SOT 2013 Annual Meeting and ToxExpo: One-stop toxicology shop (Part 1)

Annual meeting of the Society of Toxicology promises a wide range of toxicology and safety assessment science

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas—According to the Society of Toxicology(SOT), its annual meeting is the largest gathering of its type. So, it onlymakes sense for the biggest thing in toxicology to take place in a state knownfor things being grandiose and often physically large—Texas. Specifically, themeeting 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 biggestof its kind in the world," says Dr. William Slikker Jr., 2012-13 president ofthe SOT and the director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's NationalCenter for Toxicological Research. "It's an event that draws attendance fromall across the United States, but more than that, about 20 percent of attendeesattend from places outside the U.S., as far away as Australia, China, LatinAmerica and Africa. We truly appreciate the opportunity each year to share thelatest science of toxicology literally to the whole world." 
Based on past attendance, some 7,300 or more people frommore than 50 nations will attend SOT's show for the scientific program, ToxExpoand the various social and networking events. Slikker says there are already2,500 abstracts, so "the entire science of toxicology will be on display andcovered at the meeting."
The five-day event will revolve around five scientificthemes: Application of Systems Biology to Toxicology; Biomarkers for ExposureAssessment, Safety Evaluation and Translational Medicine; Effects ofNanomaterials on Biological Systems; Molecular Basis of Genetic Variability andSusceptibility to Toxicants; and Regulatory Science: Advancing New Approachesfor Hazard Identification and Risk.
"The truly exciting thing is that we have one-stop shoppingfor toxicology and safety assessment over the several-day program because ofthe size of our offerings and the significance of the people who present andattend," says Slikker. Also exciting, he adds, is an entirely new offering thisyear, with SOT's Scientific Program Committee sponsoring the inauguralFrontiers for Toxicology session at the annual meeting in San Antonio.
"We're trying to start a tradition of bringing in a speakerwho's cutting-edge in their area of professional life or their scientificinterest, and see how they can apply it to our area of toxicology," Slikkerexplains. "Whether its cutting-edge approaches people aren't all that aware ofin toxicology or areas of science, technology and practice that directly impacttoxicology, 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 Toxicologysession will be "Systems and Computational Biology As Foundations forToxicology Research." As SOT describes the program, "systems and computationalapproaches are holistic methods to elucidate and understand the complexinteractions among components of a biologic response network and are central tothe comprehensive understanding of all biological processes. The field requiresthe integration of concepts from biology and physiology, computer science andapplied 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 outthe dynamic nature of toxic responses and the complexities therein.
"In light of the broad utility of systems biology approachesto toxicology and risk assessment, the goal of this session is to featureeminent scientists who have made seminal contributions and advances in systemsand computational biology," notes SOT.
The speakers in the session include: Trey Ideker of theUniversity of California San Diego, Avi Ma'ayan of the Mount Sinai School ofMedicine, Laszlo Urban of the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research andRobert Murphy of Carnegie Mellon University. The Frontiers session will takeplace March 13 from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. in Grand Ballroom C1 at the ConventionCenter. 
Another highlight of the program for Slikker is the PlenaryOpening Lecture, in which Bruce A. Beutler, director of the Center for theGenetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern MedicalCenter, will present a lecture titled, "Genetic Analysis of Innate ImmuneSensing," a topic that Slikker describes as being "so very important totoxicology and also to drug discovery generally."
In addition, Slikker points out, this year's annual meetingstands out for being the first at which continuing medical education (CME)credits can be earned by attending some of the scientific programpresentations.
"We are hopeful that this area will expand and we can offermore courses for CME credit at future meetings," Slikker says. "It's a reallybroad opportunity for us, allowing people to go in depth to build on theirbackground or to get exposure to new areas."
Slikker sees no reason that the meeting won't draw theroughly 7,300 people it did last year, and perhaps more, since earlyregistration numbers have been tracking consistently with the levels seen forthe 2012 annual meeting.
"I just want to emphasize that one of the greatopportunities at the SOT meetings is that we tend to have roughly equalrepresentation from academia, government, NGOs and industry," Slikker notes,"so it offers a wonderful chance to build collaborations and network with aglobal community."

2012 SOT Award Recipients
(Partial list)
Achievement Award
Donna D. Zhang, Ph.D.
University of Arizona
Arnold J. Lehman Award
Joe L. Mauderly, D.V.M.
Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute/NationalEnvironmental Respiratory Center 

Congressional Science Leadership Award
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.)
House Committee on Education and the Workforce/HouseCommittee on Natural Resources
Distinguished Toxicology Scholar Award
Ernest Hodgson, Ph.D.
North Carolina State University, Raleigh
Education Award
John H. Duffus, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Heriot Watt University's Edinburgh Centre for Toxicology
Founders Award
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
Merit Award
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.
Purdue University
Melanie Adler, Ph.D.
University of Wuerzburg, Germany
Syngenta Fellowship Award in Human Health Applications ofNew Technologies
Benjamin Moeller, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

For additional stories related to the annual SOT meeting, click here to go to PART TWO 


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