Founded in 1997, the Institute for Risk Analysis and Risk Communication (IRARC) is committed to improving public health by performing state of the art research that develops the scientific basis of methods used in risk assessment and risk communication. IRARC conducts molecular and cellular laboratory research, develops mechanistic models of toxicity and translates findings for broad audiences. IRARC seeks to educate scientists and practioners on the appropriate application of risk assessment and risk communication methods and to translate the findings into effective education and intervention programs. Our ultimate goal is to improve public health outcomes through sound science that is translated into effective public health practices and policies.
Investigators are working to understand the mechanisms (molecular and genetic) that define susceptibility to toxicants and to identify the implications of this susceptibility for development and learning. IRARC scientists continuously seek out new techniques and methodologies to better understand and quantify how realistic exposures to common toxicants impact cellular and genetic funtioning. Laboratory studies are conducted to characterize the molecular mechanisms of susceptibility to environmental toxicants. Such studies investigate the cellular changes that occur following toxicant exposure. Other studies seek to understand how, during fetal development, chronic, low-dose exposure to a class of contaminants called neurotoxicants may impact learning and behavior after birth. IRARC also investigates the role of genetic and age-dependent factors of susceptibility.
IRARC is structured around a risk analysis framework that links laboratory research data with findings on exposure, kinetics (how agents move through the body after exposure) and biological damage to imporove our ability to predict health effects of exposure. Scientists apply innovative modeling tecniques (toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic) to link data, resulting in powerful tools for assessing risk and improving protective measures. IRARC also evaluates the value of information for improving risk assessment and provides technical guidance on the harmonization of approaches and tools for risk assessment across national and international agencies. IRARC is particularly interested in improving children's environmental health risk assessment.
IRARC's risk assessment framework supports development of methodology, tools and materials to communicate risk and translate complex scientific findings for a variety of applications and audiences. IRARC faculty and staff conduct classes and workshops to lay and professional audiences and incorporate findings into curricula developed for students in preschool through graduate school as well as adult continuing education. IRARC investigators conduct research and facilitate partnerships among communities, policy makers and research organizations. Our goal is to translate IRARC's scientific methods and findings to a broad and diverse audience and to involve communities in our work. Using a community-based participatory approach, we conduct research and develop tools to promote transparency and dialogue about risks associated with exposure to environmental agents and to improve use of risk information in science policy.
The Center for Child Environmental Health Risks Research is jointly funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to further knowledge of childrens susceptibility to toxicants. By examining the underlying biochemical, molecular, and exposure mechanisms, researchers hope to better understand the risks to normal development and learning from pesticide exposures.
The Pacific Northwest Center for Human Health and Ocean Studies was created in response to the critical need to understand links between ocean processes and human health. The Center, jointly funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), investigates how environmental conditions trigger blooms of harmful algae in our marine waters and ultimately, how these blooms impact public health.
The Center for the Study and Improvement of Regulation, funded by Carnegie Mellon University, is working to merge the study of pollution, risk, public health, technology, economics, organizations and history to improve environmental health and safety regulations. The University of Washington is involved in the project through IRARC researchers who provide experience in medical and biological sciences, public health practice, risk assessment and their interface with regulation.