MADISON, Wis. - The Trump administration has placed a temporary suspension on all new Environmental Protection Agency business, which bars staff from awarding new grants and contract. The move impacts five grants previously awarded to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
One of those grants was being used to grow human tissue outside the body that can be used as a screening tool to identify new drugs and to determine if compounds in the environment might be toxic to human tissue.
“I think it is very important because right now, when we try to understand the effect of environmental toxins on human tissue, we are using rodents or we are using other animal models and often, the effects on animals are very different than the effects on humans,” said Bill Murphy, a Harvey D. Spangler Professor at UW-Madison.
“If we can create human tissue that is a good surrogate for the actual human body then we can gather more information about toxins, not just whether something is toxic or not toxic, but why is it toxic and how is it affecting human cells," Murphy said.
The 20 person research team is two years into a four year, $6 million EPA grant.
Murphy said the research has been very successful to this point and has implications that extend to cancer research.
He is hopeful the funding will eventually be restored.
“On the negative side, in principle it is possible that these funds could not be awarded to us, which would pull the rug out from under some tremendous work that is happening at the university, not just for us at the university, but to the public at large," Murphy said.
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