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The main task of the IUF is to conduct molecular research to prevent environmentally induced illnesses. The aim is to develop preventive strategies and improve health care.


The IUF is committed to examining the biological impact on the human body caused by environmental pollutants such as particulates, non-ionizing radiation, and chemicals. The main emphasis is on the environmental impact on the skin, lungs, and brain.


The IUF brings together scientific expertise from the fields of toxicology, immunology, molecular aging research, and epidemiology. This interdisciplinary research approach needs experimental models of one or more barrier organs (boundary surface medicine). Besides in vitro examinations on cultured cells and human three-dimensional organic model systems (the latter partly developed at the IUF), in vivo examinations are also performed on both animal models and humans and epidemiological studies are conducted. The IUF currently employs around 130 people and is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Prof. Dr. med. Ellen Fritsche


Prof. Dr. Ellen Fritsche, MD, has been working at the IUF - Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine since 2012 and heads the working group sphere models and risk assessment as a joint professor with the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. Her current research focuses on the establishment of alternative methods for developmental and adult neurotoxicity, embryotoxicity, endocrine disruption testing and their integration in adverse outcome pathways.


In the past few years, she has mainly dealt with the transfer of her basic research at the IUF into regulatory application. Hence, she collaborates with EFSA, the Danish and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. She is also a member of the OECD Expert Group on the Development of a Guidance Document for the Use and Interpretation of a DNT In Vitro Test Battery for the Detection of Developmental Neurotoxicity and the OECD Advisory Group for the creation of this Guidance.


In recent years, she has received multiple awards for her work, including the cefic LRI Award and the Ursula M. Händel Animal Welfare Prize of the German Research Foundation. Her work is currently funded from public sources from the state of North-Rhine Westphalia, the federal German government, the EU or industry.




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