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Guenter Oberdoerster, D.V.M., Ph.D.

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Research Labs

Faculty Appointments



Biokinetics, Effects and Mechanisms of Inhaled Micro- and Nano- Particles: Dosimetry, Risk Extrapolation and Risk Assessment

Numerous epidemiological studies have shown that acute adverse health effects are associated with exposures to ambient airborne particles. These effects occur mostly in sensitive parts of the population such as the elderly with a compromised cardiorespiratory system. We hypothesize that ultrafine particles (particle size below 0.1 µm) are one potential source causing these effects. Such particles occur in fumes generated by heating and combustion processes and are also normal constituents of the ambient aerosol, specifically in urban areas generated from numerous sources (e.g., internal combustion engines, power plants, incinerators). In addition, a new source of exposure to particles below 100 nm in size - engineered nanoparticles - has become a cause for concern, giving rise to the emerging field of nanotoxicology (see below).

Our studies with laboratory-generated ultrafine particles have shown that these particles have a significantly greater potency to induce inflammatory lung injury than larger-sized particles with the same chemical composition. Our studies are aimed at investigating cellular and molecular mechanisms of ultrafine particle-induced lung injury as well as secondary effects on the cardiovascular and the central nervous systems. An important component of this research is to develop rodent models with a compromised target organ system to evaluate cellular mechanisms of effects following inhalation exposure. Evaluating translocation pathways of inhaled nano-sized particles after deposition in the respiratory tract to other organ systems is an important part of our studies.

A more recent area of activity involves nanotoxicology, investigating the unique biokinetics and the toxicological potential of engineered nanoparticles. We investigate the propensity of these particles of different shapes (e.g., spheres, tubes, rods), different chemistries (e.g., metals, semiconductors, carbon) and different surface characteristics (coating, charge, porosity) to translocate from the site of deposition in the respiratory tract to extrapulmonary organs such as heart, liver, bone marrow and brain is being studied. Examination of the influence of physicochemical properties of nanoparticles on their effects and biokinetics is the ultimate objective of these studies. We engage in multidisciplinary team efforts to determine effects and underlying mechanisms of translocated nanoparticles (e.g., cellular oxidative stress).



DVM | Germany-J Liebig U, Giessen
Pharmacology, All Other

PhD | Germany-J Liebig U, Giessen

Post-doctoral Training & Residency

1966 - 1967
Laboratory of Pharmacology: Troponwerke, Cologne, F.R. Germany (Pharmac. Indust.) - postdoctoral training


Discussion and Lecture Tour Award, Fellowship for Eminent Scientist
Sponsor: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)

Special Recognition Award
Location: Society of Toxicology - Nanotoxicology Specialty Section

ISAM 2013 Career Achievement Award, For outstanding achievements in aerosol science
Sponsor: Intl. Soc. for Aerosols in Medicine

Herbert Stokinger Award, For significant contributions in the broad field of industrial and environmental toxicology
Sponsor: American Conference of Governmental and Industrial Hygienists

Plenary Speaker Award at 6th Intl. Conf. on Nanotoxicology
Location: Beijing, China

Val Vallyathan Senior Investigator Award, For outstanding contributions to basic/translational science occupational lung disease
Sponsor: American Thoracic Society

Juraj Ferin Award for outstanding contributions to ISAM
Sponsor: ISAM (Intl. Soc. for Aerosols in Med.)

Emerging Research Fronts Paper in the Multidisciplinary Field
Sponsor: Thomson Reuters' ScienceWatch

EHP Paper of the Year, Most frequently cited article over the preceding 60 mos. in the environmental health sciences literature
Sponsor: Environmental Health Perspectives

Thomas T. Mercer Joint Prize for outstanding contributions in the field of aerosols in medicine
Sponsor: AAAR and ISAM

Paper of the Year Award
Sponsor: Inhalation Specialty Section of SOT

Career Achievement Award, for meritorious contributions to the field of Inhalation Toxicology
Sponsor: Inhalation Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology

Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize, for demonstrating pulmonary carcinogenicity of inhaled Cd in rats
Location: Munich, F.R.Germany

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Journal Articles

Lee P, Kim JK, Jo MS, Kim HP, Ahn K, Park JD, Gulumian M, Oberdörster G, Yu IJ. "Biokinetics of subacutely co-inhaled same size gold and silver nanoparticles." Particle and fibre toxicology.. 2023 Mar 31; 20(1):9. Epub 2023 Mar 31.

Cox LA, Bogen K, Conolly R, Graham U, Moolgavkar S, Oberdorster G, Roggli V, Turci F, Mossman BT. "Mechanisms and shapes of causal exposure-response functions for asbestos in mesotheliomas and lung cancers." Environmental research.. 2023 Mar 10; :115607. Epub 2023 Mar 10.

Eckard ML, Marvin E, Conrad K, Oberdörster G, Sobolewski M, Cory-Slechta DA. "Neonatal Exposure to Ultrafine Iron but Not Combined Iron and Sulfur Aerosols Recapitulates Air Pollution-Induced Impulsivity in Mice." Neurotoxicology.. 2022 Dec 9; Epub 2022 Dec 09.

Books & Chapters

Chapter Title: Biokinetics and effects of nanoparticles
Book Title: Nanotechnology Toxicological Issues and Environmental Safety
Author List: Oberdörster, G.
Edited By: Simeonova, P.P.; Poppol, N.; Luster, M.I.
Published By: Springer with NATO Public Diplomacy Division 2007

Chapter Title: Particle dosimetry: Deposition and clearance from the respiratory tract and translocation towards extra-pulmonary sites
Book Title: Particle Toxicology
Author List: Kreyling WG; Möller W; Semmler-Behnke M; Oberdörster G.
Edited By: Donaldson K and Borm P
Published By: CRC Press, Inc. 2007 in Boco Raton, FL

Chapter Title: Translocation and effects of ultrafine particles outside of the lung.
Book Title: Clinics in Occupational and Environmental Medicine Exposure to Airborne Partic
Author List: A. Elder; G. Oberdörster
Edited By: Guest Editors: M. Frampton and M. J. Utell.
Published By: Elsevier Saunders 2006