Dr. Melissa Heintz is a toxicologist in ToxStrategies’ Asheville, North Carolina, office. Dr. Heintz received her Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from Clemson University. Her dissertation research investigated the potential for environmental toxicant inhibition of the detoxification enzyme subfamily, CYP2B, and the subsequent effects on lipid metabolism, allocation, and development of fatty liver disease. To examine the role of CYP2B in diet-induced obesity in vivo, she used novel animal models developed in her laboratory, in addition to transcriptomic and lipidomic applications, to identify potential mechanistic effects of perturbed cytochrome p450 metabolism. Dr. Heintz also investigated CYP2B’s role in fatty liver disease development following perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) exposure.
Dr. Heintz has examined the effects of environmental toxicant exposure (i.e., atrazine and triclosan) on sphingolipid metabolism and gene expression in Daphnia magna. In addition, she used neuron and fibroblast cell lines from patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to study differential gene expression and genomic variants in response to toxic stressors. She has also screened and analyzed numerous clinical drugs, industrial chemicals, and endogenous compounds for induction or inhibition activity in cytochrome p540-transfected baculosomes and HepG2 cell lines using metabolic activity assays. Furthermore, she has reviewed and analyzed numerous toxicological data sets and used statistical analysis programs, including R and GraphPad Prism.
In addition to her expertise in mechanistic toxicology, Dr. Heintz has also conducted ecotoxicology studies on estuarine fish populations to assess transgenerational effects of endocrine-disrupting compounds from anthropogenic sources such as paper mill and wastewater effluents and livestock feedlot runoff. Estrogenic and androgenic chemicals were used singularly and in mixtures to identify effects of exposure on reproductive success, sex characteristics, and behavioral endpoints in freshwater and estuarine fish models.
Dr. Heintz has presented her research at national and international scientific meetings and reported her results in peer-reviewed scientific papers. She also has more than 10 years of experience in science communication and has disseminated scientific research findings to students at all education levels, including K¬12 and college students, as well as the general public.