The UNC team is committed to a fully integrated, well-managed center that provides state-of-the-science advances in computational toxicology and predictive biomedical modeling to the environmental community. High degree of integration is achieved through our highly inter-digitated and collaborative Research Projects, the leadership, relationships to the external groups, and management procedures including communications, outreach, and quality management. For facilitation of management responsibilities, the Center is organized as follows: Center Director (Ivan Rusyn, M.D., Ph.D.), Scientific Steering Committee (consists of the PIs of the Research Projects), Research Projects, Administrative Core and an External Advisory Board. The Center Director has oversight over all organizational components.
The Administrative Core Unit is responsible for the overall planning and coordination of the Center’s research activities, fostering interdisciplinary interaction, providing leadership on public outreach/translation, managing the Quality Assurance, scheduling meetings of the Executive Committee and Internal and External Advisory Committees, as well as fiscal and resource management and planning. It works closely with the Research Projects to ensure effective communication with the EPA, government agencies, the scientific community, and potential users of the technology developed by our research team.
The Administrative Core Unit has three primary functions:
- Administration Function
- Integration Function
- Public Outreach/Translation Function
- Quality Management Function
Scientific Steering Committee
The Steering Committee consists of each of the Project PI's. This group convenes a minimum of six times a year to discuss our research and foster interdisciplinary collaboration. This committee plays a key role in planning outreach and translational activities, overseeing postdoctoral trainees and graduate research assistants, assessing quality management and assurance, and organizing the annual retreat. The Steering committee is also advisory to the Director on issues related to re-budgeting of resources and selection of travel funding recipients.
This Center has three Research Projects. The overall strategy for predictive computational modeling taken by our team can be characterized as a bottom-up approach, spanning several levels of biological organization. Activity in the Projects range from highly mechanistic mathematical models of individual protein-protein and protein-chemical interactions and chemical-perturbed networks, to understanding the role of the genetic variability in the biological system under chemical insult, to discovery-driven predictions of adverse health effects by considering chemical and biological descriptors jointly.
Project 1. Predictive modeling of chemical-perturbed regulatory networks in systems toxicology (Gomez and Elston). Will conduct fine-scale predictive simulations of the protein-protein/-chemical interactions in nuclear receptor networks, mapping of chemical-perturbed networks and devising modeling tools.
Project 2. Toxico-Genetic Modeling: Population-Wide Predictions from Toxicity Profiling (Wright and Rusyn). Will build tools and produce knowledge that will enable toxicologists to understand the role of genetic diversity between individuals in responses to toxicants.
Project 3. Development of validated and predictive Quantitative Structure-Toxicity Relationship models that employ both chemical and biological descriptors of molecular structures and take into account genetic diversity between individuals (Tropsha). Is an unbiased discovery-driven prediction of adverse in vivo outcomes based on statistical modeling of chemical structures, high-throughput screening, and SNP polymorphisms.