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National Capital Area Chapter Holds Very Successful Fall Meeting

"Toxicology and Risk Communication"

The National Capital Area Chapter of the SOT (NCAC-SOT) held its 17th annual Fall Meeting and Symposium at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, MD, on November 17, 1999. The topic of the all-day symposium was "Toxicology and Risk Communication". An all-time chapter meeting attendance record was established with 140 persons registered for the day, and 40 new members joined the chapter. The symposium provided attendees an opportunity to learn about the importance of good and effective risk communication from the perspective of toxicologists working in academia, the private sector, and on Capitol Hill; an attorney; a journalist; and a media-training expert.

The following speakers and topics were presented. Jay Goodman, (President, Society of Toxicology) presented "The Society of Toxicology’s Initiative to Promote Science-Based Risk Assessment, and Altered DNA Methylation: An Epigenetic Mechanism Involved in Carcinogenesis." John Young (President, The Hampshire Research Institute, Alexandria, VA) spoke on "You Can’t Provide a Useful Answer Unless You’ve Heard the Question". Brad Shurdut, who just completed a term as the SOT’s first Congressional Fellow, shared his perspectives on interacting with congressional staff persons in "Risk Communication and the Legislative Process: Injecting Sound Science into the Public Policy Debate". Rena Steinzor (law professor, University of Maryland School of Law, and Director, University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic, Baltimore, MD) discussed issues surrounding "Lawyers and Scientists: When the Twain Meet." Sara Thurin Rollin (Environment Reporter, BNA Bureau of Environmental News, Washington, DC) discussed communication and relationships between scientists and journalists in "Effective Risk Communication: Avoiding the Pitfalls." The final presentation was a short media-training workshop by Joe Slye (Media relations expert, Kalish Communications, Washington, DC) who spoke on "Taking the Risk Out of Your Communication."

These speakers articulated stimulating and provocative ideas that generated good discussion that carried over into the closing wine and cheese reception. The presentations were chaired by Joy Cavagnaro (Chapter President) and Carole Kimmel (Past President), and the Symposium was organized by Peter Goering (Vice-President) and other chapter officers.





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