Dr. Rusyn's laboratory has an active research portfolio funded by the National Institutes of Health and the US EPA with a focus on the mechanisms of action of environmental toxicants and the genetic determinants of the susceptibility to toxicant-induced injury. Through a combination of in vivo animal studies and experiments that utilize cellular and molecular models, Dr. Rusyn's laboratory aims to better understand why certain chemicals cause cancer or organ damage in rodents and whether humans in general, or any susceptible sub-population in particular, are at risk from similar exposures.
The main focus of our inter-disciplinary research is on improving the linkages between exposures and adverse health effects Specifically, we develop innovative experimental methods and computational tools which enable analysis of data across multiple dimensions including SNPs, -omic endpoints, multiple chemicals and traditional toxicity phenotypes.
This laboratory was the first to report on the genetic regulation of gene expression in the liver. This work established the basis for understanding the impact of the genetic variability on the toxicity pathways. Our work is also defining a "toxicity susceptibility state" in mouse liver in response to acetaminophen, alcohol, peroxisome proliferators and trichloroethylene by combining knowledge of toxicology, metabolomics, gene expression profiling and mouse genetics. A key example of how the bedside-to-bench-to-bedside paradigm can serve to bridge clinical and experimental research is a recent paper published in collaboration with clinicians and geneticists where the genetic determinants of acetaminophen-induced liver injury were discovered.
The Science Magazine editor's choice profile of this work noted that "the hunt [for genetic biomarkers in human populations] can be streamlined by using data derived from genetically diverse mouse populations to guide the human studies."