect the world from the real-life risks of these chemicals, improving health now and in the future.”

Prof Paul Fowler, from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, said: “This exciting project and expert training network includes a crucial focus on human pregnancy. This is important because of the susceptibility of the developing baby in the womb to chemicals.”

The four-year Marie Curie Innovative Training Network project PROTECTED (PROTECTion against Endocrine Disruptors) begins in January 2017 and the search is already underway for fifteen early stage researchers who will be trained as world class researchers that can develop innovative and entrepreneurial ways of dealing with this global challenge.

Author: Euan Wemyss


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