Elaine Faustman, Ph.D.

Professor and Director Institute for Risk Analysis and Risk Communication Department of Environmental Health University of Washington

The long range objective of Dr. Faustman's research is two-fold: to identify biochemical mechanisms of developmental neurotoxicity and to develop new approaches for the evaluation and characterization of health risks from environmental agents. Because 70% of human birth defects have an unknown etiology, the identification of additional preventable causes of birth defects is extremely important for improving public health. One key aim of her research is to understand molecular pathways that control normal brain cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis.

Faustman’s group is working to understand the biochemical, molecular, and exposure mechanisms that define children’s susceptibility to pesticides and to assess pesticide risks to normal childhood development and learning. Research investigations in her laboratory include understanding the potential for impacts of neurodevelopmental toxicants such as metals (methylmercury and arsenic), pesticides (organophosphates, and benomyl), and N-nitroso compounds on brain development. Faustman’s laboratory is also evaluating genomically conserved cell signaling pathways (such as P53 and P21 cell cycle check point pathways) in animal models to better understand the critical role they play in normal human brain development. This research will also help us to understand how such pathways may be altered by the environment resulting in abnormal neurodevelopment.