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Biodiversity Blog


UT Professors Awarded Escher Prize in Germ Cell Exposures

Gore Crews 
 Dr. David Crews and Dr. Andrea Gore

In late spring, UT professors David Crews and Andrea Gore were awarded as inaugural winners for the 2019 Escher Prizes in Germ Cell Exposure.

Their recent studies receiving the honor demonstrate that exposure of rats in utero to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) impact fetal germ cells with adverse consequences for brain development and behavior of offspring. These chemicals include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the fungicide vinclozolin. Crews was among the first researchers to examine heritable impacts of hormone-disrupting chemicals, ascertaining behavioral abnormalities in offspring, and Gore has been a leader in the field of neurobehavioral effects of developmental exposure to such chemicals.

EDCs are found in natural and human-made substances. For example, farmers use the fungicide vinclozolin on fruits and vegetables. The toxic effects from exposure to EDCs are passed down to generations. The research Crews and Gore have done on ancestral exposure to environmental contamination have shown that EDCs can increase the risk for future generations for human illnesses like autism, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

The Escher Prizes in Germ Cell Exposure recognize researchers whose work exposes the heritable hazards of germline exposures to drugs or other chemicals. The awardees receive a $2000 donation to help further their endeavors. Dr. Crews is a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and College of Pharmacy. Dr. Gore is a professor in the College of Psychology and the Department of Psychology.

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