ORISE Internship/Research Participation US EPA -- Development and Use of In Vitro Methods

Development and Use of In Vitro Methods to Identify Environmental Thyroid Hormone Disruptors

Research Participation Program
Office of Research and Development
National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Project Description: A postgraduate research project opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD)/National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL). The appointment will be served with the Toxicity Assessment Division (TAD) in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. 

TAD conducts research that addresses high priority research needs of the U.S. EPA’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program with regard to the risk assessment and risk management of environmental chemicals that can adversely affect circulating levels of thyroid hormone. This research project will contribute to the development and use of medium and high throughput toxicology (HTT) methods to identify environmental chemicals that can disrupt thyroid hormone regulation in support of the US EPA’s Chemical Safety for Sustainability (CSS) research plan. 

The participant will develop and use a suite of in vitro approaches to evaluate the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on the thyroid hormone axis. An initial focus will be on developing medium and high-throughput in vitro assays that can be used to more rapidly detect chemicals that can alter important molecular initiating events that can disrupt thyroid hormone signaling in humans and wildlife species. The utility of these in vitro approaches will be assessed by testing controls, reference chemicals and subsets of chemicals currently under the EPA’s regulatory purview (e.g., Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program). This research will be closely coordinated with ongoing studies to develop a formal adverse outcome pathway (AOP) for the thyroid axis that characterizes the linkage between molecular/biochemical data and adverse apical outcomes of regulatory concern. 

The research participant will be involved in the following activities:

  • The development of research hypotheses.
  • The study, design, and implementation of in vitro and in vivo studies to support specific research objectives for this project.
  • The development of in vitro approaches for screening for thyroid toxicants.
  • Conducting in vitro assays designed to screen and classifying a large set of environmental chemicals as potential thyroid hormone disruptors.
  • Assessing chemicals that test positive during screening.
  • Conducting additional in vitro and/or in vivo experiments.

The research participant will learn/gain experience in:

  • Problem formulation, solution identification, and options.
  • Interpretation of results by observation.
  • In vitro and in vivo approaches and techniques in toxicological research.
  • Endocrine regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis.
  • Key molecular targets where environmental chemicals can alter the homeostasis of thyroid hormones.
  • Impacts of altered thyroid hormone regulation in humans and wildlife species.


Applicants must have received a bachelor’s degree in biology, physiology, toxicology, microbiology, endocrinology or related discipline or related discipline within five years of the desired starting date, or completion of all requirements for the degree should be expected prior to the starting date.

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 a candidate also may hold an appropriate visa status; an H1B visa is not appropriate). Guidelines for non-U.S. citizens may be found at http://orise.orau.gov/epa/applicants/immigration.htm.

The appointment is full time for one year and may be renewed upon recommendation of EPA and contingent on the availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend. Funding may be made available to reimburse the participant's travel expenses to present the results of his/her research at scientific conferences. No funding will be made available to cover travel costs for pre-appointment visits, relocation costs, tuition and fees, or a participant's health insurance. The participant must show proof of health and medical insurance. The participant does not become an EPA employee. 

Location: Research Triangle Park, NC

Technical Questions: The mentors for this project are Dr. Susan Laws (laws.susan@epa.gov) and Dr. Tammy Stoker (stoker.tammy@epa.gov).

 How to Apply:

An application can be found at http://orise.orau.gov/epa/applicants/application.htm. Please reference Project # EPA-ORD/NHEERL-TAD-2015-05 when calling or writing for information. 

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