Marshall University graduates and faculty member Dr. Philippe Georgel of the Department of Biological Sciences in Marshall’s College of Science have published research on the effects of emerging contaminants in major waterways, including the Ohio River. Their study, published in the journal “Water,” was supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Their research involved bioinformatics analysis to investigate the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals — such as insecticides, pesticides, and detergents — and the opioid buprenorphine. They found that these contaminants significantly altered expression of specific genes, representing a serious health threat to biological functions, such as reproduction as well as cellular differentiation. Their study also indicated that endocrine-disrupting chemicals were responsible for increased DNA damage, a potential cause of cancer.

“The presence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in our local waterways is becoming an increasing threat to the surrounding population,” said their study in “Water,” an open access journal published through MDPI.

“From our study, we outlined that, in addition of the expected effects of EDCs on hormonal functions, these chemicals appear to have potential carcinogenic activity through their ability to increase DNA damage,” said Georgel, a professor of biological sciences. “What our investigation did not fully delineate is the results of daily exposure to a combination of such chemicals in our water sources. It has become evident that the use of various EDCs in our daily life has some very serious ramifications on multiple aspects of human health and will require more in-depth analysis and possibly stricter regulations to avoid an ecological disaster.”

The bioinformatics section of the study was initiated and spearheaded by James Kessler, who started working on this project as a freshman in Marshall’s Department of Biological Sciences and is now pursuing his graduate degree in Edinburgh, Scotland. Kessler collaborated with former Marshall classmates Ramin Garmany, also a former student of the Department of Biological Sciences who is now starting his second year as a M.D.-Ph.D. student at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; Dr. Diane Dawley, a graduate of the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine who is currently working as a resident at Eastern Carolina University; and Daniel Crow, who is working on his M.D. at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Originally from Jean Hardiman for Marshall University Communications