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Recent Endowment Fund Award Recipients

2019 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 Fund

Recipient: Wei-Chun Chou

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine at Kansas State University

Dr. Chou felt very honored and appreciated receiving this prestigious award, which raised his confidence and inspiration to chase his dream of seeking knowledge. This award has not only given a positive impact on him but also highly recognized his research. Dr. Chou feels his future academic journey will begin with this single step. In this study, Dr. Chou developed and validated a robust PBPK model in four species (mice, rats, monkeys, and humans). He used an advanced Bayesian analysis with Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) simulation to optimize parameter estimates and to characterize the parameter uncertainty across all species. This work will help fill the gap in the derivation of human health-based guidance value for PFOS extrapolation from animal studies. Another unique aspect of his work is that he will open all model code to ensure his work is of high scientific quality, rigorous, and reproducible. In the future, he will apply this method and model to other other perfluoroalkyl substances if data available.

Bruce A. Fowler Metals Award Fund

Recipient: Somshuvra Mukhopadhyay

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Mukhopadhyay felt honored to be nominated by his senior colleagues for this prestigious award, and was delighted to learn that he received it. The award will increase visibility of his work in the toxicology and metal biology communities and help in establishing new collaborations and interactions. 

The goal of Dr. Mukhopadhyay's laboratory is to understand how cells and organisms regulate the metal manganese, and how elevated exposure to manganese induces toxicity. This is an important area of work because, in humans, manganese poisoning leads to an incurable form of parkinsonism. This award relates to contributions he made in deciphering the role of the gene SLC30A10 in manganese parkinsonism. Humans with mutations in SLC30A10 were recently reported to develop hereditary parkinsonism, but the cause was unclear. His work revealed that the function of SLC30A10 is to remove manganese from cells and the body, and thereby, protect against manganese poisoning. When SLC30A10 is mutated, manganese builds up in the body and causes parkinsonism.

Dr. Mukhopadhyay's future goals are to develop treatments for this disease.

Carl C. Smith Mechanisms Student Award Fund

Recipient: Kelly Hanson

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Rochester Medical Center

Upon receiving notification that she was a finalist for the Mechanisms Specialty Section Carl C. Smith Graduate Student Award, Ms. Hanson was very excited and felt determined to push herself to complete the manuscript by the deadline. She was appreciative of the opportunity not only to submit the manuscript for consideration for the prestigious Carl C. Smith award, but also to have the motivation to finish experiments, write, and revise within the span of a month. This helped accelerate her submission to Toxicological Sciences and have the reviewers’ comments by the time she held her final committee meeting, which provided justification to her committee for adhering to her proposed timeline and scheduling her defense date for the coming summer. At the Mechanisms SS reception at SOT 2019 in Baltimore, Ms. Hanson was pleasantly surprised and very grateful to receive the news that her manuscript won 2nd Place for the Carl C. Smith award. She believes that this honor will help to distinguish and substantiate her research and scientific communication skills to potential future employers, and will help shape her career trajectory in an undeniably positive way. She was very thankful for this opportunity and she looks forward to continuing her involvement with the Mechanisms Specialty Section and the Society of Toxicology as a whole.

As a fifth-year student in the Toxicology Training Program in the Department of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Ms. Hanson works in the lab of Dr. Jacob N. Finkelstein. This lab primarily focuses on the late effects of ionizing radiation exposure to lung tissue, both in the context of radiotherapy for thoracic tumors as well as countermeasures for biological terrorism. Her own thesis work focuses on the role of fibroblasts in radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis (PF). As a consequence of the lung’s radiation response, fibroblasts acquire an apoptosis resistant phenotype, which is a key part of PF pathology. During normal wound healing, fibroblasts should proliferate and produce extracellular matrix and are later cleared with an apoptotic signal; however, in the onset of PF, apoptosis resistant fibroblasts continue to proliferate unchecked and thus lead to excessive and progressive scar tissue accumulation, which is ultimately fatal. Her research aims to clarify the cellular mechanisms that lead to the apoptosis resistant phenotype of fibroblasts in PF. Briefly, the findings from her thesis work have shown first that fibroblast apoptosis resistance occurs much earlier in radiation-induced PF pathogenesis than previously thought, and secondly, that the onset of this detrimental phenotype is at least partially mediated by Toll-like receptor 4 signaling. Ms. Hanson's future goals include transitioning into an industry or consulting setting and concentrating on risk assessment, hazard characterization, and scientific communication.

Carl C. Smith Mechanisms Student Award Fund

Recipient: Robert Freeborn

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Mr. Freeborn was absolutely dumb-founded when he was announced as the winner. He was pleased just to be a finalist, and didn't think he had a shot at taking first prize. He thinks he probably looked like a fool when they called his name and his jaw dropped. This award will help him afford housing in San Francisco this summer while he pursues an internship to learn new techniques to bring back to his lab which can be applied to his thesis project. Specifically, he will have the opportunity to learn how to perform micro-CT analysis on lungs, which is something they have not yet done in his lab. Mr. Freeborn's research project studies the effects of the food additive, tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ), on T cells. Specifically, he studies the T cell response to influenza infection and how tBHQ modulates this response in mice. His data suggests that tBHQ impairs the T cell-mediated response to influenza infection by delaying T cell activation, suppressing effector function, and reducing the number of T cells capable of recognizing virus-infected cells. In non-technical terms, this can be thought of as the cells being late to show up to work and additionally doing a sub-par job once arriving to work. This leads to delayed viral clearance. Additionally, this leads to a prolonged infection upon secondary infection with the virus. He hypothesizes that tBHQ could reduce vaccine efficacy because of this. He also identified a potentially novel mechanism by which tBHQ modulates T cell function, which is through upregulation of the immunosuppressive proteins CTLA-4 and IL-10.

Carl C. Smith Mechanisms Student Award Fund

Recipient: Jessica Murray

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Pennsylvania

Ms. Murray was very grateful to receive the Carl C Smith Award. The application process that included writing a full manuscript was a valuable experience for her and she was honored that her work was considered impactful in the field of mechanistic toxicology. This award will help her pursue a career in research and to develop as a scientist by funding travel to scientific meetings where she will continue to learn cutting-edge topics in the field.

Ms. Murray's thesis research focuses on the metabolic activation of nitro polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (nitroarenes) which are highly mutagenic compounds produced in diesel engine exhaust. These compounds require metabolic activation via nitroreduction to exert their mutagenic and tumorigenic effects, but mammalian nitroreductases beyond NQO1 have not been well characterized. Surprisingly she found that human aldo keto reductases (AKRs), which are typically carbonyl reductases, are able to display nitroreductase activity towards a representative nitroarene 3-nitrobenzanthrone (3-NBA). The catalytic efficiencies are equal to that of NQO1, which up till now was thought to be the primary enzyme that toxified 3-NBA. She also found that these enzymes contributed equally in the nitroreduction of 3-NBA in vitro and together, accounted for at least 50% nitroreductase activity in lung epithelial cells. Both NQO1 and AKR1C genes are tightly regulated by Nrf2 signaling which regulates the antioxidant gene battery. There is considerable interest in developing Nrf2 inducers as chemopreventives since Nrf2 upregulates Phase II enzymes, glutathione synthesis, and drug transporters. Given that AKRs and NQO1 toxify 3-NBA and are among the most upregulated genes by Nrf2, she aimed to investigate whether Nrf2 activation as a chemopreventive strategy may exacerbate 3-NBA toxification. She found that heterozygous and homozygous Nrf2 knockout via CRISPR-Cas9 decreased 3-NBA toxification by 50% and 80%, and Nrf2 activation with pharmacological inducers increased 3-NBA toxification by 40-60%. Enhanced 3-NBA metabolic activation due to Nrf2 activity may lead to an increase in DNA adduct burden which would promote mutagenesis. Given these data, she feels it may be appropriate to explore whether Nrf2 activation could be deleterious in certain exposure contexts.

Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award Fund

Recipient: Brittany Rickard

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of the Sciences

Ms. Rickard has said that receiving an award inspired by one of the early leaders in toxicology, Ms. Anne Wolven Garrett, is truly an honor. As an undergraduate student studying Pharmacology and Toxicology, she finds it incredible to think that she has been recognized as a woman in the early stages of developing her career in toxicology. Since this award is a tribute to one of the most notable women in the field, it is not only incredibly humbling, but it also proves to her that her passion for and dedication to toxicological research has not gone unnoticed. She plans to use this award to fund future research projects in various areas of the field with the hopes of presenting her findings at future scientific conferences, such as SOT.

Ms. Rickards's research at the University of the Sciences focuses on the biotransformation and toxicity of an agricultural fungicide known to cause liver necrosis in rats. Interestingly, this compound is structurally similar to the drug troglitazone, which was once used to treat type II diabetes until it was found to cause liver damage in humans. Currently, they are exploring the breakdown of this fungicide into its metabolites in the presence of various cell lines in order to understand the mechanism behind and structural feature(s) responsible for the observed toxicity. This project, along with other research opportunities that she has been lucky enough to receive, has inspired her to attend graduate school next fall. In graduate school, she hopes to expand on both her knowledge and research experience in toxicology, specifically focusing on how organ tissues are formed and how environmental or pharmaceutical compounds can impact their proper development.

Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award Fund

Recipient: Lauren Lewis

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M University

Ms. Lewis was honored to receive the Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award. She is very thankful for the support of the Society of Toxicology and the Women in Toxicology Specialty Section. This award will allow her to attend the annual SOT meeting to present her dissertation research. Attending this conference will be a great experience because she will be able to network and participate in idea sharing with experienced scientists from academia and industry. In addition to attending lectures and discussions about her area of research, she will also be exposed to other areas of toxicology that she is less familiar with. Presenting a poster at the SOT annual meeting will allow her to receive valuable feedback about her research project. She will also be able to participate in continuing education classes which can help her improve her research techniques and methodologies. Overall, attending this conference will be a fantastic opportunity for her to gain knowledge about her area of research, network, and help her stay at the forefront of her field of research.

Epigenetic reprogramming represents a major component of “genome instability” which is an enabling characteristic of carcinogenesis. Exposure to chemical carcinogens can alter the chromatin landscape by inducing changes in DNA methylation, histone remodeling and alteration of microRNA expression. In addition, genetic variation can influence individual susceptibility to toxicants. Further investigation of the mechanistic link between the genome, epigenome, and DNA damage is necessary to understand inter-individual variability in response to environmental chemicals. In her research, she uses the model genotoxic carcinogen 1,3-butadiene to explore how the epigenome plays a role in individual susceptibility to genotoxic exposures. Her  goal is to characterize population variability in epigenetic and genotoxic effects of 1,3-butadiene in a population-based model.

Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award Fund

Recipient: Rita-Josiane Gousesse

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: INRS - Institut Armand-Frappier

Ms. Gousesse was very honored and thankful. This prize was a real surprise for her because she did not expect it, it is an invaluable recognition of all her accomplishments. She was encouraged to work better to do an excellent job but also to get more involved in her community. This award represents a great recognition for her accomplishments and will help her to accomplish more to enable access to education that is for her, the undeniable form to support the current and future female and male toxicologist, and scientist leaders all around the world.

Brominated flame retardants (BFR) are chemicals added to consumer and household products to reduce their inflammability and ignition rate. Over the time, BFR leach out in the environment leading to human and wildlife exposure mainly through breathing and ingestion of house dust. The problem is that some of the BFR act as endocrine disruptors which are substances that mimic or block the action of endogenous hormone. Because of theses harmful properties, BFR can have adverse effects on human health. Moreover, when exposure occurs during pregnancy, it may increase the risks for the infants to develop heath disorders later-on in life. Therefore, it is important the understand the effects of this chronic exposure to BFR on human heath. Her project specifically aims to understand the effects of exposure to BFR on mammary gland development in mothers and their infants. They previously orally exposed female rats to different doses of an environmentally-relevant mixture of BFR, based on concentration found in house dust, through pregnancy and breastfeeding, leading to perinatal exposure of the pups. Their results show that exposure to BFR disrupts mammary cell-cell adhesion both in mothers and their pups. Overall, their results suggest that environmental hormonal imbalance disturbs mammary gland signaling during the pregnancy-breastfeeding cycle and the puberty which are sensitive periods for breast development and cancer. Their study raises important concerns about the consequences of environment hormonal disruption on long-term. Their current and future studies will enable us to better understand the effects of BFR exposure on mammary gland development and pathogenesis.

Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award Fund

Recipient: Saniya Rattan

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

When Dr. Rattan received the email that she was awarded the Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award, she was in disbelief. Excitement and joy immediately followed when she realized that she was selected for this prestigious award. This award will greatly assist her research endeavors. She will be able to reduce the cost of attending the SOT Annual Meeting where she will get critical feedback on her research.

Dr. Rattan's research focuses on the effects of a plasticizer chemical, di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). DEHP is found in common consumer goods that contain polyvinyl chloride plastic. She looked at how exposure to DEHP only during the second half of pregnancy in mice affects female reproduction. She specifically looked at the ovary in the daughters, grand daughters, and great-grand daughters of the exposed mothers. The specific research for which she won this award examines the pathways that DEHP disrupts in the ovaries of these generations. The pathways that DEHP disrupts in the ovaries vary in the generation, but overall her research indicates that the effects of DEHP differs in each generation. Additionally, her research indicates that DEHP exposure may cause these effects through DNA methylation.

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

Recipient: Bharat Bhushan

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Bhushan was really excited upon receiving this award. This award will help him get recognition in the Society of Toxicology, which is very crucial for a research carrier.

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

Recipient: Manushree Bharadwaj

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: DVM, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: CVM, FDA

This award recognizes not just Dr. Bharadwaj's work but her lab and her advisors' support as well. This award helped her in defraying some of the travel cost to attend the meeting as she was not able to find another funding source.

BPAF is an industrial chemical used to make plastic and we all get exposed to it. Dr. Bharadwaj studied the role of BRAF in developmental toxicity. The next step is to perform transcriptomis to assess the early on gene changes that may have occurred due to BPAF exposure.

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Sreedhar Reddy Suthe

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BPharm
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Mr. Suthe was excited and happy about receiving this award. He knew this would be a very competitive award as he attended 2018 SOT in San Antonio and saw some wonderful work being recognized. He thanks the committee for this wonderful award.

In this work, his aim was to target Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) because of the lack of targeted treatment options. He was successful in establishing the RON receptor as a validated target which could be useful for TNBC patients in the future.

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Sumira Phatak

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Utah State University

Ms. Phatak was honored to be selected for such a prestigious award that greatly facilitated her attendance at the 2019 SOT meeting. Her long-term career goal is to attain a faculty position at a major research university, optimizing lifestyle intervention strategies that influence cancer outcome. She has stated that recognition by experts in her field is humbling and it reignites her motivation to continue working hard towards accomplishing her career goals.

The overall objective of Ms. Phatak's dissertation is to determine how exposure to the Western dietary pattern across multiple generations impacts colorectal cancer (CRC) outcome, epigenome programming, and gut microbiome composition. Deep frying foods damages macromolecule components and contributes to the formation of several toxic compounds known to negatively influence health outcomes, increasing CRC risk. She conducted a preclinical study, investigating how consumption of deep fried oil in combination with a Western diet impacts CRC outcome. The unexpected observation that deep fried oil disrupted glucose regulation in the context of a Western diet prompted further investigation of hepatic function via gene expression analysis on the Fluidigm Biomark platform, using novel reference genes for normalization.

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Keshav Karki

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M University

Mr. Karki was very excited and felt very honored to receive this award. He thanked the committee 'Carcinogenesis SS Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Graduate Student Award Endowment Award', the SOT and his PI for making this happen.

Mr. Karki's research is primarily focused on drug discovery and development for glioblastoma. He discovered a new gene in glioblastoma which acts as a driver for glioblastoma cell proliferation and invasion. He is currently working to identify the drug target for that particular gene. His future goal is to investigate the key pathways that are associated with that particular gene. He applied for the research entitled 'Nuclear Receptor 4A2 (NR4A2) as a Drug Target for Treating Glioblastoma'. Glioblastoma patients have limited treatment options and poor prognosis and there is an urgent need to develop new chemotherapeutic approaches for treating this disease and identifies less toxic mechanism-based therapeutics. He has demonstrated that NR4A2 knockdown affects several critical oncogenic pathways and genes in patient-derived GBM cell lines. CDIM12 is NR4A2 antagonist and decrease NR4A2-dependent cell growth, proliferation and invasion and related genes indicating that CDIM 12 is a potent NR4A2 antagonist in cell culture and animal models. Mr. Karki posits that therefore, the NR4A2 antagonists represent a new class of mechanism-based anticancer agents for the treatment of glioblastoma as standalone drugs or in drug combinations for patients that express the receptor.

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Sharavan Ramachandran

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Dr. Ramachandran was overwhelmed to receive this prestigious award. It has inculcated confidence and positivity in his research. This award will invigorate his career prospects and is a great acknowledgment of his research. He really felt honored to be acknowledged by Carcinogenesis Specialty Section. Dharm V. Singh Graduate Endowment Award aided his research to be showcased on a global arena. Moreover, he was pleased that this award aided him in covering his conference-related expenses. 

Dr. Ramachandran's research is based on investigating the usage of Pimavanserin, an anti-Parkinson drug in pancreatic cancer. Current treatment options for pancreatic cancer have failed due to the development of resistance towards these options. So, a novel treatment option is needed to combat the progression of pancreatic cancer. Therefore, Pimavanserin could serve as a novel treatment option for pancreatic cancer.

Diversity Initiatives Fund

Recipient: Dalia Arredondo

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: University of St. Thomas

Ms. Arredondo was very honored when she received the news that she had qualified to obtain this award. Being a first generation college student, it has always been her goal to take advantage of the opportunity to expand her learning and receive as much academic experience as she can. As a senior at the University of St. Thomas, attending a national conference has been an interest of hers. This year, thanks to the Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award, she will have the opportunity to attend the 2019 Annual Entomology Society of America conference. Attending this conference will give her the opportunity to present the research on which she and her colleagues are currently working to and meet other professionals in the field of toxicology. Ms. Arredondo is very grateful to the Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development fund for this award and she would also like to especially thank Dr. Rosemarie Rosell for being an exceptional mentor and an amazing professor.

Houston, being one of the top five largest cities in the United States, has a great deal of inhabitants and just as many industrial work facilities. As a result, there are various types of toxic compounds released into the atmosphere that civilians are at risk of inhaling. Toluene is an example of these toxic organic compound detected in the air, and is commonly found in household products, beauty products, and industrial workplaces. This research essentially focuses on the effect of toluene in terms of reproductive functionality and resulting offspring survivability. The effects of toluene are investigated on Drosophila melanogaster, a model species, that share similar human gene homologs, proteins and similar functions in regard to the reproductive system. As D.melanogaster have been exposed to toluene, we determined that as the concentration of toluene exposure increased, fecundity and offspring survivability decreases. To further advance the research in the search for additional results, the focus will be on determining fly offspring developmental outcomes and the underlying mechanisms of decreased fecundity and survival of offspring.

Diversity Initiatives Fund

Recipient: Yanelli Nunez

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS, MA
Institution/Affiliation: Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University

Ms. Nunez felt it was great news to find out that she had been selected as one of the Career Development award recipients – she and her advisor were both trilled with the news! Attending this workshop will be an incredible opportunity to broaden her knowledge on the in silico analysis of exposure/response data and the general steps involved in the risk assessment process.

Ms. Nunez's dissertation research uses in vitro and in vivo models to study the potential contributions of low-chronic metal exposure to the pathology of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Using in vitro cell models, she generated survival-concentration curves for neuronal and glial cells to identify minimal metal exposure concentrations that elicit toxic effects in each cell type. Additionally, she is currently evaluating the effects of chronic low-level manganese exposure in an in vivo model of ALS. Through her laboratory work she became interested in the field of risk assessment, specifically in analyzing exposure/response data and the process of determining safety margins for environmental compounds. For her postdoctoral training, Ms. Nunez plans to take advantage of the increasing availability of toxicological data and exposure/response computational models to evaluate the environmental contributions to neurodegenerative diseases and identify risk levels of exposure. The Pharmacometric Dose-Response Analysis in Clinical trials using R workshop will equip her with an essential set of tools to further her knowledge of the process involve in risk assessment as well as in managing and analyzing dose/response data.

Donald E. Gardner Inhalation Toxicology Education Award Fund

Recipient: Andres Henriquez

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: ORISE/EPA

Dr. Henriquez was surprised and thankful of this opportunity for collaboration. This award will help him to test how endothelial cell disruption may be a key event in mediating ozone-induced adverse effects.

Dr. Henriquez's research is focused on the exploration of mechanisms by which air pollutants induce, exacerbate and modulate pulmonary and extra-pulmonary responses. Neuroendocrine stress response has been identified as a major mechanism regulating ozone toxicity. His future goals include the bridging from in vivo to in vitro to characterize cell-specific responses to ozone-induced derangements in circulating stress hormones. The innovation of this proposal is the use of in vivo and in vitro approaches to address important mechanistic questions involved in health effects of air pollutants. Specifically, he plans to examine how endothelial cells are affected by the previously characterized ozone-induced changes on serum levels of adrenal-derived stress hormones.

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Catheryne Chiang

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Ms. Chiang felt incredulous and elated This award will help pursue her research by relieving the financial burden incurred by travel to SOT. Additionally, this award will strengthen her CV and make her a stronger candidate in future applications for awards and postdocoral positions.

Ms. Chiang's research focuses on how specific plasticizers affect female fertility, especially how acute exposure affects a female over her life time, using a mouse model. her future goals are to work with safety/regulation/public health as it concerns toxicology. She is hoping to acquire a postdoctoral position in a governmental agency focused on or around those areas. The specific research she conducted to win this award involved acutely exposing mice to DEHP and a DEHP replacement chemical, DiNP. She analyzed fertility indices and hormone levels in these mice immediately, 3 months, and 6 months post dosing. Her research shows that acute exposure to both of these chemicals has long lasting effects on female fertility and affects sex steroid hormone levels within these mice.

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Isabelle Lee

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Pennsylvania

Ms. Lee was honored and grateful to be the recipient of the Edward W. Carney Trainee Endowment Award. This award supported her travel to the 58th Annual Society of Toxicology Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland in March, 2019 where she presented her research elucidating the role of environmental toxicants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), in driving endometrial cancer. She significantly benefitted from this support during this final phase of her graduate school tenure, as traveling to national and international scientific meetings is an integral part of her training and development as a scientist. At the SOT Meeting she not only had the opportunity to strengthen her knowledge in reproductive toxicology by listening to fellow scientists, but also by receiving critical feedback that would bolster her own work. She also had the chance to meet prospective employers and attend professional development workshops at a critical point in her career trajectory. She thanks the committee once again for granting her with this award!

The increase in endocrine-related cancers, including endometrial malignancies, may be related to increased exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Endometrial cancer is a disease of unopposed estrogens, and the source of these estrogens could endogenous or exogenous. Ms. Lee's research focuses on determining whether environmental toxicants, specifically polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and their metabolites, act as exogenous estrogens in the human endometrium. In this project, she demonstrated that some PAH metabolites with structural resemblance to estrogens act as ligands for the estrogen receptor. These compounds also promote the expression of cell cycle genes, and the proliferation of endometrial cells. She additionally found endometrial cells to metabolize the prototypic PAH, benzo[a]pyrene, into estrogenic metabolites. This work reveals how environmental toxicants may activate nuclear receptors to promote endometrial hormone dependent malignancies, such as endometrial cancer. Her future goal is to investigate whether the more potent effects of PAH are driven by other forms of estrogen receptors such as GPR30; and she will be knocking down estrogen receptors alpha and beta in endometrial cells to determine whether this can block the effects of PAH metabolites on cell growth. The end goal will be to elucidate the mechanism of action of PAH in driving endometrial cell proliferation.

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Subham Dasgupta

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS, MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of California Riverside

Dr. Dasgupta was absolutely delighted on receiving this award, since he believes that it provides a validation for the work that he has been doing for the last 2 years within the area of developmental toxicology. For him, this recognition by his peers is definitely a great achievement, and will motivate him more in continuing to work within this field. The monetary amount also allowed him to defray the cost of traveling and lodging for the conference and lessened the financial burden on his mentor so that more funds can be used to pursue research in the lab.

Dr. Dasgupta is studying the toxic effects of early the flame retardant TDCIPP on early development of embryos. TDCIPP is known to impact the movement of cells within the embryo, leading to an arrest of a cell-migration process called "epiboly". Within this research he has shown that the impacts of TDCIPP on this process may be driven by epigenetic changes within the embryo that can further disrupt biological pathways. In addition, TDCIPP also alters specific lipid metabolites within the embryos, which may also contribute to the epiboly arrest. Overall, this research shows that the flame retardant can disrupt development during early stages of the embryo, which can lead to embryo mortality, teratogenesis and implantation failure.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Souvarish Sarkar

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Sarkar won this award as a graduate student, but was not expecting to win this prestigious award as a first year postdoc. He was pleasantly surprised. Being acknowledged by experts in the field will help him in his career and in his ultimate goal of becoming an independent PI.

Dr. Sarkar's goal is to identify drug targets for Parkinson's disease patients using Drosophila as a high-throughput screening model. Here he showed that he can use this model to identify targets in PD subsets. If we can better understand the complex nature of gene-environment crosstalk we can go towards personalized medicine in neurodegnerative diseases instead of generic approach.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Monica Langley

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Mayo Clinic

Dr. Langley was very excited and honored to be selected as the first place winner for this award. Being recognized for successfully presenting drug discovery research will help build her credibility as a researcher and highlight additional skill sets on her CV to potential future employers.

Dr. Langley's work aims to better understand the underlying mechanisms of chronic high fat diet induced oligodendrocyte loss in animal models and connect this to epidemiological studies which show metabolic syndrome as a risk factor for multiple sclerosis (MS) development and disease progression. In cell culture and ex vivo models, she has shown efficacy of a newly identified target for demyelination and high fat co-exposure, and are planning new studies in translational models of MS to better characterize the efficacy and safety of this target.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Lutz Mueller

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MSc, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: F. Hoffmann-La Roche

Dr. Mueller was pleasantly surprised to receive this award.

Dr. Mueller received his award for the discovery, selection and safety testing of a SMN2 small molecule RNA splice modifier. RNA splice modification is a new category of small molecule targets, which present large hurdles for specificity and safety. This will spur new research into this direction. RNA splice modification is a new field in safety and specificity testing and disease interference for small molecules. The design of safe such small molecules will advance knowledge in toxicology.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Paige Glumac

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Minnesota

Ms. Glumac was honored to be selected for this award. Since she came to the conference independently, this award helped to defray the costs of her attendance and allowed her to obtain valuable feedback about her research prior to publication.

Ms. Glumac's research focuses on developing novel antibodies which are selective for prostate cancer. The research for which she won this award was based solely on her identification of CD133 as a targetable biomarker in a particular subset of prostate cancer patients and the development of a novel antibody which can target CD133. In this research, she also used this antibody as an imaging agent to identify CD133-positive prostate cancer tumors using mouse models. Due to the specificity of her novel antibody, she hopes to use it as a therapeutic agent moving forward in the form of an antibody-drug conjugate or radioimmunotherapy.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Lauren Lewis

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M University

Ms. Lewis was very excited to receive the 2nd place poster presentation award. This award helped her with her travel expenses for the SOT 58th Annual Meeting.

Ms. Lewis's research investigates epigenetic effects and their role in chemical-induced carcinogenesis. Her poster highlighted the tissue-specific epigenetic effects in a population-based mouse model. She hopes to work in the pharmaceutical industry as a toxicologist.

Founders Fund

Recipient: Lois D. Lehman-McKeeman

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD, ATS
Institution/Affiliation: Bristol-Myers Squibb

For her dedication to and record of working to enhance human health and influence decision-making and for her service within SOT, Dr. Lehman-McKeeman has been awarded the 2019 Founders Award (for Outstanding Leadership in Toxicology). Dr. Lehman-McKeeman earned her PhD in toxicology from the University of Kansas Medical Center. Through her current position as vice president of Pharmaceutical Candidate Optimization at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Lehman-McKeeman leads a group that integrates toxicology, drug metabolism, pharmacokinetics, pharmaceutics, and analytical sciences to support the discovery of high-quality drug candidates. At Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Lehman-McKeeman has conducted and led basic research that supported advancement of new drug candidates, including significant mechanistic work to establish the human safety of Baraclude (an antiviral drug). Additionally, her research efforts to elucidate the mechanism of α2u-globulin nephropathy in inducing male rat renal cell cancer established a mechanism of rodent carcinogenesis that was not human relevant. As a result of this work by Dr. Lehman-McKeeman, many chemicals that induce male rat kidney cancer are now understood not to represent cancer risks in humans. Outside of the laboratory, Dr. Lehman-McKeeman has played a pivotal role in SOT through her dedication to Toxicological Sciences. She was named as an associate editor when the journal launched and served as Editor-in-Chief from 2002–2011. Dr. Lehman-McKeeman’s contributions to SOT also are exemplified in her service as the 2013–2014 SOT President and her positions on several SOT committees.

Frank C. Lu Food Safety Student Award Fund

Recipient: Jeremy Gingrich

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

When Mr. Gingrich first heard that he received this award he was incredibly happy and proud of himself. The experiment from which his abstract was drawn took a lot of time and hard work, and such positive peer recognition of that is incredibly meaningful to Mr. Gingrich. This award will aid in funding his participation in a continuing education course, as well as provide some additional travel support to the 2020 SOT annual meeting.

Mr. Gingrich's research primarily investigates the impact of chemical exposures during pregnancy, mainly through diet or the environment, on the development of the placenta. In the future, he would like to make a career out of this interest, and pursue a position working in the field of experimental toxicology or risk assessment.

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award Fund

Recipient: Aseel Eid

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Florida International University

Dr. Eid was honored to receive this award, which she feels underscores the importance of her research. Dr. Eid's future goal is to be an independent academic investigator. Her research focuses on different pesticides and how they may contribute to diseases such as Alzheimer's. In the abstract which she presented, she was investigating the role of DDT on specialized cells in the brain that promote inflammation. The award will aid her research in elucidating and understanding the mechanisms by which DDT is contributing to increasing neuroinflammation in microglia. This award also aids her career development as an academic researcher in the field of neurotoxicology. The work presented in this abstract present a new novel role of DDT and is important in advancing our understanding of the mechanisms of this pesticide in neurotoxicology. The work presented in her abstract considered the mechanistic role that of known pesticide, DDT on primary microglia. From these data, DDT is able to directly activate microglia and increase neuroinflammatory factors. This presents a potential new adverse effect of this pesticide.

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award Fund

Recipient: Asmita Pant

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award Fund

Recipient: Matthew Dodson

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS, MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona

Dr. Dodson was very surprised and excited to learn that he was a finalist for the Gabriel L Plaa Education award. Dr. Plaa was a well known and respected member of the toxicology field for many years, so Dr. Dodson considers placing for an award in his name a great honor. Receipt of this award will help him in pursuing his goal of becoming an assistant professor, and hopefully achieving the same level of mentorship and academic pedigree that Dr. Plaa did in his time as part of the SOT.

The research for which Dr. Dodson won this award is centered upon determining the mechanisms that underly arsenic promotion of type II diabetes. While millions of people worldwide are exposed to unsafe levels of arsenic, resulting in an enhanced risk of numerous diseases, there are still a great deal of questions regarding the mechanisms that actually drive arsenic pathogenesis. For his studies, he has found that arsenic inhibits the autophagy lysosome pathway via altering global protein O-GlcNAcylation, resulting in the prolonged activation of the Nrf2 signaling cascade. Importantly, Nrf2 regulates a number of downstream transcriptional responses, thus determining what downstream signaling pathways are affected by chronic arsenic induction of Nrf2 will provide a great deal of insight that can be used to generate better therapies to treat arsenic exposed populations. The core of this work was recently used as preliminary data for Dr. Dodson's K99/R00 submission, which coupled with receipt of this award, would be a significant step towards his goal of becoming an independent academic researcher a top tier university.

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Sharavan Ramachandran

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Mr. Ramachandran was really overwhelmed and excited to receive this award. It is really a great honor and an acknowledgement for a graduate student like himself to receive this award. It has provided his research a recognition in the global research platform. Moreover, it will foster him to perform qualitative research in the future.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal and malignant disease in the United States with a 5 year survival rate of lower than 5%. In addition, gemcitabine which is currently prescribed for the treatment of pancreatic cancer has become ineffective due to development of gemcitabine resistance by cancer cells. Hence there is a need to design novel therapeutic agents to combat the challenges in pancreatic cancer treatment. Herein their project is focused on deciphering the anti-cancer effects of pimavanserin in pancreatic cancer.

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Sireesha Manne

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BVSc
Institution/Affiliation: Iowa State University

Ms. Manne was very glad to receive this award. This is a great opportunity to continue the research and this award will help her to pursue her passion in the toxicology field.

Her current work focuses on developing a diagnostic biomarker for manganese neurotoxicity and to other neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson's and prion diseases. In the current study, she identified exosome-based biomarkers such as aggregated alpha-synuclein and some small RNA changes as potential biomarker value for manganese neurotoxicity. They developed a Real-Time quaking-induced conversion assay to detect the aggregated alpha-synuclein protein in a group of welder's population using serum exosomes.

Jean Lu Student Scholarship Award

Recipient: Jun Zhou

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Georgia

Dr. Zhou was very glad to receive this valuable award, which was originally endowed by Dr. Frank Lu and his wife Ms. Jean Lu. It will always remind him in his career path that he should work as a bridge to line-up people of different cultures, ethnic backgrounds and various fields, in order to better serve people, while pursuing his personal research.

He used high-throughput techniques and omics methods to investigate how xenobiotics and nutrients can impact on metabolisms in different aspects. In the future he will focus on high-throughput toxicology. A large number of studies have investigated the impacts of toxins, toxicants and nutrients on human metabolic and endocrine status. However, the modifying effects of various xenobiotics on gut-microbiota dependent metabolisms, as well as associated metabolic and endocrine status are less known. Dietary exposure to major food-borne mycotoxin aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is associated with a wide range of severe health problems in human, including metabolic syndrome, liver steatosis, liver cirrhosis, and dysbiosis etc. But the alterations of gut-microbiota induced by AFB1 has never been well studied. The work to be presented in SOT 2019 would be about gut-microbiota dependent metabolisms in Aflatoxin B1-treated rat model.

Laxman S. Desai Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Navatha Alugubelly

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Mississippi State University

Ms. Alugubelly is honored to be selected for such a prestigious award. This award allowed her to attend the 2019 SOT meeting. Being a final year graduate student, it was important for Ms. Alugubelly to attend this meeting to network with potential employers, to present her research to larger audience, and to meet with pioneers in her field. Winning this award significantly adds to her accomplishments and boost her resume.She is grateful to the ASIO SOT Endowment Fund for their support.

As a graduate student at the Mississippi State University, Ms. Alugubelly's research work focuses on identifying the molecular mechanisms responsible for long-term effects of developmental exposure to chlorpyrifos on behavior. Previous work from her lab demonstrated that the developmental exposure to chlorpyrifos inhibits endocannabinoid metabolizing enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase and increases the endocannabinoid levels at dosages that do not cause any brain acetylcholinesterase inhibition, which is a canonical target of organophosphate pesticides. The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in brain development specifically brain maturation and synaptogenesis and emotional behavior. Their previous work also demonstrated that developmental exposure to chlorpyrifos increases social play behavior in adolescent rats. In this study, she demonstrated that the FAAH inhibition during development leads to persistent changes in the glutamatergic and GABAergic signaling which could lead to excitatory-inhibitory imbalance. This imbalance could be responsible for observed altered emotional behavior. The data from this study also suggest that the activation of the opioid signaling could also be responsible for the increased social play behavior.Identifying the non-cholinergic mechanisms of organophosphates at low dosages can help understand the toxicoity of these pesticides better.

Mary Amdur Student Award Fund

Recipient: Jacklyn Kelty

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of California Davis

Ms. Kelty was so honored to receive this award. She deeply admires Dr. Amdur and is thrilled to be included in her legacy through this fellowship. This award will help her invest into the Knights Landing community which has collaborated with her throughout her PhD research. They are building a community garden to honor their contribution to our team's training and research. She is excited to use this funding to invest in them as they have invested in her!

Ms. Kelty is a 5th year PhD candidate in Pharmacology and Toxicology at UC Davis. She earned her bachelors degree at Rice University as a double major in Biochemistry-Cell Biology and Environmental Science and currently studies “Personalized Toxicology”. Ms. Kelty measures community exposures to pollution and then models these exposures in the lab to figure out whether or not the pollution is toxic and who in the population is the most susceptible to toxicity. She plans to link community-partnered research with her laboratory toxicology research into her future and is graduating this year! For her PhD dissertation, she works with the small, agricultural community of Knights Landing in collaboration with community leaders, local public health agencies, and academic partners in the UCD Chicana/o Studies Department. In the lab, Ms. Kelty uses animal and in vitro models to test the lung toxicity caused by chemical mixtures, including the influence of liver metabolism. The model she developed for her PhD project maintains the xenobiotic metabolic enzyme activity of the cultured airway cells. She uses this model to compare the toxic response of airway and liver cells from model species and diverse human donors.

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award Fund

Recipient: Jiqun Wang

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Louisville

Dr. Wang was so excited when he received this award. Definitely, it was a big surprise for him and it was also a recognition of his work. This will give him the motivation to continue his research in this field.

As is known to everyone, diabetes can induce cardiac damage, which is often fatal. Previous studies have shown that using sulforaphane or zinc alone has cardioprotective effects, and Dr. Wang's study aims to investigate whether the combination of the two provides better protection. In future research, he will strive to discover more potential mechanisms and how to translate into the clinic.

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Tara Catron

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: BASF Corporation

Dr. Catron was very excited to learn that she received this award, as it highlights the importance of the research her postdoc lab is conducting trying to link changes in host-associated microbiota to potential adverse health outcomes, and is a strong motivator for continuing to do investigate this critical question.

During her postdoc, Dr. Catron studied how host-associated microbial communities interact with environmental chemicals during early development to influence toxicity outcomes, using zebrafish as a model. Specifically, she focused on examining the interaction between microbiota and the brain using zebrafish behavioral assays as a functional readout of brain development and function. The project for which she won the MSBSS Postdoc Award relied on zebrafish with and without microbes to explore how colonization status might impact behavioral toxicity triggered by estradiol, a potent estrogen receptor agonist that plays an important role in early brain development. The results demonstrated that phase-specific behavioral effects (decrease in movement) were observed in zebrafish larvae exposed to estradiol in colonized zebrafish only. Concentrations of estradiol and direct estradiol metabolites were also higher in microbe-free zebrafish, suggesting that microbes influence chemical metabolism. This experience made Dr. Catron want to pursue a career where she could focus on the “big picture” rather than whether a chemical is simply “hazardous.” She recently transitioned into a career at BASF Corporation where she performs ecological risk assessments, designs and monitors studies, and provides support for agricultural product registration on a global scale.

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Kari Neier

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MPH
Institution/Affiliation: University of Michigan

Ms. Neier was thrilled to receive this award! This award will help her in advancing her research through presenting her work to multiple audiences which will allow her to gain new perspectives and insights.

Ms. Neier is researching how exposures to chemicals in plastics during development influence the long-term risk of metabolic disorders, such as obesity. The research for which she won this award seeks to identify molecular pathways that may be re-programmed in liver and adipose tissue by developmental exposures to phthalates and phthalate mixtures.

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Ryan Mote

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MBA
Institution/Affiliation: University of Georgia

This award will help further Mr. Mote's research career by addition of the prestigious award to his CV, while also allowing him the confidence to move forward knowing that his mentors and peers in the scientific community believe in the importance of this work.

Essentially, the goal of Mr. Mote's research (and the research for which this award was won) is to increase cattle production efficiency under hot and humid environmental conditions through big data approaches. The overarching goal of this research is to increase profitability and lessen the environmental impact of agricultural production systems by improving production efficiency in pasture-based systems as the public interest in grass-based, natural production of livestock grows. In the future, he plans apply for the presidential management fellowship to work with the USDA in sustainable agriculture, as climate change will negatively impact the agricultural sector, the need for sustainable production of food sources will continue to grow throughout the world, and he believes that the training and encouragement he has received in his doctoral training program have placed him in a position to contribute to this noble cause.

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Matthew Wyatt Cole

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BA
Institution/Affiliation: Kenyon College

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Josi Herron

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: University of Washington

Ms. Herron was very encouraged to receive this award. She was happy to be recognized for her research efforts and ability to communicate her results to a large audience. This award will allow her the opportunity to attend future meetings, such as SOT, where she can continue to share her research and receive feedback from peers in the field.

Ms. Herron's work involves investigating the effect of commonly used disinfectants against brain development. She has shown that these disinfectants are capable of altering the production of cholesterol, which is an essential molecule for proper brain development. The research she was given the award for was focused on looking at global gene expression changes in brains of mice that were exposed to the disinfectants during gestation. This work demonstrated for the first time that these disinfectants can enter the fetal brain and alter gene expression related to cholesterol biosynthesis, indicating that these disinfectants might have detrimental effects on brain development.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Tarana Arman

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Washington State University

Ms. Arman believes that a very integral quality of a successful scientist is to be able to speak about their research with confidence. More importantly, it should be conveyed in a way that the general mass can understand. These were the two primary attributes she aimed to inculcate in her presentation when she was notified that she would be discussing her work in a platform style. This was her second year attending the PANWAT conference. Platform presentations can be such an unnerving experience, but everyone present was very encouraging to her. Receiving the award was a very humbling and special moment. She absolutely enjoyed presenting her work in front of the erudite audience. The conference also presented her with an opportunity to listen to and learn about other interesting researches on-going in the field of toxicology. This award helped her by boosting her confidence to participate in more events. Every time she is involved in an event like this, her understanding of her own research grows deeper. This monetary award will help her to take part in the next conference.

Ms. Arman has always enjoyed sharing her knowledge with her coworkers for better ideas, which ultimately strengthens her knowledge bank. Her ultimate career goal is to become an expert in the fields of liver and kidney molecular toxicology to better predict and mitigate these toxicities. The overall premise of her research work is to elucidate the mechanisms of microcystin-LR (MCLR) toxicity in populations with preexisting liver and kidney diseases. The preexisting disease condition that she is looking into is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is the most common liver disease in the United States, with almost 40% of the population suffering from it. NAFLD is defined as the accumulation of excessive fat in the liver of patients, without a history of excessive alcohol intake. If unchecked, a fatty liver progresses to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). An estimated 17% of the US adult population have NASH. Evidence suggests that exposure to environmental toxicants can cause fatty liver and/or drive NAFLD progression to NASH (e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), perchloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE)). In addition to NAFLD, chronic kidney disease (CKD) represents a significant health burden and shares some of the similar risk factors associated with NAFLD. A meta-analysis report reported a two-fold increase in CKD in association with NASH. Similar to what is known regarding the role of toxicants in NAFLD progression, some environmental factors have been implicated in kidney toxicity (e.g. bisphenol A). For both NAFLD and CKD, there is more research needed into the role of other environmental toxins play in the severity and progression of these diseases. Microcystin-LR (MCLR), is an extremely stable and persistent toxin produced by the cyanobacteria blooms (blue-green algae). These blooms are ubiquitous in surface water and thrive under favorable conditions. Liver and kidney are the primary and secondary target organs affected by MCLR. Her research focuses on investigating the role of MCLR in the progression of NAFLD and CKD. For her presentation at PANWAT 2018, she discussed about the mechanistic link(s) between MCLR kidney toxicity and the development and progression of CKD in the context of NASH.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: David Scoville

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Washington

Dr. Scoville was surprised and delighted to receive this award. It will help to support him during his training.

Dr. Scoville is working to understand the effects of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) on host metabolism and the role of the gut microbiome using genomic and metabolomic approaches. PBDEs are former flame retardants that persist in the environment and bioaccumulate such that humans are exposed routinely through dietary sources including meat and dairy products. He hopes to continue researching the toxicological effects of environmental contaminants in the future using these powerful techniques as they continue to advance and provide additional mechanistic insights.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Celine Huynh

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Ms. Huynh was surprised to receive the "Best Undergraduate Research Poster Presentation" because she had never presented her research to professionals before. She had just completed a majority of her research the summer of 2018 and had presented for the first time at a research symposium a month prior. She is very grateful to have had the opportunity to attend PANWAT for the first time and to be able to work under Dr. Susan Tilton. She is excited to continue working in the Tilton lab and completing her undergraduate thesis.

Ms. Huynh's summer research focused on the effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon chemicals on barrier function in 3-dimensional human primary bronchial epithelial cells collected from normal and diseased donors. Both diseased and normal donor cells were treated with chemicals and evaluated for barrier function, cytotoxicity and gene amplification. Cells were then imaged using a confocal microscope. In the future, her research will focus on oxidative stress in 2-dimensional cells. She will potentially assess the role of sulforaphane to modulate NRF2 targets NQO1 and GSTP1 in normal and diseased human bronchial epithelial cells. In the future she would like to complete her undergraduate thesis by spring 2020 and earn her minor in toxicology. She plans on becoming a certified nursing assistant and attending graduate school in the future.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Prarthana Shankar

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State Univetsity

Ms. Shankar was pleasantly surprised and excited on hearing that she received this poster award! She would like to thank her advisor Dr. Robert Tanguay, and all her lab mates and collaborators who not only helped with this project, but also helped put the poster together. She will use the funds from this award for future conference expenses.

Ms. Shankar is interested in understanding the mechanisms of action of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a class of organic pollutants that humans are exposed to via burning reactions (like, vehicle exhaust, cigarette smoke, grilling food, etc). She use the zebrafish model to investigate the downstream molecular processes that take place on aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation by these PAHs during development. She is currently working on understanding the role of long non-coding RNAs (RNA molecules that do not code for protein) in PAH developmental toxicity. Her poster for which she won this award explained a large PAH toxicity screen that they conducted, and how they selected "representative PAHs" and are working with transcriptomic data to define, evaluate, and classify PAH toxicity.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Shivakumar Rayavara Veerabhadraiah

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Boise State

The inspiration and confidence Mr. Veerabhadraiah got after wining the award was priceless.

The long-term goal of Dr. Mitchell’s lab is to find a selective aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) modulator to reverse, prevent, or limit the development of liver fibrosis. Mr. Veerabhadraiah's PhD thesis work focused on investigating the cellular role of AhR during liver fibrosis using Cre-Lox based cell-specific knockout mice (in vivo) and human hepatic stellate cell lines (LX-2) (in vitro). The goal of this project was to knock down AhR expression in either hepatocytes or HSCs to determine how these cells contribute to the development of fibrosis in TCDD-treated mice.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Courtney Roper

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Ms. Roper was very honored to receive this award as there was some very exciting and well designed studies at the regional SOT meeting. Her research looks to better understand air pollution and improve regulations to protect human health.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Brynne Coulam

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Boise State University

Ms. Coulam did not expect to receive an award, and she felt very honored. She is investigating how estrogen-modulating activity of intestinal bacteria may influence melanoma development.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Michael-Andres Mans

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Mr. Mans was very excited because he had not yet had the opportunity to attend an SOT conference. He conducted this research as a part of his undergraduate thesis and he looks forward to being able to present his research and advertise himself to potential future employers.

Mr. Man's research analyzes how a class of ubiquitous contaminant, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, affects gene expression by indirectly interacting with DNA. PAHs result from the combustion of any organic matter are are comprised of over 1500 compounds. Many PAHs are carcinogenics or may become carcinogenic by metabolism in the body. This study looks specifically at the dysregulation of a class of RNA transcripts called miRNA in 3D human lung cell cultures in response to PAH exposure. miRNA can inhibit or delay the translation of genes into proteins, altering gene expression which may contribute to the progression of carcinogenic PAH toxicity.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Rebekah Petroff

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Washington

Dr. Petroff was excited and grateful for the wonderful organizers and volunteers of her regional chapters. This award is helping to fund her trip to SOT this year, allowing her to attend a conference across the country. As she is getting towards the tail end of her tenure as a graduate student, she is looking forward to the opportunity to catch up with other toxicologists that she has met over the years as an SOT member, and participate in special events, such as the infamous "Chat with an Expert," and socials for groups like Women in Toxicology and the Neurotoxicology Specialty Section.

Dr. Petroff's research is focused on understanding how low levels of toxins may cause subtle neurological damage with chronic exposure. For this award, she presented research on how domoic acid, a specific marine algal toxin, can cause damage in the white matter tracts of adult brains that can be measured with MRI technology. This research is incredibly important because it touches on how the environment around us can affect the organ that makes you, you. In the future, she is looking forward to incorporating more data science into the field of neurotoxicology. She wants to use technology, big data, and machine learning to better understand exposures, disease, and ultimately protect the neurological health of people around the world.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Sarah Kobernat

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BA
Institution/Affiliation: Boise State University

Ms. Kobernat was so glad she had the opportunity to share her research and that people understood it. She is a third year grad student who does research on the role of Ah receptor activation in the progression of liver disease. She hopes to continue in the field of toxicology upon graduating.

Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Award Fund

Recipient: Axelle Marchand

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Université de Montréal

Ms. Marchand was really happy to receive this award. She put a lot of time and effort into this project and winning such a prize was the best reward for that work. It will help her to hold on through the thesis writing process.

Ms. Marchand's work aims to evaluate the potential effect of worker's exposure to heat on the absorption of chemicals through breathing and the resulting levels in the body. This data can provide a better understanding of how to correlate biomonitoring values and chemical concentrations in the workplace in order to better protect people. According to her results, a temperature of 30 degree celcius (WBGT) would cause increases in blood concentrations of volatile organic solvents. Body weight and composition seem to have an impact on these observations, suggesting toxicokinetics in obese subject would be more affected.

Perry J. Gehring Diversity Student Travel Award Fund

Recipient: Jessica Jimenez

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BA
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ms. Jimenez was honored to receive the Perry J. Gehring Diversity Student Travel Award. It made it possible for her to attend the 2019 Society of Toxicology Meeting for the first time as a graduate student. This was a truly valuable experience where she was able to expand her research network, learn from incredible scientists in the field of toxicology.

Ms. Jimenez is getting her PhD in Toxicology, focusing on how environmental contaminants can affect brain health. She was given this award based on her research exploring the activation and function of macrophages, immune cells in the body, upon stimulation with bacteria and chemical exposures. Ms. Jimenez hopes to continue investigating the neurotoxic potential of environmental contaminants and their effect on neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Student Award Fund

Recipient: Sarah Burnett

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M University

Ms. Burnett was thrilled to be a recipient of the RSESS Graduate Student Excellence Award. This award allowed to travel to and present her research at the 2019 SOT Annual Meeting. She was excited to share this research with the scientific community, and in turn, to gain feedback to advance both this research and her career in the future. Additionally, this award allowed her an invaluable opportunity to network with scientists and potential employers within her research specialty and beyond. By meeting and talking with other scientists about her research, she received diverse ideas for improvement and future direction, crucial for ensuring that each detail of the research project is fully considered and impactful. Again, she was thrilled and thankful to be a recipient of the RSESS Graduate Student Excellence Award and the invaluable opportunities it granted her to advance her research and career.

Current risk assessment approaches are hindered by poor understanding of population variability in response to xenobiotic exposure. Understanding the extent of inter-individual variability is critical in avoiding unexpected pharmaceutical toxicities and in ensuring that regulatory limits of environmental chemicals are protective of sensitive subpopulations. Ms. Burnett's research focuses on a population-based in vitro model using human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes to assess cardiotoxicity hazard and estimate toxicodynamic population variability. This type of model is critically important in improving safety evaluation of both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical compounds. Her long-term research interest is to advance risk assessment by utilizing and developing alternative methods for safety evaluation. Her career goal is to become a toxicologist in industry and practice human health risk assessment.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Student Award Fund

Recipient: Wei-Chun Chou

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine (ICCM), Kansas State University

Dr. Chou was honored to receive this award. The current work is the beginning of his long-term research plan. This award will help him a lot to realize his research plan and career goal.

Dr. Chou's project has great scientific significance and will lead to great impact in the field of regulatory toxicology and safety evaluation. Firstly, the effort in the development of the PBPK model in mice, rats, monkeys and humans based on comprehensive toxicokinetic experiment from animal and human studies can reduce the uncertainty of dosimetry extrapolating from animals to human, and potential to improve the quantitative risk assessment for PFOS. Secondly, by integrating the Bayesian analysis and MCMC algorithm, the uncertainty of interspecies differences in model parameters were well characterized to create more reliable model for interspecies extrapolation to humans. Finally, the modeling results in terms of adequate convergence, valid posterior parameter distribution and well agreement with experiment data, providing the support to reduce the uncertainty of derivation of health-based toxicity values (e.g., RfDs) extrapolated from animal studies. The future goal of this project is to provide a foundation for establishing this risk assessment framework for PFOS and extend to other perfluoroalkyl compounds if sufficient toxicokinetic data are available.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Student Award Fund

Recipient: Yi-Hsien Cheng

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Kansas State University/Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine (ICCM)

Dr. Cheng was surprisied but grateful to receive this award. This award is prestigious and affirms her work in the fields of computational toxicology, regulatory, and safety evaluation as well as helps get recognized by senior researchers, which will greatly help her pursue her research in relevant fields.

Currently Dr. Cheng is establishing and implementing physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models to estimate internal dosimetry as well as biodistribution of nanoparticle in rodents and humans following various systemic administrations. By using this computational technique together with safety evaluation and risk assessment approaches, optimum dosing regimen of nanomedicine can be proposed. Her career goal is to become an independent investigator in either academia, research institute, or industries. The above-mentioned PBPK modeling frameworks capable of predicting distribution in normal target tissues, delivery efficiency to tumor cells in tumor tissue, as well as potential toxicity in vitro and in vivo following systemic administration will form the basis of her future research. The present work represents the beginning of her long-term research plan.

Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Student Award Fund

Recipient: Sarah Faure

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Health Canada

Ms. Faure was very honored to have been chosen to receive the Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section Graduate Student Excellence Award as this prize was a great recognition of her work. It allowed her to participate to the SOT annual meeting to present her work in a poster session. Presenting her research results allows her to gain unique experience in knowledge transfer and communication, while demonstrating scientific rigor. She was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss and interact with internationally renowned scientists working in the field of toxicology and benefited from valuable feedback and advice on her work to be published. It also provided her with a major networking and contact opportunity with future potential partnerships on this project, or projects to come. It also contributed to her training by allowing her to familiarize herself with the various research at the forefront of toxicology carried out around the world.

Ms. Faure is working with the Nationnal Biomonitoring Section of Health Canada (Government of Canada) which is a recognized departmental, national, and international pioneer and leader in human biomonitoring. Her work consists of interpreting human biomonitoring data in a health risk based context, as well as participating in writing the fifth biomonitoring report of the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS). Her future goals are to stay in the biomonitoring field to work on and discover new aspects of the interpretation of data from this approach, participate in improvement of tools to analyze monitoring of chemicals in the environment, and to communicate around this subject to make it more accessible to public health workers and researchers in toxicology. The specific project for which she was selected aims to interpret CHMS biomonitoring data in order to assess population exposures in a health risk based context using biomonitoring screening values, such as biomonitoring equivalents or human biomonitoring values (HBM). These values are derived in order to identify chemicals for which the population exposure is likely to be near or above existing guidance values. In this study, an inventory of available biomonitoring screening values was developed and some of them were updated and then compared with the most recent national biomonitoring data from the CHMS to identify priority chemicals. This list of identified chemicals can be used as a starting point for further analyses such as the assessment of exposure sources or the identification of subpopulations that may be at increased risk of exposure and health effects. This screening exercise can also help to target risk management actions and focus efforts to find solutions to reduce or eliminate exposure and associated health risks.

Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Yu-Wei Chang

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University

Dr. Chang was so excited and felt so grateful to receive this award. This is the second time that her research was selected for Renal Toxicology Award. She was really honored to get the recognition from the experts in nephrology and toxicology. She would like to thank Mechanisms Specialty Section for this glory. The results of her study confirmed the toxicity of nicotine exposure in kidney. This award can further strength the importance of her research, which can help on the regulation of nicotine-containing products such as e-cigarette.

Dr. Chang's research suggests that long-term and chronic exposure to pure nicotine can induce the specific characteristics associated with cancer development in normal human kidney epithelial cells. Moreover, she also found the potential therapeutic option (antioxidant) to decrease the adverse effects of nicotine in kidney. The findings of her study provide the evidence on the role and mechanisms of nicotine exposure in kidney cancer development. This study also provided a hint that the level of intracellular oxidative stress plays an important role during nicotine-induced carcinogenesis. The next step of her research will focus on the source of nicotine-induced oxidative stress in cells, as well as the molecular mechanisms underlying. Hopefully she can provide a clear evidence on the role of nicotine in the imbalance of intracellular oxidative stress.

Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Yu-Syuan Luo

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M University

Dr. Luo was thrilled and surprised upon receiving this award. This award recognizes his work on investigating the relationship between glutathione conjugation metabolites and kidney toxicity of tetrachloroethylene in Collaborative Cross mouse population. With this accomplishment, if possible, he would like to apply his knowledge and skill set to further explore the chemical-induced nephrotoxicity by using alternative approaches (in vitro or in silico). He was really grateful that he could receive this great honor from the Society of Toxicology.

Dr. Luo's research focuses on characterizing the population variability in metabolism and toxicity of environmental toxicants, by using a population-based mouse model. In their study, they aimed to fill two critical data gaps in health risk assessment and kidney toxicity of tetrachloroethylene. First, most of time, there is a lack of experimental data for characterizing the population variability in metabolism and toxicity of toxicants in traditional health risk assessment. Alternatively, a default uncertainty factor of 10 is used to accounting for the inter-individual variability. In their study, they used the Collaborative Cross mouse population to derive the chemical-specific uncertainty factors, which further refined the health risk assessment of tetrachloroethylene. Second, the metabolism-toxicity relationship between glutathione conjugation metabolites and kidney toxicity of tetrachloroethylene has been challenged because of the relatively small metabolic flux through glutathione conjugation pathway as compared to the oxidative metabolism. Herein, they consolidated the relationship between glutathione conjugation metabolites and kidney toxicity of tetrachloroethylene by using a population-based correlation analysis. This result provides a strong evidence for the mode of action (MOA) of glutathione metabolites-induced kidney toxicity. Collectively, their work advances the understanding in metabolism and kidney toxicity of tetrachloroethylene, as well as future health risk assessment of tetrachloroethylene. In the future, Dr. Luo would like to investigate the organ-specific toxicity of environmental chemicals by using the alternative approaches (e.g., in vitro or in silico). The other research area that he is interested in is to using the applied toxicology to characterize the population variability for the refinement of health risk assessment.

Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Tarana Arman

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: ME
Institution/Affiliation: Washington State University, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Receiving this award from SOT was a very humbling and special moment for Ms. Arman. She felt very fortunate that her abstract and research summary could highlight the importance of her research work. This was her second year at the SOT annual meeting and she feels it always gives her the opportunity to listen to and learn about other interesting research on-going in the field of toxicology. This award helped her by boosting her confidence to participate in more events. Every time she is involved in an event like this, her understanding of her research grows deeper. This monetary award will help her take part in the next conference.

Ms. Arman has always enjoyed sharing her knowledge with her coworkers for better ideas, which ultimately strengthens her knowledge bank. Her ultimate career goal is to become an expert in the fields of liver and kidney molecular toxicology to better predict and mitigate these toxicities. The overall premise of her research work is to elucidate the mechanisms of microcystin-LR (MCLR) toxicity in populations with preexisting liver and kidney diseases. The preexisting disease condition that she is looking into is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is the most common liver disease in the United States, with almost 40% of the population suffering from it. NAFLD is defined as the accumulation of excessive fat in the liver of patients, without a history of excessive alcohol intake. If unchecked, a fatty liver progresses to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). An estimated 17% of the US adult population have NASH. Evidence suggests that exposure to environmental toxicants can cause fatty liver and/or drive NAFLD progression to NASH (e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), perchloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE)). In addition to NAFLD, chronic kidney disease (CKD) represents a significant health burden and shares some of the similar risk factors associated with NAFLD. A meta-analysis report reported a two-fold increase in CKD in association with NASH. Similar to what is known regarding the role of toxicants in NAFLD progression, some environmental factors have been implicated in kidney toxicity (e.g. bisphenol A). For both NAFLD and CKD, there is more research needed into the role of other environmental toxins play in the severity and progression of these diseases. Microcystin-LR (MCLR), is an extremely stable and persistent toxin produced by the cyanobacteria blooms (blue-green algae). These blooms are ubiquitous in surface water and thrive under favorable conditions. Liver and kidney are the primary and secondary target organs affected by MCLR. Her research focuses on investigating the role of MCLR in the progression of NAFLD and CKD. For her presentation at PANWAT 2018, she discussed about the mechanistic link(s) between MCLR kidney toxicity and the development and progression of CKD in the context of NASH.

Roger O. McClellan Student Award Fund

Recipient: Sireesha  Manne

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: DVM, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Iowa State University

Dr. Manne was very surprised and pleased as the recipient of this prestigious award. This award has further motivated her to contribute to the growing body of knowledge in the biomedical and life sciences, which influence healthcare and the quality of life on a global scale.

Dr. Manne is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and is scheduled to graduate in May 2019. During her PhD training, she studied the role of protein aggregation in neurodegenerative diseases such as Prions and Parkinson’s disorders. Prior to her scientific training, she earned her DVM and had a strong background in basic and clinical sciences. Furthermore, she gained work experience as a veterinarian for two years in mixed animal practice and worked as a research assistant in microbiology. As a PhD student in Dr. Anumantha Kanthasamy lab, one of the main research objectives of her dissertation work is to develop an early diagnostic biomarker for Parkinson’s disease (PD). The molecular hallmark of PD is the detection of aggregated α-synuclein in the brain typically observed during postmortem. Accurate early diagnosis of PD is critical to evaluating disease progression and to monitor the clinical outcome of treatment. Closing this unmet gap will require the discovery of biomarkers for the early diagnosis of PD. To address this knowledge gap, she has developed a novel, ultra-sensitive method known as the real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) assay for aggregated α-synuclein. The RT-QuIC assay detects aggregated proteins from a biological sample based on the prion seeding phenomena. Using the RT-QuIC assay, Dr. Manne was able to identify higher levels of aggregated α-synuclein in brain tissues and cerebrospinal fluid samples from PD patients.In addition to successfully validating the RT-QuIC assay for the early diagnosis of PD, Dr. Manne has expanded her research to include the development of a biomarker for metal neurotoxicity. Chronic exposure to neurotoxic metals, such as Manganese (Mn), is known to cause Parkinsonian-like symptoms. Occupationally exposed individuals, like welders, are at high risk. Therefore, she studied how Mn interacts with the α-synuclein protein to promote its aggregation and subsequent detection in exosomes. To determine the biomarker potential of exosomes, she used the RT-QuIC assay to test a blinded cohort of serum and plasma samples from humans exposed to welding fumes and age-matched controls. Results from her study revealed that the exosomes from welders contain higher levels of aggregated α-synuclein and can be easily differentiated from controls with both higher sensitivity and specificity, suggesting that exosomal α-synuclein aggregates may serve as a circulating biomarker for Mn neurotoxicity. She also used next-generation sequencing to determine the RNA biomarkers in the serum exosomes. She observed changes in several small RNAs, such as miRNAs, piRNAs, and tRNAs, that may play an important role in metal-induced neurotoxicity and could also serve as potential biomarkers. These observations might help in understanding the role of environmental pollutants, such as metals, in PD and related neurodegenerative diseases. She presented these novel findings in SOT 2019.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Shreesh Sammi

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Purdue University

Dr. Sammi was really happy when he came to know about the award. This was his second time participating in the NTSS poster competition. He is thankful to NTSS for such encouragement and feels that such awards truly have a motivational effect on a research career.

Dr. Sammi is currently working as a postdoctoral research associate wherein he is studying the effect of toxicants on morphology and function of dopaminergic neurons using Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism. The two projects that he is working on are: Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. With a relatively low frequency of the familial cases, a larger scientific notion advocates toxicant exposure as a likely perpetrator to the onset and progression of disease. Some pesticides such as rotenone have been identified. However the fact that not all PD cases have a history of exposure still renders the question only partially answered. He hypothesizes the role of dietary toxicants, particularly heterocyclic amines that are formed as a result of pyrolysis in overcooked meat. So far studies on heterocyclic amines have led to identification of harmane as a potencial DA toxicant in C. elegans (Sammi et al., 2017) Another project entails studies on polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) which are widely utilized as stain repellants, flame retardants, additives in nonstick cookware, and in the food packaging. PFAS have half-lives and are detectable in the blood of >99% of individuals. PFAS exposure has been implicated in adverse health outcomes. However, there are key gaps in the literature on potential neurological consequences. Given the characteristics, such as immense half-life and resistance to environmental degradation these toxicants are more likely to affect individuals than any other known toxicants and hence are a subject of study in relevance to Parkinsosn's disease.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Morgan Thomas

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: Bachelor of Arts
Institution/Affiliation: Oberlin College

Ms. Thomas was extremely excited and overjoyed that she won this award. This award allowed her to attend the Annual SOT meeting, which gave her the opportunity to network with important people in her research field. She was recruited for a post college position at Purdue University at the conference because of the research she presented.

Ms. Thomas is investigating how exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of cadmium (Cd) affect the health and function of mitochondria in murine Huntington’s disease (HD) striatal cells expressing wild-type and heterozygous mutant forms of Huntingtin protein. She hypothesized that acute exposure of Cd to HD striatal cells would be detrimental in the health and function of the mitochondria and overall bioenergetics. She has been examining the neurotoxic effect of Cd on oxidative stress markers, protein kinase C delta signaling, mitochondrial bioenergetics, metal transport pathways, and cell death signaling mechanisms to better understand the neurotoxic effect of heterozygous HD and Cd expose on HD neuropathology. Her future goal is to obtain a PhD in Neurotoxicology and Neurodegeneration. She is currently a research technician in a Neurotoxicology and Neurodegeneration lab at Purdue University.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Briana De Miranda

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Pittsburgh

Dr. De Miranda was very excited to learn she was the recipient of the Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award, especially because there are so many talented trainees in the Neurtoxicology Specialty Section, and she felt very honored to be selected among them. The endowment award she received will be used to offset the cost of the next SOT meeting, which is particularly important to attend as she transitions from postdoc to faculty. SOT regional and national meetings are excellent opportunities to present and receive feedback on her emerging research, and the endowment award will help facilitate this.

Dr. De Miranda's research is focused on gene-environment interactions in Parkinson’s disease (PD), particularly on environmental contaminants that target the mitochondria. She has recently observed that environmental mitochondrial toxicants, such as pesticides and organic solvents, can interact with PD susceptibility genes, possibly causing increased risk for PD. These interactions may explain the underlying cause of some “idiopathic” PD cases, and thus may provide an avenue for disease prevention, or targeted disease treatment.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Cherish Taylor

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BA
Institution/Affiliation: University of Texas at Austin

Ms. Taylor was thrilled to receive the award! This was her first time participating in the NTSS poster presentation competition. This award provided her with the opportunity to present her work at a large science conference and interact with neurotoxicologists from various areas. 

Ms. Taylor received the award for her work detailing how activity of the manganese efflux transporter SLC30A10 in the digestive system regulates basal manganese levels in the brain, while activity in the brain protects against neurotoxicity. Currently, she is a graduate student in neuroscience studying the effects of manganese on the brain and the neuroprotective activity of SLC30A10. Excess manganese in the brain results in an incurable form of Parkinsonism. This research focuses on the health concern posed by manganese exposure and provides fundamental insights into manganese homeostasis in the brain.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Carolyn Klocke

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of California, Davis

Dr. Klocke was honored and delighted to learn that she had been selected for one of the NTSS Toshio Narahasi Poster Awards. Receiving this award will help offset the cost of conference attendance so that she may more easily present her work and inform others of the dangers of environmental pollutants.

The goal of Dr. Klocke's work is to figure out how pollutants in our environment affect the developing brain. Her current research looks at a specific class of chemical pollutants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were banned decades ago but still persist in the environment. PCBs are linked to an increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as austism, and she is looking at how gestational exposure to these chemicals changes how neurons grow and make connections with each other.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Eduardo Gonzalez

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of California, Davis

Mr. Gonzalez was thrilled to receive this award. This award helps trainees like himself gain valuable skills presenting and defending their work to scientific experts in the field.

The goal of Mr. Gonzalez's research is to evaluate how chemical weapons impact the developing brain, with the long-term goal of improving current therapeutics that are used in medical emergencies. The work presented at SOT 2019 is the critical first step of developing a juvenile model of intoxication with a relevant chemical threat agent. His long term goal is to apply his expertise in chemical weapon toxicology to a government position.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Ola Wasel

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MS, MPH, BS
Institution/Affiliation: Purdue University

Ms. Wasel was so happy to receive the Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Fellow Travel Award from the TAO special interest group. This award helped her to cover the registration fees for the SOT meeting as well as the fees of the continuing education sessions, which will benefit her a lot in successfully finishing her research.

Ms. Wasel is working in the field of environmental toxicology. The aim of her project is to assess the adverse health effects of metal mixtures used as an alloy in medicinal and military applications. In this project, she used zebrafish as an animal model for human health to evaluate the effects of mixtures containing tungsten, cobalt, and nickel. She also used mathematical models to predict the toxicity of mixtures as a function of toxicity of individual components. She empirically measured the toxicity of the mixtures to validate those models. Current safe levels of exposure to chemicals are based on the toxicity of individual components. This strategy overlooks potential interaction between the mixture’s components, which may cause more severe adverse health effects compared to the effects of the individual components so it is very important to study mixtures' toxicity. After graduation, Ms. Wasel would like to work in academia or in a research and development lab.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Ahmed Mohamed

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: DVM, MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Cornell University

This award provided financial assistance for Dr. Mohamed to attend the 2019 SOT meeting. 

Dr. Mohamed's postdoctoral research investigates the toxicological mechanisms of endocrine disruption on the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis using larval and adult zebrafish. It involves two primary research directions with the first direction aiming toward designing and developing in vivo high-throughput screening assays for estrogenic and androgenic endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) using CRISPR/Cas9 knock-in transgenic zebrafish lines tagging molecular biomarkers. He presented his recent findings from this project the SOT meeting in Baltimore. The second direction investigating the role of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons and their upstream regulators in altering reproductive development and functions following exposure to EDC. He is also involved in projects investigating the impacts of exposure to different groups of contaminants, such as silver nanoparticles and hydrofracking wastewater, on the reproductive development of aquatic organisms. The outcome of his research will provide the field of reproductive toxicology with an insight on the mechanisms by which toxicants with endocrine disrupting potential can exert harmful effects of the HPG axis; the axis regulating reproductive development and functions in a plethora of organisms. This research will also provide different stakeholders with quick, affordable and yet comprehensive biological in vivo screening tools for reproductive toxicants to be used in chemical safety assessments.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Diana Kimono

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of South Carolina

Ms. Kimono was very excited and honored to receive the award. She understands that it is very competitive and so she feels humbled to have been selected. She also feels more motivated to pursue toxicology, and to make a contribution to toxicology in Africa.

Ms. Kimono's research is in the field of immunotoxicology and molecular biology. She studys the impact of different chemicals (war theatre chemicals) such as pestides on the health of returning veterans. In future, she intends to become an academic in the field of toxicology and cancer. Her current research is on Gulf War illness and how exposure to war theatre chemicals affects the microbiome and virome in humans and mouse model.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Chiagoziem Otuechere

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Redeemer's University

Dr. Otuechere was notified of winning this award in the morning and he danced around a bit and it brightened his day. He had been worried about attending the conference to present his research due to lack of funding. So this award will assist in no measure to support his conference attendance. He looks forward to this yearly meeting due to its rich scientific content so he is grateful for this financial support.

Dr. Otuechere is involved in the safety evaluation of green synthesized nanocellulose as well as other novel nanomaterials. He intends to be a renowned Toxicologist in Nigeria within the next five years. He intends to mentor younger scientists in the field. For this present award, he evaluated the safety of a vermiculite-nanocellulose composite on reproductive indicators in rats, Vermiculite has diverse applications in the food and construction industries. Although, vermiculite has been reported to be non-toxic, but presence of impurities such as asbestos is cause for concern. In a classic collaborative research, they synthesized vermiculite-nanocellulose (VEN) hybrid via a green route. They hypothesized that VEN will combine the strength and usefulness of cellulose and vermiculite to give a product which is efficient and with minimal target organ toxicity. They also undertook an extensive characterization of VEN using Fourier transformed infrared, X-ray diffraction, particle size distribution, and scanning electron microscopy. Futuristic, VEN could find application in several industries leading to occupational exposure; hence he investigated the repro-toxic effects of VEN in Wistar rats. Histoarchitecture of the testes, in the treatment groups, revealed normal looking Leydig and Sertoli cells. His study also revealed that VEN did not elicit oxidative stress in testicular tissue and could play an important role in male reproduction in rats, especially in the stimulation of secretion of reproductive hormones.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Olushola Awoyemi

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS, MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University

Dr. Awoyemi was very delighted and felt honored to have been nominated for and given this award. Specifically, considering the fact that the application indicated that only one person will be given the award. For him to have been the recipient of "TAO SIG Graduate Research Award" at his first attempt is indeed a great honor. Thanks to TAO for this award! He intends to use the award to purchase one of the enzyme assay kits required for part of his dissertation research.

Dr. Awoyemi's research work is aimed at assessing the ecotoxicological impacts of inorganic (heavy metals, dietary elements) and organic (pesticides) contaminants in aquatic (algae, daphnia, fish) and terrestrial systems (plants). His most recent completed research project entitled “Behavioral, Molecular, and Physiological Responses of Embryo-Larval Zebrafish Exposed to Types I and II Pyrethroids.” Data has been presented at national toxicology conferences (SOT, ACT, SETAC), abstracts published in Toxicological Sciences and full article subsequently published in Chemosphere.

His prior research was to the toxicity of coal fly ash (CFA) in switchgrass plants. The study validated biomarkers of oxidative stress --SOD, GPx and MDA for CFA pollution monitoring, risk assessment factors --Cf, mCd, BAF, EF and PLI for heavy metals and toxic elements in CFA, as well as, the potential for mycorrhizae-enhanced phytoremediation of CFA-polluted sites using Switchgrass. Data presented at national conferences and have been published in peer-reviewed journals including: Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 144: 438-444. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoenv.2017.06.059; Coal Combustion and Gasification Products, 9: 42-51. https://doi.org/10.4177/CCGP-D-17-00004.1 World Journal of Agricultural Research, 5(3): 147-155. https://doi.org/10.12691/wjar-5-3-4 Journal of Environmental Management, (under 2nd review). Currently, he is working on an NSF-funded Research project entitled “Effects of dietary nutrients on metal toxicity in primary producers (algae) and the trophic transfer to primary consumers (Daphnia)”. This is the research to which he has won this award.

The detail of the study is summarized as follows: Introduction: Accurately assessing the risk of contaminants requires more than an understanding of the effects of contaminants on individual organisms, but requires further understanding of complex ecological interactions, elemental cycling and the interactive effect of natural stressors such as resource limitations and contaminant stressors. The development of ecotoxicological models that incorporate such data would significantly contribute to interpreting how contaminants impact organisms and aquatic food webs in such a dynamic system. Objectives: This study seeks to: (a) develop and analyze a series of empirically testable and robust mathematical models of population dynamics subject to stoichiometric and contaminant stressors and (b) integrate sufficient empirical data from existing and new experiments to parameterize, test and improve the model. Methods: Specific empirical measurements include: physiological traits (growth, survival, reproduction, respiration, heartrate), behavioral (distance moved, velocity), elemental (C, P, N), and toxicant (Cadmium-Cd, Arsenic-As, Copper-Cu) contents in Daphnia pulex and algae (Scenedesmus acutus) cultured in separate exposure media. These media include control (metal free COMBO media) and test media containing Cd, As, and Cu (25%, 50%, and 100% of daphnia-exposed LC50 values) with varying nutrient ratios of C:P (500:1, 200:1, 75:1) for acute (48 h) and chronic (7 d, 14 d and 21 d) durations. Results: Preliminary results showed that As (NaAsO2) up to 10 mg/L was minimally toxic to the algae, while 6mg/L Cu (CuSO4) and 10mg/L Cd (CdCl2) were more toxic resulting in complete death of the algae in 96 h. In low phosphorus media (10% P of control media), As and Cu toxicities were minimally impacted after 96 h. while Cd toxicity was enhanced resulting in complete death at ~4mg/L. Conclusion: Studies are currently underway to determine the effects of the stoichiometric modulation of the mineral nutrients on metal toxicity in D. pulex. Broader Impact: Provision of empirical data on the interaction effects of dietary nutrients and chemical contaminant cycling on population dynamics at two trophic levels; provision of empirical data to parametrize, test, and improve mathematical models of population dynamics subject to stoichiometric constraints and contaminant stressors; and ultimately, improving toxicological risk assessment protocols.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Alexandra Noel

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Louisiana State University

Dr. Noel was truly honored, appreciative, thrilled and excited to receive the “Toxicologists of African Origin Distinguished Scientific Presentation Award”. This award will help her pursue her research in the particular field associated with the toxicological effects caused by inhaled tobacco-related products. This award acknowledges her research endeavors and potential, as well as concurrently provides additional motivation to grow as a future leader in her research field, and thus is beneficial to her independent investigator early career. This award also has a significant impact on her personal mentoring goals -- to be a model for and a mentor to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doctoral researchers.

The use of electronic-cigarettes (e-cigs) during pregnancy is increasing annually and there is currently no treatment or intervention for avoiding the adverse pulmonary effects caused by in utero e-cig aerosol exposures in the offspring. As a new Assistant Professor, Dr. Noel's short- and long-term research program goals using in vivo models are 1) to enhance our understanding of the contribution of in utero e-cig aerosol exposures to fetal lung development, emphasizing on the role played by dysregulated signaling pathways critical to lung organogenesis, including Wnt and Shh; and 2) to use the molecular signature imprinted by the in utero e-cig aerosol exposures to better target and investigate possible preventive treatments, including drugs and natural supplements, for this involuntarily exposed vulnerable populations.

Toxikon, a Preclinical Toxicology Organization, & Dr. Dharm Singh Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Award Fund

Recipient: Rashmi Rajashekaraiah

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Veterinary College

Dr. Rajashekaraiah felt speechless and blessed!! She was honoured to be one of the recipients of the prestigious Toxicon, A Preclinical Toxicology Organization and Dr. Dharm Singh Association of Scientists of Indian Origin International Travel Award. She is highly grateful to Society of Toxicology and ASIO for the award. This prestigious award is definitely an impetus to her for pursuing her research with confidence and tackling new challenges in the field of cancer nanomedicine. She also recognizes this award as an acknowledgeable platform for her career as a toxicologist. The presentation and discussion of her research with expert scientists from academia, industry and government sectors helped her to get critical comments and suggestions to better interpret her results and to design more meaningful clinically translatable toxicology studies in the future. It also helped her to meet and interact with several toxicologists of Indian origin (mainly during ASIO meeting) which helped her way forward to develop collaborative toxicology work in their institution with international scientists in the near future.

Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality in the world. Cancer nanotherapeutics are rapidly progressing and being implemented to overcome several limitations of conventional drug delivery system. Dr. Rajashekaraiah's current research work was carried out on nanoformulation of anticancer drug 6-thioguanine and evaluated for its cytotoxicity potential. Further, her future goal is to carry out more research on cancer nanomedicine to provide great insight into potential applications of nanoformulations to deliver potent cytotoxic agents to cancer cells which will be of great relevance to human health, especially in context of increase in incidences of cancer, which is one among the most difficult global healthcare problems. Secondly, she received this prestigious award for the part of her doctoral research work. Synthesized and characterized 6-thioguanine loaded chitosan nanoparticles and evaluated its in vitro cytotoxicity potential with or without curcumin. Cytotoxicity of 6-TG loaded CNPs was dose- dependent and combination of 6-TG loaded CNPs with curcumin showed synergistic cytotoxicity i.e. enhanced anticancer efficacy on PA-1 cell lines. Further, nanoformulations and its combinatin with curcumin induced apoptsis, cell cycle arrest and demethylating activity in PA-1 cells.

Toxikon, a Preclinical Toxicology Organization, & Dr. Dharm Singh Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Award Fund

Recipient: Nitin Verma

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Baddi University of Emerging Sciences and Technology

It was really wonderful. Dr. Verma networked with various scientist in SOT 2019 at Baltimore MD working in same area and utilized their expertise to make his research impactfull. Dr. Verma is working in the area of Risk assessment and does assessment of Pharmaceuticals and active ingredients in thr environment and their impact on human health.

Undergraduate Educator Fund

Recipient: Wade H. Powell

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Kenyon College

Dr. Powell’s dedication to providing outstanding toxicological education to undergraduates makes him the ideal recipient of the 2019 SOT Daniel and Patricia Acosta Undergraduate Educator Award. After receiving his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from Emory University in 1997, Dr. Powell embarked on a career in toxicology, initially studying aryl hydrocarbon signal transduction in fish as a postdoctoral scholar in the Biology Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Since 2000, he has taught at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he is now a professor of biology. Dr. Powell’s teaching activities use the entire life sciences curriculum to expose undergraduates from all levels and varied majors to different facets of toxicology. The molecular biology lab and environmental toxicology seminar are examples of Kenyon courses he instituted that enable students to engage in the field of toxicology directly, and his introductory classes are rich with toxicological examples and anecdotes. Dr. Powell’s most notable accomplishments involve the performance and promotion of research with undergraduates. Since 2001, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has funded Dr. Powell’s lab with multiple AREA grants, ensuring that the undergraduates composing his group have research opportunities that prepare them well for postgraduate careers. He has mentored more than 50 research students at Kenyon, many of whom have become active participants in the greater toxicology community. Twenty-three of his undergraduates, including several SOT award winners, have presented their research at the Society’s Annual Meetings, and all research publications from Dr. Powell’s group include undergraduate authors. His students’ success proves the effectiveness of Dr. Powell’s methods; they have become scientists, physicians, veterinarians, teachers, and public servants, continuing their education or launching careers at institutions such as the National Institutes of Health, Harvard University, Princeton University, and the Cleveland Clinic. Kenyon College has recognized Dr. Powell for his contributions to undergraduate education by bestowing upon him the Robert J. Tomsich Science Award and the Trustee Teaching Excellence Award, the most prestigious honor among Kenyon faculty. Dr. Powell also has served as an active and trusted member of the SOT Undergraduate Education Subcommittee, and many of Dr. Powell’s learning resources are included in the SOT Undergraduate Toxicology Curriculum Resources database.

Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund

Recipient: Jessica Murray

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Pennsylvania

Ms. Murray was incredibly excited and honored to receive the Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund Student Award. This award allowed her to travel to SOT and other scientific conferences such as the Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Toxicity Gordon Research Conference which enriches her training as a doctoral student.

Ms. Murray's research interests are chemical carcinogenesis, environmental etiologies of lung cancer, and chemoprevention. She studied the metabolic activation of nitrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (NO2-PAHs) produced in diesel engine exhaust, and she investigates how Nrf2-targeted chemopreventives affect bioactivation of these mutagens. NADPH: Quinone Oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) is widely considered the primary nitroreductase in the metabolic activation of NO2-PAHs, but the research that identified the importance of NQO1 was conducted in the liver which is not the primary site of exposure. Given that human aldo-keto reductases (AKRs) are highly expressed in lungs and AKR1C3 displays nitroreductase activity towards the cancer chemotherapeutic agent PR-104A, I hypothesized that AKR1C subfamily members would contribute to toxification of NO2-PAHs. Over the past three years, she has determined that AKR1C1-1C3 catalyze the nitroreduction of 3-nitrobenzanthrone (3-NBA), a representative NO2-PAH, using discontinuous UV-HPLC assays and high resolution mass spectrometry.

This is an important finding for the chemical carcinogenesis field as this is the first time that AKRs are acknowledged as nitroreductases against NO2-PAHs and it implies they may have many more nitroaromatic substrates. Catalytic efficiencies of AKR1C1-1C3 and NQO1 are equivalent and the KM values of AKR1Cs are much lower than that of NQO1, indicating that AKR1C isozymes may be more important for toxification of low, environmentally relevant concentrations of 3-NBA to which humans are exposed. She has also determined that AKR1Cs and NQO1 equally participate to the toxification of 3-NBA within human bronchial epithelial cells. NQO1 and AKR1C enzymes are highly upregulated by Nrf2 signaling via the antioxidant response element (ARE), which led her to question how Nrf2-targeted chemopreventives may inadvertently impact 3-NBA toxification. To assess bioactivation of 3-NBA in the context of Nrf2 upregulation, she developed a fluorescence-based plate reader assay to quantify 3-NBA metabolism in 1) human bronchial epithelial cells that were treated with Nrf2 activators and 2) lung adenocarcinoma cells with homozygous and heterozygous Nrf2 knockout. Increased Nrf2 activation leads to increased 3-NBA bioactivation in a dose-dependent manner, so more work is required to determine whether this correlates with an increase in stable DNA adduct formation.

Ms. Murray's career goals are to use her skill set in analytical chemistry and molecular biology to remain within the chemical carcinogenesis field and develop improved biomarkers for exposure and disease risk to improve current risk assessment strategies. She is excited about the development of improved in vitro testing platforms that will provide cost-effective methods for high throughput screening of new and existing chemicals that have little safety data. She will be exploring postdoctoral research positions in government agencies that focus on environmental health research (NIEHS, NTP, EPA) so that she will be prepared for research scientist positions within government or academia.

Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund

Recipient: Elana Elkin

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: MPH
Institution/Affiliation: University of Michigan

When Ms. Elkin was notified that she was being awarded the 2019 Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund Student Award, she was delighted! This award is particularly meaningful because it was granted by the Women In Toxicology (WIT) Specialty Section. Just like the inspirational namesakes of the award, she has and will continue to serve as a role model and mentor for up-and-coming women scientists, as others have done for her. She plans to use the award to present her research at a scientific conference where she will practice her scientific communication skills, receive feedback on her research and learn about other research being conducted in the field of reproductive toxicology.

Currently, Ms. Elkin's research investigates the effects of the trichloroethylene metabolite S-(1,2-dichlorovinyl)-L-cysteine (DCVC)on energy metabolism, mitochondrial function and cell death in first-trimester placental cells. In the future, she will continue her toxicology research as a postdoctoral fellow. For this award her research examined the effects of DCVC exposure on energy metabolism pathway utilization and mitochondrial function in an extravillous trophoblast cell line.

Young Soo Choi Student Scholarship Award Fund

Recipient: Ji-Eun Seo

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: National Center for Toxicological Research

Dr. Seo was honored and thankful to be the recipient of the award. She is interested in research of chemical-induced genotoxicity using bioinformatic tools. Learning bioinformatic methods will certainly extend her genetic toxicology research interests into advancing toxicogenomics. The scholarship can help her further professional training and certification goals, providing financial support like taking professional online/offline courses and programs for the additional education.

Dr. Seo's main research project aims to establish the feasibility of high-throughput and high-content (HTHC) in vitro micronucleus (MNvit) and Comet assays using human hepatocytes in conjunction with quantitative dose-response approaches for assessing the genotoxicity of FDA-regulated products. She has conducted the HTHC genotoxicity assays over a wide range of chemical concentrations on FDA-relevant test agents known to have different pathways of genotoxicity and carcinogenicity modes of action in different types of human cells (e.g. primary human hepatocytes, HepaRG, and HepG2 cells). After that, the dose-response mutagenicity data have been analyzed for quantitative approaches, using the point of departure (PoD) metrics (mainly the benchmark dose). The conjunction of HTHC genotoxicity assays and quantitative dose-response approaches can be useful to evaluate safety assessment of various xenobiotics and it will contribute to the development of in vitro genotoxicity in the regulatory decision-making process of FDA-regulated products. In addition, she conducted quantitative analysis of genotoxicity and the cytotoxicity of 2,2,6,6-Tetramethylpiperidine-1-oxyl (TEMPO) and three of its derivatives, which are low molecular weight nitroxides and stable free radicals. The results suggest that TEMPO and the derivatives are cytotoxic and mutagenic in mouse lymphoma L5178Y Tk+/- cells through a mechanism that involves strand breakage and large alterations to DNA. She is going to present the result in coming SOT meeting (2019). The quantitative dose-response approaches of the in vitro genotoxicity data will be useful for rank ordering the genotoxic potencies of structurally similar compounds.

Young Soo Choi Student Scholarship Award Fund

Recipient: Dahea (Diana) You

Award Year: 2019
Current Degrees: PharmD, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: National Toxicology Program, NIH/NIEHS

Dr. You was very surprised and excited upon receiving this award because it really meant a lot to her. This is a truly prestigious award to receive as a toxicologist of Korean heritage. She is currently at the transition to her postdoctoral training which is a time for her to think deeper about her passion and philosophy as a toxicologist and picture a long-term path that she would like to walk in the field of toxicology. For the upcoming SOT Annual Meeting, she is looking to take several CE courses and lectures that are highly relevant to her research projects. In addition, she would like to network with other scientists to exchange thoughts on the research. All of these activities will be very important for her to set a good basis and projection for her goals at the National Toxicology Program. The Young Soo Choi Scholarship Award will not only be a big financial support for her to attend this critical meeting, but also a significant accomplishment as a young Korean-American scientist. It is very meaningful to receive this award which commemorates Dr. Young Soo Choi, who served FDA as an established toxicologist and contributed to the field.

For the 2019 SOT Annual Meeting, Dr. You presented a poster based on her graduate work which demonstrated region-specific effects of HDAC inhibitors in the up-regulation of efflux transporters in mouse brains. The data suggest that the clinical use of HDAC inhibitors, several of which are already FDA-approved, may increase the expression of efflux transporters in the brain which can limit the accumulation of neuroactive chemicals. Through a postdoctoral training, she hopes to utilize and further refine her current expertise in toxicology. She will be working on collaborative research projects under the mentorship by Drs. Alison Harrill and Nisha Sipes, who are active members of the SOT. These projects are the parts of official Tox21 Consortium which is federal cross-partner research to drive the development of more rapid and efficient models and testing methods for “Toxicology in the 21st Century.” Her overall goal is to improve toxicity screening and human health risk assessment by using the data-driven approach to comprehensively investigate the biological and population variability across diverse cell lines. Through this postdoctoral training, she hopes to further mature herself as a researcher who can effectively utilize various tools to design and perform translational studies which bring out meaningful consequences to protect human health.

Go to: Historical Archive of Endowment Fund Award Recipients