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Research Project Description

Research Participation Program
IRIS
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Assessment
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Arlington, VA

EPA-ORD/NCEA-IRIS-2012-01

Project Description:

Several research project training opportunities for faculty and/or postgraduates are currently available with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program, in the National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA), Office of Research and Development. The IRIS program is located in Arlington, Virginia.

The IRIS program (www.epa.gov/iris) is responsible for developing state-of-the-art human health assessments that provide toxicity information on environmentally important chemicals. IRIS health assessments are used by EPA, other federal, state and local government agencies, international organizations, and the public (including academia, regulated industries, and environmental organizations) to inform risk-based decision-making. IRIS assessments contain qualitative and quantitative descriptions of a chemical’s toxicity, including oral reference doses and inhalation reference concentrations for noncancer endpoints and oral slope factors and inhalation unit risks for cancer. The IRIS program develops toxicological reviews using EPA guidance documents. The database can be found at http://www.epa.gov/iris/backgr-d.htm.

The selected individual(s) will be involved in the development of cutting edge human health assessments. Involvement in the IRIS program presents a unique opportunity to play an influential role in EPA’s health assessment program and to participate in multidisciplinary scientific teams. At a minimum, a team consists of a toxicologist, biologist, or health scientist and a statistician. Teams involved in more complex assessments may have up to 20 members including epidemiologists, modelers, and experts in specific toxic endpoints such as cancer, reproductive and developmental effects, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, and respiratory effects. The selected individual(s) will have an opportunity to collaborate to address such cross-cutting scientific issues as use of mechanism of action date to inform risk assessment and consideration of susceptibilities associated with life stage and pre-existing conditions. There are also opportunities to apply various quantitative tools, including quantitative analysis of epidemiologic data, benchmark dose (BMD) and other types of dose-response modeling, physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models, and time-to-tumor analyses.

The selected individual(s) will be part of EPA teams doing tasks related to the development of IRIS health assessments, including:

  • Reviewing and analyzing toxicology and epidemiology data supporting the qualitative and quantitative estimates of health effects from exposure to individual chemical substances or mixtures. Actively critiquing and identifying critical studies and effects for use in human health assessment.
  • Developing analyses into logical, credible IRIS health assessment documents that reflect current scientific principles and risk assessment methodologies.
  • Collaborating with team members and other experts within EPA to address challenging scientific issues related to the toxicity and epidemiology data for individual chemicals and chemical classes. 
  • Communicating human health risk assessment information within EPA and other federal agencies as well as to external peer reviewers and the public. 

Identifying and researching cross-cutting scientific issues that arise in assessment development, such as how to assess cumulative effects of exposure to mixtures of chemicals and how to apply the next generation of toxicology data in human health risk assessments.

Qualifications:

Applicants must have received a master’s or doctoral degree in toxicology or related fields, epidemiology, statistics, or risk assessment within five years of the desired starting date, or completion of all requirements for the degree should be expected prior to the starting date. Faculty applicants must be full-time at an accredited U.S. college or university.

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 participant does not become an EPA employee.

These appointments may be part- or full-time for one year and may be renewed for up to two additional years upon recommendation of NCEA and subject to availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend. The participant must show proof of health and medical insurance.

How to Apply:

The Research Participation Program for EPA is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Please reference Project # EPA-ORD/NCEA-IRIS-2012-01 when calling or writing for information. For additional information and application materials contact: Research Participation Program/EPA, Attn: Betty Bowling, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, P.O. Box 117, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831-0117, Phone: (865) 576-8503 FAX: (865) 241-5219 e-mail: betty.bowling@orau.org.

An application can be found at http://orise.orau.gov/epa/applicants/application.htm.