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EPA Chemical Effects on Fetal Brain Internship

*Applications may be reviewed on a rolling-basis and this posting could close before the deadline. Click here for information about the selection process.
EPA Office/Lab and LocationA research opportunity is available at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD), Center for Computational Toxicology and Exposure (CCTE), Biomolecular & Computational Toxicology Division (BCTD) located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
The EPA CCTE is responsible for developing new experimental models that can be used to evaluate the potential for chemicals to produce adverse effects on human and ecological health for improving environmental risk assessments and regulatory decisions pertaining to chemical safety and sustainability.
Research Project: This research project aims to develop human-cell based new approach models (NAMs) that can be used to determine chemical effects in vitro to predict the safety of chemicals without running tests on whole animals. The tools to be used include neuroprogentior cell based assessments of chemical effects on the embryonic brain. Chemical effects on the cells/organoids/organotypic models will be assessed. Data from these models will be used in developing predictive mathematical models to assess chemicals.
Research activities may include:
  • Establishing a new approach models (NAMs) to evaluate chemicals during pregnancy
  • Applying neurovascular unit (NVU) model to evaluate chemical effects on neuroprogenitor cell proliferation and differentiation
  • Applying the NVU model is transwell devices with multielectrode array analysis of chemical effects
  • Evaluating of the role of thyroid hormones on neuroprogenitor cell proliferation, cytotoxicity and differentiation
  • Integrating the NVU into an embryonic compartment of the human pregnancy model project
Learning Objectives: The research participant will gain education and training in the general areas of establishing an organotypic culture model of the embryonic and fetal blood brain barrier and early neural development. Proliferation of neuroprogenitor (NP) cells and the differentiation of neural and glial cells from NP cells in preparation for future career opportunities.
The research participant may author or co-author on peer-reviewed publications and may present at local and national meetings. The research participant will be a member of a multi-disciplinary Virtual Tissues Models research team.
Mentor(s): The mentor for this opportunity is Sid Hunter ( If you have questions about the nature of the research please contact the mentor(s).
Anticipated Appointment Start Date: Summer/Fall 2020. All start dates are flexible and vary depending on numerous factors. Click here for detailed information about start dates.
Appointment Length: The appointment will initially be for one year and may be renewed up to three additional years upon EPA recommendation and subject to availability of funding.
Level of Participation: The appointment is full-time.
Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. Click here for detailed information about full-time stipends.
EPA Security Clearance: Completion of a successful background investigation by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is required for an applicant to be on-boarded at EPA.
ORISE Information: This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and EPA. Participants do not become employees of EPA, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.
Questions: Please see the FAQ section of our website. After reading, if you have additional questions about the application process please email and include the reference code for this opportunity (EPA-ORD-CCTE-BCTD-2020-05).