<< Back

ERGO’s Grand Finale Interactive Workshop on Endocrine Disruptors

After 5.5 productive and impactful years, the ERGO project is concluding at the end of June 2024. With the aim of transferring project knowledge to priority target users, the project organised a hybrid workshop on Wednesday 12 June 2024 so that its researchers could directly share and discuss their groundbreaking results with their key stakeholders.

The interactive workshop took place in the iconic Solvay Library in Leopold Park, Brussels and through an impressive livestream platform so that it was also fully accessible and interactive for those who could not travel. The hybrid workshop quickly attracted over 150 registrations from 34 countries around the world! International stakeholders from industry (SMEs and large private companies), European policymakers (European Commission DG RTD and DG ENV), European and international regulators (ECHA, Spanish Ministry of Health, FPS Health, Environment Agency Austria, Health & Safety Executive UK, ICPS Italy, Swedish Chemicals Agency, Health Canada), NGOs (CHEM Trust, HEEDS) and fellow researchers (universities, research institutes, contract research organisations) were gathered together at the iconic Solvay Library in Brussels, a venue steeped in scientific heritage. Established in 1902 by Ernest Solvay, this was the birthplace of the renowned Solvay Conferences, that brought together esteemed scientists like Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Ernest Rutherford and Niels Bohr, to name but a few. This prestigious setting was perfect for the gathering of the great minds of the ERGO project and its stakeholders!

The day was streamlined into three workshop sessions. Each session started with the presentation of the research knowledge and results, followed by interactive panel discussions with the researchers. Workshop session 1 was an ‘Overview of ERGO’s Achievements’ relevant and applicable to all end users interested in improving the identification and hazard assessment of endocrine disruptors. In summary, the key achievements being showcased by the researchers are:

  • Investigating, developing, and pre-validating biomarkers and endpoints for thyroid hormone system disruption in fish and bringing them into validation in OECD.
  • Developing Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs) to the level of OECD endorsement as supporting tools for the endpoints/biomarker development in fish.
  • Development of AOP networks to facilitate extrapolation of thyroid hormone system disrupting effects across mammals, fish and amphibians.
  • Diminishing the gap between approaches to endocrine disruptor research of human health toxicologists and environmental toxicologists through collaboration with fellow EURION Cluster projects on topics like thyroid hormone system disruption and developmental neurotoxicity.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Test Guidelines are a set of internationally accepted specifications for the testing of chemicals that are decided upon by OECD experts. They are necessary for policy and regulatory processes and so workshop session 2 ensued with research relevant to ‘OECD Test Guidelines’. These results are applicable to end users of OECD Test Guidelines particularly contract research organisations (CROs), SMEs and large private companies working in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, chemical and manufacturing industries. The ERGO researchers presented and discussed the (pre)validation and validation of biomarkers and endpoints (testing in vitro cell lines and in vivo (amphibians, fish, mammals) based on case-study data supported by AOPs. This was followed by a introductory training summary of two key outputs from ERGO, ‘Guidance on extrapolation of thyroid disrupting effects across vertebrate classes network’ and the ‘Decision Support System (DSS)‘.

The third and final workshop session ‘ERGO’s Legacy’, covered how ERGO’s work is being taken forward within new projects and ongoing initiatives, areas where further funding is needed as well as the key messages for those in regulation and policy across Europe. In summary the key messages for regulation and policy being showcased by the researchers are:

  • Support research in less-studied endocrine axes to protect human health and environmental species against EDCs targeting non-EAST (estrogen, androgen, steroidogenesis, thyroid) endocrine axes e.g., the adrenal axis, retinoid axis and somatotropic axis and as a whole group – the endocrine axes that are specific for the invertebrate classes of animals.
  • Support breaking down the wall between human health, environmental testing, and regulation of EDs to accomplish the One Health vision in Europe. ERGO and other projects are providing increasing evidence that it’s feasible to extrapolate effects of EDs across the vertebrate classes.
  • Support the validation of new approach methods (NAMs) to facilitate implementation and use in different relevant regulatory frameworks, including financial support to support the paradigm shift to NAM-based regulation and reducing protected vertebrate testing.

ERGO researchers also introduced us to their new projects and ongoing initiatives that will progress the research developed within ERGO. As members of several international expert, advisory, reference and working groups on endocrine disruptor research, ERGO partners will also carry on the project’s legacy, communicating the cross-vertebrate class testing approach to the OECD as well as the national and international entities involved in the OECD Test Guideline Work Programme (TGP). The final session of the workshop was closed with complementary feedback from the Chair of ERGO’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) Knud Ladegaard Pedersen of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He highlighted what the SAB concluded were the key aspects that contributed to the success of the project, the creation of a good working environment with consistent project management and trust within the partnership. The EURION Cluster was funded €50 million to increase the level of chemical safety in Europe, ERGO benefitted from the huge collective experience of EURION’s scientists in dealing with the European regulatory system. ERGO focused its work on the end goal of producing outputs that could be used as soon as possible by regulators, feeding into the OECD Test Guidelines, ensuring its research was of the necessary high standard from the start. He pointed out that making an OECD Test Guideline is a painfully slow process but already ERGO has produced endpoints for thyroid disruption to the level of validation – a huge achievement for a 5.5 year project! The scientific publications are currently at 47 and are not only at a high quantity but more importantly at a high quality, with contributions sure to continue for years to come!

Learn more about the workshop here.

For all ERGO enquiries please email info@ergo-project.eu.