Informatics and Computational Toxicology (ICT) Core of CEED

 

The ICT Core provides CEED investigators with informatics (cheminformatics, bioinformatics, and enviroinformatics) and computational toxicology approaches to support the elucidation of mechanisms of environmental health risks. This takes place through the integration of available data using methods of systems biology/toxicology, population systems science, and environmental science and engineering.

The Core facilitates the study of molecular mechanisms by which exposures contribute to the initiation and promotion of disease processes, employing informatic/computational tools (including databases, software, and predictive models). These tools integrate knowledge and information from multiple environmental and microenvironmental scales as well as information from multiple scales of biological organization (molecular, cellular, organ, organism, microbiome). The biological information is derived through the application of “bionomic technologies” (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, interactomics, metabolomics/metabonomics, epigenomics, metagenomics), as well as methods of cell biology (cytomics), and physiology (histomics, physiomics), in conjunction with computational chemistry (cheminformatics) applied to biomolecular systems.

The mission of CEED is to improve human health by performing translational research using emerging science, engineering, and technology to determine how the total environment, the genome and the epigenome interact to mitigate the risk of disease. Achieving the CEED mission requires informatics expertise and support for the analysis and integration of large data sets from multiple sources. These diverse and complex data sets include environmental, microenvironmental, meteorological, exposure, demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral, consumer, physiological, biomarker, and other information from both public and proprietary sources. In cases where the requisite data are unavailable, CEED investigators may need to model steps in the “source to dose to exposure to effect” process. The Informatics and Computational Toxicology (ICT) Core fills this need by providing access to high-level data integration and modeling that can be used to estimate exposure and dose, and identify or predict early biological responses, for the purpose of designing intervention and prevention strategies to modify risk of disease. CEED investigators have used these ICT capabilities to retrospectively model exposures to WTC dust for studies of health outcomes, and to predict exposures and health effects from future scenarios involving accidental or intentional releases or airborne toxicants. The ICT Facility Core is integral to our focus on populations and communities, in that it can inform decisions about alternate prevention and remediation strategies that arise from our community-researcher partnerships. Using communication channels facilitated by our COEC, key questions and answers about exposures and outcomes are translated through bidirectional dialogues between scientists, community organizations and community members, and local, state, and federal agencies. The ICT Core is thus critical to CEED’s shared goal of identifying and defining environmental health problems and moving towards rational and effective solutions.

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Software tools for data analysis and system simulation, as well as databases spanning multiple scales of biological and environmental information, available to CEED researchers through the ICT Core, are listed in CCL’s environmental bioinformatics Knowledge Base (ebKB).

 

State-of-the-art hardware resources at CCL to support data analysis and model development through the ICT Core are listed here.

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