Understanding how chemicals disrupt molecular and cellular signaling

We currently address the question of how chemicals disrupt molecular and cellular signaling using complex, real-world mixtures of plastic chemicals. While plastic produces are a relevant source of chemicals exposures, they are critically understudied. Thus, we study how these complex chemical mixtures interfere with nuclear receptors and cell-surface receptors but also with adipogenesis as key processes involved in endocrine and metabolic disruption.

Developing a more holistic view of the human exposome

A big part of our research focusses on improving our understanding of the human exposure to plastic chemicals. In a range of studies, we demonstrate that plastic products are chemically very complex, containing hundreds to thousands of chemical features. We also show that these mixtures of chemicals induce toxic responses at the molecular, cellular, and organismal level. We combine high-resolution mass spectrometry with biological and in silico tools to identify so-far unknown toxicants, including endocrine and metabolism disrupting chemicals.

Quantifying the impacts of nano- and microplastics on the health of humans and freshwater ecosystems

The group works on multiple projects to characterize the toxicity of nano- and microplastics in aquatic invertebrates. Our research is guided by using realistic plastic particles (e.g., fragments, fibers produced in house), testing natural particles for benchmarking, and including multiple stressors scenarios. On the biological side, we have worked with human immune cells, freshwater and marine zooplankton, gastropods, bivalves, insects, and birds. We apply a broad array of tools, covering molecular (transcriptome), cellular (inflammasome), tissue-level (energy budgets, oxidative stress), organismal (growth, reproduction), and ecological endpoints (population and community structure).

For more information on what we do, see our recent research projects.