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SOT 2013 Annual Meeting and ToxExpo: One-stop toxicology shop (Part 1)
SAN ANTONIO, Texas—According to the Society of Toxicology (SOT), its annual meeting is the largest gathering of its type. So, it only makes sense for the biggest thing in toxicology to take place in a state known for things being grandiose and often physically large—Texas. Specifically, the meeting will take place in San Antonio, home of the Alamo, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center from March 10- 14.
"We're excited about this meeting because it is the biggest of its kind in the world," says Dr. William Slikker Jr., 2012-13 president of the SOT and the director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's National Center for Toxicological Research. "It's an event that draws attendance from all across the United States, but more than that, about 20 percent of attendees attend from places outside the U.S., as far away as Australia, China, Latin America and Africa. We truly appreciate the opportunity each year to share the latest science of toxicology literally to the whole world."
Based on past attendance, some 7,300 or more people from more than 50 nations will attend SOT's show for the scientific program, ToxExpo and the various social and networking events. Slikker says there are already 2,500 abstracts, so "the entire science of toxicology will be on display and covered at the meeting."
The five-day event will revolve around five scientific themes: Application of Systems Biology to Toxicology; Biomarkers for Exposure Assessment, Safety Evaluation and Translational Medicine; Effects of Nanomaterials on Biological Systems; Molecular Basis of Genetic Variability and Susceptibility to Toxicants; and Regulatory Science: Advancing New Approaches for Hazard Identification and Risk.
"The truly exciting thing is that we have one-stop shopping for toxicology and safety assessment over the several-day program because of the size of our offerings and the significance of the people who present and attend," says Slikker. Also exciting, he adds, is an entirely new offering this year, with SOT's Scientific Program Committee sponsoring the inaugural Frontiers for Toxicology session at the annual meeting in San Antonio.
"We're trying to start a tradition of bringing in a speaker who's cutting-edge in their area of professional life or their scientific interest, and see how they can apply it to our area of toxicology," Slikker explains. "Whether its cutting-edge approaches people aren't all that aware of in toxicology or areas of science, technology and practice that directly impact toxicology, we want to bring those perspectives into our program. That new 'Frontiers' program is something our SOT vice president, Lois Lehman-McKeeman, has worked very hard on this year."
For the 2013 annual meeting, the Frontiers for Toxicology session will be "Systems and Computational Biology As Foundations for Toxicology Research." As SOT describes the program, "systems and computational approaches are holistic methods to elucidate and understand the complex interactions among components of a biologic response network and are central to the comprehensive understanding of all biological processes. The field requires the integration of concepts from biology and physiology, computer science and applied mathematics, as well as physics and engineering."
Toxicology also is a multidisciplinary science, SOT notes, and application of systems and computational approaches can help in sorting out the dynamic nature of toxic responses and the complexities therein.
"In light of the broad utility of systems biology approaches to toxicology and risk assessment, the goal of this session is to feature eminent scientists who have made seminal contributions and advances in systems and computational biology," notes SOT.
The speakers in the session include: Trey Ideker of the University of California San Diego, Avi Ma'ayan of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Laszlo Urban of the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research and Robert Murphy of Carnegie Mellon University. The Frontiers session will take place March 13 from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. in Grand Ballroom C1 at the Convention Center.
Another highlight of the program for Slikker is the Plenary Opening Lecture, in which Bruce A. Beutler, director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, will present a lecture titled, "Genetic Analysis of Innate Immune Sensing," a topic that Slikker describes as being "so very important to toxicology and also to drug discovery generally."
In addition, Slikker points out, this year's annual meeting stands out for being the first at which continuing medical education (CME) credits can be earned by attending some of the scientific program presentations.
"We are hopeful that this area will expand and we can offer more courses for CME credit at future meetings," Slikker says. "It's a really broad opportunity for us, allowing people to go in depth to build on their background or to get exposure to new areas."
Slikker sees no reason that the meeting won't draw the roughly 7,300 people it did last year, and perhaps more, since early registration numbers have been tracking consistently with the levels seen for the 2012 annual meeting.
"I just want to emphasize that one of the great opportunities at the SOT meetings is that we tend to have roughly equal representation from academia, government, NGOs and industry," Slikker notes, "so it offers a wonderful chance to build collaborations and network with a global community."
2012 SOT Award Recipients
Donna D. Zhang, Ph.D.
University of Arizona
Arnold J. Lehman Award
Joe L. Mauderly, D.V.M.
Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute/National Environmental Respiratory Center
Congressional Science Leadership Award
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.)
House Committee on Education and the Workforce/House Committee on Natural Resources
Distinguished Toxicology Scholar Award
Ernest Hodgson, Ph.D.
North Carolina State University, Raleigh
John H. Duffus, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Heriot Watt University's Edinburgh Centre for Toxicology
John A. Moore, D.V.M.
Global Senior Scholar Exchange
Orish Ebere Orisakwe, Ph.D.
University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Jesus Olivero-Verbel, Ph.D.
University of Cartagena, Colombia
Leading Edge in Basic Science Award
Myung- Haing Cho, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Seoul National University, Korea
Curtis D. Klaassen, Ph.D.
University of Kansas Medical Center
Public Communications Award
Martin A. Philbert, Ph.D.
University of Michigan School of Public Health
Translational Impact Award
John G. Benitez, M.D., M.P.H.
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.
Translational/Bridging Travel Award
Xuemei Huang, M.D., Ph.D.
Penn State Hershey Medical Center/Penn State University
Endowment Fund Undergraduate Educator Award
Sue M. Ford, Ph.D.
St.John's University, Jamaica, N.Y.
AstraZeneca Traveling Lectureship Award
Bhagavatula Moorthy, Ph.D.
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
Colgate-Palmolive Grants for Alternative Research
Mingzhu Fang, Ph.D.
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Jennifer Freeman, Ph.D.
Melanie Adler, Ph.D.
University of Wuerzburg, Germany
Syngenta Fellowship Award in Human Health Applications of New Technologies
Benjamin Moeller, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill