Environmental & Genetic Toxicology

The Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology, under the direction of Dr. John Pierce Wise, Sr., includes USM faculty, professional staff, students (graduate, undergraduate and high-school), and volunteers in their research work.

The laboratory uses novel cell culture models and state-of-the-art molecular and toxicological techniques to investigate the effects of metals, particulates, and altered gravity on humans and marine animals. There are numerous research interests within the lab which include, but are not limited to:

  • Biomedical Toxicology: discovering the mechanisms that are used by metals to turn normal cells into tumor cells, particularly as they relate to genomic instability and DNA repair;
  • Space Toxicology: investigating the effects of altered gravity on cellular morphology and DNA repair;
  • Marine Toxicology: determining how environmental pollutants may affect the recovery of critically endangered species including marine mammals, turtles, birds and marine invertebrates such as lobsters, oysters, and corals;
  • Comparative Toxicology: studying and comparing contaminant-induced DNA damage and repair in models of humans and marine organisms;
  • Field Work: examining the long term effects on the health of whales and their prey species after the recent oil disaster caused by the explosion of the BP oil rig;
  • Nutritional Toxicology: studying how natural products such as beets and berries may prevent toxicity and disease.

The goal is to address practical problems that confront the general public and to address questions that are challenging and important. In addition to conducting research a large aspect of the lab is its ability to engage students at all levels ranging from high school through emeriti professor in not only research but also in presentations at conferences, and scientific publications. 

The lab contributes to the mission of the MCTEH which is to contribute to national and statewide efforts in the study of environmental contaminants and reduce their effects by assembling a critical mass of researchers and resources at USM.

Research Mission

To support research, scholarship and creative activity to: promote knowledge, discovery and practical application to advance Maine's economy, communities and the quality of life for Maine citizens; to strengthen classroom education and transform the lives of students through real world learning opportunities; and to support faculty and staff commitment to excellence in scholarly accomplishments regionally, nationally and internationally.