NIEHS’s National Toxicology Program (NTP) formalized a long-standing partnership with the French agency ANSES, when leaders of the two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) March 22. Representatives of the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, as it is known in English, traveled to Research Triangle Park, North Carolina to meet with NIEHS and NTP Director Linda Birnbuam, Ph.D., and NTP leadership.
“You are a partner, and an important partner,” said ANSES Director General Roger Genet, Ph.D., during the meeting. Birnbaum expressed her optimism about the road ahead. “We have real opportunities to work together more closely and more frequently, and I very much look forward to that,” she said.
Focus on toxicology
ANSES is particularly interested in the NTP model of conducting toxicological research to advance public health science, Genet explained. He emphasized the importance of strong links between public policy and research. “You do that very efficiently,” he said of NTP, which includes representatives of both research and regulatory agencies.
Birnbaum confirmed that NTP works closely with its member regulatory agencies to understand emerging needs. “NTP is a problem-solving organization. Its mission is to do testing, develop new tests, and evaluate what the data mean,” she said.
Strengthening the current partnership
ANSES and NIEHS have a history of working together, according to NIEHS Toxicology Advisor Christopher Weis, Ph.D., who was unable to attend the meeting. Weis serves as the primary NIEHS contact for ANSES. “The MOU will continue and strengthen that cooperation,” he said.
The MOU signing provided a chance for the leaders of the two agencies to share perspectives and brainstorm new avenues of cooperation and collaboration. For example, NTP Associate Director John Bucher, Ph.D., addressed questions about new approaches to modern toxicology.
In addition, ANSES expressed interest in the NTP systematic review process, to help assure the use of sound science for NTP decision-making. Nigel Walker, Ph.D., NTP deputy division director for research, suggested NTP could share lessons learned about operating as an interagency program.
Other leaders attending the meeting provided important perspectives during the discussions.
- Salma Elreedy, ANSES director of European and international affairs
- Gerard Lasfargues, ANSES deputy director general for scientific affairs
- Mary Wolfe, Ph.D., NTP deputy division director for policy
France is just one of the countries interested in strengthening their toxicology programs and looking to learn from the United States experience. NIEHS signed a similar MOU with South Korea at the March meeting of the Society of Toxicology, and Bucher met the previous day with the head of the Chinese scientific society for toxicology.