The primary mission of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), one of the 27 research institutes of the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States, is to better understand the interactions between the environment and human health. During a visit on 22 March 2017 by a delegation from ANSES to the NIEHS at the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, Linda Birnbaum, Director of the NIEHS and of the National Toxicology Program (NTP), and Roger Genet, Director General of ANSES, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a 10-year period.
The aim of this agreement is to strengthen the scientific and technical partnership between the two agencies, in the framework of their respective missions and in keeping with their independence. In doing so, they aim to improve our understanding of the effects of the environment on human health and to help lessen their impact, through research and the development of knowledge.
ANSES and the NIEHS have already worked together in the past on endocrine disruptors (bisphenol A in particular), and on cleavage fragments. The two organisations are also interested in topics such as the potential health effects of atypical working hours and radio waves.
The NIEHS also oversees the National Toxicology Program (NTP), supported by several U.S. federal agencies, aimed at mobilising public funding for large-scale health studies of public interest on topics for which there is a lack of scientific knowledge. One of its principal missions is to assess agents (chemical, biological and physical) that may affect public health, by developing and implementing innovative tools in toxicology and molecular biology.
During its visit, the ANSES delegation expressed a keen interest in this federal programme for which there is no equivalent in France or Europe. ANSES has already recommended creating an inter-agency fund to finance large-scale studies and research designed to consolidate knowledge on health and environmental risks. This is a field where knowledge gaps exist and for which there is a particularly acute social demand for independent public research. The Agency will continue to advocate the implementation of such a programme at the European level.