This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are used for visitor analysis, others are essential to making our site function properly and improve the user experience. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Click Accept to consent and dismiss this message or Deny to leave this website. Read our Privacy Statement for more.
Home | Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In
CEFIC Ecotoxicology Research Grant
Share |


€ 100.000 Award for Ecotoxicology Research


How to handle NERs or strongly adsorbed substances in environmental risk assessment?

Are you a rebel thinker? Do you have a good idea? Make it come alive!

The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), in conjunction with the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), the Association of European Toxicologists and European Societies of Toxicology (EUROTOX), and the International Society of Exposure Sciences (ISES), is offering a €100.000 award to support promising new research in the field of environmental toxicology. “Non-extractable residues (NERs) or strongly absorbed substances in environmental risk assessment” is the topic of the Cefic-LRI Innovative Science Award 2019. Applications are now open until 24 March 2019.

One of the most abundant fate routes of chemicals in the environment is the formation of so called non-extractable residues (NERs): chemical substances that bind to terrestrial soil and aquatic sediments very strongly, and remain trapped unless an event – such as degradation – significantly changes the nature of the compound or the structure of the matrix they are bound to. There is uncertainty on whether such NERs will become available to display toxicity, and questioning about how to predict associated risks.

In 2018, the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) released a Technical and Scientific Report reviewing the state-of-science on the role of NERs in degradation assessment in soil, sediment and water with suspended solids, that shall be used as background document for the persistence assessment of substances under REACH and the Biocidal Products Regulation.  The Report identifies several technical challenges and directions for future research. Therefore, Cefic-LRI is seeking research proposals focused, but not limited to, the following questions:

  • Standardisation of existing NER extraction scheme: which techniques make sense and which don’t?
  • Establishment of a link between laboratory and real-life test extraction results: what processes make NERs become environmentally relevant (e.g. desorption, bioavailability, binding strength), which metrics should be established as cut-off?
  • Can predictive computational models help elucidate the complex adsorption/desorption pathways of chemicals and the formation of biogenically sequestered NERs?
  • Do biodegradation studies and/or ecotoxicity data reflect the hypotheses and models developed on NER fate?

Read more about it here.   

Previous award winners

  • 2018: Dr. David Pamies (Department of Physiology at Lausanne University, Switzerland). The research proposes a novel approach to identify chemicals that could affect brain development during fetus formation, especially the ones that could later decrease learning and memory capabilities in kids. The project aims to develop a more systematic approach to understand the mechanism of toxic effect (Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs)) using a 3D brain model derived from human cells.
  • 2017: Dr. Spyros Karakitsios (University of Thessaloniki, GR). The DOREMI (DOse REsponse to MIxtures) project aims to apply a multi-omics analysis to investigate the potential effect of neurotoxic chemical mixtures, such as heavy metals and plasticizers, on children’s neurodevelopment.
  • 2016: Wibke Busch (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research -  UFZ, Germany). Applying “omics” techniques as well as bioinformatics and modelling approaches she investigates molecular kinetic and dynamic processes and develops strategies for mode-of-action-based hazard assessment.
  • 2015: Alice Limonciel (Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria) winning research proposal is entitled “Establishment of thresholds of activation of stress responses pathways and ligand-activated receptors for chemical classification” and will investigate cellular responses to the acceleration of chronic kidney disease progression due to chemical exposure.
  • 2014: Alexandra Antunes (Centro de Química Estrutural from the Instituto Superior Técnico (CQE-IST), Portugal) with the topic “Covalent Modification of Histones by Carcinogens: a novel proteomic approach toward the assessment of chemically-induced cancers – CarcHistonOmic”.
  • 2013: Sabine A.S. Langie (Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Belgium) with a proposal on the topic “Environmental programming of respiratory allergy in childhood: the applicability of saliva to study the effect of environmental exposures on DNA methylation”.
  • 2012: Andreas Bender (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom). In his work, he is involved with the integration and analysis of chemical and biological data, aimed at understanding phenotypic compound action (such as cellular readouts, and also organism-level effects) on a mechanistic level, ranging from compound efficacy to toxicity.
  • 2011: Thomas G. Preuss (RWTH Aachen University) with his research proposal “Improving mechanistic understanding of population recovery for aquatic macroinvertebrates”. 
  • 2010: Juana Maria Delgado Saborit (Birmingham University, United Kingdom) with her research proposal on “In quest of new fingerprints of exposure to VOC from consumer products”. 
  • 2009: Hector Keun (Imperial College, United Kingdom) with his research proposal on “Using Metabonomic biomarkers to bridge the gap between environmental exposure and human disease”. 
  • 2008: Emma Tylor (MRC Toxicology Unit, Leicester University) with her research proposal on transgenerational effects. The project titled ‘Mechanistically anchored testing for male epigenetic transgenerational chemical toxicity using in vivo and in vitro stem cell based systems’ will enable further robust assessment on environmental effects potentially inherited from one generation to the next.
  • 2007: Roman Ashauer (EAWAG, Switzerland) with his research proposal entitled "Improving the definition of water quality criteria: linking organism recovery times to mechanism of action and acute-to-chronic ratios"
  • 2006: Ellen Fritsche (Einrichten-Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany) with her Research proposal entitled "Validation of a human in vitro model for testing developmental neurotoxicity". 
  • 2005: Paul J. van den Brink (Alterra, Netherlands) with his research proposal entitled "Predicting the response of aquatic invertebrates to chemical stress using species traits and stressor mode of action". 

More information can be found at