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Description Participants Agenda (TBA)

NIMBioS Investigative Workshop

Predictive Models for ERA


ERA image.

Topic: Predictive systems models for the ecological risk assessment of chemicals

Meeting dates: April 28-30, 2014

Location: NIMBioS at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Valery Forbes, School of Biological Sciences, Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln
Richard Rebarber, Mathematics, Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln

Objectives. A major challenge in assessing the impacts of toxic chemicals on ecological systems is the development of predictive linkages between chemically-caused alterations at molecular and biochemical levels of organization and adverse outcomes on ecological systems. This investigative workshop will bring together a multi-disciplinary group of molecular and cell biologists, physiologists, ecologists, mathematicians, computational biologists, and statisticians to explore the challenges and opportunities for developing and implementing models that are specifically designed to provide a mechanistic link between levels of biological organization in a way that can inform ecological risk assessment and ultimately environmental policy and management. The focus will be on predictive systems models in which properties at higher levels of organization emerge from the dynamics of processes occurring at lower levels of organization.

Key questions. The investigative workshop will seek to address the following key questions:

  1. What are the advantages and limitations of different classes of predictive systems models for linking responses to toxic chemicals across different levels of biological organization - from molecular to ecological levels?
  2. What are the most important knowledge gaps that act as barriers to developing an integrated predictive systems modeling framework to assess risks of exposure to toxic chemicals and how can they be filled?
  3. What are the major scientific challenges that need to be addressed in order for the models to be used in practice for ecological risk assessment?

Workshop structure. The workshop will open with a presentation on the main challenges for ecological risk assessment of chemicals and recent progress in the US and Europe to incorporate modeling into the process. The program will then consist of two overview presentations, the first reviewing models used to link molecules-to-organisms, and the second reviewing models used to link organisms-to-ecosystems. Each will be followed by breakout groups in which participants discuss the advantages, limitations, and challenges for using each model type for linking across different levels of biological organization. The breakout groups will be structured so as to maximize within-group diversity of expertise, and each group will have an assigned chair and rapporteur. A final overview presentation will consider the scientific challenges of integrating models from molecules to ecosystems and, after further breakout discussion, will develop recommendations for future action.

Descriptive Flyer

Predictive Models for ERA WordPress Site. NIMBioS has created a WordPress site to facilitate group communication and information sharing for the workshop. This is an interactive tool for sharing resources and comments before, during and after the meeting. All participants will receive an official email from WordPress inviting you to join the site. You will be asked to click on the link in the email from WordPress to accept the invitation. Before the meeting, we encourage you to introduce yourself to the rest of the group by writing a post with some details about your background and what you hope to gain from the meeting. Full details on how to post, comment and upload files to the WordPress site are available at the site (

Live Stream. Selected presentations will be available for viewing via live streaming during the workshop. A live chat will take place via Twitter with the hashtag #eraS.

The application process is now closed.

NIMBioS Investigative Workshops focus on broad topics or a set of related topics, summarizing/synthesizing the state of the art and identifying future directions. Organizers and key invited researchers make up half the 30-40 participants in a workshop, and the remaining 15-20 participants are filled through open application from the scientific community. Open applicants selected to attend are notified by NIMBioS within two weeks of the application deadline. Investigative Workshops have the potential for leading to one or more future Working Groups. Individuals with a strong interest in the topic, including post-docs and graduate students, are encouraged to apply. If needed, NIMBioS can provide support (travel, meals, lodging) for Workshop attendees, whether from a non-profit or for-profit organization.