Topic status: We're looking for students to study this topic.

This project involves an in vitro investigation of the effects of a variety of organic pollutants on cellular adaptation.  These include the brominated flame retardants, polyfluralkyls, bisphenol A, triclosan and their metabolites.  These chemicals are known to accumulate in humans and while they are postulated to have toxic effects there is limited evidence demonstrating alterations in basic cellular adaptation processes.  When compared to more traditional organic pollutants, these chemicals show higher accumulation rates in paediatric age groups and for this reason we would like to compare the cellular effects in both adult and paediatric cell populations. The aim of this project is to determine whether organic pollutants have toxic effects on cellular adaptation processes in adult and paediatric cell populations in brain and kidney. This project will involve an investigation into potential effects of organic pollutants on cellular adaptation processes.  These will include apoptosis, necrosis, mitosis and transdifferentiation.  Environmentally relevant concentrations of selected organic chemicals or their known metabolites will be prepared and used to treat selected kidney and brain cell preparations.  Cellular changes will then be identified and quantified using defined criteria.  This project will enable students to gain knowledge of common environmentally significant organic pollutants and the use of cultured cells to assess potential effects on cellular adaptation. 


  • Wojcikowski K, Wohlmuth H, Johnson W, Rolfe M and Gobe G. An in vitro investigation of herbs traditionally used for kidney and urinary system disorders: Potential therapeutic and toxic effects. Nephrology 2009; 14, 70-79.
  • Toms L-M, Sjudin A, Harden F, Hobson P Jones R, Edenfield E, Mueller . Concentration of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in pooled human serum are Higher in Children (Age 2-5 years) than in Infants and Adults Environmental Health Perspectives 2009 117 1461-1465.
Study level
QUT External Glenda Gobe (University of Queensland); Leisa Toms (University of Queensland)
Organisational unit

Science and Engineering Faculty

Research areas
Please contact the supervisor.