Aquatic Ecology and ToxicologyDr. Lisa Baumann

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) derive from various, mostly man-made sources, such as pesticides, industrial materials, food additives, pharmaceuticals and personal care products. EDCs produce adverse effects via a disruption of the organism’s endocrine (hormone) system, and they are suspected to be associated with altered reproductive function in humans and wildlife; increased incidence of different cancer types; disrupted growth and (neuro-)developmental delays in offspring, as well as changes in immune function.

In the EU, criteria have been developed to identify pesticides, biocides and other chemicals with endocrine disrupting properties. However, current testing tools do not always appropriately identify effects, particularly those related to certain less-studied or newly emerging EDCs. New and improved approaches are urgently needed to better protect human and environmental health against the hazards of EDCs. 

Lisa Baumann

Lisa Baumann and her team are currently working on two EU-funded projects to address these issues. As central part of these projects, they want to identify thyroid-related endpoints in fish, that can be implemented into existing OECD test guidelines for the assessment of EDC-related effects. The team’s role in these extensive project plans is to focus on effects of thyroid disruptors on early development of zebrafish (Danio rerio), mainly the eye development. They are applying classical methods like histopathology combined with molecular tools like transcriptomic analyses and the use of transgenic zebrafish strains. The aim is to perform research according to the AOP (adverse outcome pathway) concept, which takes molecular, physiological and ecological parameters into account to assess endocrine-related effects at different effect levels, instead of simple extrapolation strategies. The intention is to move away from mainly descriptive science (“effect of X on Y”) and to develop experimental approaches that help detecting underlying mechanisms of endocrine disruption in fish at molecular, up to behavioral level. Most importantly, this research does not only serve applied aspects, but also helps to close knowledge gaps for the endocrine regulation of vertebrate development.

Lisa Baumann is co-PI of two projects that address those needs and gaps by providing the scientific basis for our understanding of the adverse effects of EDCs on fish:

1. EU H2020 Projekt “ERGO”: EndocRine Guideline Optimisation - Breaking down the wall between human health and environmental testing of endocrine disrupters:

For more details: ERGO Project

2. EU tender project “iFEDT”:

For more details: iFEDT Project