Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Dates: Aug 2012-Jul 2017
Summary: Harnessing Evolutionary Biology with Omics as Foundation for Predictive Ecotoxicology
No one should ever question whether their environment is free of toxic substances. At the same time, industries should have affordable means of ensuring product safety in light of the myriad of compounds that are already present in the environment, and of their combined ecotoxicological effects on individuals, populations and communities. Yet because of huge knowledge gaps on the fundamental principles that underpin ecotoxicology, policy makers, regulators and industry cannot guarantee people’s rights to a healthful environment – despite progressive legislation (e.g., REACH, Water Framework Directive) and an estimated 3% of GDP is spent annually on this chemical control dilemma. Although the solution is largely scientific, the greatest test for solving this problem is a willingness to marshal the research community around a shared vision and a defined cross-disciplinary project that matches the magnitude of the environmental health crisis. It requires infrastructure and a level of coordination that is ordinarily practiced by only a few scientific disciplines. Yet, just as the modern Health Care industry, with its societal and economic benefits, result from a monumental scientific accomplishment (decoding the human genome), so can a future Environment Care industry. This challenge of understanding the potential health threats of chemicals and other substances in the environment, before serious problems arise, demands a comprehensive and legitimate scientific investigation into predictive toxicology.