Prof. Dr. Rolf Altenburger
Rolf Altenburger is Head of the Department Bioanalytical Ecotoxicology since 2005. He holds a professorship at the RWTH Aachen University, Institute for Environmental Research. His professional activities comprise the Editorial Board of Environmental Pollution, Membership in advisory groups, e.g. on the German plant protection action plan or being speaker of the HGF programme topic Chemicals in the Environment (CITE).
Rolf Altenburger received his Doctor of Science from the University of Bremen. Previous to his appointment at the RWTH Aachen he held a venia legendi at the University of Bremen and the TU Bergakademie Freiberg. His professional training as a biologist included studies at the Universities of Marburg, Freiburg, and Bremen, Germany, and St.Andrews, Scotland. He obtained research fellowships to Shabat Alam Malaysia, Penang, Malaysa; Visaya State College of Agriculture, Leyte, The Philippines; Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY, USA; and the National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology (ENTOX), Brisbane, Australia.
Rolf Altenburger’s research interests focus on
- Mixture toxicity assessment for complex environmental exposure;
- Bioassays for toxicant identification at multiple contaminated sites;
- Mode-of-action analysis for toxicants;
- Pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic (PKPD) models to mechanistically describe concentration and time dependent toxicity.
Traditional chemicals risk assessment considers chemicals one by one while organisms in the environment typically are confronted with exposure to multiple substances. For more than a decade, we have been investigating mixture effects to improve environmental risk assessment. Milestones in our work comprise answers to the following questions: Can we establish bioassays that allow detection of combination effects? For several ecotoxicity assays from subcellular to community level we could successfully demonstrate this. Secondly, can we predict mixture toxicity based on the information about the components biological activities? For apical effects and an array of mixtures of environmental contaminants we could support the notion that extrapolative modelling is indeed possible. The more precise the prediction is needed, the more mechanism-based information is required. Currently, want to extend our knowledge in two directions: namely the understanding of mixture interactions at a molecular level (Exposome) and the combined effects under conditions of multiple stress.