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Harper Nanotoxicology Laboratory

Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology

School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering

Our laboratory investigates the environmental health and safety impacts of nanotechnology in order to support the responsible development of this rapidly growing industry. Concerns about nanotechnology have been raised due to the current lack of hazard information, the sheer diversity of nanomaterials, and the very real potential for widespread exposures as nanomaterial use and applications continue to emerge. Thus studies in our laboratory employ 1) rapid assays to quickly determine the toxic potential of nanomaterials, 2) investigative tools to evaluate nanomaterial physicochemical properties, and 3) informatics to indentify the specific features of a nanomaterial that govern its environmental behavior and biological interactions.

Nanotoxicology is the study of the unknown and potentially unforeseen consequences that may result from nanomaterial exposure due to the unique properties that may cause them to adversely impact living systems. Currently, data gaps exist regarding the risks associated with nanomaterial exposure, and the principal characteristics that may be predictive of nanomaterial interactions with biological systems. Our lab is interested in developing rapid testing strategies to identify the specific features of nanomaterials that result in toxicity. This data will then be used to define structure-property relationships that can be used to predict nanomaterial hazard in lieu of empirical data. Our research utilizes an integrative approach to strategically target structure-activity relationships by leveraging nanomaterial characterization and toxicity data using informatics. The goal is to identify the inherent material properties that govern nanomaterial-biological interactions and define key drivers for nanomaterial toxicity.

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