About The Hamner
Improve public health through better predictive assessments of chemical and drug safety while helping to develop new breakthrough medicines and diagnostics.
A Heritage in Small Molecule Safety
The Hamner began in 1974 as The Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology (CIIT). This independent research institute was formed by visionary leaders from 11 major chemical companies. Their mission was to address growing concerns about the effects of small-molecule chemicals on the environment and human health.
Building on more than 30 years of national and international distinction in public health and environmental sciences research, scientists at The Hamner continue to conduct preeminent research in chemical safety assessment and play a pivotal role in shaping public policy. To achieve their scientific goals, they focus on a systems biology paradigm, which offers a seamless integration of functional genomics, computational biology, and bioinformatics to guide research and to provide integrative, quantitative tools for assessing human health risks.
Scientists at The Hamner also work closely with government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and its biomonitoring program to assess the risk of chemicals in drinking water. In 2007, a major new agreement was also signed with the EPA. Through a complementary system of in vitro assays, The Hamner evaluates a subset of 320 chemicals that the EPA is examining in its ToxCastT program. The Hamner assists the EPA in determining the relevance of the in vitro results by using mathematical models to predict exposures and similar effects in whole animals.
The Hamner continues to capitalize on its strong heritage in assessing the risk of chemicals by expanding its partnerships to other industries, including consumer products and fragrance as well as other government agencies like the Department of Defense.
Over the past five years, an increased focus on safety problems has led to a decline in the number of new drug applications and approvals. The failure of treatments during clinical trials has brought additional negative publicity to an already beleaguered industry. The withdrawal of major drugs from the market, along with the escalating costs associated with drug development, has exacerbated a situation that is threatening to undermine the pharmaceutical industry.
The Hamner's expertise and models, used so effectively in the past to assess the impact of environmental exposures on human health, are being broadened and realigned to serve the biopharmaceutical industry in the areas of safety sciences and translational research. In September 2008, The Hamner-UNC Center for Drug Safety Sciences was formed.
Dr. Paul Watkins, one of the world's leading experts in liver injury and drug safety, is the Founding Director of The Hamner-UNC Center for Drug Safety Sciences. This new partnership between The Hamner and one of the world's leading biomedical research universities will foster new alliances between academe, industry, and government regulatory agencies to advance public health research, education, and scientifically informed policies.
The Hamner is now seeking sponsorship from corporate partners that are interested in providing early support for chemical and drug safety initiatives. Opportunities are also available to develop company-specific research programs.