what we do

Working groups

We synergistically combine our efforts by organising joint trainings and workshops, sharing data and tools, collaboratively mapping findings, disseminating results across our varied networks, and working together toward regulatory uptake of NAMs. Taking a bottom-up approach in which consortium members from all three projects directly collaborate within specific domains of activity, ASPIS is powered by seven Working Groups focusing on:

Chemical Selection

The ASPIS chemical selection working group is co-chaired by Drs. Mathieu Vinken (ONTOX) and Jonathan Freedman (PrecisionTox).

The CSWG includes members from the three consortia, as well as the Joint Research Centre. The goal of this working group is to coordinate chemical selection among the ASPIS partners.  Through this coordinated effort, the CSWG plans to minimize duplication of efforts, compound purchasing and identify inter-consortia activities. Additionally, the CSWG is involved in the development of ASPIS-wide case studies, communication and assisting other working groups. To accomplish these goals, the CSWG has established two sub-working groups:  Database and AI Selection. The Database group, led by Dr Barry Hardy (RiskHunt3r), is responsible for creating an ASPIS-wide chemical database. This database will initially contain information on physicochemical characteristics and toxicological information on chemicals used by ASPIS. In the future, it can become a central resource of the data generated by three consortia. 

The intended users of this database will include basic scientists, as well as members of ASPIS involved in risk assessment/policy, communication, and computational approaches. Ultimately this database will be made available to the general public. The AI selection group, led by Dr. Marc Teunis (ONTOX) is developing cutting-edge technologies to mine the literature for toxicological information. This information will then be included in the database.

Kinetics and Exposure

This working group consists of consortium partners from each of the three APSIS research projects that work on defining chemical exposure levels in the environment, human populations, target organs and in vitro assays.

Complementary new approach methodologies (NAMs) are being developed in each of the three research projects that will benefit from being integrated into a common, pragmatic guideline for risk assessors wishing to use exposure, in vitro distribution kinetics, physiologically based kinetic (PBK), and in vitro-in vivo extrapolation (IVIVE) models for next generation risk assessment. The aim of this working group is to develop such a guideline detailing a tiered approach to exposure and kinetics assessment and evaluate it with common case study chemicals.

Omics

The ASPIS Omics work group is first dedicated to promoting the transition of Omics into the next-generation risk assessment (NGRA). For this, all data produced by ASPIS core project will be made compliant with the EOCD Transcriptomics and Metabolomics Report Framework (TRF and MRF, respectively). These frameworks have been designed to allow regulatory agencies to assess the quality of Omics datasets. The R-ODAF (Omics Data Analysis Framework for regulatory application), established as a reference pipeline for comparing the output of two different transcriptomics dataset, will also be presented as a possible reference analysis pipeline to be used in ASPIS.

Regrouping all the Omics expert of the three consortia, the ASPIS Omics WG is organizing a monthly meeting to engage is discussion on data analysis strategies, software presentation and statistical best practices. Every member will be welcome to present their specific Omics related problem, and benefit from the expertise of the group to obtain ideas, and possibly a consensus. Lastly, the ASPIS Omics working group will contribute to the general ASPIS case study, by assuring that any omics dataset selected by other WGs are processed and analyzed according to the state of the art.

Communication and Dissemination

The communication and dissemination WG aims to harmonise dissemination activities and to maximise impact. It will ensure a focused and dynamic approach, reflecting the shared vision of the three projects. The ASPIS’s communication and dissemination plan includes:

–   Joint visual identity: cluster name, acronym and logo, templates for documents and presentations;

–   Coherent social media presence;

–   Joint policy briefs, editorials and factsheet;

–   Annual open symposia;

–   Joint session at international conferences.

Computational Approaches

The Working Group on Computational Approaches is organizing the activities related to the computational methods used in ASPIS. These activities relate mainly to these areas: (1) development of specific models to evaluate the properties of interest; here we include in silico models and read-across tools; (2) methodological studies related to improved techniques to be applied within ASPIS – a certain method may ideally be exported from one project to another ; (3) support the activities within other working groups, providing inputs useful for instance to (a) the implementation of AOP, (b) the identification of selected chemicals; (c) the development of toxicokinetic models, (d) risk assessment; (e) training, etc.

A common repository of tools for specific endpoints will be created, to identify the common background, and the future perspectives and needs. Similarly, data, associated to the models, will be organized.

Synergies inside the present working group and the other working groups will be defined, in order to increase efficiency and maximize the results.

qAOP

Quantitative Adverse Outcome Pathway

The scope of the quantitative Adverse Outcome Pathway (qAOP) Working Group (WG) is to support the development of qAOPs across ASPIS. Specifically the qAOP WG aims to investigate models that (semi-)quantify Molecular Initiating Events (MIEs) or Key Event Relationships (KERs) within existing AOPs using non-confidential data, as well as identifying and sharing good practice.  Specific activities are likely to involve bringing added value to qAOP development across ASPIS by developing common ideas, this could include, for instance, jointly finding solutions to problems and being able to share knowledge of dose-responses, data and models across the three Projects. The qAOP WG aims is to develop one or more common qAOPs (including those from linear and network AOPs) that are of interest to all partners, such that data and expertise can be pooled. The WG will facilitate integration of qAOPs with MIE and PBPK modelling to enable Quantitative Systems Toxicology (QST) approaches. In terms of application, the qAOP WG will identify how risk assessors would use qAOPs, with an emphasis on regulatory use. As part of regulatory use, the degree of confidence risk assessors need to use qAOPs in risk assessment will be considered, along with the obstacles/ concerns for assessors to use qAOPs in risk assessment.

Risk Assessment

The three ASPIS projects – ONTOX, PrecisionTox and Riskhunt3r – have complementary approaches on how to use new approach methods (NAMs) for the hazard and risk assessment of chemicals including       prioritisation, grouping/read-across and hazard characterisation. The ASPIS working group on risk assessment intends to

– share and link the different approaches

– coordinate joint activities 

– critically review ASPIS research in comparison to previous activities for promoting NAMs in hazard and risk assessment of chemicals, e.g. with reference to the EU-ToxRisk project. Identify gaps, limitations and advantages of the chosen approaches.

– compare the approach and results to other approaches outside ASPIS particularly with a global view 

– identify targets for hazard and risk assessment early in the project to plan for joint/coordinated activities

– connect research activities in the ASPIS cluster to form joint case studies, together with other ASPIS working groups

– facilitate that the requirements for hazard and risk assessment by end-users and stakeholders can be considered appropriately

– link and ensure complementarity of our activities with the  PARC (Partnership for the Assessment of Risk from Chemicals) to support EU and national chemical risk assessment and risk management bodies with new data, knowledge, methods, networks and skills to facilitating the transition to next generation evidence-based risk assessment

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