Modelling Nanomaterial Toxicity

MODENA Working Groups

MODENA’s scientific program is divided into three Working Groups (WG) which are focussed on the major disciplines related to the development and use of QNTR: Physical Chemistry (WG1), (Eco)-Toxicology (WG2) and Modelling (WG3). 


Working towards harmonisation of research in these fields, MODENA will provide an optimal network for successful interaction and synergy between these key areas.

WG1 Synthesis and Characterisation of ENM

This WG is responsible for the MODENA activities on synthesis and metrology of ENM. The specific objectives of WG1 are to study the synthesis of ENM with controlled composition, size, area and nano-texture and to develop of strategies to immobilise ENM in matrices, on substrates with minimum effect on the desired properties and surface reactivity and identify the relevant datasets for QNTR modelling. This rigorous approach will permit the development of QNTR models on the basis of carefully characterised and selected ENM. The knowledge derived from QNTR would help in designing new ENM that would minimise their potential hazard (i.e. the SAFE-by-DESIGN concept). This information is the basis to assess structural, physicochemical and toxicological features that will be related to property and toxicity. 


WG Leader: Prof Terry Wilkins


WG2 Toxicity of ENM 

This WG is responsible for the MODENA activities on toxicity and eco-toxicity of ENM by identifying the relevant datasets. The specific objectives of WG2 are to study and assess the toxicity and eco-toxicity prepared of the ENM prepared inWG1. WG1 and WG2 will interface to assess relationships between toxicity parameters and structural, chemical and reactive features which will deliver preliminary models for WG3. The choice of the (eco)-toxicological studies will be taking regulatory requirements into account at an early stage in order to deliver models of practical interest for all the stakeholders. Moreover, a direct interaction among (eco)-toxicologists and modellers will enable the characterisation of toxicological dataset that are optimised for QNTR modelling. Indeed, thus far, (eco)-toxicological studies have been conducted without taking into consideration criteria that can permit the elaboration of effective QNTR modelling. In the context of this WG, (eco)-toxicologists will have the unique opportunity to strengthen the interface between human and environmental hazard assessment of ENM.


WG Leaders: Dr Andrea Haase & Dr Willie Peijnenburg

WG3 QNTR modelling and Database 

This WG is responsible for MODENA activities on identifying and quantifying the relationship 

between ENM properties and the biological responses using the pertinent physiochemical descriptors. It will also collect and organise the datasets identified in WG1 and WG2 by means of databases. Special attention will be paid to the description of chemical interactions between surfaces and biological molecules, in order to develop an insight into the rationale behind QNTR. This analysis will enable the definition of specific physicochemical descriptors that are able to capture specific properties of ENM as opposed to bulk materials. MODENA will also establish a close collaboration between modellers and (eco)-toxicologists so that mechanistic considerations on toxicological mode of actions will be taken into account when interpreting the logic underlying the developed QNTR models. This approach will enhance the epistemological interpretation of the final outputs of MODENA while enabling the definition of mechanistic chemical categories that are currently used in the framework of toxicological regulations to fill data gaps. This WG will also work closely with end users and risk assessors in industry and regulatory agencies.


WG Leaders: Dr Tomasz Puzyn & Dr Enrico Mombelli.

In all WG, the following tasks are recurrent:

  1. Review state-of-the-art development in its target topic (WG1, WG2 and WG3); 
  2. Contribute to Workshops and Training Schools and identify relevant European and international scientists for invitation to these events; 
  3. Identify and obtain relevant datasets, assess and identify the relevant uncertainties that could impact on the predicted endpoints; 
  4. Contribute to the MODENA website; 
  5. Contribute to the scientific management of MODENA through progress reports; 
  6. Contribute to the strategy for the development of QNTR. 
  7. Contribute to the identification, recognition and dissemination of the established QNTR moddels as animal replacement (based on the 3R’s – Reduction, Refinement and Replacement).