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Contact Information

P: 864-656-2328

Campus Location

132 Long Hall, Clemson, SC 29634


Monday - Friday:
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


Profile Photo

Peter Van den Hurk

Biological Sciences

Associate Professor

Graduate Program Coordinator, Environmental Toxicology

Jordan Hall 224 [Lab]
Jordan Hall 225 [Lab]
Long Hall 237 [Office]

Educational Background

Ph.D., Marine science, College of William & Mary, 1998
M.S., Zoology/Marine Biology, University of Amsterdam, 1988
B.S., Geology, State University Groningen, 1983
B.S., Biology, State University Groningen, 1983

Profile/About Me

Dr. Peter van den Hurk is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Clemson University, and serves as Program Coordinator for the Graduate Program in Environmental Toxicology. After earning his MS degree in Zoology/Marine Biology at the University of Amsterdam, he worked for 7 years for environmental consultants companies in the Netherlands, and was mostly involved with projects investigating the environmental toxicity of contaminated marine sediments on native benthic species, through the development and evaluation of sediment toxicity bioassays. The techniques he introduced in the Netherlands are still being used by national and regional water quality management organizations, and were incorporated in assessment strategies like the Sediment Quality Triad. In 1994 he started his dissertation project on the interactive effects of benzo[a]pyrene and cadmium in a model fish species (Fundulus heteroclitus) at the School of Marine Science of the College of William and Mary, VA. Interactive effects were investigated at whole animal level, in isolated primary hepatocyte cultures and at subcellular biochemical level by measuring the formation of BaP metabolites under different cadmium concentrations. He also investigated if reactive BaP metabolites might interfere with the cadmium detoxification capability of metallothioneins. During his post-doctoral research period at the College of Pharmacy, University of Florida, he kept working on BaP metabolism as model for detoxification pathways. For this project he was interested to investigate the effects that hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyl compounds (PCBs) have on the conjugation of BaP metabolites by phase 2 enzymes. Working as an environmental toxicologist in a pharmaceutical research environment was a very enriching experience and provided another perspective on looking at the broader field of toxicology. During his tenure as faculty member at Clemson University, he kept working on the toxicology of environmental pollutants, and especially on the detoxification pathways that different organisms have to deal with these pollutants. He conducted a variety of CYP1A induction studies and bile fluorescence analyses as biomarkers for PAH exposure and effects, both in field collected animals from polluted rivers in the upstate of South Carolina, and in controlled lab experiments. In addition, there is strong interest in the fate of endocrine disrupting compounds in aquatic organisms. The main focus is to investigate species differences in biotransformation pathways, especially phase 2 enzymes, and to explain those differences as a reflection of evolutionary history. Because phase 1 and phase 2 enzymes are often used as biomarkers in field exposed animals, a wide spectrum of biomarker studies was performed by a variety of undergraduate and graduate students in his lab. Dr. van den Hurk is an active reviewer for leading toxicological journals, is involved in NSF/NIH grant proposal reviews and is Associate Member of the Graduate Faculty of the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Latest research projects involve: the toxicity of tire wear particles in estuarine species, the underlying mechanisms of acetaminophen toxicity in snakes, other reptilians and birds, and the processes that trigger algal blooms to produce taste and odor chemicals. A Creative Inquiry project investigates if the invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) can be used as a biomonitoring species for the effects of oil pollution events like oil spills and release of fire extinguisher chemicals.

Research Interests

My research interest can be summarized as a basic curiosity to find out how animals, including humans, deal with environmental contaminants and endogenous waste materials. Animals have developed mechanisms to deal with unwanted compounds in their internal environment. Even before the human population explosion and the industrial revolution caused significant environmental pollution, animals were exposed to harmful "natural" compounds in their environment and diet, and detoxification pathways have evolved to neutralize and excrete these compounds. I am very interested in the mechanisms of these detoxification pathways in different species, and how they have evolved. Measurements of enzymes and their metabolic products in detoxification pathways can be used as biomarkers for exposure to and effects of toxicants. One major route of excretion is through bile, and therefore a major part of our research focuses on processes in the liver that are involved in bile production and excretion of biotransformation products through bile.

Courses Taught

ETOX 4300/6300, Principles of Toxicology

ETOX 4370/6370, Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology

ETOX 8310/8311, Biomarkers in Environmental Toxicology

BIOL 4910, Undergraduate Research Experience

BIOL 4930, Senior Seminar

BIOL 3110, General Toxicology

BIOL 4940/4941, Creative Inquiry; Pharmaco-toxicology of wildlife species

Selected Publications

Stoczynski L, van den Hurk P (2020) Effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor sertraline on hybrid striped bass predatory behavior and brain chemistry. Aquatic Toxicology 2020 Jul 8; 226:105564. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2020.105564

LaPlaca SB, van den Hurk P (2020) Toxicological effects of tire wear particles on fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) and mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus). Ecotoxicology 29(5):524-534. doi: 10.1007/s10646-020-02210-7

Linard EN, Lee CM, Karanfil T, Van den Hurk P. (2020) Competitive adsorption of PAHs to carbon nanotubes and the impact on bioavailability to fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 39(9): 1702-1711. doi: 10.1002/etc.4793

Van den Hurk P, Ian Edhlund, Ryan Davis, Jacob Hahn, Michel McComb, Elizabeth Rogers, Marie E. DeLorenzo. (2020) Lionfish (Pterois volitans) as biomonitoring species for oil pollution effects in coral reef ecosystems. Mar Environ Res. 2020 Apr; 156:104915. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2020.104915

Van den Hurk P, Kerkkamp HM. (2019) Phylogenetic origins for severe acetaminophen toxicity in snake species compared to other vertebrate taxa. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part C Toxicology Pharmacology 215:18-24. doi: 10.1016 /j.cbpc.2018.09.003

Van den Hurk P, Gerzel L, Calomiris P, Haney DC. (2017) Phylogenetic signals in detoxification pathways in Cyprinid and Centrarchid species in relation to sensitivity to environmental pollutants. Aquatic Toxicology 118:20-25 doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2017.04.004

Van den Hurk P, Haney DC (2017) Biochemical effects of pollutant exposure in fish species from urban creeks in Greenville, SC. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 189(5): 211-226 doi: 10.1007/s10661-017-5918-2

Au SY, Lee CM, Weinstein JE, van den Hurk P, Klaine SJ (2017) Trophic transfer of microplastics in aquatic ecosystems: Identifying critical research needs. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 13(3):505-509 doi: 10.1002/ieam.1907

Mierzejewski J, Haney DC, Van den Hurk P. (2014) Biomarker Responses in Sunfish and Bass from the Saluda River, SC. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 110: 8-15. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2014.08.003

Mwaanga P, Carraway, ER, Van den Hurk P. (2014). The Induction of Biochemical Changes in Daphnia magna by CuO and ZnO Nanoparticles. Aquatic Toxicology 150: 201-209 doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2014.03.011

Schlenk D, Celander M, Gallagher E, George S, James M, Kullman S, Van den Hurk P, Willett K. (2008). Biotransformation in Fishes. In: Toxicology of fishes. D. Hinton, R. DiGiulio (eds). CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fl. pp 153-234

Van den Hurk, P. (2006) Bile fluorescence, heme oxygenase induction, and increased biliverdin excretion by mixtures of environmental toxicants. Aquat. Toxicol. 77: 202-209

Van den Hurk P, Kubiczak GA, Lehmler HJ, James MO (2002). Hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyls as inhibitors of the sulfation and glucuronidation of 3-hydroxy-benzo[a]pyrene. Environ. Health Perspect. 110: 343-348

Van den Hurk, P., M.H. Roberts Jr, M. Faisal. (1998) Interaction of cadmium and benzo[a]pyrene in mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus): Biotransformation in isolated hepatocytes. Mar. Environ. Res. 46: 529-532

Contact Information

P: 864-656-2328

Campus Location

132 Long Hall, Clemson, SC 29634


Monday - Friday:
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.