BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has awarded $2.27 million to Indiana University researcher Joseph Shaw for a five-year study of how the environment alters genetic information through mutation and natural selection.
The project reflects a changing approach to environmental science, which is increasingly incorporating advances in molecular toxicology, computational sciences and information technology to learn how environmental factors produce genetic changes that influence health risks.
The grant comes from the NIEHS Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) program, which seeks to transform environmental research by identifying talented and creative scientists, encouraging and nurturing their innovative research, and supporting their long-term commitment to furthering the understanding of the impact of environmental exposures on human health.
Shaw, an assistant professor in the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, is the first Indiana University faculty member to be recognized by the ONES program.
He will lead studies that examine gene copy number variation (CNV) in the lake and pond dwelling crustacean Daphnia, commonly called the water flea, one of a handful of model organisms approved by the National Institutes of Health for biomedical research. Recent research has found that genetic differences between individuals of an animal population, including humans, are predominantly from genes that are duplicated or deleted from genomes, the full collection of DNA that prescribes the functions of a cell.
"We have identified natural populations that have experienced substantial environmental stress for over a century," Shaw said, speaking of research that he and his colleagues have conducted on lakes near industrial-scale mining operations. "The studies will now assess how some populations have adapted to cope with chemical changes to the environment, or have
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