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Recent Endowment Fund Award Recipients

2015 Endowment Awardees



Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Winner: Deanna Salter

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Rhode Island

Deanna Salter is a Graduate Student at the University of Rhode Island and received the Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award for her work entitled, "Low Dose Exposure to the Environmental Chemical, Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS) Thwarts Beneficial Effects of Caloric Restriction and Metformin." In her work, she is trying to elucidate a deeper mechanism to determine how PFOS stimulates with glucose production. Currently she is evaluating whether the increased glucose and lipid accumulation is related to changes in the phosphorylation status of AMPK and associated mediators of this pathway. She believes her project is highly relevant to toxicology due to the nature of PFOS exposure. Although PFOS exposure is decreasing, there is still EPA concern and it is considered to be an “emerging” chemical of concern (Zhao 2012).

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Winner: Lisa Weatherly

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BA
Institution/Affiliation: University of Maine

Lisa Weatherly is a Graduate Student at University of Maine and received the Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award for her work entitled, "Antimicrobial Agent Triclosan is a Mitochondrial Uncoupler in Rat and Human Mast Cells." They assessed if triclosan disrupted mast cell function by examining its effects on the cells’ energy source, ATP. She found that exposure of triclosan to mast cells is causing a dysfunction in production of ATP, at much lower concentrations than those generally found in personal care products. theirdata show that TCS is a mitochondrial uncoupler, and TCS may affect numerous cell types and functions via this mechanism. Due to triclosan’s high concentration and use in many personal care products, triclosan’s mitochondrial uncoupling function must be taken into consideration in future risk assessments, due to the dangerous nature previously seen in other similar chemicals. There is an urgent need for information on the mammalian toxicology of triclosan, and our study will help provide an understanding of how triclosan influences human and animal health.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Winner: Dwayne Carter

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: UTMB

Dwayne Carter is a Graduate Student at the University of Texas Medical Branch and received the Carl C. Smith Mechanisms Award for his work entitled, "Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Activation By Cinnabarinic Acid Is Required for Stanniocalcin-2 mediated Protection Against Alcohol Induced Hepatic Injury." His research showed how the physiological activity of AhR in the liver protects against acute alcohol induced liver injury. This award will allow him to attend more scientific meetings, which will allow more networking and collaboration with other investigators. He would like to investigate and understand the mechanisms that will form a proverbial bridge between liver toxicity and aging, and believes that a healthier liver may allow us to have a better quality of life in our elderly years.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Winner: Prajakta Shimpi

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: M.Pharm
Institution/Affiliation: University of Rhode Island

Prajakta Shimpi is a Graduate Student at the University of Rhode Island and received the Carl C. Smith Mechanisms Award for her work entitled, "Early Epigenetic Modulation of Nrf2 and Lipogenic Genes by PNPP Exposure of Bisphenol A is Associated with Hepatic Steatosis in Female Mice." Her work focus is on detecting the detailed molecular studies on how exactly Bisphenol A affects liver pathways. She would like to continue her work on environmental toxicants, and elucidate mechanistic links of how these toxicants affect liver. Her studies with bisphenol A, can also serve as model toxicological investigations for other chemicals.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Winner: Eric Ditzel

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona

Eric Ditzel is a Graduate Student at the University of Arizona and received the Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award for his work entitled, "Arsenite during Fetal Development Alters Energy Metabolism and Increases Susceptibility to Fatty Liver Disease." His work focuses on how exposure to arsenic during development alters fundamental processes in energy metabolism in such a way that there is increased incidence of fatty liver disease present later in life. The risks of developmental exposure to arsenic are not fully understood, and this work helps illuminate how exposures may contribute to adult onset of disease.The proposed mechanism for this increase in disease is novel and may help others investigate related disease states as well. He considers this award as a motivator to push him to continue to explore the mechanistic basis for arsenic induced disease by honing in on which effects are relevant for certain exposures and diseases is necessary to explore ways to mitigate disease. Millions of people are exposed to arsenic through drinking water, inhalation, diet, and occupational exposure, and there are many well characterized risks associated with those exposures. However, the risks of low-dose exposure and exposure during development are less well understood. By focusing on the mechanism behind the observed pathologies, we are better able to address the problem and health outcomes in susceptible populations in the future.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Winner: Suvarthi Das

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of South Carolina

Suvarthi Das is a graduate student at the University of South Carolina and received the Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award for her work entitled, "Redox signaling induced TLR4 activation is crucial for disinfection byproduct (DBP)-mediated NASH." Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is a progressive stage of NAFLD, and a hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome has been rising in tandem with the increase in obesity epidemic. Her work explores the probable molecular mechanisms in driving the causation of NASH in obese mice, when there is a second hit from environmental toxin present in drinking water (disinfection byproduct. We observed that activation of the enzyme NOX and then recruitment of TLR4 (toll-like receptor 4) in the lipid rafts of the hepatic cell-membranes play a crucial role in the ensuing injury and inflammation that leads to NASH symptoms. This can translate into discovery of new persistent biomarkers and drug targets in NASH. To date treatment of NASH is very difficult as there are no persistent or reliable biomarkers. It is a silent disease and patients normally do not get diagnosed unless they go to the clinic with some symptoms like pain in the upper right quadrant, nausea etc. Thus elucidation of the intermediary pathways and molecules will open new avenues for drug targeting for this very alarming silent killer, which is evidently triggered by environmental toxins.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Winner: Wei Zhang

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: Ph.D. Candidate
Institution/Affiliation: Univerisity of Kentucky

Wei Zhang is a graduate student at the University of Kentucky and received the Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award for her work entitled, "Loss of Mrp1 Potentiates Doxorubicin-Induced Cardiotoxicity in Mice." Doxorubicin (DOX) induced cardiac toxicity is most severe dose-limited side effects of this effective chemotherapy drug. The study addresses the important problem of determining how the function of MRP1 could affect this DOX-induced cardiotoxicity. The cardiac function and underline mechanisms were investigated. The study will provide novel insights into the role of Mrp1 in oxidative stress regulation, and thereby give critical information regarding the potential adverse sequelae of introduction of MRP1 inhibitors as adjuncts to clinical chemotherapy of multidrug resistant tumors. Also, it may help to find a potential way to relieve or even prevent this chemotherapy drug-induced cardiotoxicity.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Winner: Jamie Moscovitz

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BA Biology, BA Secondary Education
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Jamie Moscovitz is a graduate student at Rutgers University and recieved the Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award for her work entitled, "Pregnancy Outcomes Following Short Term Treatment Of Mice With The Farnesoid X Receptor Agonist GW4064." Her research uses pharmacological and genetic models to characterize the importance of regulation by the nuclear receptor, Farnesoid X Receptor (Fxr), on metabolic and transport pathways in the liver and intestine during pregnancy. Fxr is critical for the regulation of bile acid synthesis, metabolism, hepatotoxicity and excretion. Her thesis work thus far has demonstrated that a number of direct intestinal and hepatic targets of Fxr are dysregulated during pregnancy. By studying the mechanisms of adaptive changes in the bile acid pathway in pregnancy, we may identify why some women have heightened susceptibility to cholestatic liver disease during pregnancy, as well as investigate a potential therapeutic target for treating these women. This research will aid in creating a safer and healthier world for both mothers and fetuses during a very sensitive and critical time of development.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Winner: Nikita  Joshi

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: MSc, MS
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Nikita Joshi is a graduate student at Michigan State University and received the Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award for her work entitled, "Fibrin(ogen) engagement of aMß2-integrin limits chronic liver fibrosis induced by a bile duct toxicant in mice." Her work seeks to identify mechanisms whereby fibrinogen, an integral component of the hemostatic system, contributes to chronic liver injury and fibrosis. Her laboratory previously demonstrated that mice deficient in the blood clotting protein fibrinogen, developed markedly worse liver injury in a model of chronic liver fibrosis. This finding challenged the assumption that the presence of fibrin clots in the liver is bad. Since joining the lab, she has sought to define the mechanisms that underlie the protective effects of fibrinogen. The work submitted for consideration for the Mechanisms this Award describes an element of her research project highlighting the novel protective role of fibrinogen in chronic liver fibrosis via its engagement of the leukocyte integrin aMß2. Treatment options for liver fibrosis are limited with a liver transplant being the last resort. Since the molecular and cellular pathogenesis of this are not completely understood, it is vital that we interrogate the mechanisms that contribute to the pathogenesis chronic liver disease so that better treatment options can be developed. Continued investigation of the mechanisms whereby coagulation impacts liver fibrosis is warranted, particularly as elements of hemostasis gain traction as biomarkers and as potential therapeutic targets in liver disease and health.

Dharm V. Singh Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Winner: Ratanesh Seth

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: Ph.D.
Institution/Affiliation: University of South Carolina

Ratanesh Seth is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of South Carolina and received the Dharm V. Singh Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund for his work entitled "M1 Polarization bias and subsequent toxicity-induced NASH progression is attenuated by nitric oxide donor DETA NONOate." He mainly works on diet-induced obese models to understand how drinking water disinfection by products, specifically bromodicholromethane potentiate induces progression of steatosis to silent stage nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. In this awarded study he looked into how our internal defense machinery (immune system), specially macrophages regulate the disease progression so that we can identify therapeutic targets which may help in curing the disease.

Dharm V. Singh Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Winner: Amrendra Ajay

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Harvard Medical School

Amrendra Ajay is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School who received the Dharm V. Singh Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund for his work entitled, "SMOC2 mediates kidney fibrosis via activating fibroblasts." Kidney toxicity is a major problem worldwide causing high mortality every year. Due to lack of therapeutic targets and early and sensitive biomarker it’s impossible to detect and treat chronic kidney diseases. He and his group employed RNA sequencing approach to find out the early and sensitive biomarker and therapeutic target for chronic kidney injury. His research will use in vitro and in vivo models to find out the mechanistic aspects of compounds related to different class of compounds. To ding out the signaling events that can be useful to stratify the compounds. In some cases drug metabolites are toxic to kidney once metabolized by liver. Using in vitro molecular tools may provide important insight into the mechanism of toxicity of drugs. Toxicity due to unknown compounds is also one of the emerging problems where it’s found that epidemically there is occurrence of kidney, liver or other organ toxicity.

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Winner: Elizabeth Lightbody

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BScH
Institution/Affiliation: Queen's University Cancer Research Institute

Elizabeth Lightbody is a graduate student with the Queen's University Cancer Research Institute and received the Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award for her work entitled, "PPAR? Loss Increases Metastatic Potential of HER2+ Breast Tumours in Mammary Epithelial Targeted Knockout Mice." Her research project investigates the link between the ligand-activated transcription factor PPAR? to the poor prognosis in patients with breast tumours that overexpress human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2+). Her epithelial-specific HER2 overexpressing PPAR? knockout mouse model has shown increased lung metastases, suggesting that a loss of PPAR? may enhance the metastatic potential of HER2+ breast tumours to the lung. This project will unveil novel PPAR? upstream and downstream targets that may be used as predictive biomarkers for HER2+ breast tumour patients susceptible to increased metastasis, and lay a foundation for similar studies in other human breast tumour subtypes. She is interested in the potential of drugs to be repurposed for different diseases and was drawn to work that focuses on using thiazolidinedione drugs that were previously used in the clinical setting to treat and prevent type II diabetes. These drugs are now implicated to have chemotherapeutic potential. Through increased knowledge of drug re-purposing and combination therapies she hopes to advance the science of toxicology to create an improved response rate and overall survival for these poor prognosis patients.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Postdoc Award Fund

Winner: Amrendra Ajay

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: 1980

Amrendra Ajay is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School and received the Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Postdoctoral Award for his work entitled, "SMOC2 mediates kidney fibrosis via activating fibroblasts." Kidney toxicity is a major problem worldwide causing high mortality every year. Due to lack of therapeutic targets and early and sensitive biomarker it is impossible to detect and treat chronic kidney diseases. His team employed RNA sequencing approach to find out the early and sensitive biomarker and therapeutic target for chronic kidney injury. Secreted Modular Calcium Binding protein 2 (SMOC2) is one of the potential early and sensitive biomarker as well as therapeutic target for chronic kidney disease. SMOC2 is expressed by kidney fibroblasts that cause fibrosis. Using transgenic mice they show that SMOC2 causes kidney fibrosis. Thus his team proposes that inhibition of SMOC2 may be of therapeutic importance for kidney fibrosis. He would like to focus his research in finding the mechanisms of toxicity based molecular signaling. Finding new molecular signatures and signaling cascade may provide better understanding of the toxicity at cellular level and its translation in the animal models or in humans.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Postdoc Award Fund

Winner: Tamara Tal

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Tamara Tal is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and received the Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Postdoctoral Award for her work entitled, "Leveraging an integrative predictive toxicity model and zebrafish and in vitro angiogenesis assays to identify chemical vascular disruptors during development." Her research centers on evaluating and improving a computational model of developmental vascular toxicity using a combination of alternative models including zebrafish. The computational model was built to predict whether over one thousand environmental chemicals disrupt blood vessel development. The predictions are based on a series of 109 surrogate cell and biochemical assays. In the absence of in vivo data, the model ranks chemicals based on their putative ability to cause blood vessel toxicity during development. her research, in collaboration with several other groups, tested the computational model’s predictions on vessel development in a genetically modified zebrafish embryo. The findings from this work show that zebrafish detect certain types of vascular disruptors and that data collected in zebrafish can be used to improve model predictions.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Winner: Melanie Abongwa

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BSc, MSc
Institution/Affiliation: Iowa State University

Melanie Abongwa is a graduate student at Iowa State University and received the Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award for her work entitled, "In vitro filaricidal activity, cytotoxicity and phytochemical analysis of crude extracts of Daniellia oliveri and Psorospermum febrifugum." research involves identifying natural plants with anthelmintic properties based on ethnopharmacological information, testing the efficacy of extracts from these plants on nematode parasites, identifying the chemical compounds that account for activity, determining the mode of action of these compounds, and assessing their toxicity using mammalian cells and/or animal models. The overall goal of this research is to isolate non-toxic chemical compounds with anthelmintic properties from medicinal plants which could be donated to philanthropic agencies or pharmaceutical companies for the development of the much needed drugs for treatment of nematode parasite infections. She hopes that her studies will identify compounds from medicinal plants that alone or in combination could have enhanced selective activity against nematode parasites compared to existing anthelmintics, inform on the mode of action and toxicity of the compounds, and as well identify new targets for anthelmintic drugs. These findings will go a long way to contribute towards anthelmintic therapeutic drug discovery, as there are currently a limited number of anthelmintics, and for which concerns of resistance development is on the rise.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Winner: Monica Langley

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Iowa State University

Monica Langely is a graduate student at Iowa State University and received the Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award for her work entitled, "Preclinical Efficacy Testing of the Mitochondria Targeted Antioxidant Mito-apocynin in the Transgenic MitoPark Mouse Model of Chronic Dopaminergic Neurodegeneration." In this study, she evaluated the neuroprotective efficacy of an orally active apocynin derivative with increased mitochondrial bioavailability in the MitoPark model. Her team discovered that mito-apocynin was able to improve locomotor deficits, neuronal loss and dopamine levels in these mice and additionally identified markers of oxidative stress and inflammation that are increased in MitoPark mice at 24wks. Mito-apocynin was able to attenuate levels of oxidative stress markers and almost completely inhibit reactive microgliosis in MitoPark mice. These findings indicate a neuroprotective role of mito-apocynin that should be considered for further clinical development of the compound for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Winner: Chelsea Snyder

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: UC-Davis

Chelsea Snyder is a graduate student at University of California Davis and received the Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award for her work entitled, "Human iPSC Neurons: in vitro Models to Predict Clinical Neurotoxicity." Neurotoxicity is a major cause of new drugs being pulled from clinical trials. This is due, in part, to a lack in ability of current preclinical animal models to predict these adverse effects. She feels there is strong need for a model more relevant to humans. Primary human neurons are not readily renewable resource, and immortalized human neuronal cell lines are of cancer origins. Thus, her project sought to establish a more relevant model, in human induced pluripotent stem cells, to attempt to bridge this gap between species differences. Using test compounds, she has developed a platform that assesses neurotoxicity through multiple functional endpoints and has the potential to provide early predictive utility in the drug development process. Ultimately, her research helps us grasp a drug candidate’s neurotoxic liabilities before investing in nonclinical and clinical evaluation. This helps streamline the drug development process, so that cutting edge, novel therapeutics can become available to the public in a faster, safer way.

Frank C. Lu Food Safety Student Award Fund

Winner: Alexandra Turley

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS in Food Science from the University of Delaware, PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Michigan State University (in progress)
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Alexandra Turley is a Graduate Student at Michigan State University and received the Frank C. Lu Food Safety Student Award for her work entitled, "The Food Additive tBHQ Inhibits Activation of Primary Human CD4 T Cells." Her research investigates the effects of a food preservative that activates a ubiquitous cell stress response pathway on the immune system, specifically T cells. This work adds to both work done on understating T cell function and work on safety of food ingredients. The immune system mediates host defense, and also is involved in the pathology of a number of diseases such as autoimmunity and allergy. Understanding the effects of xenobiotics, both from foods and other sources, on the immune system is needed to ensure that these compounds do not have negative health effects.

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award

Winner: Eric Beier

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Eric Beier is a postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers University and received the Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award for his work entitled, "Farnesiod x Receptor enhances the neuroinflammatory response to MPTP." His work focused on the study pathways that mediate neuroinflammation in the dopaminergic centers of the brain that contribute to Parkinson's Disease. He would like to connect different systems of study - brain, bone - and investigate how the interplay between these areas contribute to complex diseases on which our knowledge is limited. He hopes his preclinical research will provide new therapeutic targets that may help to lessen the neuroinflammation that contributes to Parkinson's Disease, a disease that currently has limited treatment options and has a large environmental component to its etiology.

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award

Winner: Shaun McCullough

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Shaun McCullough is a postdoctoral fellow at the US Environmental Protection Agency and received the Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award for his work entitled, "Exposure to Ozone Prior to Acrolein Primes Markers of Oxidative, but not Pro-inflammatory, Stress in a GSTM1-dependent Manner." His work focused on the mechanisms underlying the response of the airway to air pollutant exposure. This work involved characterizing the mechanistic response to both sing and multi-pollutant exposures in vitro and a clinical study examining the physiological effects of sequential pollutant exposure. Understanding the mechanisms underlying the effects of and susceptibility to toxicant exposure is critical to protecting susceptible populations and reducing the health impacts of toxicant exposure. The continual advancement of mechanistic models will generate information that can be used to develop better models for predictive toxicology. Ultimately, the development of these models will improve the accuracy of toxicology testing while reducing the need for controlled human and animal exposure studies. Further, by bettering our understanding of how toxicants exert their effects on individuals we can ultimately practice toxicology more efficiently, protect susceptible populations, and develop strategies to ameliorate the effects of toxicant exposure.

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award

Winner: Anna Kopec

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Anna Kopec is a postdoctoral fellow at Michigan State University and received the Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award for her work entitled, "Role of fibrin(ogen) in hepatocyte proliferation after acetaminophen overdose." Her research focuses on understanding the role of fibrinogen in liver repair and regeneration following acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose. Liver toxicity after an overdose of this common pain medication is the number one cause of drug-induced liver damage in the United States. In a small fraction of patients, the acute toxicity is irreversible leading to permanent liver damage which requires a liver transplant. Given the limited number of available donor livers, understanding the mechanisms of liver repair and liver regeneration is crucial to help to better allocate the organs to the patients where liver regeneration is not possible. She believes that the number one role in advancing the science of toxicology in the 21st century should be the education of the non-scientific audience. Lack of proper information portrayed by the media mostly instills fear about environmental contamination in food and water, having detrimental effect on people's lives. Educating people and introducing the concept of "dose making the poison" should be the priority of toxicologists.

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award

Winner: Jaime Mirowsky

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina

Jaime Mirowsky is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of North Carolina and received the Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award for her work entitled, "Expression of proinflammatory and oxidative stress mediators induced by nitrogen dioxide and ozone in primary human bronchial epithelial cells." Her research compared the toxic response of two common air pollutants, ozone and nitrogen dioxide, which had previously been thought to elicit a harmful respiratory response in the same manner. Her work demonstrated suggestive evidence that these pollutants do not cause a harmful response in the same manner, opening up the door for future work on the mechanisms underlying these responses. Her research provides an interesting stepping stone for creating a safer and healthier world by challenging a long-established hypothesis about the toxic effects of nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide is a toxicant found in the ambient air but also in high concentrations indoors and in occupational settings. It has previously been compared to ozone, a very well studied toxicant, and thought to elicit toxic responses via the same mechanism.

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Winner: Amruta Manke

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: West Virginia University

Amruta Manke is a graduate student at West Virginia University and she received the Harihara Mehendale Graduate Student Best Abstract Award for her work entitled, "Role of Stem-like Cells in Carbon Nanotube-Induced Fibrosis." Recent studies have shown that pulmonary exposure to carbon nanotubes (CNT), one of the most widely used nanomaterials in industry, results in rapid and progressive interstitial lung fibrosis in animals without causing persistent lung inflammation, which is normally associated with other known fibrogenic agents. This unusual fibrogenic effect of CNT raises important health issues since the exposure could result in deadly and incurable lung fibrosis. Through her research project which is aimed at investigating the mechanisms for nanomaterial-induced lung toxicity, her lab members hope to identify key nanoparticle characteristics and a set of in vitro screening assays for evaluation of the potential fibrogenicity of carbon nanomaterials (CNTs) in vivo. This study is important since it will enable identification of the molecular and cellular targets involved in associated with CNT induced fibrogenesis which may benefit in detection of novel biomarkers and drug targets. Moreover, the objectives laid out in this study are crucial because of the impact they will have in the area of nano-particle induced pulmonary toxicity as well as in understanding the pathogenesis of CNT induced interstitial fibrosis.

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Winner: Prajakta Shimpi

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: M.Pharm
Institution/Affiliation: University of Rhode Island

Prajakta Shimpi is a graduate student is a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island and received the Harihara Mehendale Graduate Student Best Abstract Award for her work entitled, "Early Epigenetic Modulation of Nrf2 and Lipogenic Genes by PNPP Exposure of Bisphenol A is Associated with Hepatic Steatosis in Female Mice." The work she is presenting this year focuses on plastic bottle component Bisphenol A. She treats pregnant mice with this compound and studies the effect on the pups. These pups develop fatty liver, which could be a risk factor severe liver condition. She is working on detecting the detailed molecular studies on how exactly bisphenol A affects liver pathways. Interestingly, the effects observed in pups also remain persistent in adult animals, indicating the potential danger these environmental chemicals pose to human health. She wants to continue her work on environmental toxicants, and elucidate mechanistic links of how these toxicants affect liver. The liver is an important organ, which performs several crucial functions in the body. Any chemical or disease that affects liver function is imperative to be studied. In continuing her work on environmental chemicals, she would like to study more and newer chemicals that are being used in larger amounts in the manufacturing industry.

HESI Young Investigator Endowment Award

Winner: Edmund O'Brien

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: L'Oreal

Edmund O'Brien is a Postdoctoral Fellow with L'Oreal and received the HESI Young Investigator Endowment Award for his work entitled, "Inhalation of the Reactive Aldehyde Acrolein Promotes Antigen Sensitization and Enhances Allergic Responses to Ovalbumin." His work dealt with asthma development and asthma severity following inhalation of acrolein, an aldehyde present in tobacco smoke. This research demonstrated that acrolein modestly enhances asthma development and neutrophilia in the lung. He believes his research, when combined with previous studies from his lab, determined that acrolein exposure can have dramatically different effects on pulmonary inflammation associated with asthma depending on when acrolein exposure takes place during disease development. When applying this research to human exposures, the data suggest that the initial stages of asthma development are more affected by acrolein exposure. By applying this research to human health, limiting acrolein or tobacco smoke exposure during early postnatal development may aid it preventing pulmonary diseases like asthma, thus making a healthier world.

HESI Young Investigator Endowment Award

Winner: Fenna Sille

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of California Berkeley

Fenna Sille is a Postdoctoral Scholar at University of California Berkeley and received the HESI Young Investigator Endowment Award for her work entitled, "Arsenic and innate immunity: macrophage function upon arsenic exposure." She and her team hypothesized that arsenic ingestion permanently impacts the development of the immune system and increases the risks of cancer and TB later in life. They focused on the effects of arsenic on macrophages, immune cells known to influence tumor and TB progression and analyzed the secretion of various signaling molecules including cytokines, chemokines and lipids, as well as the capacity to control an M. tuberculosis infection. She says that her long-term research goal is to clarify the immunological mechanisms underlying chronic diseases and global infectious diseases caused by early-life environmental exposures. With her research, she aims to identify potential targets for intervention to reduce the burden of disease in exposed communities. Ultimately, she hopes her research will provide critical insights into desperately needed prevention strategies in order to create a safer and healthier world, right from the start of life.

Jean Lu Student Scholarship Award Fund

Winner: Marlene T. Kim

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS Biochemistry
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Marlene T. Kim is a graduate student at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and received the Jean Lu Student Scholarship Award for her work entitled, "From Individual Datasets to Big Data: Developing Mechanism-Driven Predictive Liver Toxicity Models." Compounds that are both biologically and chemically similar are considered likely to have similar toxicity mechanisms/effects. By calculating the biochemical similarity between two compounds based on common in vitro response profiles and chemical features (i.e., toxicophores), the similarity value can be used to determine the potential toxicity. She developed an automated workflow for predicting and modeling animal toxicity using in vitro data and chemical descriptors. The workflow consists of three major stages: 1) Creating a biological and chemical profile. Compound identifiers (e.g., CID or CASRN) are input into an in-house automated profiling tool, which retrieves bioassays [from public big data sources] and generates chemical descriptors, and outputs the biological and chemical profile. 2) Calculating the biological and chemical similarity between each pair of compounds. A Weighted Estimate of Biological Similarity (WEBS) tool was developed to read bioassay responses and calculate the biological similarity between pairs of compounds. Compounds are grouped based on common chemical features (e.g., toxicophores and fragments). Then, the WEBS for each pair of compounds in these chemical groups are calculated. 3) Predicting the toxicity of an unknown compound. The toxicity predictions are based on the average activities (toxicity values) of the nearest neighbor(s), which are similar compounds based on the biochemical similarity found in stage 2. This project embodies the SOT’s emphasis on the 3R’s: replacing, reducing, and refining animal tests. Her study focuses on improving the in vitro and in vivo relationship between cell-based assay responses and a targeted animal toxicity endpoint to replace the use of animal tests.

John Doull Award

Winner: Yongquan Lai

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Youngquan Lai is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received the John Doull Award for his work entitled, "Formation of Endogenous and Exogenous DNA-Protein Crosslinks in Nonhuman Primates and Rats following Inhalation Exposure to [13CD2]-Formaldehyde." Formaldehyde is ubiquitous in indoor and outdoor air, and everyone is exposed to formaldehyde at some concentration daily. Formaldehyde’s well-known toxicity and carcinogenicity, coupled with widespread human exposure, has raised long-standing public health concerns. However, formaldehyde is actually produced inside our bodies as both a product of normal cellular metabolism and as an essential metabolic intermediate generated in all living cells. The challenge is to be able to differentiate whether formaldehyde found inside a person’s body come from external (exogenous) or internal (endogenous) sources, as well as which exposures are most likely to cause DNA damage that can lead to cancer. The most mutagenic form of formaldehyde-induced DNA damage comes from DNA-protein crosslinks (DPCs). We developed an ultrasensitive, specific method that is able to measure formaldehyde-induced DNA-protein crosslinks and can distinguish between those arising from exposure and those arising from inside our bodies. Our method and data provide critical evidence that inhaled formaldehyde only reached rat and monkey noses to cause DNA damage, but did not reach tissues distant to the site of initial contact. On the other hand, relatively high level of endogenous formaldehyde-induced DPCs were naturally present in all examined tissues. These data provide quantitative information on the formation of DPCs by internal and external formaldehyde as factors contributing to disease. Such new data greatly enhance the role of science over default approaches that focus on linear low-dose risk assessment and help set science-based regulatory policies for formaldehyde. Understanding the sources of mutagenic DNA damage that ultimately lead to disease lays the ground work for better disease management and risk assessment. Such data enhance the role of science over default approaches that focus on linear low-dose risk assessment, and promote science-based regulatory policies for creating a safer and healthier world.

Laxman S. Desai ASIO Student Award Fund

Winner: Nikita Joshi

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: MSc, MS
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Nikita Joshi is a graduate student at Michigan State University who received the Laxman S. Desai Graduate Student Best Abstract Award for her work entitled, "Fibrin(ogen) engagement of aMß2-integrin limits chronic liver fibrosis induced by a bile duct toxicant in mice." Her laboratory previously demonstrated that mice deficient in the blood clotting protein fibrinogen, developed markedly worse liver injury in a model of chronic liver fibrosis. This finding challenged the assumption that the presence of fibrin clots in the liver is uniformly pathologic. Since joining the lab, she has sought to define the mechanisms that underlie the hepatoprotective effects of fibrinogen in this model. Her work has demonstrated that platelets are one mechanism by which fibrinogen inhibits liver injury. The abstract she submitted for presentation at the SOT 2015 meeting and for consideration for this award, describes another element of her research project highlighting a completely different and new mechanism by which fibrinogen inhibits xenobiotic induced liver fibrosis. Her studies over the last year have focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms whereby the key coagulation proteins and their interaction with integrin proteins inhibits liver fibrosis induced by a bile duct toxicant. Liver fibrosis can compromise liver function and cause various cancers. Continued investigation of the mechanisms whereby coagulation-mediated platelet activation inhibits liver fibrosis is warranted, particularly as elements of hemostasis gain traction as biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets in liver disease and health.

Laxman S. Desai ASIO Student Award Fund

Winner: Pooja Naik

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Pooja Naik is a graduate student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and received the Laxman S. Desai Graduate Student Best Abstract Award for her work entitled, "Differential Impact of Tobacco Smoke Exposure at the Blood-Brain Barrier Endothelium: A Special Focus on the Nrf2-Dependent Antioxidant Mechanisms." Her work is based on toxicological assessment of cigarette products in context of brain and brain vasculature in order to understand the harmful effects of smoking on the brain. For that purpose she conducted mechanistic studies using both cell culture and animal model approaches. Her doctoral research is focused on tobacco smoke (TS) induced toxicity at the blood brain barrier (BBB) microvascular physiology. Despite the strong evidence for an association between TS and vascular impairment, the impact of TS exposure on the BBB has been only marginally addressed. What her research postulates is that whole soluble TS toxicants can compromise BBB endothelium structure as well as function, lead to loss of BBB integrity and tightness, and thus eventually lead to several neurovascular and neurological complications.

Mary Amdur Student Award Fund

Winner: Mary Francis

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BA
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Mary Francis is a graduate student at Rutgers University and received the Mary Amdur Student Award for her work entitled, "Tracking Inflammatory Macrophages Accumulation in the Lung after Ozone." Her research is related to infiltrating macrophage subpopulations that play a role in ozone-induced lung injury. A model was created to differentiate between resident and infiltrating macrophages. Both pro- and anti-inflammatory macrophages were observed to accumulate in the lung after ozone exposure. Further investigation revealed that these different populations are regulated through chemokine signaling. She believes her research gives insight about how macrophages can induce injury or repair after ozone exposure. It is important to identify mechanisms of macrophage accumulation. Ozone-induced pathogenesis can be selectively inhibited by interrupting one chemokine receptor, CCR2. This result can provide a novel therapeutic approach to lung inflammation and injury.

Mary Amdur Student Award Fund

Winner: Pamella Tijerina

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: NYU School of Medicine

Pamella Tijerina is a graduate student at the New York University School of Medicine and received the Mary Amdur Student Award for her work entitled, "Prenatal and Postnatal Exposure to Concentrated Ambient Particulate Matter Alters The Developing Immune System of Mice." This study combined prenatal and postnatal exposure to best evaluate the consequences cumulative environmental exposure can have on the developing immune system. The mouse model is ideal due to easy and cost-effective maintenance, as well as having a well-defined immune system. Exposing mice in utero and postnatally to concentrated fine-sized ambient particles (CAPs) encompasses the exposure many children endure. Current results demonstrate the maturation and phenotype of immune cells are altered in a sex-dependent manner due to early life CAPs exposure. Immune responses with skewed cellular profiles have been suggested as a mechanism behind inflammatory diseases such as asthma. This suggests developmental exposure to air pollution may predispose children differently dependent on sex to respiratory diseases. Overall, air pollution continues to be a worldwide epidemic that can be controlled with the enough advocacy and supporting scientific data.

Molecular Biology Specialty Section Postdoctoral Fellow Research Award

Winner: Natalia VanDuyn

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: ORISE - US EPA

Natalia VanDuyn is a postdoctoral fellow at US Environmental Protection Agency and received the Molecular Biology Specialty Section Postdoctoral Fellow Research Award for her work entitled, "Building Predictive Gene Signatures Through Simultaneous Assessment of Transcription Factor Activation and Gene Expression." Her work seeks to develop gene expression biomarkers (lists of genes that are indicative of a cellular process) that predict key events in these adverse outcome pathways. She is currently using genome-wide gene expression data and existing data from the EPA’s Toxicity Forecaster (ToxCast) program to develop biomarkers of key events that are relevant to many human health effects, including cancer. The predictive ability of the biomarker is tested against a large database of other gene expression studies. The methods developed here will allow for novel uses of existing data and can be applied to other key events and adverse outcome pathways. Overall, her research plays a part in developing an approach to predicting the toxicity outcomes of chemical exposure that will allow for faster, cheaper assessment of more chemicals and a better overall view of how they may impact the safety and health of the world.

Molecular Biology Specialty Section Postdoctoral Fellow Research Award

Winner: Aditya Joshi

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Texas Medical Branch

Aditya Joshi is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Medical Branch and received the Molecular Biology Postdoctoral Fellow Research Award for his work entitled, "Carbamoyl Phosphate Synthase 1 mediated homocitrullination of histone H1.2 constitutes a novel epigenetic mark associated with Aryl hydrocarbon Receptor driven gene expression." Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR) is a member of Per/Arnt/Sim family of transcription factor. In canonical AhR signaling upon ligand binding AhR binds to DNA on a site named Xenobiotic Response Element (XRE). We discovered a novel AhR binding site and termed it NC-XRE (Non-Consensus Xenobiotic Response Element). We also identified Carbamoyl Phosphate Synthase 1 (CPS1) as a novel binding partner of AhR at this site upon ligand activation. AhR and CPS1 binding at NC-XRE lead to homocitrullination (a novel posttranslational modification) of linked histone H1. This is responsible for increased Histone H1 mobility as well as transcription activation of various genes. Therefore this study presents homocitrullination as a novel epigenetic mark. He feels that exploring the mechanism, toxicological and physiological role of AhR is important from human health perspective.

Molecular Biology Specialty Section Postdoctoral Fellow Research Award

Winner: Anna Kopec

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Anna Kopec is a postdoctoral scholar at Michigan State University and received the Molecular Biology Postdoctoral Research Award for her work entitled, "Role of Fibrin(ogen) in Hepatocyte Proliferation after Acetaminophen Overdose." Her research is focused on investigating the mechanisms that can help understand how liver repairs itself after acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose. Overdose with Tylenol is one of the most common drug-induced liver injuries in the United States, either via intentional or accidental overdose, since acetaminophen is present in hundreds of over-the-counter and prescription medications. During severe overdose, liver is irreversibly damaged leading to patients’ death. My research focuses on finding out ways to increase liver regeneration that could help save the lives of patients who have overdosed on acetaminophen. Utilization of sophisticated genetic mouse models to exactly pinpoint the role of fibrinogen in APAP overdose will be beneficial in elucidating the mechanism behind liver repair and will potentially highlight novel therapies to stimulate liver regeneration.

Molecular Biology Student Award Fund

Winner: Kelly Fader

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: Honours Bachelor of Science
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Kelly Fader is a graduate student at Michigan State University and received the Molecular Biology Student Award for her work entitled, "The role of the intestine in TCDD-mediated steatohepatitis in C57BL/6 Mice." Her research investigates dioxin-induced changes along the intestinal tract that contribute to the accumulation of fat and inflammation in the liver. In addition to providing further insight into dioxin-mediated toxicity, and aims to identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of complex metabolic diseases. The worldwide prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) is continuously increasing, and approaching pandemic levels in the United States. In addition to providing insight into TCDD-mediated hepatotoxicity, these studies may also identify novel targets for the treatment of MetS and its associated metabolic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Molecular Biology Student Award Fund

Winner: Dilshan Harischandra

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Iowa State University

Dilshan Harischandra is a graduate student at Iowa State University and received the Molecular Biology Student Award for his work entitled, "Lysosomal Dysfunction Regulates the Release of z-Synuclein Protein Aggregates from Exoomes during Manganese-induced Neurotoxic Insult." This project studied the effect of environmental neurotoxicants in developing and progression of Parkinson ’s disease (PD). His team looked into the interaction of manganese and prominent protein (alpha-synuclein) implicated in PD and studied how manganese exposure will cause protein to aggregate and accumulate in the brain as a result of dysfution in autophagy regulation. Most importantly, they found a possible mechanism via which these mis-folded proteins leave the “sick” cells and enter healthy cells, making them sick too. This mechanism uses very small vesicles to transport these proteins in a cargo-like manner. This could potentially help develop pharmacological strategies to block protein transfer and develop therapies against neurodegenerative diseases.

Molecular Biology Student Award Fund

Winner: Prajakta Shimpi

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: M.Pharm
Institution/Affiliation: University of Rhode Island

Prajakta Shimpi is a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island and received the Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award for her work entitled, "Early Epigenetic Modulation of Nrf2 and Lipogenic Genes by PNPP Exposure of Bisphenol A is Associated with Hepatic Steatosis in Female Mice." Her work focuses on plastic bottle component Bisphenol A. She treats pregnant mice with this compound and study the effect on the pups. These pups develop fatty liver, which could be a risk factor severe liver condition. Her work is to detect how exactly bisphenol A affects liver pathways. Interestingly, the effects observed in pups also remain persistent in adult animals, indicating the potential danger these environmental chemicals pose to human health. This work will be published soon and available in public domain for information. Overall, her research focuses on an important area of toxicology- the environmental chemicals, and also on the obesity- fatty liver disease, which is prevalent in population. This certainly contributes to SOT’s mission to creating safer and healthier environment for people.

Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Student Award Fund

Winner: Jeremy Leonard

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD, MS, BS
Institution/Affiliation: US EPA

Jeremy Leonard is a postdoctoral scholar at the US Environmental Protection Agency and received the Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Student Award for his work entitled, "Development of a Conceptual Module to Investigate Pharmacokinetic Influences when Evaluating Chemicals in Adverse Outcome Pathways." This work involves examining the absorption, distribution, and metabolism of chemicals to which an organism may be exposed and relating this to high-throughput results derived from analyses of thousands of chemicals simultaneously. This, in turn, provides a framework that aids in prioritization of chemicals whose mode of action at a molecular target is generally considered to be the initiating step of a series of events that lead to adverse apical endpoints. He wishes to demonstrate the need for caution in interpretation of such high-throughput results as well as to apply other means of high-throughput testing, such as computational predictive models.

Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Student Award Fund

Winner: Axelle Marchand

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Université de Montréal

Axelle Marchand is a postdoctoral scholar at Université de Montréal and received the Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Award for her work entitled, "Evaluation and Modeling of the Impact of Co-Exposures to Voc Mixtures on Urinary Biomarkers." The objective of the project was to evaluate if chloroform could interact with others volatil organic compounds (i.e. toluene, ethylbenzene and m-xylene) following inhalation exposure and how it would affect biomonitoring data. Therefore they exposed human volunteers to different combinations of solvents to adapt existing models for urinary excretion of metabolites and to validate those models. They proved to be very accurate in predicting parent compound levels in blood and exhaled air and metabolites in urine. Those models could be useful in interpreting biological data in large scale biomonitoring studies. She thinks chemical mixtures will always be of interest because it will always exist. PBPK models are great tools to evaluate many toxicological issues. Possibilities seem to be unlimited. She would like to be a pioneer in modeling, to explore those unlimited possibilities and to share them.

Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Best Postdoctoral Fellow Abstract Award

Winner: Marjory Moreau

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Health Canada

Marjory Moreau is a postdoctoral scholar at Health Canada and received the Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Award for her work entitled, "Comparison of phthalate biomonitoring and high throughput screening data using pharmacokinetic modeling." Her research focused on the development of approaches by which high throughput screening data and toxicogenomics can be used for chemical evaluations, in addition to identifying useful tools that can be used to address data-poor chemicals.

Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Student Award Fund

Winner: Mylene Ratelle

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Montreal

Mylene Ratelle is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Montreal and received the Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Award for her work entitled, "Time Courses and Variability of Biomarkers of Exposure to Pyrethroids in a Group of Agricultural Workers." The aim of this study was to characterize typical urinary time courses of biomarkers of cypermethrin exposure in 34 agricultural workers in Quebec to better assess within- and between-subject variability, according to different professional tasks. Documenting time courses also aimed to assess appropriate sampling strategies for routine monitoring. Within-subject variability in biomonitoring data and between-subject variability in concentrations or rates were assessed for the 3-day work shifts were also estimated. Founding were that 12% of workers showed profile descriptive of an high occupational exposure. Between-subject factors associated with higher metabolite levels were the main professional task and farm size. According to the work, a good strategy for routine biomonitoring was suggested to evaluate the range of occupational exposure. She would like to focus herwork on the study of the effects of chronic exposure to environmental contaminants in humans, as well as the applicability of this knowledge and the implementation of hygiene measures and supervision of use in a perspective of decreasing risk for population. She feels link between science discovery and applicability is often thin and would like to help to strengthen it.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Student Award

Winner: Linda Schenk

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: MSc, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Karolinska Institutet

Linda Schenk is a postdoctoral scholar at Karolinska Institutet and received the Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Award for her work entitled, "REACH registrants fail to use available dermal uptake data in their derivation of dermal DNELs." In the present work her team investigated whether registrants under REACH have derived dermal DNELs or DMELs for substances that may be taken up via the skin in significant amounts. Further they studied if registrants made use of the available scientifically published dermal uptake data, and whether there is a selection bias towards choosing data that would increase the level of the dermal DNEL or DMEL. the findings were that the absence of dermal DNELs or DMELs many times were not consistent with the described uses of the substance. Furthermore, registrants frequently failed to use scientifically published data on dermal uptake. As the reported dermal uptake rates differ by orders of magnitude between studies choice of key study has a huge impact on the dermal DNEL. However, there was no clear trend in direction or magnitude of differences in cited absorption between registrants’ data (published or unpublished) and the data compiled by her team. This study highlights both the need for better use of available scientific studies in DNEL-derivation and the difficulty of determining an external exposure limit for the dermal route as uptake.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Student Award

Winner: Kpobari Nkpaa

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BSc, MSc
Institution/Affiliation: University of Port Harcourt

Kpobari Nkpaa is a Graduate Student at University of Port Harcourt and received the Regulatory and Safety Evlauation Specialty Section Student Award for his work entitled, “Health Risk Assessment of Heavy Metals for Population via Consumption of Seafood from Ogoniland, Rivers State, Nigeria; a case study of kaa, B-Dere and Bodo City.” He found that people that consume seafood contaminated by crude oil on a regular basis have a higher probability of developing adverse health effect over a period of time. While still a young scientist in the field of environmental toxicology, he would like to help develop new scientific concept that will eliminate uncertainties and other confounding issues that may invalidate scientific findings in the field of Toxicology.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Student Award

Winner: Dana Lauterstein

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BA, MS
Institution/Affiliation: New York University

Dana Lauterstein is a graduate student at New York University and received the Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Student Award for her work entitled, "E-cigarettes— A Global Challenge: Imprinting the Central Nervous System of the Next Generation." Her research will impact SOT's vision of creating a safer and healthier world by advancing the science of toxicology through investigation of a controversial product whose safety is not yet known. The emergence of e-cigarettes into the global market, and their rising popularity among the public, especially in adolescents, is a growing public health concern. Presently, there is a limited amount of toxicity data concerning e-cigarettes and they are unregulated by the FDA in the U.S., unless specifically marked for therapeutic purposes. E-cigarettes could have the potential to be used as a cessation or alternative product for traditional cigarette smokers, blurring whether they should be classified as medicinal or tobacco products, and how they should be regulated. The use of e-cigarettes during early life stages may pose a significant risk to the developing central nervous system, and this project sought examine potential adverse outcomes associated with exposure to these products throughout gestation and lactation. Furthermore, this project addresses the emerging need for studies examining early life exposure to environmental toxicants and later adult disease. Maternal and adolescent use of conventional cigarettes has been correlated with adverse neurological outcomes, and studies have demonstrated that tobacco smoke can alter both the genome and the epigenome. However, prior to this study there was virtually no data on gene expression concerning e-cigarette products. Looking at genomic effects resulting from toxicant exposures can help to delineate pathways that are altered or damaged, and be an important stepping-stone in determining the safety of a toxicant, such as e-cigarettes. The data obtained in this project helps to start filling a large gap in the toxicological assessment of the safety of e-cigarettes regarding vulnerable the population discussed here.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Student Award

Winner: Joey Stevens

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS, BA
Institution/Affiliation: US Environmental Protection Agency

Joey Stevens is a graduate student with the US Environmental Protection Agency and received the Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Student Award for her work entitled, "A Simplified and Rapid Screening Assay Using Zebrafish to Assess Cardiac Effects of Air Pollution-derived Particulate Matter." Particles in the air as a result of air pollution exact a substantial health burden. These particles have been linked specifically to adverse cardiovascular effects in humans after inhalation. As no two air sheds are alike, there are an enormous number of air pollution mixtures that need to be assessed, and current methods are unable to keep up. Her work is aimed at creating a quick and widely available screen to determine components of air pollution mixtures that cause cardiovascular effects in zebrafish as a predictive model of human response. This will help us to prioritize highly potent components for more targeted testing.

Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Winner: Blessy George

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PharmD
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Blessy George is a graduate student at Rutgers University and received the Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award for her work entitled, "Urinary KIM-1 Detection of Subclinical Nephrotoxicity in Oncology Patients Treated with Cisplatin." Her research examined acute kidney injury induced by a chemotherapeutic agent, cisplatin. Cisplatin causes nephrotoxicity in about one-third of the patients that receive the agent. It is also a dose-limiting side effect in an otherwise effective medication. Cisplatin continues to be a mainstay in solid-tumor regimens; therefore ways to monitor and limit its nephrotoxic potential is essential. In her study she and her team examined several novel biomarkers that show potential to be highly sensitive to subclinical acute kidney injury. Preliminary data shows that several novel biomarkers including kidney injury molecule-1 (KIM-1) are elevated 10 days after cisplatin infusion compared to baseline in the absence of serum creatinine elevations. One way in which we can create a safer world is by identifying and preventing danger before it occurs. Current methods of detecting kidney injury are not the safest or most effective especially in the face of growing pre-clinical evidence. her research focuses on ideally detecting kidney toxicity closest to the point of injury and to understand the degree of injury at earlier time points.

Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Winner: Jessica Sapiro

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona

Jessica Sapiro is a graduate student at the University of Arizona and received the Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award for her work entitled, "Molecular Mechanisms of All Trans Retinoic Acid Mediated Selective Cytoprotection Against Renal Injury." Acute renal injury is increasing in occurrence resulting from various compound exposure to the body and the formation of breakdown products in the body. It can present itself as a co-morbidity with other medical conditions in patients yielding a substantial concern. her dissertation work explores how a vitamin A metabolite, all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA), can protect against kidney injury in cell culture and animal models. This work demonstrates that ATRA can induce several cellular stress proteins in its mechanism of protection. In addition, a novel approach exploring a direct chemical interaction between ATRA and toxicants is being investigated. Based on her findings, she hopes that ATRA and/or analogs thereof may serve as an effective therapeutic intervention in acute renal injury.

Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Winner: Susanne Ramm

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Harvard Medical School

Susanne Ramm is a postdoctoral scholar at Harvard Medical School and received the Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award for her work entitled, "Live cell high-content imaging to mechanistically classify kidney toxicity." Her research aims at developing new methodologies that will allow us to predict which chemicals and drugs are the most likely culprits as nephrotoxicants. Using their technique, cells obtained from human kidneys are grown in a dish and then exposed to a wide range of drugs – many of which are known to cause kidney damage. Using new, state-of-the-art microscopy techniques, they are able to image several different biological processes taking place in these living cells in response to the drugs within 24 hours. To date, their data suggests that visualizing these processes in kidney cells may not only provide a very powerful way of predicting which drugs are likely to cause kidney injury but also gain knowledge on how exactly they damage the cells. Additionally, instead of focusing on probing for known toxicity patterns, they are using techniques that will allow for interrogation of broad phenotypic changes as well as acquire detailed information about the molecular changes of the perturbed cells. This screening in live cells includes very early time points, accounting for the fact that toxicity also can be manifest in pre-lethal alterations in cell function, without cellular death. This approach might also enable them to identify unknown mechanisms of toxicity that would not have been detected by conventional in vitro methods.

Robert J. Rubin Student Award Fund

Winner: Mary Francis

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BA
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Mary Francis is a graduate student at Rutgers University and received the Robert J. Rubin Student Award for her work entitled, "Tracking Inflammatory Macrophages Accumulation in the Lung after Ozone." Her research focuses on infiltrating macrophage populations that are involved with ozone-induced lung injury. A model was created to differentiate between resident and infiltrating macrophages. Both pro- and anti-inflammatory macrophages were observed to accumulate in the lung after ozone exposure. Further investigation revealed that these different populations are regulated through chemokine receptors. She hopes her research will give insight about how macrophages can induce injury or repair after ozone exposure. She feels it is important to identify mechanisms of macrophage accumulation. Ozone-induced pathogenesis can be selectively inhibited by interrupting one chemokine receptor, CCR2. This result can provide a novel therapeutic approach to lung inflammation and injury.

Robert J. Rubin Student Award Fund

Winner: Paige Smith

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: MS, BS
Institution/Affiliation: FDA/NCTR and Colorado State University

Paige Smith is a graduate student at Colorado State University and received the Robert J. Rubin Student Award for her work entitled, "A Computational Approach for a Quantatative and Mechanistic Understanding of Thiocyanate Kinetics and Dose Response" She worked closely with a team at the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) to develop a computational model that they could use as a hypothesis testing tool to better understand the kinetics of thiocyanate. Their hope is to use this information to further investigate the effects of thyroid hormone perturbations in multiple thyroid active chemicals, including thiocyanate, and determine any effects or risks that may be associated with thyroid active chemical exposures in pregnant women. Since humans are exposed to many thyroid active chemicals simultaneously, their data is an important factor in understanding the effects of total thyroid active chemical exposure in pregnant women. This data will advance the science of toxicology by allowing them to perform more advanced risk assessment analyses regarding the dose response processes of thyroid active chemicals as a whole.

Roger O. McClellan Student Award Fund

Winner: Erin Quist

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: DVM, MS
Institution/Affiliation: NTP/NIEHS

Erin Quist is a postdoctoral scholar at NTP/NIEHS and received the Roger O. McClellan Student Award for her work entitled, "Hepatic mitochondrial alteration in CD-1 mice associated with prenatal exposures to low doses of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)." PFOA is primarily used as an industrial surfactant. It is persistent within the environment with an average half-life in humans of 3.8 years. The current mean PFOA serum concentration among the general U.S. population is 3.12 ng/ml, with the highest mean serum PFOA concentrations among children aged 2-5 years. Several studies have demonstrated the hepatotoxic and carcinogenic potential of PFOA using the rodent model and suggest that peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-alpha (PPAR-alpha) activation is critical to the mode of action for PFOA-induced hepatocarcinogenesis. In a previous study, her research revealed an increased incidence of hepatocellular adenomas among 18 month-old CD-1 mice prenatally exposed to PFOA. The current study was designed to identify any adverse or pre-neoplastic hepatic changes present at earlier developmental time-points that might give rise to the types of tumors observed in these mice. Pregnant CD-1 mice were orally gavaged from gestation days 0 through 17 with low doses of PFOA that were considered to be within the higher end of the reference interval for human exposures (0,0.01,0.1,0.3 and 1 mg/kg). Livers were collected on post-natal day (PND) 21 and 91 and routinely processed for histological evaluation, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and DNA microarray analysis. On PND 21, histopathologic changes in the liver of offspring included hepatocellular hypertrophy and periportal inflammation that increased in severity by PND 91. TEM of liver from PND 91 mice revealed PFOA-induced cellular damage and mitochondrial abnormalities with no evidence of peroxisome proliferation, the latter of which represents a novel observation that differs from that of adult rodents exposed to similar doses of PFOA. Within affected hepatocytes, mitochondria also exhibited altered morphologies suggestive of increased or uncontrolled fission and fusion reactions. Based on her findings, her team concluded that developmental exposures to low doses of PFOA induce hepatocellular hypertrophy due to mitochondrial proliferation, not peroxisome proliferation; data that suggests a PPAR-alpha-independent mode of action. Preliminary microarray analyses suggest that alterations in cellular survival, proliferation and/or mitochondrial function may be driving the hypertrophy response in these animals, and, she suspects that when prolonged, these alterations may lead to tumor development in aged mice.

Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award

Winner: Dushani Palliyaguru

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BA
Institution/Affiliation: University of Pittsburgh

Dushani Palliyaguru is a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh and received the Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award for her work entitled, "Withaferin A is a Potent Inducer of the NRF2-Mediated Environmental Stress Response." Prevention and treatment of acetaminophen hepatotoxicity is currently an important goal in the world of public health. Her work has identified a compound that is plant-based and naturally-occurring that is able to protect against acetaminophen hepatotoxicity in mice. She has also characterized that this compound modulates the Nrf2 signaling-mediated environmental stress response in both cell culture and in mice which provides the opportunity to specifically target this molecular pathway to prevent acetaminophen hepatotoxicity. The long-term implications of my study present the possibility of extrapolating this data to human populations. Prevention of disease and forms of toxicity can lead to longevity and overall better living conditions for humans. Experts also agree that prevention is financially less cumbersome on health systems as compared to treatment of disease. Utilizing plant-based agents that could be administered as part of a person's diet would make it even more convenient. Studying the science behind these plant-derived agents, understanding the molecular players involved and determining their toxicological and pharmacological parameters are imperative to achieving this goal.

Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award

Winner: Anika Dzierlenga

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona

Anika Dzierlenga is a graduate student at the University of Arizona and received the Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award for her work entitled, "Mechanistic Basis of Altered Morphine Disposition in Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis." Adverse drug reactions remain a clinically significant complication and can be prevented by accounting for variability in disposition. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a liver disease known to alter the function of enzymes involved in drug disposition. The purpose of this project was to determine the role of NASH as a variable in morphine metabolism and elimination. This study observed an increase in morphine metabolism and a decrease in the elimination of morphine and its metabolites in rats with NASH compared to healthy rats. We also identified that the mechanism behind the increased levels of metabolite in NASH involves increased expression of Ugt2B1, mislocalization of Mrp2 (the transporter that helps the metabolite leave the body), and increased expression of Mrp3 (the transporter that shuttles the metabolite back into the blood). This is particularly important because one of the metabolites of morphine, M6G, is known to have a therapeutic effect ten times stronger than morphine itself. Identifying the mechanism behind the change in morphine disposition that occurs in NASH is crucial to understanding and preventing the potential for adverse drug reactions in human NASH patients.

Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award

Winner: Prajakta Shimpi

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Rhode Island

Prajakta Shimpi is a graduate student with the University of Rhode Island and received the Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award for her work entitled, "Early Epigenetic Modulation of Nrf2 and Lipogenic Genes by PNPP Exposure of Bisphenol A is Associated with Hepatic Steatosis in Female Mice." Her research focuses on plastic bottle component Bisphenol A and on detecting the detailed molecular studies on how exactly Bisphenol A affects liver pathways. Interestingly, the effects observed in mice also remain persistent in adult animals, indicating the potential danger these environmental chemicals pose to human health. This work will be published soon and available in public domain for information. Her research can be used as a model for toxicological investigations, where she determines epigenetic and non-epigenetic mechanisms of bisphenol A induced fatty liver disease. In another project, she is also working on organic flame retardant chemicals that accumulate in the body for longer periods of time. Biological effects of these chemicals may not be too intense by themselves, however its very critical to consider them as ‘contributing factor’ to rising numbers in population for metabolic syndrome/obesity/diabetes related diseases. Overall, her research focuses on an important area of toxicology- the environmental chemicals, and also on the obesity- fatty liver disease, which is prevalent in population. This certainly contributes to SOT’s mission to creating safer and healthier environment for people.

Sheldon D. Murphy Award Fund

Winner: Dwayne Carter

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: UTMB

Dwayne Carter is a Graduate Student at the University of Texas Medical Branch and received the Sheldon D. Murphy Travel Award for his work entitled, "Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Activation By Cinnabarinic Acid Is Required for Stanniocalcin-2 mediated Protection Against Alcohol Induced Hepatic Injury." This award is administered by the Mechanisms Specialty Section and Mr. Carter was recognized at Mechanisms reception at the SOT Annual Meeting.

Sheldon D. Murphy Award Fund

Winner: Saurabh Vispute

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: St. John's University

Saurabh Vispute is a Graduate Student at St. John's University and received the Sheldon D. Murphy Travel Award for his work entitled, "Dexamethasone Induces Fibroblas Growth Factor (Fgf) 21 Expression via Activation of Glucocorticoid Receptor." This award is administered by the Mechanisms Specialty Section and Mr. Vispute was recognized at their reception during the SOT Annual Meeting.

Sheldon D. Murphy Award Fund

Winner: Michael  Osborne

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Imperial College London

Michael Osborne is a Graduate Student with the Imperial College London and received the Sheldon D. Murphy Travel Award for his work entitled, "Exploring Phenobarbital's Mechanisms of Action in the Rat." This award is administered by the Mechanisms Specialty Section and Mr. Osborne was recognized at their reception during the SOT Annual Meeting.

Undergraduate Educator Award

Winner: Mindy Reynolds

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Washington College

Dr. Reynolds has demonstrated dedication and a commitment to undergraduate education in toxicology. When she arrived at Washington College in 2008 there were no toxicology courses offered and no toxicological research was being conducted. Within her first year she had strived to develop a course in the Principles of Toxicology and by spring of 2009 she had begun to teach this course to undergraduate students. This course has been offered every spring since then. Dr. Reynolds also makes it a priority to oversee the independent research of undergraduate students each summer in an intensive 11 week research program. In addition to her teaching of toxicology to undergraduate students, Dr. Reynolds demonstrates a passionate commitment to the teaching of toxicology to undergraduates. She has given numerous presentations to undergraduate educators and pedagogy on the integration of toxicology into an undergraduate curriculum. She is very active within the metals toxicology and includes cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of multiple heavy metal exposure in human cells, but has expanded her research to include whole animal ecotoxicology in both vertebrate and invertebrate models. She actively involves students in this research and has mentored over 18 students on their senior thesis projects, several of which have dealt directly with her research. Dr. Reynolds has been a member of the Society of Toxicology since 2004. Since that time she has been very active working towards her longtime mission of advancing the science of toxicology to undergrads. She currently serves as Chair of the SOT Education Subcommittee on Undergraduate Education and has served as a member of this committee since its inception, in 2009. In 2010 she led the Undergraduate Subcommittee Workgroup to develop an online resource for undergraduate instructors. Under her leadership the subcommittee has developed multiple programs for faculty including a webinar series. Dr. Reynolds was a featured speaker at the 2011 SOT Education Summit to provide perspective on undergraduate teaching to help develop SOT strategic efforts. Such is her commitment to her undergraduates that many students in her laboratory present their research annually at the SOT Annual Meeting and receipt awards such as the Pfizer/SOT Undergraduate Travel Award. The Society is pleased to present Dr. Reynolds with the 2015 Undergraduate Educator Award.

Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund

Winner: Andree-Anne Hudon Thibeault

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BSc
Institution/Affiliation: INRS-Armand-Frappier institute

Andree-Anne Hudon Thibeault is a graduate student at INRS-Armand-Frappier institute and she received the Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund Student Award for her work entitled, "A feto-placental co-culture model shows the complex disruptive effect of antidepressant fluoxetine and metabolite norfluoxetine on estrogen biosynthesis." In her PhD project, she worked on pregnant women health to look at the effects of depression and anti-depressant treatments on the placental functions, which are crucial for good fetal development and pregnancy outcome. The health of women during pregnancy is especially important because of the developing fetus that can be influenced by either a pathology and/or its treatment. This project will allow to better understand the effects of depression and anti-depressant treatment on this interaction and thus, the effect on pregnant women and their offspring’s health. This study is important for the decision making process in the treatment of depressed women with anti-depressant during pregnancy. As a PhD student and future researcher, she hopes to play a role in the communication of science and information to women on their health, on the impact of the environment, including medication, during a part of their life where they are especially vulnerable and where those expositions might have an influence on future generations. She also wishes to be a part in the formation of the young scientific, mentoring students in their academic progress. Eventually, she would like to play a role in the government policy-making process that will influence the life of our societies.

Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund

Winner: Jessica Sapiro

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona

Jessica Sapiro is a graduate student at the University of Arizona and received the Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund Student award for her work entitled, "Molecular Mechanisms of All Trans Retinoic Acid Mediated Selective Cytoprotection Against Renal Injury." Acute renal injury is increasing in occurrence resulting from various compound exposure to the body and the formation of breakdown products in the body. It can present itself as a co-morbidity with other medical conditions in patients yielding a substantial concern. Her dissertation work explores how a vitamin A metabolite, all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA), can protect against kidney injury in cell culture and animal models. This work demonstrates that ATRA can induce several cellular stress proteins in its mechanism of protection. Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common problem affecting critically ill patients but at the present, there is no specific treatment. Patients manage the condition by consuming adequate fluids and electrolytes and obtaining nutrients from the diet. Chemical-induced nephrotoxicity is a major etiology of this condition. In its pathogenesis, reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced resulting in damage to DNA, proteins, and lipids under stressful conditions. Small molecule preconditioning prior to insult cytoprotects the damage. Thus, the development of a therapeutic agent may prove beneficial in treating patients suffering from AKI. The therapeutic agent we are interested in is a vitamin A metabolite, all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA).

Young Soo Choi Student Scholarship Award Fund

Winner: Woo-Cheol Sim

Award Year: 2015
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Seoul National University

Woo-Cheol Sim is a graduate student at Seoul National University and received the Young Soo Choi Student Scholarship Award for his work entitled, "LXRa antagonist, SPA088 attenuates T0901317-induced nonalcoholic fatty liver." Nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD) is associated with metabolic disease whose occurrence rate is increasing worldwide. NAFLD is reversible state in which the liver can go back to normal state, but it can develop into steatohepatitis (liver with inflammation) and liver cirrhosis (irreversible state). LXR alpha controls cholesterol metabolism and promoting reverse cholesterol transport which is associated with removing bad cholesterol (VLDL). But increasing LXR alpha function can cause lipid accumulation and developing LXR agonist was banned because of this side effect. In his work, SPA088 which acts as specifically inhibit LXR alpha which can cause nonalcoholic fatty liver. Nonalcoholic fatty liver is an increasing health issue wordwide. So far, there is not any direct cure (FDA approved) about fatty liver disease. Liver X receptor (LXR) is associated with many biological functions such as cholesterol metabolism, de novo lipogenesis, glucose homeostasis, inflammation and so on. There was an attempt to develop LXR agonist to facilitate reverse cholesterol transport and attenuate atherosclerosis but this makes nonalcoholic fatty liver in vivo. This unwanted side effect made withdraw LXR agonist development. His research about attenuating fatty liver disease through LXR alpha specific antagonist decreases de novo lipogenesis through LXR and SREBP (which acts as major lipogenes regulator) target genes without affecting reverse cholesterol metabolism.

SOT/AstraZeneca/SOT Endowment Fund/IUTOX Travel Awards

Khaled Abdou, PhD, Beni Suef University, Beni Suef, Egypt
Amos O. Abolaji, PhD, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
Motunrayo G. Akande, PhD, University of Abuja, Abuja, Nigeria
Huawei Duan, PhD, National Institute of Occupational Health and Poison Control, Beijing, China
Patient Guedenon, PhD, University of Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou, Littoral, Benin
Jin Hongtao, PhD, New Drug Safety Evaluation Center of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China
Carine J. Marks, MSc, Tygerberg Hospital Poison Centre, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Davaadorj Rendoo, MD, National Institute for Public Health, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Palanisamy Sankar, PhD, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India
Tawit Suriyo, PhD, Chulabhorn Research Institute, Laksi, Bangkok, Thailand

Go to: Historical Archive of Endowment Fund Award Recipients