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Environmental Factor

April 2011

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50th SOT meeting breaks record

By By Ed Kang
April 2011

Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D.

For Birnbaum, the annual SOT meeting has long been a special time. She is the first toxicologist to serve as director of NIEHS/NTP. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Dori Germolec, Ph.D.

Germolec also serves as the project officer for the NTP's contractual efforts to validate test methods and to assess the potential for chemicals to modulate immune responses in rodent models and is the coordinator of an interagency agreement with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

The yearlong anticipation of the 50th annual meeting( Exit NIEHS of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) came to a successful culmination March 6-10 as a record-setting 8,000 attendees flooded the Washington, D.C., Convention Center. Federal representatives, including NIEHS and NTP scientists, led the way, headlining plenary sessions and leading key science discussions.

"The science of toxicology continues to make its mark on public health," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., NIEHS/NTP director. "SOT remains an essential venue for the Institute, as together we share a prominent role in advancing the field." 

Birnbaum, a past president of SOT, drew a standing room-only crowd at her "Meet the Director" session, which was both reflective and prognostic. In addition to communicating the Institute's research highlights for the past year, Birnbaum utilized the forum to unveil - for the first time publicly - the Institute's strategic planning process. Her discussion sparked interest in developing the vision for the Institute that will encompass the next five years, a theme of keen interest for SOT membership.

Live updates captivate Twitterverse

For the second year running, more than a dozen NIEHS and NTP staff documented their conference activities by providing live updates from the meeting. Their reports spanned scientific sessions, social activities, meetings with colleagues, and overviews of roundtables and other discussions. 

"The excitement of this special event can only be experienced by being there in-person," said one of the participants in the live updating effort, Paul Jung, M.D., NIEHS chief of staff. "But for those who couldn't make it to the meeting, these updates are the next best thing."

More than 70 updates from the 50th annual conference are archived for public viewing on the NIEHS Web site at and on Twitter ( Exit NIEHS). 

'Benchmarks' poster proves popular

Another success of the conference was the unveiling of the poster titled "Benchmarks in Toxicology" - a joint effort of NIEHS/NTP, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, and SOT. The poster, which describes the people, innovations, discoveries, and events that have been milestones in the development of the field of toxicology, was a huge attraction at the conference.

A March Environmental Health Perspectives podcast featured an interview about the poster with Peter Goering, Ph.D., SOT secretary and a toxicologist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Goering was one of six distinguished panel members who evaluated more than 200 nominations submitted from SOT members for consideration in the poster.

Scientists honored by SOT

SOT elected former NIEHS trainee and toxicologist Lois Lehman-McKeeman, Ph.D., to serve as vice president-elect on the SOT Council for one year beginning May 1, followed by one year as vice president, one year as president, and one year as past president. NTP biologist Dori Germolec, Ph.D.(, was named SOT Councilor for 2011 - 2013, joining her NTP colleague, toxicologist Michael Waalkes, Ph.D., who was elected to the SOT Council last year. Four NIEHS/NTP trainees were honored by SOT specialty sections (see story(/2011/april/science-trainees-honored/)).

Lehman-McKeeman is currently a Distinguished Research Fellow in Discovery Toxicology at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company in Princeton, N.J. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas Medical Center, where she trained with NIEHS grantee( Curtis Klaassen, Ph.D. The recipient of numerous honors, Lehman-McKeeman was employed in the Human and Environmental Safety Division of the Procter and Gamble Company for 15 years prior to joining Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2001.

Germolec served as the group leader of the Environmental Immunology Laboratory within the Laboratory of Molecular Toxicology at NIEHS from 1995 to 2005. She is currently the immunology discipline leader for the NTP and the lead toxicologist for NTP studies on the toxicity of resveratrol and mold exposures. Germolec has published over 100 papers in various areas of toxicology. Her honors include an NIH Merit Award and SOT Best Publication Award in 1995, as well as the Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Immunotoxicology Specialty Section of the SOT in 2004.

(Ed Kang is a public affairs specialist in the Office of Communications and Public Liaison and a contributor to the Environmental Factor.)

Benchmarks in Toxicology poster
The supply of 1,000 posters was exhausted within hours of the opening of the conference. A free poster-sized version of the benchmarks is available by mail or download. (Graphic courtesy of Joseph Tart)

Coming up: APHA Environment Section to celebrate milestone in 2011

The American Public Health Association (APHA) Environment Section is marking its centennial this fall. Anniversary committee co-chair, Allen Dearry, Ph.D., of NIEHS is helping to organize section members and other interested parties to develop a commemorative program. Among the undertakings are a 100-year chronology of the "heroes and milestones" in environmental health, as well as a video and web resource describing the story of environmental public health over the past century.

This year's meeting of APHA will take place Oct. 29-Nov. 2 in Washington, D.C., with a theme of "Healthy Communities Promote Healthy Minds and Bodies."

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