Welcome to the OMICs Interest Group
The mission of the OMICs Interest Group (OMICs IG) is to serve as a source of scientific leadership; to provide a forum for discussion and a venue to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities for OMICs in the environmental sciences and toxicology among stakeholders from diverse sectors including academia, industry, regulators, and policy makers, while working for acceptance of molecular knowledge of toxicity across species for effective protection of both human and ecological health.
This IG will serve as a scientific coordination point, by building bridges among stakeholders to explore OMICS technologies and data as important features in weight-of-evidence-based risk assessment, whole effluent, mixture, single chemical toxicity testing, environmental health monitoring and other, yet to be identified, present and future applications. In this group, OMICs refers to technologies and approaches used to comprehensively and quantitatively measure differences and changes in genes, their molecular products and interactions to include genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, proteomics, lipidomics, metagenomics, etc.).
Our main objective is to improve people’s understanding of safety thresholds for chemicals, natural toxins (Cyanobacteria and Algal toxins), nano-materials, and other factors that may present a risk to human health and to the environment, by providing novel and additional lines of evidence to conventional toxicity testing, monitoring and assessment methods, and to facilitate the innovation of ethical, cost-effective and rapid testing procedures.
The SETAC interest groups follow the Society’s aim to improve Environmental Quality through Science. This requires the involvement of all stakeholders from Academia, Industry, Governments and Citizen Groups. The Global Interest Group on OMICs helps to fulfil SETAC’s aims to ensure highest quality science and communication among researchers across the relevant sectors, concerned with industrial needs and regulatory requirements.
Governments around the world are passing new legislation to regulate chemical substances based on their potential impacts on both human and environmental health. These are critical and complex rules, designed to better ensure public safety, a healthy environment and functioning ecosystems. However, there are huge scientific and logistical constraints in determining risks for an ever-increasing number and diversity of products introduced to markets. Standard operating procedures for toxicity testing are typically prescriptive and have not fundamentally changed in over thirty years. Meanwhile, there has been considerable and fundamental advancement in many of the OMICs sciences, including the standardization of experimental methods and data management. OMIC technologies have reached a required level of technical and analytical maturity to be applied towards prevention, detection, diagnosis and guidance of treatments in diverse human health problems. Yet, OMICs have not yet been adequately deployed to address environmental issues and there is a need to tie OMICs measurements to apical endpoints such as lethality, growth and/or reproductive impairments. OMICs have the potential to revolutionise “Knowledge Based Risk Assessment” of the possible health effects of compounds and other risk factors, on both humans and the environment, by discovering the molecular key events, or signatures, that are diagnostic of exposure, apical endpoints and predictive of adverse outcomes to plants and animals, their populations and communities, including humans.
To date, few OMICS data and methods have been integrated into a risk assessment framework, whole effluent or mixture testing, criteria development or monitoring. However, these methods and data may add rich mechanistic knowledge towards the creation of Adverse Outcome Pathways (OECD, 2012) and provide new lines of evidence for identifying and prioritizing environmental exposures. The hesitancies of both scientists and regulators stem, in part, from the fear that OMICs will increase costs while complicating the risk analysis and interpretation and a clear connection between OMIC endpoints and the guideline endpoints of lethality, growth and reproduction. Additional factors that have slowed the acceptance of OMICs technologies in risk assessment include over-promising outcomes, a general lack of standardized methods, unknowns regarding their applications and the fact that there are few examples demonstrating that they are reliable and efficient endpoints for characterizing risk or related to apical outcomes. Therefore, there is a particular need to improve our capacity to interpret OMICs data and to develop a strategy for its integration into risk-based decision-making, toxicity testing, monitoring and criteria development. At the same time, these processes must be economical and time efficient. Hence, coordinated, multi-disciplinary research and targeted application efforts are needed to optimize and achieve such integration.
Scope and Mission
The OMICs IG will provide a forum for discussion, and a means of raising awareness among stakeholders. OMICs IG will also coordinate scientific efforts among diverse partners (e.g., Government, Academia, Industry, Consulting, etc.) and across regions, so to explore and further develop OMICs technologies as an important feature in regulations by connecting their molecular-based endpoints to apical outcomes that are used for the protection of human and ecological health throughout the globe.
Our goal is to improve the information used by decision makers, to provide additional lines of evidence to conventional and novel methods, and to facilitate the innovation of ethical and cost-effective testing procedures. In the short and long terms, this IG will be a key player in a global dialog, cementing a leading role for SETAC at fostering ongoing discussions about how to proceed on a scientific level to maximize gains for industry and policy makers around the world.
The IG is to lead discussions at the Global level, to build a strong platform and network for its various activities. We see our group as a place for multilateral exchange between all relevant parties concerned about a certain topic. Our steering committee (SC) is therefore clearly balanced in terms of participation from academia, regulators and industry:
Current SC Members:
Bruno Campos, IDAEA-CSIC, Spain (co-chair, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Doris Vidal-Dorsch, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, USA (co-chair, email@example.com)
John Colbourne, University of Birmingham, UK
Adam Biales, U.S. EPA, USA
Geoff Hodges, Unilever Research, UK
Natalia Garcia-Reyero, Mississippi State University, USA
Craig Marvin, Agilent Technologies, USA
Ben Brown, University of Californi, USA
Anthony Chariton,CSIRO, Australia
Sharon Hook, CSIRO, Australia
Jinhee Choi, University of Seoul, South Korea
Xiaowei Zhang, Nanjing University, China
Pedro Carriquiborde, Unversidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina
Omar Zapata, CINVESTAV-IPN Unidad Merida, Mexico
Anze Zupanic, Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Research and Technology, Switzerland
Chris Martyniuk, University of Florida, USA
Pim Leonards, VU University, Amsterdam, Netherlands
David Brew, University of Georgia, USA (student assistant to the SC and communication officer)
Past SC Members:
Erica Brockmeier, University of Liverpool, UK