Endocrine Disruptors and Reproductive Health across the Lifespan

November 8, 2013
11:00 am US Eastern Time

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Chemicals that can alter the function of the endocrine system are ubiquitous in our environment. The Endocrine Society has defined an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) is an exogenous chemical, or mixture of chemicals, that can interfere with any aspect of hormone action. EDCs may affect the regulation of hormone synthesis, secretion and actions and the variability in regulation of these events across the life cycle. Endocrine disruptors present significant risks to reproductive health and fetal development, as well as other health endpoints such as thyroid function, changes in metabolism, and obesity. 

This call reviewed the mechanisms by which endocrine disruptors may interfere with reproductive processes, examine early life breast development as a prime example of tissue sensitive to endocrine disruption, and discuss regulatory efforts at the national and international level designed to limit exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Featured Speakers

Jerrold Heindel, PhDDr. Jerrold (Jerry) Heindel is a program administrator in the Cellular, Organs & Systems Pathobiology Branch (COSPB) within the Division of Extramural Research and Training of the National Institutes of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS). Dr. Heindel received his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Michigan and worked in the area of reproductive biology and toxicology while on the faculty at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and the University of Mississippi before coming to NIEHS. As scientific program administrator, Dr. Heindel is responsible for developing and administering the NIEHS grants program in endocrine disruptors, developmental basis of diseases, reproductive toxicology, and obesity. He is also coordinators a virtual consortium of researchers studying the effects of bisphenol A.

Dr. Ana M. Soto is a professor in the Department of Anatomy at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. Her research specialties include the control of mammary cell proliferation by sex steroids and the fetal origins of adult disease, particularly the role of endocrine disruptors on carcinogenesis, reproductive and behavioral disorders. Her laboratory has developed assays for detecting estrogenicity and androgenicity (E-SCREEN and A-SCREEN assays) and identified novel xenoestrogens. Current studies include investigating the mechanisms underlying xenoestrogen-induced alterations of the development of the female reproductive system, the neuroendocrine system and the mammary gland.

Dr. R. Thomas Zoeller is professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His early training was in molecular neuroendocrinology at the NIMH and NINDS in Bethesda, Maryland. His current research focuses on the role of thyroid hormone in brain development with an emphasis on the fetal brain. Dr. Zoeller’s lab is also focused on the mechanisms by which environmental endocrine disruptors can interfere with thyroid hormone action in the brain, and his laboratory has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers on these topics. Dr. Zoeller was a member of the US EPA's EDSTAC working group on Screening and Testing in the 1990s and received the “Scientist of the Year – 2002” from the Learning Disabilities Association. He is currently a member of EPA’s chartered Science Advisory Board and is chair of the Exposure and Human Health Committee. He has written extensively on issues of Endocrine Disruption and Public Policy.

The call was moderated by Karin Russ, national coordinator of the CHE Fertility and Reproductive Health Working Group.