New knowledge to protect against endocrine disrupting chemicals

Thursday 06 Dec 18


Terje Svingen
Head of Research Group, Associate Professor
National Food Institute
+45 93 51 88 80


Julie Boberg
Senior Researcher (former employee)
National Food Institute


Marta Zofia Axelstad Petersen
Senior Researcher
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 75 41


Eva Bay Wedebye
Senior Officer
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 76 04


Questions about FREIA:
Julie Boberg.

Questions about ATHENA:
Terje Svingen and
Marta Axelstad Petersen 

Questions about QSAR:
Eva Bay Wedebye.

Researchers from the Technical University of Denmark are partners in two new EU projects on hormone disrupting substances that aim to protect women's reproductive health and children's brain development.

For many years, researchers from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, have studied the harmful effects of hormone disrupting substances. Their expertise will be put to use in two new projects under the EU Research and Innovation Support Programme, Horizon 2020.

Focus on female fertility

The first project, FREIA, will examine how environmental chemicals can interfere with women's ability to have children and how regulators can better protect women's reproductive health.

Fertility problems are common in the population, and the National Food Institute has for many years carried out research aimed at understanding how the chemical substances people are exposed to through food, consumer products and the environment affect their ability to reproduce.

Among other things, the National Food Institute will generate new data on the effects of chemicals on ovaries and puberty in animal models. They will also generate knowledge about how chemicals cause the harmful effects on female fertility. The researchers will also develop so-called QSAR computer models that can predict chemicals’ possible harmful effects.

Researchers from 11 partner institutions in seven EU countries will participate in the project, coordinated by Vrije University in The Netherlands.

Focus on thyroid hormones

The second project, ATHENA, focuses on better screening methods for chemical substances that affect the production and function of thyroid hormones. These hormones play an important role in normal brain development of the fetus, and it is important that both mother and fetus have normal hormone levels during pregnancy.

The National Food Institute’s contribution to the project includes generating new data through animal studies. The institute will analyze the effects on the animals’ brain development, while European colleagues in other parts of the project will analyze other types of tissue. The institute will also lead a work package on QSAR modelling of effects on metabolic hormones.

Researchers from nine partner institutions in seven EU countries will participate in the project coordinated by Brunel University in the United Kingdom.

Read more

In total, the two Horizon 2020 projects have been allocated 12 million Euro. The National Food Institute has the biggest stake in both projects and will receive approximately one fifth of the funds. Both projects will commence in 2019 and run for five years.

The National Food Institute conducts research into a large number of potentially harmful chemical substances and assesses the consequences with regard to food and consumer safety, with a particular focus on endocrine disruptors, cocktail effects and the development of QSAR models. 

Read more about the National Food Institute’s work in a special topic portal on chemical exposure on the institute’s website.
27 NOVEMBER 2021