NIEHS and National Toxicology Program (NTP) Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., and NTP postdoctoral fellow Sreenivasa Ramaiahgari, Ph.D., are among the scientists honored by the Society of Toxicology (SOT), as announced on Dec. 14.
Two weeks earlier, Birnbaum received an honorary doctorate from India’s Amity University (see sidebar).
Birnbaum — major contribution
Birnbaum was selected for the 2018 SOT Arnold J. Lehman Award. This award is given each year to a society member who has made a major contribution to risk assessment or regulation of chemical agents. The contribution should result from research that has significantly influenced the regulatory process or from the application of sound scientific principles to regulation.
At NIEHS, Birnbaum leads the institute’s full range of research and also heads up her own lab, which is part of the National Cancer Institute. Among her research interests are the effects of dioxin exposures and flame retardants on the body.
The Arnold J. Lehman Award will be presented March 11 at the society’s annual meeting in San Antonio. Birnbaum is the second NIEHS and NTP director, and the fifth woman, to receive the Lehman award. “It means a great deal to be honored by an organization that does so much to strengthen the field of toxicology,” she said.
In 1983, SOT presented the award to David Rall, M.D., Ph.D., who led NIEHS from 1971 to 1990, and NTP from its beginning in 1978 until 1990. Lehman was a cofounder of SOT and played a key role in regulating additives to foods and cosmetics during his tenure at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where he served as the director of the Division of Pharmacology.
Last year, SOT presented Birnbaum with the Distinguished Toxicology Scholar Award. She was nominated for the honor by Women in Toxicology.
Ramaiahgari — innovative and impactful
NTP postdoctoral fellow Ramaiahgari is lead author of a study recognized by the SOT Postdoctoral Assembly as a 2018 Best Postdoctoral Publication. Manushree Bharadwaj, Ph.D., vice-chair of the assembly’s executive board, said that the reviewers, both external and on the board, faced difficult decisions.
The competition was strong. “We received a number of highly innovative and impactful papers from SOT postdoctoral scholars across many disciplines,” wrote Bharadwaj, who is a postdoctoral researcher in the NTP laboratory of Sue Fenton, Ph.D.
Ramaiahgari was the lead author of "Three-dimensional (3D) HepaRG spheroid model with physiologically relevant xenobiotic metabolism competence and hepatocyte functionality for liver toxicity screening," which appeared in the SOT journal Toxicological Sciences. The study was also recognized by NTP in the November 2017 issue of the Environmental Factor as a paper of the month.
“I’m excited that this model is receiving recognition,” Ramaiahgari said. “It is more sensitive in identifying toxic chemicals than other liver tissue models and marks an important step forward for predictive toxicology.”