Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GMBH (UFZ)

UFZ was founded in 1991 under the name UFZ- Environmental Research Centre Leipzig-Halle GmbH and has more than 1,100 employees on its premises in Leipzig, Halle/S. and Magdeburg. They conduct research to support a sustainable use of our natural resources to benefit both mankind and the environment. UFZ belongs to the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centres. In FP7 and Horizon 2020, UFZ participated in 91 projects with 33 as coordinator, it hosted two ERC Starting Grants and one ERC Advanced Grant and has coordinated 3 ITNs. Since 2014 the UFZ is leading the European Topic Centre on inland, coastal and marine waters funded by the EEA.

Gerrit heads UFZ Department of Ecological Chemistry. He is Professor of Theoretical and Ecological Chemistry at the Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg, Honorary Professor of Chemical Ecotoxicology at the University of Leipzig, Lecturer of Toxicology at the University of Halle-Wittenberg, and chair of the Expert Panel “Chemical Safety” of the GDCh (German Chemical Society) and GT (German Society of Toxicology). His research into environmental and human health focuses on structure-activity relationships, employing computational chemistry, chemoassays, bioassays, and chemoinformatics to study compound toxicity, biotransformation, reactivity, partitioning and degradation. Previous EU projects concerned non-animal and in silico methods for the chemical toxicity assessment, including CAESAR, HEROIC, MODERN (nanoparticle risk), NOMIRACLE, OSIRIS as coordinator, and the on-going SOLUTIONS (human & environmental risk assessment). Other recent grants enabled research into the in-silico screening of endocrine disruptors (UBA) and of non-extractable residues from xenobiotics and their metabolites (CEFIC-LRI), and on in silico structural alerts (German DBU and BfR) as well as chemoassays augmented by experimentally simulating biotransformation (German BMBF project ProHapTox, ongoing) for skin sensitizers. Gerrit as UFZ PI will coordinate WP4 and will focus scientifically on bioavailability (Task 4.2), QSAR and structural alert (Task 4.5), PBTK (Task 4.4) and DSS (Task 4.7) modelling. He will contribute to WP2 (Data Management), to WP3, WP5 and WP6 regarding the mechanistic selection and QSAR profiling of most suitable MIE-/MOA-specific thyroid disruptors, and also to WP7 (Validation).

Alexander develops chemoassays and in vitro bioassays as non-animal test methods for human and environmental toxicology, with a particular focus on reactive MIEs and resultant MOAs. In addition, he has strong expertise in unravelling chemical structures of electrophile-nucleophile adducts as well as of metabolites through employing sophisticated analytical methods. Alexander will contribute chemical analytics for the structural determination of the metabolites generated in the S9 mix biotransformation studies (Task 4.3) in WP4.

Ralph is a physical chemist and chief programmer of the self-developed ChemProp software of UFZ. He has a strong record in computerising fragment-based increment methods, QSARs, read-across approaches, and linear-free-energy relationships employing the self-developed ChemProp software package of UFZ. A further focus is on Bayesian statistics and consensus modelling including respective computer implementations. Ralph will contribute to the QSAR and structural alert (Task 4.5) and PBTK (Task 4.4) modelling, and bioinformatics profiling (Task 4.6) in WP4. He will also provide and adapt ChemProp database tools for the ERGO-wide data warehouse and management (WP2).

Han specialises in employing in-vitro assays to study the toxicity of xenobiotics and to determine the biotransformation profiles of thyroid disrupting chemicals (TDCs), in terms of their metabolic kinetics and pathways. He uses analytical chemistry platforms applying liquid and gas chromatography coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry, in combination with environmental chemistry and ecotoxicological trials, to unravel the toxicological effects and metabolic characters of xenobiotics that pose threats to human health. Han mainly participates in WP4 and is carrying out in-vitro enzyme assays using liver S9 fractions derived from animal hepatocytes to study the metabolic patterns of the TDCs. The determined Michaelis-Menten kinetic parameters and identified metabolic products contribute to the physiologically based toxicokinetic (PBTK) modelling to inform the bioavailability and biotransformation in rat and fish models.

Albrecht is a senior scientist and laboratory head of UFZ. He undertakes research into biomimetic tools for sensing organic contaminants including chemical analytics and has also experience with in vitro (invertebrate) bioassays. Albrecht will contribute to the S9 mix biotransformation studies with rat- and fish-derived enzymes including chemical analytics (Task 4.3) in WP4.

Johannes focuses on experimental methods to simulate biotransformation, employing methods building on heterogeneous catalysis as well as S9 mix enzyme assays. Further areas of research are chemoassays to sense chemical reactivity, and chemical analytics. Johannes will collaborate with Albrecht to perform the S9 mix biotransformation studies with rat- and fish-derived enzymes including chemical analytics (Task 4.3) in WP4.

Elena has contributed to the ongoing EU project SOLUTIONS through developing and computerizing a PBTK model for rainbow trout. Currently she explores ways of extending the model to include rates of metabolic degradation and has also professional experience in QSAR modelling and MOA profiling of chemical compounds. Elena will contribute to WP4 with PBTK modelling, with extending the existing UFZ version to oral uptake and biotransformation, and with developing a physiological setting suitable for rats (Task 4.4).

Shangwei undertakes research into unravelling mechanisms and pathways of xenobiotic biotransformation through computational chemistry. Besides research work with cytochrome P450, his current focus is on the vitamin-B12-catalysed dehalogenation of aromatic halides. In addition, he has experience in 3D ligand-protein docking. Shangwei will contribute to computational chemistry, 3D QSAR (CoMFA) and ligand-protein docking for mechanistic MIE and MOA analyses and thyroid disruptor profiling (Task 4.5) in WP4.