The Health and Environmental Sciences Institute’s (HESI) efforts towards global health and more sustainable science

The HESI (Health and Environmental Sciences Institute) is an independent non-profit organization that is based in Washington in the United States with the purpose of the improvement and protecting human health throughout the world.

This article explains the work of the HESI and how it seeks to provide a healthier environment for the world we live in.


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What is the HESI?

The HESI is an independent organization that collaborates with its many partners to join forces to offer advice and guidance on human and environmental health. It works in four key fields:

  • Food safety
  • Risk assessments
  • Safe medicines
  • Ecological health

HESI aims to facilitate the development of new scientific tools and methods, improve risk assessment and decision-making processes, and promote the adoption of more sustainable practices by industries.

The organization was established in 1989 and has been successfully developing human health solutions with its partners for over 30 years. With a current staff of thirteen scientific experts, the organization is supported by several trustees in the industry, such as Bristol Myers Squibb, Pfizer, and Bayer Crop. Science.

The organization is funded by public and private sector stakeholders who impart their knowledge and expertise to the cause of protecting human health. It also receives funding from government grants, committee membership, and corporate sponsorship to allow the development of different scientific projects and advisory work. The main goals of HESI are accomplished through a variety of initiatives, including:

  • Scientific research: HESI funds and conducts research projects that explore the relationship between human health and environmental factors, such as exposure to chemicals and pollutants. These not only supply important funding required to carry out the work but also give recognition to those who receive the awards.
  • Workshops and conferences: HESI organizes workshops and conferences that bring together experts from academia, government, and industry to discuss emerging issues in the health and environmental sciences.
  • Collaboration and networking: HESI encourages collaboration and networking among scientists and experts from different fields, helping to foster interdisciplinary research and development.
  • Education and outreach: HESI provides educational resources and outreach programs to promote public awareness of the importance of health and environmental sustainability.

Besides, one key objective of the HESI is to contribute to and develop meaningful studies that ‘ask the right questions’ to find solutions within drug development and enhance the safety of the world population’s health.

Another important responsibility of the HESI is to offer peer-reviewed publications to assist science with its knowledge and understanding of how to protect human health. It runs an ongoing program of research and analysis that is used globally in sustainable science.

The organization offers several financial awards to assist with research projects. These not only supply important funding required to carry out the work but also give recognition to those who receive the awards.

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Whom does the HESI work with?

The organization works alongside government departments, scientists, academics, research institutes, NGOs, industry, and other collaborators to achieve the highest possible standards of human health.

The objective is to address and solve current environmental issues that affect human health and prevent others from occurring in the future.

Every HESI partner has a role in ensuring that the food we eat, the medicines we take, and the surroundings we live in do not damage our health. This can range from working on the assistance of medical science projects that are testing new pharmaceutical products to advising on food safety assessments.

The HESI supports and advises several dedicated committees that carry out scientific projects and research. These include committees for:

  • Cardiac safety.
  • Cell therapy.
  • Ototoxicity (hearing) risk assessments.
  • Reproductive toxicology.
  • Environmental epidemiology.
  • Genetic toxicology.
  • Immuno-safety.
  • Next-generation ecological risk assessment.
  • PBPK (physiologically based pharmacokinetic) models.
  • Protein allergens, toxins, and bioinformatics.
  • Targeted protein degrader safety.
  • The evaluation of agrochemicals.
  • Biomarkers of neurotoxicity.
  • UVCBs (unknown or variable compositions) and multi-constituent substances.

Each committee contains several independent scientific experts in particular fields and works in conjunction with the HESI. They are supported by one or more members of the HESI team, who have experience in the particular field.

The HESI and New Alternative Methods (NAMs)

The HESI supports the development of New Alternative Methods (NAMs) to animal testing to reduce the number of live animals used in research in agreement with the Three Rs principle of replacement and reduction of animal use for experimentation, and refinement of the processes done in these animals.

In this sense, it has collaborated with the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) on several projects, including research on the safety of cardiovascular drugs using alternative models to animals. This includes the use of alternative assays such as zebrafish for toxicity screening.

One example of this is the organization’s role in overseeing the work of the Zebrafish Consortium in medical research. The zebrafish is a suitable alternative model as they are easy to breed and maintain and present a high genetic similarity to humans, transparency in the embryonic stage, and fast organogenesis that allow the use of embryos instead of adult animals reducing the ethical concerns.

Overall, the organization facilitates the implementation and running of research and testing frameworks to develop safe food and drugs and environmental influences by bringing together the greatest minds in the fields and guiding their work. Without the existence of the HESI global research into science-based solutions for human health would be severely limited.

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