Toxicology is the study of effects of toxicants on people, animals and the environment. Toxicologists contribute to the health of people, animals and the environment. It is a highly interdisciplinary field. The foundation of the Rumbeiha Lab is veterinary toxicology, a specialized branch of veterinary medicine focusing on the study of effects of toxicants on animal and environmental health. This also ties in with One Health because sometimes animals are sentinels of human health. Currently, The Rumbeiha Lab is involved multiple basic and translational research studies with implications on human and/or human health. One arm of research in this lab is directed towards understanding the role of the environment in human neurodegenerative diseases. As the American population ages, the prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases is increasing. Whereas some of the common neurodegenerative diseases have a genetic component, not everyone has genetic predisposition. We feel exposure to environmental toxicants through out life contributes to the burden of neurodegenerative diseases. In this regard, the Rumbeiha Lab is studying basic mechanisms of hydrogen sulfide-induced neurotoxicity with a long-term objective of finding drugs to prevent and/or treat cases of neurodegeneration triggered by this potent toxicant. Hydrogen sulfide is second to carbon monoxide as a cause of human deaths, almost all from acute exposures. Survivors develop neurological sequelae. This is an interdisciplinary multi-institutional collaboration involving colleagues in VDPAM, Biomedical Sciences and Veterinary pathology at ISU, and The University of California San Diego, University of Iowa, and the University of Minnesota. The research is using rodent and in vitro models to decipher mechanisms of hydrogen sulfide-induced neurodegeneration. In vivo models use behavioral, neurochemical, neurohistochemistry, and biochemical approaches. In vitro studies use a variety of probes to delineate pathways of neuronal cell death.
A second arm of research in the Rumbeiha Lab is in veterinary Toxicology. The lab is deeply involved in developing new sensitive diagnostic assays for detection of toxicants in animal tissues and environmental matrices. Currently there are two ongoing projects along these lines. The first is developing and validating kidney and urine-based diagnostic tests for diagnosis of exposure to aflatoxin exposure. Secondly, we have just embarked on developing and validating kidney and urine-based tests for diagnosis of sodium monofluoroacetate (Compound 1080) poisoning in animals. To achieve these objectives, the Rumbeiha lab is collaborating with other FDA Vet-LIRN laboratories including the University of California at Davis. University of Kentucky, Kansas State University, and Purdue among others. Separate but related, the Rumbeiha Lab is collaborating with Electrical engineers to develop a pen-sized sensor for microcystins, toxins produced by blue green algae. These algal toxins are hazardous to pets, livestock, and wildlife. A new and budding interdisciplinary area of research which is funded by the National Pork Board is to investigate the whether low level hydrogen sulfide exposure contributes to the pathogenicity of influenza A virus, a zoonotic disease. We hope to grow this line of research which is interdisciplinary within the veterinary profession. Currently we are using a pig model.
In summary, the Rumbeiha lab is engaged in basic and translational research with impact on human, animal, and environmental health.