National Toxicology Program

National Toxicology Program

Collaborative Workshop on Aquatic Models and 21st Century Toxicology

Workshop graphic with images of fish and labware May 5-6, 2014
James B. Hunt Jr. Library
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Read workshop report published in ALTEX
The workshop report was recognized as an NIEHS "Intramural Paper of the Month" in the September 2016 NIEHS Environmental Factor newsletter

Read article about the workshop in the NIEHS Environmental Factor newsletter (June 2014)

View final agenda (April 30, 2014)

The need to screen thousands of chemicals for their potential effects on human health has propelled the use of high-throughput cell-based screens to the forefront of toxicology. Key to the use of these screens is availability of model organisms that recapitulate human development, physiology and disease processes while avoiding the limitations of rodent-based models.

Small aquarium fish species have the potential to fill this need for such model organisms. However, they remain relatively modest contributors to understanding the effects of exposure to environmental contaminants on our health and wellbeing. Fully incorporating these model organisms into modern toxicological investigations could yield enormous scientific and economic benefits. To highlight the potential of these organisms, the National Toxicology Program and North Carolina State University are organizing this workshop, which will enable scientists in various fields to discuss strategies for leveraging aquatic models to advance understanding of the role of environmental exposures on human health.

The purpose of the workshop was to explore and discuss how aquatic models may be used to (i) screen and prioritize compounds for further in vivo testing (ii) to assess mechanisms of chemical toxicity and how this knowledge can impact the environment and human health. Discussions will focus on the application of these models for the field of environmental health while leveraging the techniques and knowledge of broad-based, interdisciplinary research.

Presentation abstracts and other workshop materials are posted below. 


The objectives of the workshop were to:

  1. Foster the establishment of networks between toxicologists and basic biomedical scientists using aquatic animal models, in order to facilitate the translation of experimental approaches used in aquatic animal models research into novel toxicant tests, adverse outcome pathway assessments and mode-of-action discovery.
  2. Raise awareness within the toxicology field of the advantages of using aquatic model resources, including availability of genetic and genomic information; transgenic resources; molecular tools; low-cost and ease of maintenance; rapid, external embryonic development; and ability to perform high throughput studies in a vertebrate animal model.
  3. Develop a framework to assist in integrating toxicology data from aquatic models with ongoing in silico, in vitro and in vivo testing initiatives currently underway in order to enhance risk and safety assessments of chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
  4. Explore the potential for aquatic model organisms to aid in identifying underlying genetic contributions to human exposure susceptibility and to anchor phenotypic outcomes of exposure to molecular mechanisms of toxicity.
  5. Identify and propose future research initiatives using aquatic vertebrate models to address current information gaps, including improvements in risk and safety assessments for multi-organ toxicity, longitudinal studies to assess long-term consequences of chronic exposures, the embryonic basis of adult disease, and multi-generational effects of exposure to environmental contaminants.

Workshop Materials

Presentation Abstracts

Speaker Biosketches

Poster Presentation Abstracts

NTP is located at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.