Expert Views
John McLachlan John A McLachlan, Ph.D.
Tulane University
Epigenetics: Explaining the environmental concept of disease

Epigenetics has great theoretical promise for our understanding of disease. It provides a mechanism to connect the historical theories of disease--environmental, germ, and genetic. Environmental exposure can imprint genes, making susceptibility to microbes, or other diseases more likely.

Jerry Heindel Jerry Heindel, Ph.D.
Scientific Program Administrator
Division of Extramural Research and Training
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences NIH/DHHS
NIEHS: How We Think with Regards to Endocrine Disruption

Supported NIEHS trends in such critical apsects as sensitive windows of exposure, environmentally relevant doses, relevant numbers of animals and repetitions , mechanisms, biomarkers of exposure, susceptibility and effect, disease endpoints, and theimportance of translational research in an interdisciplinary, collaborative, and team research environment.

Tim Verslycke Tim Verslycke, Ph.D.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Are We Still Forgetting the Other 95 Percent?

In December 1998, more than 40 scientists from Europe, Japan, and North America joined forces during a workshop in The Netherlands on endocrine disruption in invertebrates. The driving force behind this workshop was the observation that all ongoing discussions and debates at that time omitted the majority of animals on our planet - the invertebrates.

Brian Shmaefsky Brian R. Shmaefsky, Ph.D.
Kingwood College
Endocrine Disrupters and Biodiversity: What Should the Public Be Told?

The sciences of biodiversity and endocrine disrupters are still a mystery to most of the public. This is obviously not due to a dearth of scientific research on the topics. Nor is it due to a lack of magazine articles and Web sites about these topics A wealth of evidence laid out in a "matter of fact" approach does not sell scientific issues to the public.

Caren Helbing Caren Helbing, Ph.D.
University of Victoria
An "Array" of Possibilities for Wildlife

Fish, frogs, marine mammals, birds, alligators, and other wildlife all serve as indicators of the presence of endocrine disruptors (EDs) in the "real" world. Changes in sex ratios and sexual characteristics and alterations in hormone levels, growth, and mortality have long been used in wildlife as whole-organism measures to assess the impact of these chemicals.

Rob Wallace Rob Wallace
Tulane University
Educating Young Scientists

Pairing high school students with university expertise is good for the future of science in our country. These programs provide students with an excellent understanding of science concepts and methods and real experience in working as scientists. This promises that the next generation will be equipped to conduct the research and make informed decisions about the challenges our society faces.

Eva Oberdorster Eva Oberdörster, Ph.D.
Southern Methodist University
Nanotechnology: An Exciting New Frontier

Nanotechnology is the next wave of innovation and technology to be brought to the marketplace. With it comes many diverse benefits and potential health and environmental risks that need to be determined and assessed in light of modern life advantages and potential toxic risks.

Catherine Propper Catherine R. Propper, Ph.D.
Northern Arizona University
Biasing Research Directions: The Importance of Precedence

We need to begin to understand whether the focus on reproduction, gonads, and thyroid systems in endocrine disruption comes from a precedent-based set of results or whether it is a function of endocrine disrupting compounds really acting predominantly at these already defined levels.

Rosslyn Grosely and Marlo Sellin
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Metals: An Old Problem with New Tricks

Evidence suggests that metals are endocrine disruptors. While some metals have been identified and studied as endocrine disruptors, in general, research on metals and endocrine disruptors is lacking. As the list of endocrine disruptors grows, it is important that environmentally ubiquitous compounds such as metals not be overlooked.

Barbara Beckman Barbara S. Beckman, Ph.D.
Tulane University
Hiffing And Huffing Along The Inca Trail

Evidence suggests that metals are endocrine disruptors. While some metals have been identified and studied as endocrine disruptors, in general, research on metals and endocrine disruptors is lacking. As the list of endocrine disruptors grows, it is important that environmentally ubiquitous compounds such as metals not be overlooked.

Joe Thornton Joe Thornton, Ph.D.
University of Oregon
The Future of the Field: Beyond Endocrine Disruption?

The best developed part of our field is the study of hormones and other intercellular regulators that integrate the state and activity of tissues within an individual. Signaling by these molecules makes possible the existence of organized multicelled organisms as distinct from colonial collections of cells.

Howard Bern Howard A. Bern, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley
Chemical Mediation in Living Systems: Reflections from Fifty Years of Research and Teaching

Views on the ubiquitousness of chemical communication in regard to the multivalency of how endocrine disruptors, along with other chemical mediators, may act. Finally because of the ubiquity of chemical communication as a necessary feature, maybe THE necessary feature of life, why we must think in macroenvironmental terms as well as in microenvironmental terms.

Paul Galand Paul Galand, Ph.D.; Agrégé
Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
Signals, Pseudo-Signals, Parasites And Noise: The Many Ways To Disruption Of Biological Communications

At the 2000 e.hormone meeting, science philosopher Sheldon Krimsky raised the question of the lack of a general theory about endocrine disruption. During the passionate and stimulating debate that followed, I took the opposite view that knowledge and concepts from several well-established fields in fact converge to support the concept, each with its appropriate theoretical framework.

Tom Bishop Tom Bishop, Ph.D.
Tulane University
A Replaceable Hydrophobic Core

Historically, the estrogen receptor has held the leading role in the endocrine disrupter story, but it is only one member of a large class of ligand activated gene regulatory proteins, called the nuclear receptor superfamily. From a practical perspective, established studies enable us to identify chemicals with an endocrine disruption potential, a priori. From a mechanistic perspective, knowledge of the effects of different ligands on the folding and the dynamics of the hormone receptors is a crucial component of our understanding of gene regulation by this class of proteins.

Wendy Hessler Wendy Hessler
Environmental Health Sciences, EHS News
Children's Environmental Health and Well-Being

Children are more at risk than adults from environmental factors and steps should be taken to protect them before birth and during childhood. Efforts to identify, understand, and mitigate the risks are focusing on outdoor air, water, and soil quality as well as indoor environments, such as the home, schools, and daycare facilities. With more concrete information, the true risks of environmental contaminants can be identified and protective measures implemented to ensure the safety and health of children everywhere.

The Search to Understand Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

The search to understand endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs); unravel their mysteries; and find a fast, affordable way to screen and test for them continues at breakneck speed. Every year researchers delve into everything from molecular mechanisms to ecosystem dynamics to learn how these complex and widespread compounds function. EDCs, so named for their ability to interfere with hormone signals, include a wide variety of substances found in common products like pesticides, plastics, and detergents.

Tom Wiese Tom Wiese, Ph.D.
Xavier University of Louisiana
Mirror, Mirror in the Environment... Considering the Hormone Activity of Chiral Environmental Chemicals

About 25% of pesticides, some PCBs and many other pollutants are chiral. This means that they exist in the environment in two forms, the right and left hand versions. It is also interesting that some pharmaceuticals are chiral. Our interest in the potential environmental impact of chiral chemicals should peak when we consider what is known about chiral drugs.

Jennifer Fox Jennifer Fox, Ph.D.
Oregon Translational Research & Drug Development Institute
Phytoestrogens in Human Health

While most studies have concentrated on the effects of phytoestrogens on human and animal endocrine function, little is known about how humans and synthetic chemicals in the environment may affect plants and phytoestrogens. Many chemicals in the environment are able to affect estrogen signaling and exposed animals, laboratory cell lines, and humans; these chemicals are termed endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

Bill Toscano William Toscano, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota
The Hox Code, A Target for Embryonic Toxicity

In about 400 BCE, Hippocrates recognized that the environment had effects on human health and development. This concept persisted until the mid 1800's. Over the course of many years of scientific development and sophistication, this concept was forgotten by biologists as the emphasis turned to genetic parameters that define development.