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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

January 2019

Science counselors focus on NTP research translation

The meeting, held online due to Winter Storm Diego, addressed translation of NTP research into regulatory, government, and scientific arenas.

Mother Nature threw a monkey wrench into a gathering of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Board of Science Counselors, which resulted in the second virtual meeting in a row. On Dec. 12, counselors and others took to the internet to conduct their business because of snow and ice in the NIEHS area.

Despite the changed logistics, the board put in a full day of deliberations and scientific presentations. NTP Associate Director Brian Berridge, D.V.M., Ph.D., thanked the members for their flexibility and understanding. “When we engaged this group back in October using a web-based technology, it was intended to supplement and increase our level of engagement, not become the norm,” said Berridge, with a smile. “I very much look forward to our next opportunity for face-to-face interaction as we continue to build our relationships.”

NTP Associate Director Brian Berridge, D.V.M., Ph.D. “Translation occurs at several different levels in the way that NTP does its business,” Berridge told the board members. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Board member James Stevens, Ph.D., from Paradox Found Consulting, lives in the local area and was able to attend in person. Stevens served as interim chair.

Found in translation

“People often define translation as bench to bedside, but from NIEHS’s point of view, translation is much more,” said NIEHS and NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., setting the theme for several later presentations.

“It includes bench to bedside, but it also includes bench to public policy, bench to regulation, and bench to public health — and it’s a circular or integrated phenomenon,” she said.

NIEHS and NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. Birnbaum, left, was amused by a pithy comment from Stevens, who served as interim chair of the virtual meeting. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Birnbaum described a new focus on research translation at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Mathematics, through the Environmental Health Matters Initiative.

NIEHS spearheaded formation of the group to explore innovative solutions to the nation’s most significant environmental health challenges. The initiative provides a new forum for the environmental health community to interact with leaders from a wide range of sectors and disciplines.

Berridge updated attendees on a process that he began when he stepped into his role a year ago — the NTP Translational Toxicology Pipeline. “A fundamental part of all this is embracing the notion that we are a translation organization,” he observed. “As a public health organization, we are primarily focused on the human condition and the human species, and so the things we do need to be totally embedded and aligned to that interest.”

More specifically, he described a new program called Health Effects Innovation, which will align current efforts and fill in gaps in current research. Initially, it will look at three areas, each of which was discussed by participants.

  • Carcinogenicity testing for the twenty-first century.
  • Developmental neurotoxicity modeling.
  • Cardiovascular hazard assessment in environmental toxicology.
NTP staffers and contractors NTP staffers and contractors ensured a smooth flow during the meeting in its web-based format. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Translation the NTP way

Board members were also treated to a full session of presentations from NTP researchers on translating science to support decisions in the regulatory, governmental, and scientific arenas.

Pioneering NTP efforts in literature analysis were covered by Andrew Rooney, Ph.D., acting director of the NTP Office of Health Assessment and Translation, and others.

NTP toxicologist Mamta Behl, Ph.D. NTP toxicologist Mamta Behl, Ph.D., briefed the board on a new, public web application tool called DNT-DIVER, or Developmental NeuroToxicity Data Integration and Visualization Enabling Resource. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Health scientist Vickie Walker described innovative literature analysis methods called evidence mapping and literature scoping.

She was followed by health scientist Windy Boyd, Ph.D., who discussed integrating literature analysis into the NTP research pipeline.

“Another exciting day of science!” Stevens enthused as he brought the virtual meeting to a close.

(Ernie Hood is a contract writer for the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)


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