Ensuring chemical safety through toxicity studies in Daphnia using state-of-the-art molecular, imaging and modelling approaches (closes: 18 August 2019)
This exciting 4-year BBSRC iCASE PhD opportunity bridges the University of Birmingham’s metabolomics team and Unilever’s Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC), both having state-of-the-art facilities and renowned research programmes, thereby creating an excellent environment for this challenging yet impactful research project.
A revolution is now occurring in bioscience, driven by the availability of highly sensitive molecular technologies that can generate ‘big data’ to drive new understandings of molecular function. These technologies can help to create quantitative models of organism function. Of major importance, and often overlooked, is modelling the effect that organisms can have on the stressor (to complement the more-often studied effect the stressor can have on the organism) – representing a critical element of exposure science. Understanding how species deal with increasing chemical stressors (both from natural sources and/or anthropogenic-activities) will deeply influence the way we manage the potential risk of these stressors.
In a rapidly changing world with ecosystems under unprecedented pressures, leading to biodiversity loss at a rate never observed before, bio-analytical approaches used in tandem with computational modelling are key to deal with the problem. In an attempt to mitigate this pressure, there is an impelling need to understand the most sensitive physiological properties of organisms (and their underlying molecular mechanisms). To achieve this prognostically within a safety assessment framework, i.e. to characterize the stressor before it’s allowed to enter the environment, the decision-making requires quantitative exposure and effect models, as highlighted by the recent publication of an “opinion on the state-of-the-art of Toxicokinetic/Toxicodynamic effect models for regulatory risk assessment” by EFSA. This is where the role of new advance bio-analytical and molecular technologies can have a key role in the way how we face this challenge which we will explore within this PhD.