Interdisciplinary Center for Nanotoxicity Global Vision

Mission Statement
To engage in transformative research and education that builds individual and institution capacity to meaningfully contribute to STEM education and the workforce.
ICN has set four major goals:
G1 Maintain and solidify the Center’s position as a national and international leader in research and education methodically integrated in the proposed exploration of toxicity of nanomaterials;
G2 Develop a novel and reproducible model for expanding the STEM pool of high school, undergraduate, and graduate students who participate in nanomaterials research, education and training and subsequently enter STEM-related careers;
G3 Advance knowledge by translation of research findings and lessons learned from developed educational activities to the scientific community and the broader public;
G4 Build national and international partnerships and collaborations that advance and sustain the Center’s research and educational agenda.
We believe that the best way of protecting society against new catastrophes is to avoid them. The history of asbestos disaster taught us to first thoroughly test new materials before their industrial applications. The recent public outrage on the news that there are traces of drugs in drinking water will lead to the enforcement of stricter rules for the disposal of chemicals. Nanoparticles are among the compounds that could easily pollute the environment due to their very small size. Among federal agencies NSF has significantly invested in advances of nanoscience, so understanding the consequences of developing it to the mass production level and bringing tons of nanomaterials into the environment should be one of the areas of its mission.

Society needs – why it is crucial to investigate nanotoxicity?

  • Nanotechnology has gained a great deal of public interest due to the needs and applications of nanomaterials in almost all areas of human endeavors including industry, agriculture, business, medicine and public health.
  • Both nanoscience and nanotechnology rank among the most prominent and rapidly emerging fields that have provided opportunities to individuals with various academic backgrounds (chemists, biologists, physicists, material scientists, engineers, medical specialists and toxicologists) and scientific expertise to understand and manufacture nanoscale objects.
  • One of the issues that has to be addressed in the near future, before massive fabrication of nanomaterials, is their toxicity to humans and the environment.

Nanotechnology Today: advances and risks

  • In the public health arena, nanomedicine has been referred to as the application of nanotechnology for diagnosis, monitoring, control and treatment of biological systems. Related materials include nanoparticles that are biological mimetics, nanofibers and polymeric nanoconstructs as bio-materials, sensors and laboratory diagnostics.
  • In the area of environmental health, nanotechnology applications include the development and application of tools to assess human and other biota exposures, characterize risk, assess genes environment interactions, and link environmental exposures to diseases in humans and other animals.
  • There have been concerns that the wide production and utilization of nanomaterials is rapidly overtaking efforts to evaluate their toxicity to humans and the environment. To date, very few studies have focused on the evaluation of the impact of nanomaterials on human health.
  • Toxicological data indicate that nanomaterials exposure poses a potential risk to biological systems. In-vitro studies with human skin cells and lung epithelial cells have reported that exposure to single wall carbon nanotubes induces oxidative stress and apoptosis.
  • As their industrial production increases and the products containing nanomaterials build up in the environment, the potential risk of adverse effects is also expected to increase significantly.
  • Other areas of concern are the lack of appropriate test models, test protocols, and biomarkers of exposure, sensitivity and effects associated with human exposure to nanomaterials. Also unknown are the most effective ways of protecting workers and/or regulating the production, use and disposal of nanomaterials. Taken together, there exists a big gap in scientific data regarding the toxicology, risk assessment and management of nanomaterials.

Nanotoxicity CREST Center

We enhanced the research capabilities of the Jackson State University by the establishment of the Nanotoxicity CREST Center that efficiently integrates experimental and computational research with undergraduate and graduate education and training of minority students. The Center develops new approaches to enhance knowledge related to nanomaterials, their practical applications and environmental effects and implement an integrated education and research program in the area of nanotoxicity It is anticipated that the implementation of the above-stated studies would provide new insights into the mechanisms of the toxic action of nanomaterials, as well as relevant scientific information for making informed decisions regarding the cost-effective management of nanomaterials. It will also provide an excellent opportunity to train undergraduate and graduate students in the emerging area of nanotoxicology.