The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Monika Roy



Dissertation Award

School or College: 

School of Public Health and Health Sciences, Environmental Sciences


Monika Roy is a PhD Candidate in the Environmental Health Sciences department in the School of Public Health & Health Sciences and is a member of Dr. Alicia Timme-Laragy’s developmental toxicology laboratory. Her research focuses on characterizing a prevalent environmental contaminant, PCB-11, which is a byproduct of industrial manufacturing and is detected in humans, including in pregnant women. Monika has published the first two chapters of her dissertation work, which utilize the zebrafish model to examine PCB-11’sinteractionswith an important liver enzyme that helps metabolize environmental pollutants. This research also includes modelingchronic developmental exposures to examine metabolic-related endpoints at a juvenile stage.Most currently, her research involves the use of a mutant zebrafish line to investigate the role of Nrf2, a master regulator of oxidative stress, under PCB-11 exposures. Monika’s work was funded through a 2-year NIH T32 training grant through the UMass Amherst Biotechnology Training Program, and she is currently funded as an NIH F31 Predoctoral Fellow. She has presented her work at both the Society of Toxicology (SOT) and the Society of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry (SETAC) and has received several awards such as a “Paper of the Year” award and a prestigious “Women in Toxicology” award.


Exposures to environmental pollutants have now been identified as playing a role in the way that metabolically important organs like the liver and the pancreas develop and function. Little research has been conducted in vivoto characterize PCB-11’s potential effects on human health. The work conducted for this dissertation uses the zebrafish model to assess whether early developmental exposures to PCB-11 result in toxicity in ways that might predispose the individual to metabolic disease later in life. A big portion of the experiments investigate how PCB-11 affects an important liver enzyme that helps metabolize environmental pollutants, Cyp1a, in both single and co-exposures with other environmental pollutants. Another portion of the experiments model human-relevant chronic exposures to PCB-11 in the first 15 days of life for zebrafish, which in humans translates to a juvenile stage. The 15-day studies in zebrafish investigate growth, primary pancreatic islet development, hepatic lipid accumulation, fatty acid profiling, the role of oxidative stress, and global gene expression to see what kinds of biological pathways are affected under this exposure setting. These research results matter in the context of potential importance for environmental regulation updates, as well as to the public in terms of awareness of consumer products that might contain PCB-11.