Michael P. Holsapple

Director and Endowed Chair, Center for Research on Ingredient Safety; Professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition

Michael Holsapple

Telephone: 517-884-2044


Food Safety and Toxicology
1129 Farm Lane, Room 321
East Lansing, MI 48824

Center for Research on Ingredient Safety
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Endowed Chairs

Research Interests:

During my previous academic experience at MCV/VCU, research conducted in my laboratory was in the general area of immunotoxicology.  I was well-funded with grants from NIEHS, NIDA, and the EPA, and I trained a number of doctoral candidates and postdocs, who remain active in immunotoxicology and toxicology in academics, and in both the pharmaceutical and chemical industries.  My laboratory established a number of capabilities in mechanistic immunotoxicology, including the following:  in vitro models to study the direct effects of drugs/chemicals on mouse and human immune cells, separation-reconstitution approaches to identify the primary cellular target(s) of immunosuppression with particular emphasis on B-cells, T-cells, and macrophages, co-culture of splenocytes and primary hepatocytes to study the role of metabolism in effects on the immune system, approaches to study the indirect effects of drugs/chemicals via damage to the liver and the role of immunomodulatory serum factors, and approaches to study the indirect effects of drugs/chemicals to produce immunosuppression or immunostimulation via an activation of the neuroendocrine system. 

Throughout all of the subsequent stages of my career path (highlighted below), I have maintained an interest in immunotoxicology, including the importance of developmental immunotoxicity testing.  My involvement with the chemical industry, and with a contract research organization (CRO), has enabled me to understand the importance of assessing the safety of chemicals, and both small- and large-MW drugs, from the perspectives of integrating immunotoxicology into regulatory guidance, and of understanding the challenges in establishing a predictive immunotoxicity testing framework. 

As much of my career has been spent addressing scientific questions without a lab-based focus, it is also important to highlight some research interests outside of immunotoxicology.  I have established a good working knowledge of the following:  the importance of integrating hazard identification and exposure science into a risk assessment, the ability to apply a systems toxicology approach to understand how various pathways of toxicity can inform organ toxicity, notably hepatotoxicity and cardiotoxicity, and the application of a mode-of-action approach to establish human relevance of nonclinical observations. 

Having arrived at MSU, I will once again establish a laboratory focused on the immune system with particular attention on whether ingredients can contribute to the onset or progression of an allergic response.  Outside of my lab-based activities, I will also apply my understanding of the mode-of-action, a systems toxicology approach, and pathways of toxicity to address questions associated with the safety of ingredients.    


Career Highlights:  

Medical College of Virginia (MCV)/Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Richmond, VA – Tenured Associate Professor & Director of Graduate Program – 1981-1994

The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, MI – Research Scientist & Technical Leader, Immunotoxicology – 1994-2002

International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI), Washington, DC – Executive Director – 2002-2011

Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, OH – Senior Research Leader & Systems Toxicolologist – 2011-2014

Covance Laboratories, Inc., Madison, WI – Executive Director, Global Immunotoxicology – 2014-2015


Selected Professional Activities:

Awards:  Society of Toxicology (SOT) Achievement Award (1992), elected a Fellow in the Academy of Toxicological Sciences (ATS; 2007), Co-recipient of American College of Toxicology (ACT) President’s Award for best paper in International Journal of Toxicology (2008), Vos Award for Career Achievement in Immunoxicology (presented by SOT Immunotoxicology Specialty Section; 2009), Ambassador of Toxicology Award (presented by SOT Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter; 2014).

Scientific Leadership:  Councilor, ACT (2003-2006), Councilor, SOT (2005-2007), Member, OECD Expert Committee on Extended One-generation Reproductive Toxicity Study (EOGRT; 2006-2008), Member, MSU Superfund External Advisory Committee (2006-2015), Member, Bipatisan Policy Center (BPC) Science for Policy Project Panel (2008-2009, co-author of BPC report, Improving the Use of Science in Regulatory Policy), Member, Research Integrity Roundtable 2009-2012; co-author of RIR report, Improving the Use of Science in Regulatory Decision-making), SOT Presidential track (2009-2012), SOT President (2010-2011), Advisory Board for Center for Alternative Animal Testing (CAAT; 2011-2013).  ATS Board of Directors (2013-2017), ATS Presidential track (2014-2017), ATS President (2015-2016).

Service on Study Sections:  Drug Abuse Biomedical Research Review Committee (Nat’l Inst. Drug Abuse), Science Review Panel for Health Research (EPA), Merit Review Board for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Veterans Admin.).

Service on Editorial Boards:  Immunopharmacology, Fundamental and Applied Toxicology, Encyclopedic Reference of Immunotoxicology, Immunotoxicology, International Journal of Toxicology, Associate Editor for Forums and Reviews – Toxicological Sciences. 

Invited Participation:  Lecturer for Basic Immunology Course for Reviewers (organized by FDA CDER; 2007), Lecturer for Training Session:  The Immune System & Immunotoxicology (organized by EPA, 2007), Participant to Roundtable on Envionmental Health Decision Making:  Risk Management, Evidence and Ethics (organized by IOM, NAS, 2008), Participant to NIEHS meeting of NTP Immunotoxicology Criteria Working Group:  Establishing non-cancer evaluation criteria (2008), Participant to International Conference on Risk Assessment:  A Global Risk Assessment Dialogue (sponsored by European Commission, 2008), Participant to NIEHS Strategic Planning Stakeholder Community Workshop:  Moving Environmental Health Forward – Insights and Opportunities (2011), Participant to Cardiotoxicity Protocol Development Workshop:  Systems Toxicology Analysis of Targeted Anti-cancer Therapies (organized by FDA CDER, 2011).       







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