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2009 Education-Career Development Sessions

The SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo in 2009 featured four Education-Career Development Sessions.

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Grantsmanship Forum: Tools and Skills Needed to Navigate Toxicology Research Funding

Chairperson(s): Srikanth S. Nadadur, NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, NC and Jerrold Heindel, NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, NC

Sponsor(s): Career Resource and Development Committee
                     Education Committee
                     Postdoctoral Assembly
                     Research Funding Committee
                     Student Advisory Council

Toxicology research at academic institutions is supported by various extramural research funding mechanisms, of which the most common are research grants and fellowships. These research grants can be obtained either by investigator-initiated, generally unsolicited, or in response to research funding announcements by various funding agencies. Traditionally, the major research support for understanding the impact of toxic substances on public health is supported by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and its 26 different Institutes or Centers. While the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) supports toxicology research efforts to understand the impact of environmental pollutants, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) supports research grants for a wide variety of agents including pharmaceuticals. Some of the federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, support research in the areas of environmental biology. Numerous non-profit organizations including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Foundation also provide research grant support, starting from predoctoral to sabbatical opportunities in pharmacology, toxicology and informatics. A representative Program Director from NIGMS, NIEHS, NSF and PhRMA Foundation will present the opportunities, tools, and skills needed for successful research funding. In highlighting this important funding opportunity available, one presentation will focus exclusively on successful grant writing noting specific requirements such as the correct mix of scientific knowledge and salesmanship to enable your to navigate NIH funding.

Introduction, Srikanth S. Nadadur, NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, NC

Grant Programs at NIGMS to Support Toxicology Programs, Richard T. Okita, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, Bethesda, MD

Grantsmanship at NIH: How to Swim with the Sharks and Survive, Jerrold Heindel, NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, NC

Funding Opportunities at the National Science Foundation, Sally O’Connor, National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA

Fellowship and Grant Opportunities for Clinical and Basic Toxicology at PhRMA Foundation, Eileen M. Cannon, PhRMA Foundation, Washington, DC

The Future of Environmental Health Science: Featuring NIEHS-Funded Early Career Investigators

Chairperson(s): Vishal S. Vaidya, Harvard Institutes of Medicine, Boston, MA and Carol Shreffler, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC

Sponsor(s): Career Resource and Development Committee
                     Education Committee
                     Mechanisms Specialty Section
                     Postdoctoral Assembly
                     Research Funding Committee

An essential element of the mission of the NIEHS is the support and career promotion of the future generation of exceptionally talented and creative new scientists who will push forward research in understanding the impact of environmental exposures and human health. Support through critical transition stages has been identified as being particularly important in developing a cadre of talented early career scientists. In response, the NIH and the NIEHS has started the Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award which is one of many initiatives that it has taken to provide the funding for the research and career enhancement of scientists during the transition from postdoctoral to faculty positions, and to allow selected outstanding junior faculty to flourish. The ONES scientists are expected to make a long term career commitment to the environmental health sciences, and to bring innovative, ground breaking research thinking to bear on the problems of how environmental exposures affect human biology, human pathophysiology, and human disease. In the first three years, 21 awards have been made and the NIEHS ONES program has become an important showcase for the future leaders in environmental health sciences research. Three ONES awardees have been chosen to present who have had innovative publications in the first year of the award and who display a broad spectrum of research in the environmental health sciences. These exceptional scientists, who will present cutting edge science at the interface of molecular toxicology and environmental health sciences, are a model for junior faculty attendees who are considering applying for these competitive but highly rewarding grants.

Endocrine Disruption of the Hypothalamic Signaling That Regulates Puberty, Heather B. Patisaul, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Cellular Responses to CrVI Induced DNA Damage: Role for the Werner Syndrome Protein, Patricia Lynn Opresko, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Mechanisms of Pesticide-Induced Neurobehavioral Deficits: Relevance to ADHD, Jason R. Richardson, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ

Toxicologists: The Next Generation

Chairperson(s): Joan B. Tarloff, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA and Vanessa A. Fitsanakis, King College, Bristol, TN

Sponsor(s): Education Committeee
                     Postdoctoral Assembly
                     Student Advisory Council

An important component of the Society of Toxicology 2008–2011 Strategic Plan is the priority to build for the future of toxicology. In addition to ongoing K–12, graduate, and postdoctoral fellow educational activities, undergraduate educators have been meeting regularly to exchange ideas and teaching strategies. Principles and applications of toxicology can enter curricula through a variety of mechanisms, from dedicated programs that lead to baccalaureate degrees to single, stand-alone courses that satisfy intellectual curiosity. It is logical that college students who have positive experiences in toxicology courses will be more likely to enter graduate programs and become our next generation of toxicologists. The Undergraduate Educators Forum hopes to establish a repository for course materials and to open the lines of communication for individuals involved in teaching undergraduate students. College-level education in toxicology demands different skills and approaches than those used for graduate or K–12 education. Developing critical thinking and analytical skills is particularly challenging for college students, who are more accustomed to accepting information without critique. In order to foster communication among educators it is important that we illustrate strategies that engage critical thinking and improve student learning and involvement. Several undergraduate college educators will present classroom-based exercises or assessments designed to stimulate student-based learning. Through this forum we will learn what has been developed for upper-level high school students and how these exercises and experiences may be modified for college students. This session will provide a venue for educators to discuss classroom experiences and educational philosophies.

Doing Toxicology Research in the Classroom, Steven D. Mercurio, Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN

Brain-Based Learning: Explanations and Strategies, Vanessa A. Fitsanakis and Donna Raines, King College, Bristol, TN

Strategies to Improve Students' Writing, Peter J. Harvison and Joan B. Tarloff, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

Teaching Toxicology: What’s Available for Basic Labs? Bruce Fuchs, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD Career Opportunities and Transitions in Toxicology

Career Opportunities and Transitions in Toxicology

Chairperson(s): Lauren Aleksunes, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS and Bernard Gadagbui, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), Cincinnati, OH.

Sponsors(s): Postdoctoral Assembly
                       Toxicologist of African Origin Special Interest Group
                       Career Resource and Development Committee
                       Student Advisory Council

It’s never too early, or too late, to think about where your career in toxicology will lead you next. Whereas students and postdocs are typically familiar with the ins and outs of pursuing an academic research career, opportunities to investigate non-academic careers in toxicology can be few and far between. Early-career scientists often ask “What careers are available to toxicologists? What skills and experiences do I need to be competitive for these positions?” Such questions are also relevant to established toxicologists looking to expand their work experiences or embark upon a new career path. Toxicologists that practice in various work sectors are faced with the difficult and sometimes painful task of transitioning from one sector to another as each sector often demands unique skills. Most often, guides on career transitions are not readily available for these toxicologists. The material to be presented provide participants with insight into toxicology careers in diverse settings, including industry, government, consulting groups, and nonprofit organizations, and provide information about career transitions across the various sectors. Our panel of experienced toxicologists will describe the paths that their careers have taken, intentional or otherwise. Both practical and applicable advice will be offered for those participants interested in pursuing similar avenues, or for those just wishing to step off the beaten path. The presenters will highlight their motivations, challenges, success stories, and lessons learned. Be sure to bring questions to ask our panel of seasoned toxicologists during the interactive question and answer period. Whether you are a graduate student ready to jump into a job search, or an established scientist looking to move your career in an unexpected direction, join us for an interactive and informative discussion designed to expand your awareness of unique and exciting scientific career opportunities for toxicologists and including how to successfully transition between sectors.

Toxicology Positions in Consulting, James C. Lamb, IV, Exponent, Alexandria, VA.

Looking Beyond Your Current Sector, Myrtle A. Davis, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD.

Opportunities at a Contract Research Organization, Nancy Gillett, Charles River Laboratories, Inc., Reno, NV.

Making a Smooth Transition, David Jacobson Kram, US FDA, Silver Spring, MD.

Toxicologists in Food Safety, Jerry J. Hjelle, Monsanto Company, St. Louis, MO.

Making a Successful Transition from Government to Non-Profit Sectors, Michael L. Dourson, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), Cincinnati, OH.