Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: Hazards and Opportunities (ECHO)

The course focuses on the chemical, biological, and societal challenges of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and new opportunities for moving forward.

Course/Program Dates:
May 17, 2024 - May 31, 2024
Application due date:
Jan 15, 2024

Directors: Patricia Hunt, Washington State University; Joan Ruderman, Princeton University

Course Description

Numerous chemicals invented for agricultural, industrial and consumer products are now known to interfere with hormone-regulated events in development, reproduction, metabolism, and behavior.  Exposures to many of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have pronounced adverse effects in animals (including transgenerational effects), and increasing evidence suggests human populations also are affected.  The field has attracted increasing scrutiny, bringing EDC researchers into contact with the press, regulatory agencies, industry, and consumer groups.  Thus, expertise across a wide range of disciplines is required to understand and deal with the full impacts of EDCs. The course focuses on the chemical, biological, and societal challenges of EDCs and new opportunities for moving forward. It provides an immersion experience designed to foster deeper understanding of key questions, state-of-the-art approaches, and intersecting needs of the biologists from many sub-disciplines, chemists, public health researchers, epidemiologists, clinicians, industry, and federal regulatory agencies involved in the field. 

This course is designed for advanced graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, clinicians, and established investigators transitioning into the EDC field.  It incorporates lectures and labs that focus on chemical, cellular and organismal screening of chemicals for endocrine-disrupting effects; analysis of specific EDC effects on the placenta, brain, and mammary gland in mice; EDC effects on chromosome segregation in C. elegans and early development in zebrafish; mass spec approaches for environmental biomonitoring; using epidemiology to discover connections between EDC exposures and adverse effects on human health; designing chemicals that lack EDC effects; epigenetics and transgenerational effects.  Several sessions will be devoted to hazard and risk assessment, and to science policy, regulation, and implementation.  Students will also receive communications training, prepare for interactions with the media, and then be interviewed by science journalists.

The ultimate goal of the course is to bring together individuals across the entire field to broaden their understanding and forge cross-disciplinary collaborations with the goal of advancing the field and training future leaders. For a quick look at the first year (2022) of this course, see "New MBL Course Targets Hormone-Disrupting Pollutants".