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Research Project Description

Flame Retardants and Alternatives Analysis
Research Participation Program
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Computational Toxicology
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Research Triangle Park, NC

EPA-ORD/NCCT-2014-02

Project Description:

A postdoctoral research project training opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD), National Center for Computational Toxicology (NCCT). This appointment will be served in the Chemical Safety for Sustainability (CSS) National Research Program.

CSS research aims to increase the pace and effectiveness at which relevant information can be obtained and used to inform sustainable chemical design, production, and utilization. Toward this goal, NCCT is conducting innovative research using high-throughput screening (HTS) methods to collect data on hundreds of in vitro assays across thousands of chemicals, and is pioneering the development and implementation of novel computational tools and systems modeling approaches to support a variety of chemical toxicity and risk assessment applications of these data.

This opportunity involves developing predictive computational models for safer alternative chemicals to facilitate comparison of the hazards of potential substitutes to conventional compounds. The selected participant will have the opportunity to collaborate with investigators in molecular and computational toxicology from the NCCT and regulatory scientists from EPA program offices.

The participant will be involved with a dynamic, interdisciplinary team that is seeking to apply systems-based approaches toward advancing scientific principles and strategies for alternatives assessment. With guidance from a mentor, the participant may have the opportunity to participate in one or all of the following training opportunities: 

  • Developing new approaches in computational toxicology for the alternatives assessment arena;
  • Developing methodologies that combine in vitro HTS data (ToxCast), predictive signatures of toxicity, and computational models with traditional expert systems and structure-based approaches to enhance predictive capabilities for new chemicals and prioritize targeted testing news;
  • Identifying brominated flame retardants (and/or other use classes) for analysis; and
  • Using computational tools to carry out specific alternatives assessment analysis in key areas, such as developmental and reproductive toxicity, relevant to children’s health protection.

The participant will learn about problem formulation (e.g., formulation of overall goals of specific alternatives assessments and general processes that can be used on the target assessment projects); informatics and model development (e.g., software packages/ computational methods that integrate current NCCT tools and models, as well as other tools developed or selected by the candidate); data mining and analysis of high-dimensional data sets for chemicals of concern and proposed alternatives; and collaboration with a variety of EPA and extramural partners to evaluate the scientific plan and carry out the alternatives assessments. The participant will be encouraged to communicate his/her research results through peer-reviewed publications, presentations at meetings of professional societies, and seminars.

Qualifications:

Applicants must have received a doctoral degree in a field related to molecular toxicology, cell or developmental biology within five years of the desired starting date, or completion of all requirements for the degree should be expected prior to the starting date. Academic training and research experience in bioinformatics is also desired. 

The program is open to all qualified individuals without regard to race, sex, religion, color, age, physical or mental disability, national origin, or status as a Vietnam era or disabled veteran. U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status is preferred (but can also hold an appropriate visa status, however, an H1B visa is not appropriate).

The appointment is full-time for one year and may be renewed for up to two additional years upon recommendation of EPA contingent on the availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend. The participant must show proof of health and medical insurance. This can be obtained through ORISE. The participant does not become an EPA employee.

Funding may be made available to reimburse a participant’s travel expenses to present the results of his/her research at scientific conferences. No funding will be made available to cover travel costs for pre-appointment visits, relocation costs, tuition and fees, or a participant's health insurance.

Technical Questions:

The contact person for this project is Dr. Thomas B. Knudsen. He can be contacted at Knudsen.Thomas@epa.gov.

How to Apply:

An application can be found at http://orise.orau.gov/epa/applicants/application.htm. Please reference Project # EPA-ORD/NCCT-2014-02 when calling or writing for information.