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Recent Endowment Fund Award Recipients

2018 Endowment Awardees

The SOT Endowment Fund is a family of funds that support SOT programs and members. Many of the funds sponsor awards designed to encourage, assist, and highlight toxicology research and toxicologists.


Andersen/Clewell Trainee Award

Recipient: Yi-Hsien Cheng

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine (ICCM)

Dr. Cheng was really excited and grateful when she was informed she was a recipient of this award. She was honored by the chance to get to know and be recognized by scientists sharing similar research interests and by scientists from various research fields as well. Her career goal is to become an independent investigator in academia, research institute, or industry. Recognition from this award will greatly help her pursue excellence in future research and to achieve her career goals.

Dr. Cheng's research is related to construct physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models to predict external-to-internal dosimetry of nanomaterials in target tissue/organ and to conduct probabilistic risk assessments with anticipation to gain further insights into the in vivo pharmacokinetics, toxicity, and risk of nanomaterials. Details of the awarded study: She and her team conducted an integrated and probabilistic risk assessment of AuNPs based on published in vitro and in vivo toxicity studies coupled to a physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model. Specifically, dose-response relationships were characterized based on cell viability assays in various human cell types. A previously developed and validated human PBPK model for AuNPs was applied to quantify internal concentrations in liver, kidney, skin and venous plasma. By applying a Bayesian-based probabilistic risk assessment approach incorporating Monte Carlo simulation, probable human cell death fractions were characterized. Additionally, she and her team implemented in vitro to in vivo and animal-to-human extrapolation approaches to independently estimate external exposure levels of AuNPs that caused minimal toxicity. The analyses conducted provide insights into safety evaluation, risk prediction, and point of departure estimation of AuNP exposure for humans and illustrate an approach that could be applied to other NPs when sufficient data are available.

Angelo Furgiuele Young Investigator Technology Award

Recipient: Joshua Robinson

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

Dr. Robinson and his group is extremely excited and thankful to receive this award! These funds will enable his team to purchase equipment needed to establish the rodent whole embryo culture (WEC) model system in their laboratory. This ex vivo model enables the close examination of environmental toxicants on neurulation and early organogenesis. They expect that the development of the WEC in his group will greatly push their research agenda forward to understand the adverse developmental consequences linked to environmental exposures during pregnancy. Furthermore, this research will encourage collaborations between his lab and other investigators focused in the areas of embryology, toxicology, pharmacology, and molecular/cellular biology.

His group is interested in the links between environmental exposures which occur during pregnancy and developmental disease.  They use a combination of in-vitro model systems and genomic-based approaches to study potential interactions. They are deeply interested in specific classes of chemicals, e.g., flame retardants, phthalates, pesticides, which are known to be present in the developing embryo/fetus, which may produce developmental toxicity in utero. This award will help fund the development of a model, i.e., rodent whole embryo culture (WEC) model, in their laboratory, which enables close examination of environmental interactions during sensitive periods of early embryonic development.

 

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: Katelyn Lavrich

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: UNC Chapel Hill

Dr. Lavrich was honored to be considered a finalist for the Carl C. Smith Graduate Student Award. She is grateful to join the prestigious past award winners and hopes to follow in their footsteps as leaders in toxicology. This award will offset travel costs to the annual meeting, where she was shared her research and hoped to discover career opportunities through networking.

Her research investigates how air pollution initiates downstream health effects in humans. She studies the first oxidative stress events that quinones, ubiquitous components of particulate matter (PM), have in human lung cells that could activate inflammation. In this work, she showed that in a human airway epithelial cell line,1,2-naphthoquinone inhibits both mitochondrial function and glycolysis, two key bioenergetic processes for cellular energy production and novel mechanisms of PM-associated quinone toxicity. She optimized bioenergetic analyses for primary human lung macrophages and found that 1,2-naphthoquinone inhibits mitochondrial function in a similar manner to the epithelial cell line, confirming this mechanism is plausible in multiple cell types of human lungs. She concluded that 1,2-naphthoquinone disrupts bioenergetic function and redox homeostasis in human lung cells. As she recently defended her dissertation, she is excited to figure out the next step in her career in toxicology. She looks forward to further bridging mechanistic toxicology to clinical and translational settings. Ultimately, it is her hope to use her training in mechanistic toxicology to translate scientific findings into meaningful policy decisions.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: John Szilagyi

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS Chemistry
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Dr. Szilagyi feels it is an honor to even be considered for this prestigious award. He is especially grateful for the opportunity  as it will allow him to showcase his work to the members of the Mechanisms Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology.

His research is focused on understanding the factors that influence drug trafficking across the placenta. Specifically, his research this year seeks to elucidate the role that endocannabinoids may play in placentation and the expression of drug transporters in the placenta.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: Dharmin  Rokad

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: Iowa State University

Mr. Rokad feels it would be unbelievable and at the same time very encouraging experience to receive this award at this time of his career in graduate research studies. His plan is to pursue a career in Academia where he would like to continue investigating the role of metal exposure in increasing risk of chronic neurological diseases at molecular levels, including various crucial mechanisms. Receiving the Carl C. Smith Graduate Student Award sponsored by the Mechanism Specialty Section in recognition of his ongoing work would be an important step in realizing his career goal.

His PhD research focuses on divalent manganese (Mn) interactions with α-Synuclein protein and neurodegeneration. His current project focuses on investigating the molecular mechanisms involved in manganese-induced misfolded α-Synuclein release through exosomes and its relevance to synucleopathies. While it is known that Mn is an essential component of many enzymes, it helps in proper bone formation but occupational exposure to elevated doses of Mn can lead to Manganism, a condition similar to Parkinson’s disease. Despite evidences of Mn induced neurodegeneration, the key cellular-molecular signaling mechanisms driving manganese-induced exosomes release remain unknown. He is currently evaluating the role of manganese in modulating endosomal protein trafficking mechanisms to promote α-synuclein exosomal release. Identifying the key molecular regulators of the endosomal protein trafficking mechanisms will help them target those key proteins to develop medical agents and help them discover biomarkers to develop early stage diagnostic techniques, which will be crucial in the field of neurodegenerative diseases.

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

Recipient: Nithya Mariappan

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Alabama at Birmingham

This award will be a vital recognition of her research endeavor and will motivate her for further and deeper research in the field of toxicology. It will also provide her with platform from where she can establish channels of communication among other scientists and leaders in the field of toxicology to share new research ideas as well as her professional growth.

Acute lung injury (ALI) through exposure to toxic chemicals/warfare reagents causes life-threatening respiratory failure in humans. Among the available chemical warfare agents, sulfur mustard (SM), also known as mustard gas, has been widely used as a chemical weapon. It is a strong alkylating agent and exposure to SM causes a variety of detrimental effects including airway injury with enhanced vascular permeability, coagulation, and airway obstruction. However, there is limited information as to how mustard gas causes severe multi-organ damage years after a single exposure. A variety of treatment modalities including antioxidants, anti-inflammatory drugs and others have failed to provide promising therapeutic benefits. To address this gap, they used 2-chloroethyl-ethyl sulfide (CEES), an analog of SM, and found that CEES exposure enhances the release of circulating nucleic acids and determined that this mechanism forms the basis of underlying inflammation and lung toxicity. Importantly, administration of hexadimethrine bromide (HDMBr), a nucleic acid scavenger and anti-inflammatory agent, mitigated the toxic effects of CEES. As such, they have found that HDMBr plays a pivotal role in attenuating CEES-induced lung injury and inflammation. She strongly believes that this research will establish a strong foundation for her research career and lead to our society. She wishes to continue her career in academic research in the field of pulmonary toxicology and she would regard her selection for this award not only as a great honor, but also as a great responsibility and an obligation to continue working hard.

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

Recipient: Shanthi Ganesan

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: Postdoc
Institution/Affiliation: Iowa State University

She is delighted to receive Dr. Dharm Singh Postdoctoral Fellow Best Abstract Award. She believes that this award will help her to continue her research passion in toxicology field to identify other pesticides and chemicals and its toxic effects in mammals.

She has focused on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of chemical-induced infertility using an in vitro ovarian culture, a cell culture, and an in vivo obese model. Currently she is working on Glyphosate (GLY), which is used to control weeds (herbicide) in agriculture throughout the world. GLY has been found in breast milk, and pregnant women’s blood, indicating human exposure through contaminated food, water and air. An epidemiological study in humans carried out in the USA showed a modest association between GLY exposure and infertility in agriculture-rich regions. Thus, she is investigating the mechanisms of glyphosate-induced infertility in women. Up to this point, she has found that glyphosate impairs ovarian function by altering ovarian follicular development and steroid hormone synthesis in female ovaries. Her future study will be conducted to characterize the mechanisms of glyphosate-induced infertility and birth defects with regards to DNA damage. As a toxicologist, her life time goal is to identify various toxic chemicals and their levels in the environment, help raise awareness, and enforce rules and regulations to control the usage of those chemicals.

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

Recipient: Sunitha Meruvu

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: Ph.D.
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M University

She felt extremely honored and inspired by this award to do more outstanding research which is recognized and helps advance toxicology research. She felt immensely encouraged as a scientist of Indian origin to achieve success in the USA and contribute significantly to the field of Toxicology. Also, receiving this award provided her a great opportunity to attend the 2018 SOT Meeting where she can present and share her work with other prominent scientists working in the same area, and also build valuable networks. Winning this award significantly adds to her accomplishments in the scientific community and helps her in achieving the assistant professorship she is looking forward to in future.

She studies the effects of phthalates or plasticizers (widely used environmental chemicals) and their epigenetic role in placental diseases. Recent epidemiological studies have shown that women with pregnancy complications, such as preterm birth, preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), have higher than normal levels of phthalates in the body. Presently, she is working on an interesting and novel aspect of phthalate mode of action which is the induction of hypoxia in the placenta. Preeclampsia (PE) which affects 5-8% of pregnancies worldwide, is usually associated with increased placental hypoxia/ischemia. MiR-210-3p (hypoxamir) has been previously shown to be up-regulated in PE placentas. Based on these observations, they hypothesized that mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), a commonly used plasticizer, can induce hypoxia effects in human placental cells. In their studies on a human placental cell line, they have observed that MEHP is capable of inducing hypoxia by stabilizing HIF-1α, which upregulates miR-210-3p, which in turn disrupts ATP synthesis and oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria. This is the first study that suggests a potential mechanism mediated by MEHP through miR-210-3p and HIF-1α that could induce preeclampsia in pregnant mothers when exposed to this endocrine disruptor. The observations and results of this study are presented in the abstract that she submitted and for which she received the Dr. Dharm Singh Postdoctoral Fellow Best Abstract Award. Receiving the ASIO-SOT postdoctoral fellow award for the best abstract is a great asset to her and will undoubtedly enhance the process of her getting an academic position in the fall semester. As the mission of ASIO-SOT is to enhance collegiality, fellowship, networking, and professional development of scientists of Indian origin, it is an honor for her to get this award which will encourage her to aspire to higher career goals.

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Xilin Li

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Indiana University

Dr. Li was writing his PhD dissertation when he learned he received this award. He would like to express his sincere gratitude to Dr. Dharm V. Singh, the founder of the award, and the selection committee for choosing him as the recipient of the Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Endowment Graduate Student Award. This award is a great honor to him and he was humbled to be selected. He has always been interested in the mechanisms of chemical induced liver tumors and their application for human risk assessment. He is tremendously fortunate to have his mentor, Dr. James E Klaunig, who has been working on carcinogenesis for more than 35 years. All of Dr. Li's works would be impossible without Dr. Klaunig's guidance, inspiration, and thoughtful feedback. This award will keep encouraging him to dedicate his career in the research of chemical carcinogenesis.

The abstract is mainly on the topic of how the exposure to drugs or chemicals may influence on the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which has become a major public health burden that affects up to one third of adult general population in western countries. Non-alcoholic fatty liver may progress to advanced stages such as steatohepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. In this abstract, he and his team showed the pre-existing fatty liver might enhance the adverse effects (cell proliferation, inflammation, activation of xenobiotic nuclear receptors) induced by perfluorooctanoate, a drinking water contaminant regulated by EPA. Such effects have important implications for the risk assessment of environmental chemicals. Due to the epidemic of obesity and metabolic syndromes, the prevalence of fatty liver is expected to increase in the future. Patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease might be more susceptible to the inflammatory and carcinogenic effect of chemical exposure, and need special attention in future risk assessment.

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Ian Huck

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS Microbiology
Institution/Affiliation: University of Kansas Medical Center

Mr. Huck was honored to learn he received support throught the Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund. This award will allow him to attend the 2018 SOT Annual Meeting and receive feedback from experts. This meeting always provides new ideas and refreshed perspective for ongoing projects in the lab and he is grateful to the SOT Endowment Fund for their support.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs in 20-30% of the population in western countries and is increasing worldwide. NAFLD patients are at high risk of developing cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). It has been shown that the persistent organic pollutants perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) can induce hepatomegaly, hepatic steatosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in rodents. Furthermore, previous studies from his laboratory have shown that PFOA and PFOS decrease expression of hepatocyte nuclear factor 4a (HNF4a), the master regulator of hepatic differentiation. Loss of HNF4a is associated with increased HCC pathogenesis. Based on these data, he and his team hypothesized that exposure to persistent organic pollutants PFOA and PFOS may exacerbate disease progression to severe forms of liver disease such as HCC in patients with existing fatty liver disease. To test this hypothesis they fed mice either a normal diet or high fat diet with and without environmentally relevant doses of PFOA or PFOS. As expected, PFOA and PFOS induced hepatic steatosis in normal diet fed mice. To their surprise, PFOA and PFOS exposure was protective against hepatic fat accumulation in the mice fed high fat diet. To explore possible mechanisms behind this unexpected finding, they examined expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism. PFOA and PFOS treatment affected expression of lipid trafficking genes in a pattern favoring hepatocyte fat accumulation in normal diet conditions, which was reversed in high fat conditions. Included in these genes were targets of HNF4α, a nuclear receptor known to bind fatty acids. Examination of HNF4α target genes unrelated to metabolism suggests PFOA and PFOS inhibit HNF4α activity in normal diet conditions. In high fat diet conditions, HNF4α activity is restored, perhaps because fatty acids competitively exclude PFOA and PFOS from the ligand binding pocket of HNF4α. The findings provide evidence for inhibition of a known tumor suppressor (HNF4α) in a diet dependent manner. This study highlights the importance of taking into account environmental variables (diet) when assessing the tumor promoting effects of a chemical.

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Sumira Phatak

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Utah State University

Ms. Phatak is both honored and humbled to be selected for such a prestigious award that greatly facilitates her attendance at the SOT Annual Meeting. She looks forward to meeting other members of the CSS, allowing her to network with leaders in the field and enhance her skill set. She sees this as an opportunity to open new doors that lead to the next chapter of her career.

As a graduate student in the Benninghoff Laboratory, her innovative work explores the connection between nutrition, colon cancer, and epigenetic modifications. Immediately after arriving at Utah State, she began a multi-generational rodent study; having completed the preclinical portion, she recently moved on to a molecular investigation of mechanisms. The findings from this project will answer her questions about how the standard American diet influences the health outcome of grand-offspring, despite never being directly exposed themselves.  Ultimately, she sees herself running her own research program that answers essential questions about how diet impacts disease states while optimizing lifestyle intervention strategies.

Donald E. Gardner Inhalation Toxicology Education Award Fund

Recipient: Meghan Rebuli

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Rebuli's reaction upon receiving the award was excitement about the ability to share the newly developed, novel nasal mucosal sampling technique with others in the field of respiratory toxicology. It is her hope that the ability to create their instructional video and share the technique and its uses will facilitate new translational research and collaborations. New research and collaborations using the technique will help to better characterize airway immune profiles (cytokine, chemokine, protease, proteome, etc.) in a variety of populations and determine adverse effects of toxicant exposures. She also hopes to expand the use of the technique into other applications.

Her research in the Jaspers lab focuses on investigating the effects of air pollutants and other inhaled toxicants (wood smoke, cigarettes, and e-cigarettes) on respiratory innate immune host defense responses. She is particularly interested in understanding the role of sex in varying responses to these toxicants. Her plan is to expand upon her current research and combine it with her graduate work in neuroendocrine toxicology to support a future academic research career. To more effectively answer their research questions, she helped develop a new nasal mucosal sampling technique. This method was specifically designed to collect concentrated and replicable samples from the nasal mucosa and improve on the current gold standard, nasal lavage. This method, because of its quick and non-invasive nature, is easily adaptable to epidemiological studies as a biomarker collection technique, field studies because of its stable capture of proteins, and use in the clinic in a variety of populations. Her proposal to share the technique via instructional video and webinar is why she won this award.

Donald E. Gardner Inhalation Toxicology Education Award Fund

Recipient: Jared Radbel

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: MD
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Dr. Radbel was honored and excited to receive the Donald E. Gardner Inhalation Toxicology Education Award. Through this award, he will be able to learn how to develop animal models of acute lung injury following ozone exposure.

His research focuses on the effects of air pollutants in the development of life-threatening lung diseases. For this award, he plans to examine the inflammatory mechanisms by which ozone exposure predisposes mice to infection-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome. His future goal is to become a translational scientist who develops treatments for serious lung diseases associated with air pollution exposure.

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Daniel Spade

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Brown University

Dr. Spade is honored and grateful to receive the Edward W. Carney Trainee Award. The award will support hyis travel to the 2018 SOT Annual Meeting to present his research done over the last several years as a postdoc. He is honored to be recognized for his work and also pleased to receive an award with an emphasis on education and training, as he is currently pursuing a career in academia.

He is interested in mechanisms of male reproductive toxicity, specifically the mechanisms by which phthalates, a class of chemicals used as plasticizers, disrupt fetal testis development. In this project, he investigated the effects of phthalates and retinoic acid on the development of fetal rat testes in culture. He found that phthalates and retinoic acid interact to disrupt the sex determination signaling processes required for maintenance of testicular cell fate and the structure of seminiferous cords in the fetal testis.

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: John Szilagyi

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS Chemistry
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Mr. Szilagyi feels this award is a great honor, and is proud to receive it. This generous gift will help to supplement his efforts in completing this project and, ultimately, his doctoral thesis.

His work seeks to understand what environmental and genetic factors influence how toxicants cross the placenta during pregnancy.

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Shilpa Mokshagundam

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS, BA
Institution/Affiliation: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Ms. Mokshagundam and her mentor were both surprised and thrilled upon receiving the news that their work had been selected to receive this award! They dedicated considerable effort in developing this disease model, and were pleased that the reviewers recognized the importance of this research. Receiving the Edward Carney Award will not only support her travel to the Teratology Society Conference this coming June, but has also validated their endeavors. They are looking forward to sharing and discussing this work at the meeting!

Their laboratory, under the mentorship of Dr. Kaylon Bruner-Tran, has developed a mouse model of in utero exposure to environmental toxicants. They look at the implications of in utero toxicant exposure on the function of reproductive and non-reproductive tissue across generations. In their current study, they are looking at the role of parental toxicant exposure on offspring susceptibility to a life-threatening disease, necrotizing enterocolitis. They found that after supplementing breastmilk with an inflammatory substance, dextran sodium sulfate, the offspring of toxicant-exposed mice have increased susceptibility to this disease when compared to offspring of parents without toxicant exposure. Understanding the mechanisms behind development of this severe disease can provide a window for both more accurate diagnostics and targeted therapeutics. As a third-year medical student planning to pursue a career in Obstetrics and Gynecology, this research has considerable implications on her future practice. Through this research, she has learned the importance of preconception nutritional counseling. In addition, this work has demonstrated the significant role of the father in pregnancy health and outcomes. As an Ob/Gyn, she hopes to support families prior to and during pregnancy, in order to ensure that optimal outcomes for both the mother and the baby.

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Danielle Drake

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BSc
Institution/Affiliation:

Ms. Drake was surprised and excited to receive this award! She is glad that others recognize the potential impact a breast cancer 1 protein deficiency may have during development, and the importance of identifying possible genetic or environmental risk factors for neurodevelopmental deficits in children. This award will provide an opportunity to explain her research to more people and further exposure for these findings.

To date they have identified a mechanism involving forms of reactive oxygen that can damage DNA, contributing to an increased risk of neurodevelopmental deficits in individuals that are deficient in DNA repair. They have characterized their model using a threshold dose of alcohol (ethanol), which can generate more of the reactive oxygen, resulting in greater levels of DNA damage and learning and memory deficits only in the genetically predisposed progeny deficient in DNA repair. Her interest in developmental toxicology is why she would like to pursue a career in contract research when she has completed her PhD, to help protect children from the toxic effects of potential pharmaceutical products.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Postdoc Award Fund

Recipient: Melanie Abongwa

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BSc, MSc, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Iowa State University

Dr. Abongwa would like to thank the DDTSS for selecting her as one of the recipients of the Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Postdoctoral Award this year. She is greatly honored by this award but will also like to thank all the people she worked with and wants them to see this award as theirs also. This award has helped to boost her self-confidence as well as the relevance of her research. More importantly, this award will push her further towards working to become a successful postdoc.

Research focus: Functional expression and pharmacological characterization of parasitic nematode ion channels in Xenopus laevis oocytes as potential targets for anthelmintic drugs. Future goals: Successful toxicology career in academia or industry with the ultimate goal of investigating the molecular nature of drug interactions with their targets and assessing the efficacy and safety of new drugs. Details on the specific research for which she won this award: Zolvix® is a recently introduced anthelmintic drench containing monepantel as the active ingredient. Monepantel is a positive allosteric modulator of DEG-3/DES-2 type nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in several nematode species. The drug has been reported to produce hypercontraction of Caenorhabditis elegans and Haemonchus contortus somatic muscle. She and her team investigated the effects of monepantel on nAChRs from Ascaris suum and Oesophagostomum dentatum heterologously expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Using two-electrode voltage-clamp electrophysiology, they studied the effects of monepantel on a nicotine preferring homomeric nAChR subtype from A. suum comprising of ACR-16; a pyrantel/tribendimidine preferring heteromeric subtype from O. dentatum comprising UNC-29, UNC-38 and UNC-63 subunits; and a levamisole preferring subtype (O. dentatum) comprising UNC-29, UNC-38, UNC-63 and ACR-8 subunits. For each subtype tested, monepantel applied in isolation produced no measurable currents thereby ruling out an agonist action. When monepantel was continuously applied, it reduced the amplitude of acetylcholine induced currents in a concentration-dependent manner. In all three subtypes, monepantel acted as a non-competitive antagonist on the expressed receptors. ACR-16 from A. suum was particularly sensitive to monepantel inhibition (IC50 values: 1.6?±?3.1?nM and 0.2?±?2.3?μM). She and her team also investigated the effects of monepantel on muscle flaps isolated from adult A. suum. The drug did not significantly increase baseline tension when applied on its own. As with acetylcholine induced currents in the heterologously expressed receptors, contractions induced by acetylcholine were antagonized by monepantel. Further investigation revealed that the inhibition was a mixture of competitive and non-competitive antagonism. Their findings suggest that monepantel is active on multiple nAChR subtypes.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Postdoc Award Fund

Recipient: Xi Li

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M University

Dr. Li was very excited to receive this award. It is a great encouragement for his research and scientific career. He is very thankful to the Drug Discovery Toxicology Specialty Section.

He and his team have developed a new class of small molecules, namely diindolylmethane analogs, for treating solid tumors. These analogs are specific ligands that target nuclear receptor 4A members including NR4A1, NR4A2 and NR4A3, resulting in ligand-induced anticancer effects in our in vitro models. They also investigated the potency of these NR4A-active small molecules in xenograft mouse models and they exhibited excellent antitumor activity with no observable toxicity to the mice. Currently, they are developing a "second generation" of bis-indole compounds using the structure-activity relationship that they observed in previous studies and they expect these new analogs will have increased potency. In addition, recent studies show that NR4A nuclear receptors play an important role in other diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's Disease. Therefore, they plan to expand our research and use our NR4A ligands in other disease models. They hope that their mechanism-based studies on bis-indole analogs will become options for treating NR4A-dependent solid tumors and other diseases.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Postdoc Award Fund

Recipient: Takumi Kagawa

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Nagoya university

Mr. Kagawa is honored to be selected as one of the best candidates in Drug Discovery Toxicology Specialty Section Student Poster Competition. This will be one of his best moments in his life as a researcher. He would like to thank everyone who provided him with this great opportunity, and greatly appreciates the support of his coworkers in the laboratory. He is going to use the grant for participation in academic conferences to broaden his horizon. Moreover, this award will be his motivation to keep on research.

The goal of his research is to identify novel biomarkers that can detect different types of drug-induced liver injury (DILI) earlier than traditional biomarkers, such as ALT and AST. In the present study, he and his team focused on microRNA (miRNA) as a potential biomarker for drug-induced liver injury. MiRNA is a class of small non-coding RNA that plays important roles in post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. MiRNA is released from injured cells and can stably exist in the blood, so it has received increasing attention as a non-invasive biomarker for organ injuries, including DILI. In this study, they established different types of DILI model in rats (hepatocellular injury, cholestasis, and steatosis models, and two drugs were used to establish each model), and identified time-dependent changes in the plasma miRNA profile with next-generation sequencer. Through comparing the miRNA profiles between different types of the DILI model, they identified specific miRNAs that characterized each type of DILI, and RT-PCR study revealed that several miRNAs were up-regulated earlier than traditional biomarkers. The present results suggested the utility of specific miRNAs for the prediction of DILI in type-specific manners. Their next step is to further validate the specific miRNA biomarker candidates by using multiple DILI models other than used in this study, and inter-species differences should also be studied.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Postdoc Award Fund

Recipient: Maria Beatriz Monteiro

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: MSc, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Harvard Medical School

Dr. Monteiro is truly honored to receive the Drug Discovery Specialty Section's Emil A Pfitzer Endowment Award. This was the first time she was working on drug discovery and feels it has been a wonderful opportunity to do something very exciting and so meaningful for the progress of kidney disease research. This award encouraged her to continue her work on kidney disease, trying to contribute for a better outcome for the patients.

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Currently there is no effective treatment for AKI and the kidney's mechanisms of repair are not completely understood. Her research project took an approach commonly used in drug discovery with the main goal to identify new compounds that could promote kidney cell proliferation after acute damage. As a result she and her team identified ID-8 as a novel compound that stimulates kidney cells proliferation after different types of acute damage. They demonstrated the superior ability of ID-8 to promote proliferation of human kidney cells compared to other compounds from the same family of drugs in different in vitro models. As a future goal they aim to perform pre-clinical studies that may provide more evidence for the use of ID-8 as a new potential therapy for AKI.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Kyle Saitta

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: MS, BS
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Mr. Saitta was absolutely surprised when his name was called for 3rd place of the Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Toxicology Graduate Student Poster Competition Award . However, he is honored to receive this award and is glad to see that others appreciate the research he is conducting, especially in the field of drug discovery. It is his lab's hope that the research he presented will contribute to the understanding of how to enhance oligodendrocyte regeneration and provide a critical first step towards identifying one potential therapeutic strategy for treating demyelinating diseases. It is also his hope that just by presenting his work to others during the poster competition that other scientists across academia, government, and industry become aware of his work. Further he believes that this could lead to critical discussions to improve his research as well as the research of others.

Demyelinating diseases or demyelination in response to toxic agents is debilitating and can greatly impair the quality of life of affected patients. A better understanding of the mechanisms involved in repair of the lesion sites will aid in developing new treatments that target cells involved in the disease process. His research aims to define the effects of a small molecule, metabotropic glutamate receptor agonist, in a cuprizone toxicity model of demyelination in mice. He will study the mechanisms involved in demyelinating diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and identify potential pharmacological targets to treat affected patients. His future goal is to become an expert in neuropharmacology and neurotoxicology as an independent research scientist.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Souvarish Sarkar

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Iowa State University

Mr. Sarkar was not expecting to receive the award and hence missed the reception. But it was a pleasant surprise and will help him with his professional goals.

His current focus of work is to elucidate the role of microglial ion channels in neuroinflammation in Parkinson’s disease (PD) models. Recently, he found that one particular channel is highly upregulated in PD animal models as well as postmortem PD brains. He has further showed that in animal models of PD and in primary culture blocking this channel has an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effect. He has utilized both genetic knockdown and PAP-1, a pharmacological inhibitor of Kv1.3 in clinical trial, to show the anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effect.

Endowment - Jean Lu Student Scholarship Award Fund

Recipient: Danqi Chen

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: Ph.D.
Institution/Affiliation: NEW YORK UNIVERSITY

She was very excited to receive this award. Receiving this award means a lot to her: First, it is shown her work is recognized by many people. She made some academic achievement in the field of toxicology. Second, it offers her more opportunity to communicate with other toxicologists in SOT. Third, she can use the stipend to cover her travel expenses for attending SOT.

Formaldehyde is an environmental and occupational chemical carcinogen, which was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as Group 1 carcinogen. Formaldehyde exposure causes human nasopharyngeal cancer and is linked to leukemia. Formation of DNA adducts has been considered a key event in formaldehyde-induced carcinogenesis. However, recent studies demonstrated that the amount of DNA adducts caused by exogenous formaldehyde exposure in rat nasal were only modestly increased compared to the level of adducts formed by endogenous formaldehyde. Moreover, the DNA adducts caused by exogenous formaldehyde were not detectable in bone marrow of animals exposed to formaldehyde. These findings have raised questions about the role of genetic damage in formaldehyde-induced carcinogenesis and prompted the possibility that epigenetic mechanisms may contribute to formaldehyde-mediated carcinogenicity. In her study, she first time demonstrates that formaldehyde readily forms adducts with histones in cells and dramatically decreases lysine acetylation of the cytosolic histones H3 and H4 at the sites critical for histone nuclear import and chromatin assembly. The assembly of histone H3 into chromatin is compromised following formaldehyde exposure, resulting in changes in chromatin accessibility and transcription. Interestingly, a number of tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes that are related to head and neck cancer and/or hematological neoplasia are identified as formaldehyde-responsive genes mediated by blocking chromatin assembly. Moreover, inhibition of chromatin assembly led to the enhanced formaldehyde-mediated anchorage-independent growth of cells. Her study reveals impaired chromatin assembly as a potential novel mechanism of formaldehyde-induced carcinogenesis. This would be the first report demonstrating an established carcinogen induces cell transformation through blocking chromatin assembly pathway. Importantly, other electrophilic carcinogens such as acetaldehyde could have similar mechanisms and effects. Her study thus has the potential to shed new light on the molecular basis of chemical carcinogenesis.

Frank C. Lu Food Safety Students Award Fund

Recipient: Sumira Phatak

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: Baccalaureate Degree
Institution/Affiliation: Utah State University

Ms. Phatak is both honored and humbled to be selected for such a prestigious award that greatly facilitates her attendance at the upcoming SOT meeting. She looks forward to meeting other members of the Food Safety Specialty Section, allowing her to network with leaders in her field and enhance her skill set. She beleives this opportunity will lead to the opening of doors in the next chapter of her career.

As a graduate student in the Benninghoff Laboratory, her innovative work explores the connection between nutrition, colon cancer, and epigenetic modifications. Immediately after arriving at Utah State, she began a multi-generational rodent study; having completed the preclinical portion, she recently moved on to a molecular investigation of mechanisms. The findings from this project will answer her questions about how the standard American diet influences the health outcome of grand-offspring, despite never being directly exposed themselves. Ultimately, she sees herself running her own research program that answers essential questions about how diet impacts disease states while optimizing lifestyle intervention strategies.

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award

Recipient: Matthew Dodson

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona

Dr. Dodson was very excited to learn he was a finalist for the Gabriel L Plaa award this year. Dr. Plaa played an important role in the Society of Toxicology, as well as in mentoring future generations of toxicologists. This award is another key step towards his eventual goal of attaining an independent academic position. It is his hope that some day he can play a role similar to Dr. Plaa and make important contributions in the field of toxicology and mentor his own generation of future scientists.

His work centers on the role of arsenic in the progression of disease, specifically type II diabetes and cancer. The work for which he won this award centered on determining the mechanism by which arsenic blocks the autophagy pathway, which is a critical pathway for recycling damaged cellular components for re-use in the cell. His future goals include expanding on this work to determine how arsenic effects on autophagy contribute to the metabolic reprogramming that occurs during diabetes. He hopes that this work will also serve as the foundation for a K99 award, which he plans to submit this summer, with the eventual goal of attaining an assistant professorship in the future.

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award

Recipient: Laura Armstrong

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Dr. Armstrong feels extremely privileged to be have been considered for the award and asked to interview for the award, and even more privileged to have received the award recognizing her current contributions and future goals of being a mentor and educator in the field of toxicology, especially by receiving an award in the recognition of Gabriel L. Plaa.

Her current research focuses on the prevalent disease-state of Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, with focus on the inflammatory response. With her studies she hopes to contribute to a field of pharmacological development to understand the role of the nuclear receptor Farnesoid X receptor in the disease pathology, this is a receptor that many pharmaceutical companies are currently utilizing as a drug target within the drug pipeline. Her research for this conference specifically focused on discerning the role of this nuclear receptor, FXR in the hepatic acute response -- an initial response to an inflammatory stimuli. Her future goals are to understand mechanistic pathways of disease pathologies related to obesity, and study environmental toxicants or obesogen effect either contributing or worsening these disease pathways.

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award

Recipient: Jessica Hartman

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Duke University

Dr. Hartman was delighted and honored to be selected as a recipient of the Gabriel Plaa Award through the Mechanisms Specialty Section at this year's SOT Annual Meeting. She feels that it is humbling to consider the legacy of Dr. Plaa's contributions to mechanistic toxicology in haloalkane-induced hepatotoxicity and, equally impressive, his visionary dedication to the future of the field through mentoring trainees. In her future career, she plans to continue in academic research and hopes to make her own contributions to mechanistic toxicology through a better understanding of how differences in metabolism drive individual exposure risk. She has already had the pleasure of serving as a mentor to many undergraduate students and have thoroughly enjoyed helping them grow in their scientific research. She eagerly looks forward to serving as a mentor to the next generation of mechanistic toxicologists in her own lab. This award will help her to achieve that goal, and she is very grateful to have been selected.

Her research focuses on Precision Toxicology: the concept that inter-individual differences in metabolism can drive individualized exposure risk. This broad interest has so far given rise to two major projects, both of which are carried out in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. First, her research for which this award was given focuses on how location of the human metabolic enzyme CYP2E1 in different parts of the cell, mitochondria or endoplasmic reticulum, can drive differences in toxicity. Because there is large inter-individual variability in how much CYP2E1 goes to each location, this may change how individuals respond to a chemical metabolized by CYP2E1 (including acetaminophen and ethanol). To study this, she has expressed human CYP2E1 targeted specifically to each location in C. elegans (which lack basal expression of the enzyme) and showed that it is active and sensitizes the animals to acetaminophen toxicity. Her second project examines how differences in dietary intake and exercise drive changes to energy metabolism that sensitize or protect from environmental exposures. Overall, both projects aim to link metabolism differences with sensitivity to toxicants. After finishing her postdoctoral fellowship, she hopes to continue this line of research in an academic faculty position while mentoring students and other trainees.

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Nehal Gupta

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: M. Pharm
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

She was very excited and enthusiastic after receiving Dr. Harihara Mehendale Graduate Student Best Abstract Award. She would like to thank SOT and ASIO for selecting her for this award. This award offers a tremendous financial support for her to attend the SOT Annual Meeting in 2018. It is an excellent opportunity to meet scientists across the globe and share her work with them, which provided novel insights to her work. Also, Recognition by award committee has boosted her morale to do better work.

Her doctoral dissertation research is focused on breast cancer which affects more than 200,000 women annually in the United States, accounting for 26% of all incident cancers among women. The primary focus of her research study is based on repurposing of an anti-protozoal, anti-malarial drug, atovaquone for the management of breast cancer. They have evaluated the anti-cancer effects of atovaquone in various breast cancer cell lines. Their results demonstrate that oral administration of atovaquone suppressed the growth of CI66 and 4T1 tumors by 70% and 60% respectively. So far, they have observed that atovaquone is efficacious in treating primary and resistant breast tumors. For future studies, they are planning to test atovaquone for its anti-metastatic potential in treating metastasis of breast cancer. Also, they will look for immune modulation by atovaquone in mice having breast cancer.

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Souvarish Sarkar

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Iowa State University

He was pleasantly surprised on receiving this award. Receiving the ASIO award as a graduate student validated the importance of his research. It is also an important stepping-stone in realizing his career goal to join academia in the field of toxicology.

He has been fascinated with toxicology research and identifying novel targets for drug discovery. His current focus of work is to elucidate the role of microglial ion channels in neuroinflammation in Parkinson’s disease (PD) models. Recently, he found that one particular channel is highly upregulated in PD animal models as well as postmortem PD brains. He has further showed that in neurotoxin based-animal models of PD, as well as in transgenic mouse models of PD, and in primary cultures, blocking this channel has an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effect. He has utilized both genetic knockdown and PAP-1, a pharmacological inhibitor of Kv1.3 in clinical trial, to show the specificity of the anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effect. He has further identified the key transcriptional regulators and post-translational modifiers of this channel. He has shown that Fyn, a src family kinase directly binds to Kv1.3 modulating its activity. Further, a pharmacological inhibitor, saracatinib, reduces the expression of Kv1.3. The translational potential of this study is significant given that microglial activation has been linked to multiple neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and other protein misfolding neurodegenerative diseases. 

HESI Immunotoxicology Young Investigator Award

Recipient: Alessandro Venosa

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PharmD, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Pennsylvania

Considering the high quality work presented by trainees every year, receiving such a prestigious award from SOT makes Dr. Venosa feel no less than electrified. It is an honor to be recognized for the quality of his work. In honesty, this award has an extra special meaning because it acknowledges the progress of his postdoctoral training. The positive feedback from leading experts in the field fuels his motivations to move forward in his path to independence and be the best scientist he can be.

His research explores new mechanisms regulating pulmonary fibrogenesis using a model of surfactant protein-C dysfunction (I73T). The main goals of his studies, described in his SOT abstract, are 1) to describe their new transgenic model of surfactant dysfunction; 2) to characterize the role of resident and infiltrating immune cells in the injury; 3) establish the presence of an immune-epithelial cell crosstalk in the pathogenesis of disease. The ultimate goal of this project is to temporally and spatially characterize these cellular subsets, and aid the development of a targeted therapy to delay/reverse the progression of this condition.

John Doull Award

Recipient: Samantha Faber

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Dr. Faber was ecstatic to win such a prestigious award, which will help her to pursue her career goals as a toxicologist.

Her research is focused on development and characterization of a novel in vitro model of the airway for the purpose of investigating lung physiology and disease. Her future goals are to assess the influence of the stroma in manifestation of lung disease and dysfunction. Her research into utilizing this novel transepithelial exposure model to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of inflammation and oxidative stress within airway fibroblasts was commended by receiving the John Doull Award.

Laxman S. Desai ASIO Student Award Fund

Recipient: Sumira Phatak

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: Baccalaureate Degree
Institution/Affiliation: Utah State University

She is both honored and humbled to be selected for such a prestigious award that greatly facilitates her attendance at the upcoming SOT meeting. She looks forward to meeting other members of ASIO, allowing her to network with leaders in her field and enhance her skill set. She can see this opportunity open new doors that lead to the next chapter of her career.

As a graduate student in the Benninghoff Laboratory, her innovative work explores the connection between nutrition, colon cancer, and epigenetic modifications. Immediately after arriving at Utah State, she began a multi-generational rodent study; having completed the preclinical portion, she recently moved on to a molecular investigation of mechanisms. The findings from this project will answer her questions about how the standard American diet influences the health outcome of grand-offspring, despite never being directly exposed themselves. Ultimately, she sees herself running her own research program that answers essential questions about how dietherimpacts disease states while optimizing lifestyle intervention strategies.

Laxman S. Desai ASIO Student Award Fund

Recipient: Abhishek  Venkatratnam

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BTECH and MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina

He was very humbled to receive this news. He would like to thank the ASIO awards committee for selecting me as the recipient of the 2018 ASIO Graduate Student Best Abstract Award.

One of the many challenging issues in toxicology is addressing human variability in adverse effects with chemical exposures. Genetic differences are known to elicit inter-individual differences in xenobiotic metabolism and toxic effects. Traditional toxicity studies often rely on single genotype-based models which fail to capture diverse responses similar to those observed in human populations.The current study is characterizing the extent of genetic background-, dose-, and interaction (genotype & dose) - effects on transcriptional responses in a large panel of genetically-diverse mice exposed to TCE. Several novel outcomes from this study address the problem of human variability in risk assessment. Their results indicate that transcriptional regulation is strongly dependent on genetic background which suggests that single strain models that are currently used may be ineffective in identifying alternative mechanisms of toxicity that maybe observed in the human population. They also identified several pathways that were significantly influenced by genotype-dose interaction effects. Second, they also discovered that many molecular networks were perturbed at doses similar to apical end points of cancer and non-cancer toxicities suggesting the usefulness of gene expression data in estimating toxicity reference values. Next, they observed more than 10-fold variability in the degree of perturbation among several pathways suggesting that safety factors that are currently used in risk assessment maybe under-estimating risk associated with exposures. In summary, results from this study provide a comprehensive outlook on the utility of population-based rodent models in toxicity testing. His future goal is to become a work in regulatory toxicology.

Mary Amdur Student Award Fund

Recipient: Elizabeth Corteselli

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: MSPH
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Ms. Corteselli was thrilled to learn she received the Mary Amdur Student Award. This award will provide assistance for travel to SOT, where she will be able to share findings from her research as well as learn from other researchers in the field.

Her research involves investigating the mechanisms of airway inflammation following exposure to ozone. Specifically, at SOT this year she presented her work characterizing some of the effects of oxidized lipids in airway epithelial cells.

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award

Recipient: Dharmin  Rokad

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: MS in Pharmacology and Biotechnology
Institution/Affiliation: Iowa State University

Mr. Rokad felt it was unbelievable and at the same time very encouraging experience. He won this award at this time of his career in graduate research studies. He plans to pursue a career in Academia where he would like to continue investigating the role of metal exposure in increasing risk of chronic neurological diseases at molecular levels, including various crucial mechanisms. This award sponsored by the Metals Speciality Section in recognition of his ongoing work was important step in realizing his career goal.

His PhD research focuses on divalent manganese (Mn) interactions with α-Synuclein protein and neurodegeneration. His current project focuses on investigating the molecular mechanisms involved in manganese-induced misfolded α-Synuclein release through exosomes and its relevance to synucleopathies. While it is known that Mn is an essential component of many enzymes, it helps in proper bone formation but occupational exposure to elevated doses of Mn can lead to Manganism, a condition similar to Parkinson’s disease. Despite evidences of Mn induced neurodegeneration, the key cellular-molecular signaling mechanisms driving manganese-induced exosomes release remain unknown. He is currently evaluating the role of manganese in modulating endosomal protein trafficking mechanisms to promote α-synuclein exosomal release. Identifying the key molecular regulators of the endosomal protein trafficking mechanisms will help him and his team target those key proteins to develop medical agents and help them to discover biomarkers to develop early stage diagnostic techniques, which will be crucial in the field of neurodegenerative diseases.

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award

Recipient: Madelyn Huang

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Huang was grateful and excited that others in the metals field acknowledge the importance of the work she and her colleagues are doing. This award was essential in supporting her travel to SOT this year in order to present not only this work but also another poster. The discussion at SOT was useful and was a great opportunity for her and her team to share their knowledge with other arsenic researchers.

The Styblo lab studies the relationship between arsenic exposure and metabolic disease, such as diabetes. They are interested in understanding the underlying mechanisms and how genetic and nutritional factors can influence susceptibility to this disease. Their goal is to be able to identify mechanisms or factors that could be leveraged to better inform risk assessment and improve intervention strategies to protect against arsenic-associated disease. B vitamins are often cited as a potential intervention to protect against arsenic-associated disease. However, this strategy has not been thoroughly tested in humans or animals. This award was given for her research investigating if folate supplementation in mice could stimulate arsenic metabolism and protect against arsenic-associated diabetes, with and without a high-fat diet.

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award

Recipient: Kristal Rychlik

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Dr. Rychlik was happily surprised to receive this award. She has recently entered the field of metals toxicology (last July) so she was excited to have her new work recognized in this way. This award aided in her travel to the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting where she was able to present her work, receive feedback from colleagues, and network with scientists in her new area of metals toxicology.

Her main research goal includes investigating prenatal and early life exposures and the effects on disease later in life. In her current position, she studies the effects of prenatal exposure to arsenic on immune outcomes and reaction to infectious disease in a mouse model. The research she presented at SOT indicates that arsenic has effects on the immune system in a sex-specific manner even prior to infection with H37Rv strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, in their mouse model. Her next steps include investigating the mechanisms of these alterations and their effect on immune reactions.

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award

Recipient: Damaris Albores Garcia

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Florida International University

Dr. Arbores Garcia was so honored to receive this award and the recognition for her work by such an outstanding scientific group. She believes it is very helpful to be involved in the Metals Specialty Section because she receive a lot of feedback from researchers in the field, and this gives her the opportunity to improve her work.

Her work is focused on elucidating whether early-life lead exposure prompts sensitization to the psychostimulant effects of cocaine during early adolescence, given that adolescence is a high-risk period for new drug use. Her results suggest that early-life lead exposure could predispose drug use in early adolescence. Also, the results emphasize the importance of continuing efforts aimed to diminish lead exposure.

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award

Recipient: Elizabeth Martin

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BSPH, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Dr. Martin was very excited and honored to have received this award. She is excited to be working towards a manuscript for the presented research. She was hesitant about it because she wasn't sure about the level of interest or how well received it would be. Seeing people were interested in this type of data integration was very gratifying. 

Arsenic has been associated with increased prevalence in diabetes in human populations and specific mutations in the gene Arsenic-3-methyltransferase (AS3MT) can predispose individuals to developing diabetes. AS3MT genotype is also important for determining the rate at which arsenic is metabolized. Additionally,  in vitro and in vivo studies have suggested that differences in arsenic metabolic are important for diabetes risk. However, what is not known is whether AS3MT genotype is associated with key metabolic changes, beyond arsenic metabolism, that may play a role diabetes development in humans. To address whether AS3MT genotype is able to influence other metabolic processes beyond arsenic metabolism, they integrated metabolite profile data, 221 plasma metabolites and 297 urinary metabolites, with single nucleotide polymorphic (SNPs) variant data for 7 key SNPs in AS3MT across 123 indivdiuals. They found four SNPs were associated with 12 urinary metabolites and 1 plasma metabolite. Interestingly these metabolites play key roles in amino acid metabolism, which is an indicator of risk of diabetes development. These results suggest that AS3MT genotype may play a role diabetes risk for individuals exposed to arsenic. Moving forward they hope to continue this research to understand how arsenic is able to influence amino acid metabolism and what roles amino acids may play in diabetes risk. 

Molecular Biology Specialty Section Postdoctoral Fellow Research Award

Recipient: Samantha Faber

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill / USEPA

Excitement and validation of research; will help to purse larger grants in the future.

Research encompasses the study the effect of environmental air pollutant on human health; molecular and systems biology.

Molecular Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Sarah Kazzaz

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Kenyon College

Ms. Kazzaz was very excited to win this award and eager to share the news with her research advisor. This award demonstrates her dedication and tenacity in her research project and in the laboratory in general. This is then demonstrated to medical schools and graduate schools, to illustrate her passion for research, which subsequently allows her to further her education and research.

She works in a molecular biology laboratory that focuses the systematic effects of environmental toxins in frogs, as mediated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. The laboratory has also studied the evolution of the receptor among amphibians. Her research focuses on the receptor in caecilians, the most ancestral order of amphibians. This study will further illuminate the evolutionary differences between this receptor in amphibians and all other vertebrates. To characterize this receptor in caecilians, she has analyzed the sequence, structure, specific-binding characteristics and transactivation response of the receptor in the caecilian Gymnopis multiplicata. This study has found that, similar to other amphibians, this species exhibits low responsiveness to one of its most potent agonists (TCDD).

Molecular Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Julia Tobacyk

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Upon her receipt of this award she experienced a combination of excitement, disbelieve, and joy.  Ms. Tobacyk was pleasantly surprised and enthusiastic to be selected as the recipient of the MSBSS Graduate Student Research Award. She is very grateful to her supervisor, Dr. Alison Harrill, and her lab members, Haixia Lin, Shaoke Luo, and Lascelles Lyn Cook for helping her with her studies. She would like to sincerely thank them for their research supervision and support which was instrumental in her receiving this award. She plans to use the  award stipend for future professional travel and conference expenses.

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common and devastating problem in the clinical. Diagnosing and monitoring AKI is difficult by a lack of sensitive biomarkers for renal injury detection. Clinically, AKI is diagnosed using the “gold standard” biomarkers such as serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen; however, these biomarkers do not become elevated until severe kidney injury has occurred. Thus, there is a need for better kidney injury biomarkers which would benefit both preclinical drug development and clinical care. Most research done in biomarkers uses genetically limited animal models. Since there are clear population differences among us, their research utilizes a genetically diverse mouse population, the Diversity Outbred (DO), as a platform for identifying and evaluating novel biomarkers associated with AKI. In their studies, they look at protein and microRNA biomarkers and compare their performance with the currently used in the clinic biomarkers and they show that many tested biomarkers are more sensitive and specific in detecting kidney injury than the “gold standard” biomarkers. This approach has promise not only for drugs that induce AKI but also other conditions, diseases and pathologies. Further implications of this study are that these biomarkers can be used in the clinic, where interindividual heterogeneity is present within patient populations. She has always been fascinated with the concept of individual responses to xenobiotics within the human population. As a doctoral pharmacology student, she would love to pursue a career in academia or in industry where she could further expand and develop her research interests.

Molecular Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Abhishek  Venkatratnam

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BTECH, MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Mr. Venkatratnam was very humbled to hear the news and is grateful to the Molecular and Systems Biology Selection Committee for selecting him as a recipient of this award. His long-term goal is to pursue a career in regulatory toxicology and this award has vastly helped to bring recognition to his doctoral dissertation which addresses several critical gaps in safety assessments.

Molecular Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Prarthana Shankar

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS Biology
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Ms. Shankar was very excited especially because she had not yet won an award in Graduate School! She immediately let her postdoc mentor and PI know, as they were critical in not only encouraging her to apply for this award, but also in training her in various techniques during her time in Graduate School. This award has not only given her more confidence in her research, but she would also like to use it to travel to a couple of interesting conferences in the near future. Conferences are critical in putting her outside her comfort zone - to network with people and learn as much as possible, and for this she would like to thank the organizing committee for the award.

She is working with a class of chemicals called Polycyclic Aromatic Hyrdocarbons or PAHs, which we are exposed to every day via sources like cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust. The details of their mechanism of action are unclear, and she is investigating how they cause toxicity using the zebrafish model organism. Identifying specific downstream gene targets as a result of PAH exposure can help make better regulatory decisions. She and her team previously identified one of these targets that they call "slincR" (a long RNA that does not code for protein) that seems to be involved in PAH (and more specifically, dioxin or TCDD) toxicity endpoints like blood hemorrhaging. She and  her team also identified potential mouse and human orthologs of slincR, which supports the human health relevance of the zebrafish model. Her future goals are to confirm the role of slincR and identify other genes/RNAs that could be involved in the PAH toxicity pathway.

Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Best Postdoctoral Fellow Abstract Award

Recipient: Yi-Hsien Cheng

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine (ICCM), Kansas State University

Dr. Cheng was excited and grateful upon being informed as a recipient of the "Biological Modeling Specialty Section Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Endowment Award." She feels it is a great honor, and pleasure to get to know and be recognized by scientists sharing similar research interests and by scientists from various research fields as well. Her career goal is to become an independent investigator in academia, research institute, or industry. The recognition provided by this award will greatly help her to pursue excellence in future research and to achieve her career goals.

Her research is related to construct physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models to predict external-to-internal dosimetry of nanomaterials in target tissue/organ and to conduct probabilistic risk assessments with anticipation to gain further insights into the in vivo pharmacokinetics, toxicity, and risk of nanomaterials. Detail of the awarded study: Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are used in various biomedical fields, therefore, there is great concern regarding their potential for toxicity. Systemically understanding the pharmacokinetics of AuNPs is critical in their design, application, and risk assessment. A membrane-limited physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model incorporating multiple administration routes including intravenous, oral gavage, intratracheal instillation, and endotracheal inhalation of various sizes of monodisperse AuNP ranging from 1.4–200 nm was developed to predict uptake, disposition, and elimination of AuNPs in adult rats. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to identify key determinants governing tissue distribution for individual administration route. In addition, multivariate linear regression analyses were performed to gain deeper insights into relationships between the characteristics of AuNPs and biodistribution parameters. This integrated and comparative analysis of published comprehensive pharmacokinetic data of AuNPs in rats provides a basis for species extrapolation and realistic risk assessment involving in multiple exposure pathways.

Perry J. Gehring Diversity Student Travel Award

Recipient: Kimberly Rivera Caraballo

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: Undergraduate Student
Institution/Affiliation: University of Puerto Rico at Humacao

Kimberly Rivera Caraballo, currently an undergraduate student at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) at Humacao, received the Perry J. Gehring Diversity Student Travel Award for her abstract titled, “The Expression of Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter mRNA During Methylmercury.” Her study investigates neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more specifically on transporters that are responsible for taking up extra glutamate—an amino acid neurotransmitter— from the nervous system. It focuses on understanding how methylmercury, an environmental neurotoxicant, causes the inhibition or inactivation of these transporters, leading to cell death. Ms. Caraballo is expected to graduate from UPR at Humacao in 2018 and is in the process of applying to graduate toxicology programs. Ms. Caraballo was happy to receive the award because of the opportunity to return to the SOT Annual Meeting as a peer mentor, after attending for the first time in 2017 as an Undergraduate Diversity Program participant.

Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Best Postdoctoral Fellow Abstract Award

Recipient: Tara Catron

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: ORISE at US EPA

Dr. Catron is honored to have been selected as the recipient of the Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Best Postdoctoral Fellow Abstract Award. This award will inspire her to continue trying to identify how the microbiome influences chemical toxicity and how it can be considered in risk assessment practice.

Host-associated microbiota are all of the bacteria, archaea, viruses and fungi that colonize a host organism. Microbiota are a dynamic system that play important roles in early development and physiology. It is hypothesized that they can 1) bioactivate or detoxify chemicals or 2) be targeted by chemicals. Current risk assessment practice does not have the potential to fully evaluate the role of microbiota in mediating adverse effects of chemical exposure, highlighting the potential for mischaracterization of hazard or misestimation of exposure risk. The lack of understanding of how chemical-microbiota interactions might influence toxicity is one of the many knowledge gaps that still exist when assessing health risk of chemical exposure. Dr. Catron’s research uses colonized and microbe-free zebrafish in a unique experimental system to explore whether chemical exposure alters microbial community structure and function leading to secondary adverse effects on the host. Related to this award, her research describes a novel observation showing an inverse relationship between host developmental toxicity and microbiota disruption in larval zebrafish following developmental exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) and multiple replacement compounds. She showed that BPA alternatives that produced significant zebrafish developmental toxicity did not disrupt host-associated microbiota, while BPA or BPA alternatives that disrupted microbiota either failed to produce toxicity or were far less potent developmental toxicants. Overall, this research supports the concept that the microbiome is an important factor and potential biomarker for characterizing the health effects of environmental chemicals. After completing her postdoctoral training, Dr. Catron is interested in pursuing a career in industry or government where she can analyze and evaluate potential risks due to chemical exposure.

Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Student Award Fund

Recipient: Laura Ewing

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Ms. Ewing was pleasantly surprised to hear that she had received the award. It made her want to include more in the poster, and to work harder to finish her degree in four years.

Her thesis research is focused on elucidating the mechanisms behind the interaction of dietary methionine and the gut microbiome on intestinal health after radiation, especially in terms on normal tissue toxicity during cancer treatments. It is becoming more and more accepted and studied that the human's microbial profile plays an important role in overall health. In her poster presented at the SOT Annual Meeting, she described her and her team's findings so far in a mouse model of dietary methionine plus radiation, as well as the physiological-based pharmacokinetic model that she is developing for methionine exposure that will be used to estimate risk of gastrointestinal toxicity after radiotherapy. After school, she would like to continue working in the modeling field, perhaps with creating models of risk assessment for environmental toxicity.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Student Award

Recipient: Eva Vitucci

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Ms. Vitucci was very excited to receive this award. Exposure to air pollution is highly associated with increased cardiovascular mortalities. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of how an exposure in the lung can affect the unexposed, cardiovascular system need to be further studied. Her research focuses on elucidating how the effect of an exposure to air pollution in the lungs can be passed on to other cell types. Her ultimate goal is to understand non-autonomous signaling between cells, and tissues, and extend this knowledge to the development of molecular intervention strategies that can help mitigate the development of air pollution-induced cardiovascular disease. She was presented with this award for her preliminary studies where she shows that after an exposure to diesel exhaust particles, cell types beyond the airway epithelium are epigenetically altered and sensitized to further insults.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Student Award

Recipient: Yu-Syuan  Luo

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M

Mr. Luo was thrilled to be recognized by the Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section for his work related to metabolism and toxicity of trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene. Receiving this award has increased his confidence in doing research, and gives him extra momentum to embrace the next challenge. This award makes him understand that mechanistic research in toxicology is critical in regulatory and safety evaluation of chemicals. In the future, he would like to learn more in vitro and in silico skills. Combined with his experience in mechanistic animal studies, he foresees himself as an expert in regulatory toxicology. Again, he would like to show his gratitude to his mentors, Drs. Ivan Rusyn and Weihsueh Chiu, and his labmates who helped in this study. This would not happen without their help!

His research focuses on investigating the inter-individual variability in metabolism and toxicity of trichloroethylene(TCE) and tetrachloroethylene(PCE). The inter-individual variability in metabolism and toxicity may result from the differential expressions of metabolic enzymes, different disease states, age, and sex. In this study, she and her team studied a critical enzyme that is involved in oxidative metabolism of TCE and PCE, Cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1). They wonder if people with different enzyme activities of CYP2E1 can lead to differences in metabolism of TCE and PCE, and further cause differences in toxicity of TCE and PCE. Their results show that CYP2E1 plays an important role in the oxidative metabolism of TCE and PCE, and could also affect glutathione conjugative metabolism of TCE. The alteration of metabolite levels in target organs further show different toxicities across tested strains---wild-type, Cyp2e1 knockout, and humanized CYP2E1 mice. Her future goals are to (1) directly compare the toxicokinetics of metabolites between the structurally similar chemicals, TCE and PCE; (2) investigate the influence of disease states on metabolism and toxicity of PCE; (3) study the inter-individual variability in metabolism and toxicity of PCE by using collaborative mouse populations; (4) implement modeling skills to simulate the internal dosimetry of critical metabolites from oxidative and GSH conjugative metabolism, and provide the extrapolation estimates from animals to humans; and (5) probe the metabolomics of TCE and PCE treated mice by using non-targeted analytical technique, such as ion mobility mass spectrometry, two dimensional GC-MS, and/or NMR based analysis. Ultimately, she would like to refine the in vitro to in vivo extrapolation that is critical to the health risk assessments of environmental chemicals.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Student Award

Recipient: Jalissa Nguyen

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Wisconsin-Madison/ILSI North America

Dr. Nguyen's reaction upon receiving this award was astonishment! She is honored that to be selected as one of the recipients for this award by researchers in the field of regulatory toxicology and safety evaluation. This travel award will help her to pursue her research by covering the costs associated with travel to the SOT Annual Meeting and allowing her to share her findings with leaders in the field of regulatory toxicology and safety evaluation. By sharing her research at this meeting, she hopes to start a conversation about the utility/applicability of alternative testing methods in the scope of food safety and the field of toxicology.

This work is a summation of an intense 12-week fellowship with the International Life Sciences (ILSI) North America. The objective of thsi summer fellowship project was to compare the results from traditional toxicity studies with predictions from these alternative testing methods for food relevant chemicals in ToxCast. Her findings from this work will help scientists understand the utility of alternative toxicity testing methods when evaluating the safety of food-related chemicals. Upon successful completion of her doctoral degree, she plans to pursue a career as a Toxicologist. In this role, she plans to be the “voice” for individuals who come from small neighborhoods like mine by conducting toxicological and public health risk assessments to study the potential adverse effects that might result from human exposure to toxic substances.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Student Award

Recipient: Miao  Li

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD, Master of Medicine
Institution/Affiliation: Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine/ Kansas State University

Dr. Li was happy and excited to receive the award. It is a recognition for his research from the Specialty Section and SOT. He feels it will enhance his motivation and encourage him in his future research. It will also help him to achieve his future career goal to become an independent researcher for transferring data from mechanistic research into policy.

Currently, his research is using the physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling to avoid drug residues in animal-derived food. The computational modeling tool could help to predict the drug concentration in edible tissues after drug administrations, and to determine the slaughter time to ensure food safety. His career goal is to become an independent researcher to apply data from in vitro and mechanistic research into risk assessment and policy making. He and his colleagues established a PBPK model with physiologically based mammary gland in dairy cows. This model has the potential to predict drug depletions in milk to ensure milk safety and avoid extra economic loss for dairy farmers.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Student Award

Recipient: Rui Xiong

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: US FDA/NCTR

Dr. Xiong felt honored to be selected as a recipient for the postdoctoral excellence award by the committee of the Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section. Her training at FDA/NCTR focuses on development of human in vitro airway tissue model and its application in inhalation toxicity assessment. This award recognizes her research and greatly encourages her to pursue further on studies that will be informative and useful for regulatory agencies.

Her postdoctoral research focuses on toxicity assessment of tobacco smoke constituents such as acrolein using an in vitro human airway tissue model. Acrolein is a highly reactive respiratory irritant and present in high abundance in tobacco smoke. It has been extensively studied and implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, investigation of acrolein toxicity in in vitro systems could be very challenging because of its highly unstable and reactive chemical properties. The current study was designed to evaluate the mode of action (MOA) of acrolein toxicity in the ALI airway tissue model. She developed a novel in vitro strategy to mimic the inhalation bronchial epithelial exposure to acrolein experienced by smokers. A panel of respiratory diseases relevant toxicological endpoints was evaluated in ALI cultures and toxicity dose-response data was generated that could be used for conducting the in-vitro-in-vivo extrapolation (IVIVE). Her and her labmate's results demonstrate that ALI cultures can recapitulate the functional and structural alterations observed in acrolein-exposed animals, suggesting their potential application for studying tissue responses related to human respiratory diseases induced by cigarette smoke or its constituents (i.e. acrolein). Her long-term research interests involve the application of advanced in vitro human tissue models for toxicity assessment of xenobiotics including small-molecule drug candidates, tobacco smoke constituents as well as environmental toxins. The future goal of his research is to combine such advanced in vitro tissue models with computational modeling extrapolation strategies to make quantitative human risk assessments.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Student Award

Recipient: Samantha Faber

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Dr. Faber was thrilled to win this award based on her translational research to both the regulatory and non-regulatory sector. This award will help her to pursue her career goals as a molecular toxicologist.

Her research is focused on development and characterization of a novel in vitro model of the airway for the purpose of investigating lung physiology and disease. Her future goals are to assess the influence of the stroma in manifestation of lung disease and dysfunction. Her research into utilizing this novel transepithelial exposure model to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of inflammation and oxidative stress within airway fibroblasts was commended by receiving the Regulatory and Safety Evaluation SS Postdoctoral Excellence Award.

Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: YuWei Chang

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University

Ms. Chang was delighted and thrilled when receiving the notification of this award. This award was a great encouragement and brings her the faith to keep doing on what’s needed in her research. She would like to thank the Mechanisms Specialty Section for giving her this honor. She is looking forward to harvesting the novel findings of her study and to presenting it in the further meeting.

Her research is focused on the chronic toxicological effects of arsenic in kidney associated chronic kidney diseases by using in vitro cell model. As far as she knew, multiple epidemiological studies have indicated that arsenic can increase the risk of chronic kidney disease, however, the comprehensive analysis of mechanisms is still unclear. Nevertheless, there is no predictive molecular biomarker for early detection of kidney fibrosis, which is an essential step on the progression of chronic kidney disease. The findings of her study suggest that the acute exposure to arsenic can cause decreased growth of kidney tubular epithelial cells related to acute kidney injury. The long-term exposure to arsenic, however, results in renal fibrogenesis, which can be inhibited by treatment with epigenetic based therapeutics. The results of her study provide the potential mechanism on the adverse effect of arsenic exposure in kidney. In the future, the biomarkers and signaling pathways associated with arsenic-induced renal fibrosis will be evaluated. In addition, the potential therapy for kidney fibrosis will also need to be investigated.

Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Maria Beatriz Monteiro

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: MSc, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Harvard Medical School

Dr. Monteiro is truly honored to be the recipient of The Renal Toxicology Endowment Fund Award administered by the Mechanisms Specialty Section. She started her research on kidney disease during graduate school and since then she has experienced the difficulties of working in this field which sometimes does not get the necessary attention, funding, or concern. This unexpected recognition of her efforts gives her a sense of security and confidence to continue working on the kidney disease, hopefully contributing for a better future for the patients.

Acute kidney injury is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Currently there is no effective treatment for this type of injury and the kidney’s mechanisms of repair are not completely understood. Her research had identified ID-8 as a novel compound that stimulates the proliferation of kidney cells after acute injury. Further studies in vivo may provide more evidence for the therapeutic use of ID-8 to treat acute kidney injury.

Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Firas Alhasson

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of South Carolina

When he got an email from SOT saying he was a recipient, Dr. Alhasson celebrated with his lab mates. This award means a lot to him because he has worked for almost five years on the kidney and now he received an award in the kidney field. As a researcher in molecular toxicology, he wished to expand his research interests in the environment exposure-induced disease pathology following completion of his PhD. He also aims to further contribute to the goals of the Society of Toxicology in years to come.

His current project is to investigate the mechanistic pathway of renal inflammation and mesangial cells activation following environmental exposures. He and his colleagues hypothesized that Microcystin causes mesangial cells activation which relied on P47phox leading to a NOX-2 mediated miRNA21 increase in kidney in NAFLD condition. Using both in vivo and in vitro approaches, they aimed to unravel the molecular signatures in kidney pathology of NAFLD

Robert J. Rubin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Jalissa Nguyen

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Wisconsin-Madison/ILS North America

Dr. Nguyen's reaction upon receiving this award was pure gratitude. The results from this study are a direct result of collaborative efforts from researchers in industry, government, and academia. This travel award will help her pursue her research by covering the costs associated with travel to the SOT Annual Meeting while honoring the legacy of Dr. Rubin. Attendance at the SOT Annual Meeting will be an invaluable experience as it will help her to share her research with leaders in the field of Toxicology. More specifically, her research will help researchers understand the benefits of applying mechanistic toxicology to risk assessment to help make a lasting impact in the field of Toxicology and human health.

This work is a summation of an intense 12-week fellowship with the International Life Sciences (ILSI) North America. The objective of this summer fellowship project was to compare the results from traditional toxicity studies with predictions from these alternative testing methods for food relevant chemicals in ToxCast. Her findings from this work will help scientists understand the utility of alternative toxicity testing methods when evaluating the safety of food related chemicals. Upon successful completion of her doctoral degree, she plans to pursue a career as a Toxicologist. In this role, she plans to be the “voice” for individuals who come from small neighborhoods like hers by conducting toxicological and public health risk assessments to study the potential adverse effects that might result from human exposure to toxic substances.

Roger O. McCellan Student Award Fund

Recipient: Brittany Szafran

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Mississippi State University

Ms. Szafran became aware of her selection as this year’s winner of the Roger O. McClellan Endowment Award when she checked her emails after waking up in the middle of night, and she was ecstatic. Falling back asleep was a struggle that night due to her excitement. Sharing the news the next day with her mentors, whom she feels have been an invaluable support system in the pursuit of a career in toxicological research, was the highlight of her day. Navigating a dual-degree program has been a rewarding challenge for her, and she is thankful for any amount of support received, both at an academic and personal level. This prestigious award and all it entails will help boost her resume, provide financial assistance to pursue her goals, share her work with a larger audience, and ultimately bring recognition to her school and labs.

Her research involves studying the toxic effects of chlorpyrifos (CPF), an organophosphate pesticide, on the immune system by a mechanism involving the inhibition of endocannabinoid (eCB) metabolizing enzymes. eCBs are lipid-based mediators that exert various effects in the body including those on behavior, immunity (generally anti-inflammatory), appetite, and pain. Previous work from her labs demonstrated that neonatal rats treated with CPF exhibited decreased eCB metabolism rates and increased levels of eCBs in brain at doses that do not inhibit acetylcholinesterase activity, the primary target enzyme of OPs. Her project specifically focuses on the effects of low-dose CPF exposure on the eCB and immune system of mice by comparing the differences in the effects between neonates and adults. Her hypothesis is that low-level CPF exposure will inactivate enzymes responsible for eCB metabolism, raising the levels of these compounds, and subsequently causing immunosuppressive effects that will be more pronounced in neonates due to their developing immune system. In other words, She is investigating low-level CPF exposure as an immunosuppressive agent. The research for which she received the Roger O. McClellan endowment award is entitled “Effects of Low-Level Chlorpyrifos Exposure on Endocannabinoid Metabolism and Immune Function”. The initial goal of this work is to determine whether treatment of adult mice with CPF affects the function of immune cell populations, cytokine levels, eCBs, and eCB metabolism. Moreover, it serves as a springboard for her future work that will compare the effects of CPF in both neonatal and adult mice. Her in vitro studies suggested that CPF could inhibit eCB metabolism in the spleen. Her in vivo studies showed that low-level exposure to CPF could alter immune cell populations in the spleen and decrease pro-inflammatory cytokine production in residential peritoneal macrophages (RPMs). These results corresponded with an inhibition of eCB metabolizing enzymes in several tissues and increased eCBs in RPMs. Overall, her study indicated CPF can affect both eCB metabolism and immune cell populations, but that further work is necessary to determine if there is a link between the two effects. This work is important because CPF is a commonly-used insecticide in agriculture, and a suppressed immune system cannot respond to and clear an infection as effectively. This will be of even more importance in her work on neonates as their immune system is immature compared to that of adults. Her current research will form the basis for her PhD thesis in environmental toxicology that she will ultimately use to pursue a career in academia or government.

Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award

Recipient: Ian Huck

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS Microbiology
Institution/Affiliation: University of Kansas Medical Center

Mr. Huck was honored to learn he received the Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award. This award will allow him to attend the 2018 SOT Annual Meeting and receive feedback from experts. This meeting always provides new ideas and refreshed perspective for ongoing projects in the lab and he is grateful to the SOT Endowment Fund for their support.

His abstract describes a project investigating the effects of perfluorosulfonic acid (PFOS) on hepatocyte lipid metabolism. This compound is known to cause hepatomegaly and hepatic fat accumulation. He and his colleagues hypothesized that exposure to PFOS may place individuals with existing fatty liver at greater risk of progressing to more advanced liver disease. To their surprise, PFOS actually protected high fat diet fed mice from developing fatty liver. Their findings present novel evidence of a hormetic response to PFOS exposure that is dependent on dietary variables. As the understanding of toxicology expands to incorporate simultaneous exposure of multiple chemicals across a range of environmental conditions, the results highlight the need for mechanistic understanding of toxicity when performing risk assessment.

Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award

Recipient: Qian Lin

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD Candidate
Institution/Affiliation: University of Louisville

Ms. Lin was grateful to receive this award that was able to support her attendance at the SOT Annual Meeting. She can learn from others research and update her own knowledge with the novel research methods and interests. Moreover, it helps her to practise with the poster presentation. This award enriches her experience in research and gives her great encouragement and confidence in her study.

Her project focuses on the FGF1 functions and mechanisms on liver diseases. She plans to finish the project of therapeutic effects of FGF1 on NAFLD and graduate this year.

Sheldon D. Murphy Award Fund

Recipient: Yvonne Chang

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Ms. Chang is honored to receive this award, and excited to be able to present her research at the 57th Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting, thanks to the support of the Sheldon D. Murphy Mechanisms SS Student Travel Endowment Award. The SOT Annual Meeting is always an amazing opportunity to be exposed to different types of research as well as network with leaders in the field, and she feels it is great to have recognition for her research.

At Oregon State University, she is currently working with Dr. Susan Tilton to develop a mechanism-based approach for evaluating carcinogenic risk of PAHs and PAH mixtures using systems biology data in a human bronchial epithelial cell (HBEC) model. They are developing a mechanism-based approach for modeling carcinogenic risk of PAHs and whole PAH mixtures. They have screened individual carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic PAHs in their HBEC model to identify pathways signature of carcinogenesis. Currently, she has analyzed global gene expression and pathway enrichment between individual and mixture PAH treatments. Her findings demonstrate that short-term 48-hour exposures to PAH treatment result in markedly unique transcriptional signatures through qRT-PCR and global gene expression analysis. By using computational and bioinformatics approaches, they were able to extensively profile mechanisms of toxicity. This work will expand the current understanding of PAH mechanisms of action involved during the initiating processes of cancer, and will be a valuable development for integrating mechanistic data into the risk assessment of the carcinogenic potential of PAH mixtures.

Sheldon D. Murphy Award Fund

Recipient: Ramiya Kumar

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation:

Ms. Kumar felt extremely happy and grateful to the Mechanisms Specialty Section for presenting her with the Sheldon D.Murphy Endowment Student Travel award for attending SOT 2018 in San Antonio, TX. Her PI and other lab colleagues were excited for her. This award is encouraging and will increase her visibility amongst peers and scientists in the field of toxicology.

World Health Organization has declared that over 600 million adults are obese around the world. The common treatment regimens of changes in diet and lifestyle are no longer effective. We are exposed to growing number of chemicals, which are metabolized and cleared from our body by specific liver enzymes- “Cytochrome P450 (CYP)”. And earlier studies in obese patients have shown significant changes in CYP genes. CYP2B has been shown to metabolize fatty acids to generate important intracellular signaling molecules that regulate fat metabolism. She and colleagues developed a mouse model missing CYP2B and compared their responses to mice that have all genes (wild-type mice) to demonstrate if the absence of CYP genes would increase the progression of obesity. They also treat them with a diet rich in 60% fat, which resembles western diet to determine role-played by CYP2B in lipid metabolism. In future, they plan to identify chemicals that can inhibit CYP2B and determine if they perturb lipid metabolism.

Sheldon D. Murphy Award Fund

Recipient: John Szilagyi

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS Chemistry
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Dr. Szilagyi felt honored to receive this award. He is truly grateful for the recognition of his work by both the Mechanisms Specialty Section and the Sheldon D Murphy Award Committee. This award is helpful to his research because it is a great opportunity to showcase his work at the SOT Annual Meeting.

His doctoral research involves studying the factors the influence how drugs and toxicants can cross the placenta during pregnancy. Specifically, the work recognized by this award aims to identify how the endocannabinoid system can inhibit placental efflux transport. After his graduate training, he plans to pursue an academic career in developmental toxicology, serving as both a researcher and an educator.

Sheldon D. Murphy Award Fund

Recipient: Joseph Kochmanski

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Michigan

Dr. Kochmanski was both elated and honored to know that his research was viewed as deserving of the Sheldon D. Murphy Award. This award funded his flight to the 2018 SOT Annual Meeting, where he plans to present his research results in poster form. At the conference, he will not only be able to meet researchers in the field, but also receive valuable feedback on his research. These types of opportunities are integral to his success as a early-career Toxicologist.

Currently, his research investigated the interaction between environmental chemical exposures and the aging process, focusing on whether early-life exposures can alter the normal trajectory of biological aging. In the future, he aims to continue Toxicology research as a postdoctoral fellow, with a focus on the effects of developmental exposures on neurodegenerative diseases. For this award, his research examined the effects of developmental Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure on long-term epigenetic patterns in an animal model. He and his colleagues showed that early-life BPA exposure can have stable effects on the epigenome across the life-course.

Sheldon D. Murphy Award Fund

Recipient: Krishna Maremanda

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: MS, BPharm
Institution/Affiliation: National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research

Mr. Maremanda wants to thank the Mechanisms Speciality Section for giving him this prestigious award. He feels that it is encouraging to receive an award from this particular section. It directly helps him to participate and present his work at the meeting. It also encourages him to pursue his toxicology career further with much more enthusiasm. Earlier his senior colleagues from the lab won some of the awards from this section and encouraged him to do so. Now it is his responsibility to encourage his junior colleagues to participate and present their work in the field of toxicology, which maintains a continuity.

He is involved in determining the role of zinc in the testicular pathophysiology of rat with selected anti-cancer drugs and in diabetic conditions, where he is closely working on understanding the physiology of the germ cells/sperm, which is the tiniest cell in the body under various physiological/pathological conditions like diabetes, zinc deficiency and under influence of xenobiotics. The current work (Abstract presented) deals with Zn deficiency during type 2 diabetes and its affects on male reproductive health. It was observed that type 2 diabetes induced by high fat diet and low dose STZ, causes alterations in the Zn levels in the body. Further Zn deficient diet to these animals aggravated the testicular and epididymal toxicity ultimately affecting the progeny. He and his colleagues also found that Zn dependent proteins get altered in this process like MT, MTF-1, SOD1 and Nrf2 etc. Antioxidant enzyme levels such as catalase also get altered in both testes and caput epididymis. It was interesting to note that GPX5 levels were also decreased in the caput epididymis. The future goals include to determine the paternal effects (exposed to different toxicants/xenobiotics) on the health of the progeny.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Katharine Horzmann

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: DVM, MS, MPH
Institution/Affiliation: Purdue University

Dr. Horzmann was surprised and honored when she heard that she had been awarded the Toshio Narahashi Travel Award. Receiving the award was very unexpected, as she thought her application would be a longshot. Immediately she emailed her advisor with the news and started looking at hotels and plane tickets. She is very grateful to the NTSS for selecting her and her research as she imagines the competition was incredibly tough. This travel grant will help support her trip to the SOT Annual Meeting where she looks forward to being able to share her research and connecting with peers and experts.

As a PhD candidate in toxicology in the Freeman Laboratory, she works with emerging and legacy environmental toxicants and study the effects of developmental exposure to these chemicals using the zebrafish (Danio rerio) biomedical model. Their focus is on environmental and molecular toxicology and her research seeks to determine the health effects of developmental exposure to environmental contaminants, including widely used pesticides such as atrazine, legacy chemicals such as trichloroethylene, and emerging threats such as crude MCHM, the chemical involved in the 2014 Elk River Incident by Charleston, West Virginia. The research that will be presented at the 2018 Society of Toxicology meeting is part of her PhD thesis and focuses on the developmental neurotoxicity of the herbicide atrazine, especially the later life effects according to the developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis. Atrazine is a commonly used pesticide that frequently contaminates rural and urban water sources at levels above the 3 ppb maximum contaminant level set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Exposure to atrazine is linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, and changes in neurochemistry and behavior. She uses the zebrafish model system to study changes in adult brain gene expression, behavior, and brain neuroanatomy that result from embryonic exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of atrazine. Her research suggests that embryonic atrazine exposure does cause sex-specific changes in behavior, with male zebrafish having decreased activity and female zebrafish having increased signs of anxiety. Transcriptomic analysis suggests that females have altered expression of genes in pathways related to organismal injury, neurological disease, and endocrine system disorders and males have altered gene expression in endocrine and reproductive system disorder and nervous system development and function pathways. Adult zebrafish also had non-monotonic, sex-specific alterations in body length, body weight, and brain weight. Her research suggests that developmental exposure to ATZ does cause sex-specific alterations in adult neural function later in life. When she returns from San Antonio, she will wrap up her current study by evaluating male and female zebrafish brain histopathology and finish writing her dissertation. After graduation in May, she will be starting a faculty position at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine where she looks forward to engaging in teaching, diagnostic pathology service, and continuing to evaluate the developmental toxicity of environmental contaminants using the zebrafish model.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Sireesha Manne

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BVSc, AH (Equivalent to DVM)
Institution/Affiliation: Iowa State University

Ms. Manne is very glad for being considered for this prestigious award. This award will help to defray the expenses for travel to the SOT Annual Meeting.

She is  working on developing a diagnostic test for neurodegenerative diseases like Prion and Parkinson's disease. At the 2018 SOT Annual Meeting, she is to present research on developing a serum-based diagnostic assay for Manganese exposed welders.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Isabelle Lee

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry
Institution/Affiliation: University of Pennsylvania/ Perelman School of Medicine

She was delighted and honored to receive the Graduate Student Travel Award from SOT’s Toxicologists of African Origin (TAO) Special Interest Group. These funds made it possible for her to attend her first the SOT Meeting, in San Antonio, Texas. At the meeting she had an exclusive opportunity to meet and interact with experts and colleagues with explicit interest in reproductive toxicology – her area of academic research and career interest – who offered invaluable feedback and critic of my research. Additionally, she attended various plenary sessions and symposia where she learned from other experts and peers. Not only did she have the chance to advance her scientific knowledge, but also an opportunity to meet and network with professionals in regulatory toxicology, who offered their insight into their experience working in the field and the requirements for successful job applications. She also attended and participated in various activities organized by the Graduate Student Leadership Committee (GSLC). She especially enjoyed the “Tox ShowDown”, where she got to learn about trivia with a focus on toxicology and was highly encouraged to sharpen her skills in toxicology trivia and to join the GSLC. She is very thankful to have received this award, which helped advance her professional and academic development.

Her thesis research focuses on demining the mechanisms by which a class of environmental and dietary pollutants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), may act through estrogen receptors to contribute to endometrial cancer. In this work she has demonstrated that PAH o-quinones act as ligands for the estrogen receptor and promote endometrial cell proliferation. Additionally, using liquid chromatography mass spectrometric methods she has shown that endometrial cells covert the prototypic PAH, benzo[a]pyrene to the corresponding benzo[a]pyrene-7,8-dione. In future she seeks to delineate the mechanism of action of these PAH metabolites in promoting cellular proliferation. Her work reveals how environmental toxicants activate nuclear receptors to promote hormone dependent malignancies

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Eric Uwimana

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: B.Sc.
Institution/Affiliation: University of Iowa

He was excited to be honored by TAO, this award is important to me because it fosters his interest in toxicology as an African Researcher and broadly it gives a sense of belonging in the realm of toxicologist.

He studies the enantioselective metabolism of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) using in vitro models of multiple species including humans. PCBs are neurotoxic environmental pollutants that have been linked to developmental neurotoxicity in children. PCB hydroxylated metabolites are also potentially neurotoxic but not so much is known about PCB metabolism in Human. His research contributed insights into the PCB structure-metabolism relationship in vitro and for the first time reported evidence of a different metabolism pathway in human compared to rodent models, which are used for toxicological studies. In addition, he has shown that non-chiral PCBs can be source of potentially toxic chiral PCB metabolites. Together, his hope is that his research will better inform toxicology research and risk assessment of PCBs and their metabolites in animal models and ultimately in humans.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

  Recipient: Marie McGee Hargrove

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: Ph.D
Institution/Affiliation: ORISE at EPA

She was very honored to be one of the Toxicologists of African Origin Postdoctoral travel award recipients for the 2018 SOT Annual Meeting. This award will be used to help defray costs associated with the travel to the annual meeting. With a reduction in available travel funds in every sector, she is thankful this award helped in her travel to present one of my research projects to colleagues and receive feedback that may help in future studies.

Currently, she is an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Postdoctoral Fellow at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Her research focuses on source-specific regional and seasonal pollutants by examining potential health impacts to determine their contribution in the exacerbation of asthma. Designing and managing this portfolio of studies from start to finish at the EPA has allowed her to build her knowledge of working in a regulatory agency, toxicology and pharmacology. Currently, her studies focus on biomass smoke emissions from different fuel types cause differential toxicity and could be used to identify toxic components within combustion emissions. The project reflected in the submitted abstract examined pulmonary responses to biomass smoke generated from eucalyptus, Irish peat, or red oak burns under low temperature smoldering or high temperature flaming conditions in female control and house dust mite (HDM)-allergic Balb/cJ mice. They concluded exposure to eucalyptus or red oak smoke inhibits respiration to a greater degree than peat smoke under smoldering conditions.

Toxikon, a Preclinical Tox Organization, & Dr. Dharm Singh ASIO Award Fund

Recipient: Gurjot Kaur

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD in pharmaceutical Sciences
Institution/Affiliation: University of Konstanz

It was very exhilarating and exciting for her when she read the award email as well as equally satisfying to see that the area she is working on is quite impactful and scientists from other toxicology area consider it to be important. This travel award definitely helps her in advancing her future career goals in academia and opportunities to disseminate her science as well as discourse with eminent scientists attending SOT annual conference.

Broadly, she is a 'membrane geek' and work on different aspects of transport through cellular membranes. Having worked on Channels as well as transporters, she understands membrane transport very deeply and how this could affect what goes inside the cell. Her current research deals with studying and elucidating the uptake as well as excretion of cyanobacterial toxins, implicated in liver, brain and kidney toxicity in humans and cause for human deaths in extreme cases. In future, she would like to extend her expertise to using my knowledge on transporters to affect therapeutical interventions and also to provide a sound basis for human risk assessment. In the current abstract, she describes a novel mechanism of cyanobacterial toxin excretion which is by far not understood in humans and thus provide the first report on a transporter-mediated cyanobacterial toxin excretion mechanism.

Toxikon, a Preclinical Tox Organization, & Dr. Dharm Singh ASIO Award Fund

Recipient: Krishna Maremanda

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: M.S. (Pharm), B.Pharm.
Institution/Affiliation: National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research

He wants to thank ASIO-SOT for their constant support and encouragement to the Indian students to help present their work and also plan for their future career by not only monetary sponsorship but also valuable mentoring activities, which he found very useful. He has extended his networking among the toxicology community thanks to ASIO & SOT. This award will not only help him in presenting his work at the annual meeting but also encourages him to further carry out his future research in toxicology with much more enthusiasm.

His work involves to determine the role of zinc in the testicular pathophysiology of rat with selected anti-cancer drugs and in diabetic conditions, where he is closely working on understanding the physiology of the germ cells/sperm, which is the tiniest cell in the body under various physiological/pathological conditions like diabetes, zinc deficiency and under xenobiotics. The current work involves in understanding the effect of Zn deficiency during type 2 diabetes in male reproductive health. It was observed that type 2 diabetes induced by high fat diet and low dose STZ causes alterations in the Zn levels in the body. Further Zn deficient diet to these animals aggravated the testicular and epididymal toxicity ultimately affecting the progeny . They also found that Zn dependent proteins get altered in this process like MT, MTF-1, SOD1 and Nrf2 etc. Antioxidant enzyme levels such as catalase also get altered in both testes and caput epididymis. It was interesting to note that GPX5 levels were also decreased in the caput epididymis. His future goal is to observe the paternal effects (under the influence of toxicants/xenobiotics) on the health of progeny.

Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund

Recipient: Saniya Rattan

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: Bachelor of Science
Institution/Affiliation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

When she opened up the email and read that she was the recipient of the Women in Toxicology Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund Student Award, she was thrilled! This award will greatly aid her by providing funds to support travel to scientific conferences where she will present her research. By attending these scientific conferences she can receive input on her work and expand her network.

Her research focuses on the effects of an endocrine disrupting chemical, di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, on female reproductive outcomes. Specifically, she looks at how exposure to this chemical during the second half of gestation impacts reproductive outcomes in the daughters, grand-daughters, and great grand-daughters of mice. She examines many aspects of reproduction in these mice such as the ovary and sex-steroid hormone levels, but the specific research for which she won this award focuses on the effects of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthate on puberty and fertility of these mice. Future goals for her research include investigating the mechanistic effects caused by di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate exposure such as the epigenetic changes in the ovary.

Women in Toxicology SIG Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award

Recipient: Jessica Murray

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Pennsylvania

Receiving this award was incredibly exciting! Her lab is running short on funds, so this award will help cover travel expenses to future SOT meetings and supplies for her thesis project.

She studies the metabolic activation of nitroarenes, highly mutagenic components of diesel engine exhaust that may contribute to lung cancer risk. She uses high resolution mass spectrometry to identify metabolites of these compounds and resulting DNA adducts in human lung cell culture to identify human enzymes that lead to toxification events. She hopes to continue researching within the field of chemical carcinogenesis in an academic or government setting after receiving her PhD. She won this award in part due to her service and leadership at UPenn and SOT. In addition to her research, she is actively engaged in STEM outreach and have founded an organization that supplements existing STEM outreach organizations in Philadelphia with Pharmacology and Toxicology lessons and activities that help reinforce principles of Biology and Chemistry in a fun and approachable manner.

Women in Toxicology SIG Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award

Recipient: Samantha Snow

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: US EPA

She was beyond honored and excited to receive the Women in Toxicology SIG Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award! Reception of this prestigious award instills in her the confidence to keep pursing this line of research knowing that others in the field respect the novelty and importance of these findings, while at the same time validates the long hours and hard work she put in towards becoming an independent toxicologist.

Previous studies from her lab have shown that exposure to inhaled environmental irritants (ozone and acrolein) affects systemic metabolic homeostasis through activation of the sympathetic-adrenal-medullary and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axes to induce multi-organ metabolic alterations (i.e. impaired glucose homeostasis), which is likely a common mechanism for many chemical and non-chemical stressors. The purpose of her current research project is to use newly developed radio-telemetry technology, which is capable of providing real-time quantitative glucose and core body temperature data in conscious and unrestrained animals, to assess the impacts of ozone exposure across time and concentration. Most high-throughput technologies allow only a snapshot picture of biological processes, but not a multidimensional view of in-life, real-time dynamic biomolecular changes as environmental stressors are encountered. The use of these glucose monitoring implants provide an opportunity to acquire temporal data for blood glucose levels in freely-moving animals prior to, during, and following an exposure. The acquisition of these types of datasets are necessary for accurate elucidation of disease etiology and are critical for development of predictive, computational models of the adverse effects of environmental stressors. In the introductory study involving these glucose telemeters, she hypothesized that ozone exposure would impair normal circulating glucose rhythms in a concentration-dependent manner. Male, 13 week old Wistar-Kyoto rats (n=8), were implanted with HD-XG glucose telemeters (Data Sciences International, St. Paul, MN) and exposed to 0.0, 0.2, 0.4, and 0.8 ppm ozone for 4h/day, 1 day/week for 4 consecutive weeks. A crossover design was used wherein all 8 implanted animals were exposed to each concentration with continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels, core body temperature, and locomotor activity throughout the entire 4-week period. Exposure to 0.8 ppm ozone caused a precipitous increase in blood glucose levels as core body temperature simultaneously decreased, approximately 1.5h after the beginning of exposure. Glucose tolerance testing performed immediately after exposure to filtered air and 0.8 ppm ozone further revealed ozone-induced impaired glucose tolerance. These data for the first time demonstrate the real-time temporal dynamics of ozone-induced hyperglycemia and glucose intolerance. Furthermore, this novel approach has the capacity to be amenable to a variety of environmental chemical and non-chemical stressors, allows for generation of a temporal data set without the need for using large numbers of laboratory animals, provides data critical for dynamic computational modeling strategies, introduces a new in vivo screening tool, and supports harmonization of risk assessment through common stress response mechanisms fundamental in systems biology that have not previously been studied in the context of environmental contaminants.

Women in Toxicology SIG Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award

Recipient: Suangsuda Supasai

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of California, Davis

She was so glad when she heard that she was a recipient of SIG Cerebrating Women in Toxicology Award in 2018. This award is the highest honor not only for her but also for woman toxicologists/scientists in her home country, Thailand. She believes that this award will make her and also other woman scientists to voice louder for improving the scientific community in the future. Since she got the fellowship from her home country to study her PhD and earn outstanding research experiences in the United States, her future goal is clear to go back and contribute good research for better living and healthy environment in Thailand. This award will help her play important roles for national and international scientific research and make research collaboration in the future.

Her current research emphasis is investigation of pathogenic mechanisms by which acute intoxication with organophosphates (OPs) leads to long-term morbidity. As known, acute OP intoxication causes hundreds of thousands of death annually, and survivor of OP-induced status epilepticus (SE) face significant, long-term morbidity including cognitive deficits and recurrent seizure. Current medical countermeasures can decrease mortality, but does not protect against long-term deficits. The development of more effective neuroprotective strategies is stymied by limited understanding of persistent neuropathology following acute OP intoxication. Thus, her study is focusing on pathogenic mechanisms in OP-induced SE model to better understand molecular changes, leading to develop therapeutic strategy for mitigating neurologic sequelae in the future. In addition, her findings identify acute OP intoxication as a potential risk factor for neurodegenerative disease later in life. After 2018 SOT meeting, she will return to my home country to serve on the faculty in School of Tropical Medicine in Thailand. Her goal is to continue to conduct research related to toxicology, particularly in the context of issues prevalent in Thailand. OP pesticides, commonly used in many agricultural areas, are associated with increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases and, it is her hypothesis, these population may be also more susceptible to infection in tropical diseases such as dengue virus and malaria.

 

Young Soo Choi Student Scholarship Award Fund

Recipient: Elizabeth Cole

Award Year: 2018
Current Degrees: Bachelor of Science
Institution/Affiliation: University of Montana

She was honored and thrilled to have been selected for this award, which has provided her immense financial support to attend the 2018 SOT meeting. She is excited to have the opportunity to present research and interact with the vibrant toxicology community at the annual meeting.

Her research as a doctoral student in the toxicology program at the University of Montana examines epigenetic biomarkers associated with particle-induced respiratory inflammation. A major focus of her project is determining epigenetic biomarkers of toxicity associated with inhalation of engineered nanomaterials (ENM) such as multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT), many of which are considered highly bioactive and pose a major potential human exposure concern due to increased use and development in a variety of societal applications. Studies indicate that mechanistically, epigenetic changes could be at least partially involved in MWCNT-induced pro-inflammatory and fibrotic lung pathology. However, the precise mechanisms of toxicity have not yet been defined, particularly in consideration of the diversity of these materials. Therefore, her current project has aimed to identify possible epigenetic biomarkers, (specifically, changes in DNA methylation and in microRNA expression) of MWCNT exposure and lung disease progression and to characterize these distinct epigenetic changes in response to MWCNT of varied size and shape using a mouse model. She is also interested in the role of diet modifications on augmenting epigenetic responses in MWCNT-induced lung disease. In particular, a future goal is to better understand the role of omega-3 acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in augmenting MWCNT-induced lung disease. Overall, she hopes to continue to do toxicology research that betters human health and extends our knowledge of health and disease.

Go to: Historical Archive of Endowment Fund Award Recipients