< Dr. Lauren Aleksunes Receives Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) R01 Award | EOHSI

Dr. Lauren Aleksunes Receives Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) R01 Award

Posted at 9:59 am May 24, 2011, in Awards & Achievements

Dr. Lauren Aleksunes was recently awarded an Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) R01 Award from the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The goal of the ONES program is to identify outstanding new environmental health researchers and promote their early transition to independence. Each year, approximately five to seven scientists receive standard R01 funding as well as additional funds for career development and equipment as part of the ONES program. These resources provide awardees the foundation to launch innovative research programs focusing on problems of environmental exposures and human biology, pathophysiology, and disease.

The Aleksunes laboratory studies how chemicals are transferred between mother and child during pregnancy. Over the last decade, there has been increasing concern regarding disruption of developing endocrine and reproductive systems by chemicals. Identification of cellular mechanisms that regulate levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals during pregnancy is critical to preventing these responses. One potential way to reduce concentrations of chemicals in the developing child is to transport them across the placenta back to the mother’s circulation. One prominent transporter, breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP), participates in the placental transfer of drugs and chemicals.

Studies proposed in Dr. Aleksunes’ ONES grant will use in vitro and in vivo techniques to characterize interactions of endocrine-disrupting chemicals with BCRP as well as the importance of BCRP in preventing disruption of mammary gland development following exposure to estrogenic chemicals during pregnancy. Translational studies using human term placentas collected at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital will provide a better understanding of the epigenetic and genetic regulation of BCRP. The proposed research is critically needed because multiple sources of endocrine-disrupting chemicals exist in our environment and exposure to these materials has been documented in pregnant women. A detailed understanding of the regulation of placental transport will allow us to predict which patients are at greater risk for adverse effects of chemicals.