Kim Boekelheide, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, is a leading collaborator in a new five-year, $6-million multiuniversity grant to develop a new method for toxicology testing that could reduce reliance on animal experiments. The project team, led by Thomas Hartung at Johns Hopkins University, will strive to develop mappings of the molecular pathways that potentially harmful chemicals might disrupt. Creating such a human “toxome” (analgous to mapping the human genome) will in turn allow scientists to model the effects of those chemicals more quickly and with more relevance to human health than current animal tests often allow. Boekelheide’s research group will receive $854,320 of the total project budget. Funding for the project comes from the Common Fund’s NIH Director’s Transformative Research Projects Program, which is designed to support exceptionally innovative, high risk, original and/or unconventional research that has the potential to overturn fundamental scientific paradigms. “I’m hoping there is a revolution beginning right now in how we do toxicity testing,” said Boekelheide, who has co-authored a report for the National Academy of Sciences on the topic.

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