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Dow Chemical Commits $5 Million to Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences for Chemical Safety Initiatives

The Dow Chemical Co. and The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences together have announced that Dow will contribute $5 million over five years to The Hamner Institutes to support chemical safety through the development of new computational models of toxicity. This contribution is part of Dow’s focus on product safety leadership and the advancement of science to support risk-based chemical safety assessments – key tenets of Dow’s sustainability commitments as a world leader in chemistry.

The Hamner Program in Chemical Safety Sciences will leverage funding provided by Dow and other industry partners, along with funding from the American Chemistry Council – for which Dow is a leading member and financial contributor. Led by Dr. Melvin Andersen and Dr. Russell Thomas, the program will utilize the funds to continue its implementation of the vision set forth by the 2007 National Academy of Sciences report, Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century. This vision sees a future in which toxicity testing will be conducted in human cells or cell lines by evaluating perturbations of cellular responses in a suite of toxicity pathway assays using high-throughput, robotic-assisted methodologies.

“The goal of The Hamner Institutes is to protect public health through informed decision making about potential environmental health risks,” said Dr. William Greenlee, president and CEO of The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences. “This generous financial support from Dow builds on the extraordinary leadership and support by Dow to advance public health policy in chemical safety based on the best possible science.”

The Hamner program integrates research from the molecular level to complex organ systems using prototype compounds to validate how safety assessments for chemical exposures can be improved by toxicity pathway-based assays focusing on genomic, in vitro and in silico methods with prototype compounds. The pathways currently being investigated include peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) signaling and both oxidative stress and DNA-damage stress response pathways. These stress response pathways are part of cellular defenses to protect against damage. Understanding how certain chemicals affect these pathways will lay the groundwork for new approaches that incorporate dose response modeling, physiologically-based pharmacokinetic modeling, and computational systems biology to produce more accurate chemical safety assessments.

“As one of the company founders of The Hamner Institutes more than 35 years ago, Dow is proud to continue our support, and we encourage other chemical companies to join us in making additional financial commitments to their Chemical Safety Sciences program,” said David Kepler, Dow’s senior vice president, chief sustainability officer, and chief information officer. “The fields of toxicology and risk assessment will change dramatically in the next decade, and investment in The Hamner is critical to ensure the best science is applied to managing chemicals to minimize adverse impacts on human health and the environment."

The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences is a nonprofit research organization located in the heart of Research Triangle Park (RTP), NC. For 35 years, scientists at The Hamner have conducted preeminent research in environmental health sciences and chemical risk assessment. The Hamner is now leveraging its heritage to perform traditional GLP and R&D small animal studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of drugs. The two flagship institutes at The Hamner, the Institute for Drug Safety Sciences and the Institute for Chemical Safety Sciences, build upon this expertise by developing and validating cutting-edge tools for safety assessment. Novel technologies include in silico models for predictive toxicology, in vitro models that utilize human cells or cell lines to evaluate perturbations of cellular responses, and in vivo models to elucidate genes that play a role in susceptibility to drug-induced toxicities. The Hamner continues to grow its campus through partnerships with academia, industry, and government and remains dedicated to positively impacting public health. For more information, please visit www.thehamner.org.

In 2009, Dow had annual sales of $45 billion and employed approximately 52,000 people worldwide. The company’s more than 5000 products are manufactured at 214 sites in 37 countries across the globe. More information about Dow can be found at www.dow.com.

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