Nanoparticle exposure research is getting a boost from a North Carolina Biotechnology Center grant.

The Biotech Center has awarded East Carolina University toxicologist Jared Brown $143,308 to study the hazards from inhaling nanomaterials during their manufacture or use.

Brown, an assistant professor in ECU’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Brody School of Medicine, focuses his nanotechnology research on carbon nanotubes and the emerging study of nanomaterials’ effects on the human body. Carbon nanotubes are used in products including cosmetics, sunscreens, electronics and pills.

The Biotech Center grant will be used to set up an inhalation system at ECU for aerosolizing nanomaterials, to mimic real world occupational exposure of nanomaterials.

“We hope our work will guide regulatory agencies in setting guidelines on the level of nanomaterial exposure in occupational settings and thereby prevent any health complications from exposure to these novel materials,” Brown said in a statement.

Brown’s grant was one of 12 Institutional Development Grants awarded this summer by the Biotech Center totaling nearly $1.4 million. Projects at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of North Carolina Wilmington also received grants.

Brown is a project leader for the Center for Nanotechnology Health Implications, one of five such National Institutes of Health-funded centers that have been awarded $3.75 million to develop a model to predict the properties of nanomaterials that may lead to toxicity.

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