Center for Human Toxicology


The Center for Human Toxicology (CHT) is an independent non-profit laboratory within the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.   The CHT provides bioanalytical services for University of Utah and outside collaborators and clients on a local and international scale.   CHT faculty actively participate in the education of graduate and professional students and other trainees through traditional classroom and hands-on teaching and research opportunities.  The CHT was established in 1973 as the first independent facility of its kind in the United States to integrate toxicology instruction with toxicological services and research in basic and applied toxicology.

The CHT is an internationally recognized leader in the development of state-of-the-art assays for therapeutic and illicit drugs and their metabolites, among other xenobiotics in physiological specimens.  Most of these assays are based on single stage or tandem mass spectrometry (MS, MS/MS) coupled to liquid (LC) or gas chromatography (GC).   Additional LC and GC detection methods, as well as immunoassays, and other basic analytical techniques complement our MS approach to bioanalyses. 

The CHT laboratory is designed to provide services in forensic toxicology or other bioanalytical projects that require secure specimen and record storage procedures.  The CHT has a long history in forensic toxicology and this remains a central core of its research, teaching and service mission.   This has resulted in the development and evaluation of numerous MS and immunoassay methods for drugs of abuse and other psychoactive medications.   Notable related service and research activities included: post-accident testing for the National Traffic Safety Board and Federal Railroad Administration, and research on drugs and driving for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the disposition of drugs of abuse and other xenobiotics into hair, sweat, and oral fluid, and the impact of drug metabolizing enzyme genetic polymorphisms on the metabolism of abused drugs.  The CHT continues to provide expert testimony and analytical services for medical examiners, attorneys, law enforcement groups and government agencies.

Since 1982, CHT has provided bioanalytical services, including development of new assays, under a contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).  This contract focused primarily on analyses for drugs of abuse, but has expanded to include other drugs as the need arises.  An additional seventeen-year tenure as the Analytical Services Center for the Medications Drug Development (MDD) Program at NIDA provided familiarization with Food and Drug Administration requirements for Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) in analytical services.  Method validations and bioanalytical operations still retain many of the principals of GLP services.  Several methods were developed or updated to pursue these MDD studies.  Notable examples are methadone, LAAM, buprenorphine, naltrexone, oxycodone, quetiapine and risperidone.   Parallel research studies investigated the disposition of some of these drugs into hair and their in vitro metabolism.

In 2003, with funding from the National Football League and the United States Anti-Doping Agency, the CHT developed a Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory (SMRTL); now a private independently-operated facility.  This experience enabled the CHT to gain familiarity and expertise with procedures and priorities for testing of performance-enhancing substances, as well as WADA and ISO 17025 accreditation guidelines.

The recent incorporation of a mechanistic toxicology laboratory into CHT is designed to integrate an array of new and novel in vitro, molecular biological, and alternative drug screening and testing techniques into CHT operations, while providing new opportunities for CHT to expand into mechanistic toxicology research studies. 

The CHT values its many past scientific collaborators.  It looks forward to further collaborative work with both old and new scientific teams.  The collective expertise in toxicological sciences within the CHT is available to assist in collaborative pursuits in translational research.

As a center of excellence in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, CHT contributes to the University’s mission of research, education and service.  CHT faculty members contribute to undergraduate, graduate and professional education in the College of Pharmacy and School of Medicine.  Faculty and staff are involved in training undergraduates, graduates, professional students, postdocs and visiting scholars from around the world.   CHT occupies 9,606 square feet of modern office and laboratory space in the southern portion of the 3rd  floor of the L.S. Skaggs Pharmacy Research Building (BLDG 581) within the L.S Skaggs Pharmacy Institute (30 S 2000 E).  



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