As we close in on our fourth anniversary since the Center’s founding, we are taking a moment to look back on the highlights of some of our most important milestones in 2023, and a preview of what’s coming up this year!

We are grateful to everyone who has embraced our mission and supported this important work. With every initiative, we are establishing the Center as a respected source of truthful science to help create a just and healthy world.

Awarded grants and published research
The Center commissions independent research to assess the quality and scope of evidence on key issues at the Intersection of science, justice, and the economy.

This year, a Center-funded systematic review was published in Frontiers in Toxicology that found limited or suggestive evidence of no association between talc and female reproductive cancers. The review was conducted by a team of scientists at Stantec, a Boston-based research firm.

Read a summary of the review here.

Read the full publication here.

We also announced the selection of ToxStrategies LLC to receive a research grant to complete a systematic review of the literature exploring any relationship between myeloid leukemia and other lymphohematopoietic (LHP) cancers in individuals exposed to inhaled formaldehyde.

In the spirit of transparency, the authors registered their research protocols with the Center for Open Science as part of the funded project. This is intended to make public the methods used to conduct the systematic review in order to establish confidence in its analysis and findings.

New grant opportunities
The Center also announced a new funding opportunity! We are currently seeking applications from qualified researchers to perform an independent systematic review of the literature that assesses any relationship between the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy and the risk of neurodevelopment disorders in the exposed child, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

We will be accepting applications until March 1, 2024. Read the full RFP here.

Advancing methods to determine causation
In December, and on the heels of a lawsuit filed by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a group of senior researchers and risk analysts gave a peek at new findings on whether existing research establishes a causal connection between formaldehyde and myeloid leukemias.

The ACC lawsuit alleges the peer review of the EPA’s draft assessment on formaldehyde was done improperly with a lack of independence, transparency, and potential conflicts of interest—bringing the quality of the science into question.

We hope the findings of a new systematic review funded by the Center and conducted by ToxStrategies will be considered by the EPA before finalizing its upcoming assessment. Initial findings from this work were presented at a symposium on “Interventional Probability of Causation with Potential Applications to Formaldehyde Leukemogenicity,” part of the Society for Risk Analysis 2023 Annual Meeting. Members of a newly begun Probability of Causation Project discussed how new methods to determine causation compare with the above mentioned state-of-the-science systematic review.

The Probability of Causation Project is a groundbreaking effort supported by the Center to more objectively determine causation from observational study data. It is expected to have tremendous impact in areas of regulatory risk assessment and mass tort litigation.

The research team working on the Probability of Causation Project includes a panel of seasoned scholars with strong backgrounds in causal reasoning, toxicology, epidemiology, mathematics, and law.

In 2023, the Project team was approved by Elsevier to sponsor a special issue of Global Epidemiology, in which thought leaders in epidemiology and risk science published papers, including an article by Dr. Richard Rothenberg, M.D., and an editorial by Dr. George Maldonado, Ph.D., MSPH.

The team also wrote a paper on the history of probability of causation methods which has been submitted for publication, and conducted a survey on the best methodologies in epidemiology and how often they appear in studies in the recent literature in top journals. Results from this survey were presented by Anthony Russell M.S., at the 2023 Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting and a paper will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.

The Center is proud to support this talented group of researchers as they promote advanced methods to determine the quality of scientific evidence used in the courtroom.

A commitment to education
The Center supports “strong science,” but what does that mean in practice? We wrote several blog posts this year educating the public on research integrity. Below are some highlights:

EPA’s claim that inhaled formaldehyde causes leukemia is in dispute

A Beginner’s Guide to the IOM Framework to Determine Strength of Evidence

Get registered: Transparency in science requires making study protocols public

Evaluation of Aspartame Cancer Risk Raises Many Questions, Challenges IARC Approach

A draft review, an evaluation, and a lawsuit: Is this what science has come to?

Scientific consensus is a fool’s errand made worse by IARC

Looking ahead to 2024
We have so much to be excited about this year. For starters, we look forward to our grant-funded independent research on formaldehyde to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. We will also announce the recipient of the acetaminophen research grant, and we anticipate the systematic review to be completed and submitted to a peer-reviewed publication by the end of the year.

Our Probability of Causation Project is moving full steam ahead, and we plan to disseminate the new methods through presentations at additional conferences this year, as well as apply the methods to additional issues.

We are very motivated to continue building relationships with those working in the arenas of science, economics, and the law. If you want to learn more about the work we are doing, or think we may be a good fit to attend or participate in your conference or event, send us a note. We want to hear from you!