Recent Endowment Fund Award Recipients

2022 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: Long Yuan
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Florida

Dr. Yuan was very honored upon receiving the award; it will give him more motivation in future work and help to broaden his horizons.

Currently one of Dr. Yuan's projects is the "Development and Application of a Web-Based Interactive Pharmacokinetic (iPBPK) Model for Meloxicam in Broiler Chickens and Laying Hens," which provides them some evidence in predicting withdrawal intervals for meloxicam in food animals. This work is funded by the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD) program since the drug received the highest number of inquiries on withdrawal interval recommendations in the Call Center in assessment of the drug risk in food animals. Also, other nanoparticle projects that he has been working on are also based on drug biological modeling in PBPK based toxicology and pharmacology.

 

Bruce A. Fowler Global Chemicals Toxicity Fund

Recipient: Global Senior Scholar Exchange Program  
Award Year: 2022

The Global Senior Scholar Exchange Program (GSSEP) funds mid-career senior scholar Global Economy Members to attend the SOT Annual Meeting and spend about four weeks with one or more SOT Member Hosts from established toxicology programs in academic, government, or industry organization(s) worldwide. The primary goal is to increase toxicology capacity in developing countries by providing professional opportunities for scientists through relationships supported by SOT. In 2022, this program was supported in part by the Bruce A. Fowler Global Chemicals Toxicity Fund.

Bruce A. Fowler Metals Endowment Fund

Recipient: Johnny Wise
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Louisville

Dr. Wise received the news late at night after reading a text from his mentor, Lu Cai. His reaction was a feeling of affirmation - that all the hard work he's been putting in these last couple years is paying off. In turn, this award encourages him to push on and continue to push into the empty spaces of our scientific map to find new mechanisms, new links between toxicant exposures and health outcomes, and identify new targets to improve our somatic and environmental health.

Dr. Wise's research considers the interactions of aging and toxicology from two perspectives, which he refers to as a “toxic aging coin.” One one side of the coin (heads), he considers how age determines the toxic outcome of a chemical. Broadly speaking, they know young, middle-aged, and geriatric individuals have biologically distinct brains - developing, mature, and degenerating, respectively - but they do not understand how these distinct biological systems interact with toxicants differently. On the flip side (tails), Dr. Wise considers how chemicals induce or accelerate aging, or how they act as gerontogens. Gerontogenic effects of chemicals may contribute to organ aging, resulting in earlier onset of co-morbidities that impact health and quality of life. His research investigating this toxic aging coin with hexavalent chromium (Cr[VI]) contributed to his merit for this award. He is investigating Cr(VI) neurotoxicity using rats and cell cultures, and am elucidating a gerontogenic mechanism whereby DNA damage accumulation contributes to genomic instability, which in turn contributes to cellular senescence and organ aging.

 

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: Jaclynn Andres
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Ms. Andres was incredibly thankful and appreciative for the award. Not only did this award provide amazing communication and financial support, but also brought mechanistic toxicology into the scope of her research. This award has provided the opportunity to network with elite toxicologists of the field and has been essential to her career growth.

Ms. Andres' research focuses on understanding and developing medical countermeasures for Mustard Gas exposure. Currently, they are evaluating the mechanistic role of the farnesoid X nuclear receptor in lipid homeostasis and macrophage-mediated pulmonary injury. In the future, she hopes to explore emergency response toxicology and give back to the community. 

 

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: Nga Nguyen
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Kansas Medical Center

Ms. Nguyen was honored and very happy to receive this prestigious award from the Mechanisms Specialty Section.  

Ms. Nguyen's current focus is to investigate the mechanisms of macrophage clearance which is critical for restoration of liver homeostasis and limit overactivation of inflammatory cell response. They found that the chemokine receptor CXCR4 on macrophages mediates apoptotic cell death. Interestingly, they also show that recovered hepatocytes mediate macrophage apoptosis by secretion of TGF-β which induces CXCR4 expression on macrophages. Ms. Nguyen has been fortunate to have studied the mechanism of drug-induced liver injury in a well-known liver-focused department at the University of Kansas Medical Center with exceptional faculty and resources. She would like to utilize her training and skills to pursue a career in research and development with a focus on inflammatory liver disease. She hopes to contribute to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of drug-induced liver injury that will be critical to advance the next generation of therapeutics. 

 

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: Emily Stevenson
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Ms. Stevenson was incredibly humbled and honored to be chosen as a recipient of the Carl C. Smith Graduate Student Award. This award has a rigorous vetting process, and she was honored to have her work recognized by this group of toxicologists. The funds awarded to her by the Mechanisms Specialty Section will help her to further promote her research by supplementing travel to conferences and providing support for continuing education endeavors. These activities are vital to her progression in her graduate research and will help make her a more well-rounded scientist.

Ms. Stevenson's research focuses on understanding how changes in lipid accumulation affects a vital type of immune cell - the macrophage. Macrophages represent the first line of pathogen defense in the lung, and disruption to their normal function contributes to a variety of pathologies. The research for which she won this award demonstrates how in a mouse model of acute lung injury, lung macrophages have altered lipid levels, become activated and change their function, and affect disease outcome. In this model, she investigated the use of compound which prevents lipid droplet formation in cells, leading to improved markers of acute lung injury. This work is helping researchers to understand how injury-induced changes to the lung can affect immune cell function and disease processes. After completion of her doctoral dissertation, Ms. Stevenson hopes to work as a toxicologist in the personal care & consumer products space.

 

Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award Fund

Recipient: Shannah Witchey
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: National Toxicology Program

When Dr. Witchey first saw the email that she had received the WIT Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award, she had to read it a few times because she was in disbelief. Then she felt honored and humbled to have been awarded, as she does not have a formal toxicology background. She has worked in a CRO and in multiple toxicology labs but her doctorate degree is in behavioral neuroendocrinology. She was thrilled to share the news with her wonderful mentors who are outstanding and strong female role models that have shown her relentless support. Receiving this award early in her career will help broaden her network within SOT and enable her to continue to grow as a toxicologist. 

As an intramural research training award (IRTA) fellow, Dr. Witchey works on interdisciplinary teams of scientist to access the potential toxicity of chemical, pharmaceutical, and other environmental agents. Her current project focuses on examining the potential exposure effects of organophosphate flame retardants, triphenyl phosphate and isopropyl phenyl phosphate. These compounds are closely related to organophosphate pesticides known to be neurotoxic, specifically targeting cholinesterase activity. Both compounds are detected in the environment and in human samples, with levels predicted to rise due to increased industrial use. This is concerning as limited toxicological data is available. Their group has demonstrated cholinesterase activity was significantly reduced in blood and brain samples following exposure to both compounds. Ongoing projects are focused on determining a point of departure based on cholinesterase activity and evaluating for potential effects on the brain using sequencing techniques. 

 

Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award Fund

Recipient: Jamie Young
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Louisville

Dr. Young was truly humbled to receive this award. Her first reaction to being notified that she was the 2022 postdoctoral recipient of the Women in Toxicology Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award was that she could not wait to tell her people! And by “people” she means all the people in her life, both individually and collectively, that have played a role in her success. Those who have supported and encouraged her and reminded her that, in fact, there is no box (no need to think “outside the box” because there is no box!). This award provides for a unique opportunity to network and connect with other amazing women in the field of toxicology. It is these connections that lead to great research and discoveries that will undoubtedly have transformative impact on the field of toxicology. 

Dr. Young's research project focuses on how unstable chromosomes contribute to the progression and severity of fatty liver disease, while taking into consideration how factors such as sex and biological aging influence disease susceptibility. She will use two drinking water containments of major public health concern, hexavalent chromium and perfluoroalkyl substances, to show that factors that perturb chromosome structure and fat metabolism work together to drive liver disease progression. Thus, her project will transform understanding of fatty liver disease progression, creating a platform for new targeted therapies while providing critical insight into environmental contributions to liver disease. 

 

Daniel and Patricia Acosta Diversity Student Fund

Recipient: CDI Undergraduate Diversity Program 
Award Year: 2022

The Undergraduate Diversity Program takes place during the SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo and includes introductory toxicology lectures, participation in mentoring groups, opportunities to meet with academic program directors and toxicologists from different employment sectors, and participation in Annual Meeting sessions. In 2022, this program was supported in part by the Daniel and Patricia Acosta Diversity Student Fund.

Participation in this Committee on Diversity Initiatives (CDI)–led program is limited to the recipients of the Undergraduate Diversity Program Student Awards. Students selected for these awards attend the Undergraduate Diversity Program. Students enrolled at accredited undergraduate institutions are eligible to apply, with preference for sophomores and juniors and students who are from racial/ethnic groups underrepresented in the sciences, are first-generation college students, or are attending institutions receiving low amounts of federal funding for biomedical research. 

For insight into how previous Undergraduate Diversity Program awardees have continued in the sciences and transitioned into the biomedical workforce, visit the “Eye on CDI” web page. For reflections on the influence and history of the program, see blogs written by Frederic Moulin and Claude McGowan.

Daniel and Patricia Acosta Diversity Student Fund

Recipient: SOT Undergraduate Research Awards 
Award Year: 2022

The Society of Toxicology (SOT) Undergraduate Student Research Award recognizes outstanding undergraduates who have not yet received their bachelor's degrees and present research at the Annual Meeting. The goal of the award is to foster interest in graduate studies in the field of toxicology. Awardees are selected based on their research and other statements and the nomination of the advisor. Awardees receive national recognition, complimentary meeting registration, and travel and lodging for the SOT Annual Meeting. Each recipient is matched with a mentor for the meeting, recognized during a special event, attends the SOT Undergraduate Education Program, and participates in other meeting activities. In 2022, diverse award recipients were supported in part by the Daniel and Patricia Acosta Diversity Student Fund. A listing of all 2022 recipients can be located on the 2022 Honors and Awards webpage

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

Recipient: Avinash Kumar
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Louisiana State University

Dr. Kumar was very happy and felt honored after receiving the award from ASIO-SOT. This award helped him attend the SOT Annual Meeting in person, which allowed him to meet and discuss his research with experts in this field. This can lead to new collaborations and connections which might help in achieving his future career goals. 

Dr. Kumar's current project is researching how exposure to particulate matter is associated with aggravated respiratory diseases such as lower respiratory tract infections and asthma, especially in infants and children. His future goal is to become a scientist/principal investigator in academia or a research laboratory. Dr. Kumar won this award for his research on particulate matter and its role in exacerbating influenza infection. He and his team were able to demonstrate that insufficient levels of IL22 may be responsible for aberrant epithelial repair and immune responses, leading to increased Flu severity due to particulate matter exposure. 

 

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

Recipient: Isha Mhatre-Winters
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Florida International University

Dr. Mhatre-Winters was very honored and thankful to the ASIO and SOT for recognizing her work and making these awards possible. She was grateful for their generosity and encouragement. She hopes that her research questions will aid in understanding the risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) from a more relevant standpoint and ultimately lead to an impact for patients, either by preventive measures or by disease modification. This award will help her research gain recognition on a global scientific platform and significantly aid in her career development as an academic researcher in the field of neurotoxicology. 

APOE4 genotype and sex are significant risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), with females demonstrating increased risk that is modulated by APOE genotype; however, the mechanism(s) responsible for this interaction are still a matter of debate. In recent years, neuroinflammation, a complex response modulated by microglia and astrocytes, has emerged as a prominent player in AD research, with the identification of more than 20 gene variants associated with AD by recent Genome-wide association studies. Nonetheless, most experimental studies have excluded sex and APOE genotype. The humanized targeted replacement APOE mice provide a relevant translational representation to study the effects of neuroinflammation by APOE genotype as they lack other traditional aggressive genetic mutations that drive the early-onset form of AD. Importantly, the incidence and cost of treating AD continue to rise dramatically, and there is a desperate need to understand the interactions between non-modifiable risk factors such as sex and genotype and inflammatory responses for therapeutic interventions. This study primarily focuses on understanding the mechanisms of how APOE genotype and female susceptibility modulate the response to an inflammatory stimulus. Our findings reveal differences in the inflammatory profiles of both genotypes influenced by sex, a key variable not considered in previous studies. In highly purified primary microglia and astrocyte cultures isolated from humanized targeted replacement APOE mice, basal pro-inflammatory gene expression and cytokine secretion were affected by both APOE genotype and sex, with a greater inflammatory profile observed with the APOE4 genotype and female sex. Furthermore, their results indicate that following inflammatory stimulus, the expression of pro-inflammatory genes and cytokine release was upregulated in the order E4 female > E4 male > E3 female > E3 male. Collectively, these data indicate that the APOE4 genotype and female sex together contribute to a greater pro-inflammatory response in microglia and astrocytes. These data are consistent with clinical data demonstrating that multiple factors contribute to susceptibility to neuroinflammation, thus providing insight into the roles of sex and genotype in this susceptibility. Ongoing and future studies will focus on profiling inflammation in microglia and astrocytes from adult/ aged animals, thus defining the in vitro modulation of genotype and sex by age differences as aging influences glial phenotype and molecular profile. Additionally, because the frontal cortex and hippocampus are the most vulnerable regions for developing AD pathology, investigating the region-specific activation of microglia could provide further mechanistic insights. 

 

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Daniel Hernandez-Cortes
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: The University of Arizona Cancer Center

Mr. Hernandez-Cortes was very excited, surprised, and thankful to receive the Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award. This award will contribute to helping him achieve his future career goals as a researcher. The award will now sit as one of Mr. Hernandez-Cortes' academic achievements, and also allowed him to attend the SOT 61st Annual Meeting. While there, he was able to continue learning about toxicological research and new discoveries in the field and present and share his research with other colleagues from around the world. 

Mr. Hernandez-Cortes' work focuses on the identification of molecular mechanisms that drive the transition of indolent (low risk) into aggressive (high risk) muscle invasive prostate cancer through the laminin-binding integrins triggered by the hypoxic tumor microenvironment, a hallmark of all cancers. His future goals are acquiring and keep building communication and technical skills, and competence in understanding cutting-edge basic science research strategies and discoveries that make a significant difference in cancer research. More specifically, his project focuses on kindlin-2, a critical beta1 integrin adaptor essential for integrin activation, clustering, cell spreading, and focal adhesion formation. Hernandez-Cortes and his team propose that the laminin-binding integrins are driving smooth muscle invasion of prostate cancer cells coordinated by kindlin-2, and triggered by hypoxia, a physiologically relevant condition in prostate cancer. 

 

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Haiyan Lu
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Louisville

This award is an affirmation of Dr. Lu's research work and furthers her awareness of the importance of this research to human health. The award encourages and inspires Dr. Lu's confidence in continuing to pursue scientific research.

Dr. Lu's research project is about the cainogeneses of hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] and human lung cancer. Lung cancer is a major human health problem and the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. As we know, cigarette smoking is the most familiar cause of lung cancer. In fact, of those diagnosed with lung cancer, 1 in 5 women and I in 12 men never smoked. Thus, understanding how non-tobacco environmental carcinogens cause lung cancer is a key aspect of combating this disease. Particulate Cr(VI) is a well-established human lung carcinogen, but the mechanism for Cr(VI)-induced cancer is still uncertain. It is imperative that they learn the mechanisms governing its carcinogenicity. They used the rats exposed to zinc chromate suspension by oropharyngeal aspiration to be their experimental model. They found Cr(VI) induced DNA double strand breaks and inhibit homologous recombination (HR) repair in rat lung. The findings are similar to the outcomes in cultured human lung cells. Furthermore, they found female rats were more sensitive to Cr(VI)-induced HR repair inhibition than male animals, consistent with observations that lung cancer is more prevalent in women who never smoked than men who never smoked. Successful completion of this project will demonstrate that Cr(VI) induces chromosome instability through HR inhibition in vivo. This is a significant step in building a Cr-induced lung cancer research model to investigate chromium carcinogenesis and help to fight lung cancer. In the future, they will translate the outcomes to human lung tumor slides from chromate workers to determine will these outcomes continually persist to lung tumor formation.

 

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Idoia Meaza Isusi
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, MS, PhD candidate
Institution/Affiliation: University of Louisville

Ms. Measa Isusi is very grateful and honored to be awarded with the Carcinogenesis Specialty Section Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Graduate Student Endowment Award. This award reinforces her passion for a career in carcinogenesis.

The awarded poster title is “Chromate-induced Loss of RAD51 and Increased Chromosome Instability in Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells.” This is the first study translating Cr(VI)- induced DNA repair deficiency and chromosome instability, two key driving events in the mechanism of Cr(VI) carcinogenesis, to human bronchial epithelial cells. In the future, Ms. Measa Isusi will study the mechanism by which Cr(VI) might be remodeling chromatin structure, often observed in cancers.

 

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Lei Zhang
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M University

Ms. Zhang indicated that this award will help her purchase scientific analysis software to assist her in pursuing her research.

Ms. Zhang is a graduate research assistant in the laboratory of Stephen Safe, where she conducts research on the molecular oncology and potential clinical applications of a series phytochemical derived natural products that are ligands for the orphan nuclear receptor 4A1 (NR4A1, TR3, NUR77). Globally, their group (Dr. Stephen Safe) has been a pioneer for studying the orphan nuclear receptor NR4A1 and they have discovered a series of potent ligands for this receptor. Ms. Zhang's specific project is focused on the resveratrol, a NR41A ligands that are relatively non-toxic and can be used as adjuncts along with current therapies. Her long-term goal is investigating the mechanism of receptors in cancer and developing/optimizing anti-cancer drugs based for the clinic therapies.

 

Diversity Initiatives Fund

Recipient: Catalina Cobos-Uribe
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ms. Cobos-Uribe received the news during a lab meeting. At first, she was confused; she had received the email three days prior but hadn't seen it. When she finally understood what was happening, she was pleased and excited to share the news with her PI and the whole lab. The Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award will provide the resources needed for her to attend the Exposome Boot Camp organized by Columbia University. This Boot Camp will introduce her to the principles of exposomics and its analysis, which she intends to apply in her current and future research.

E-cigarettes are widely used around the world. Although impressive from a marketing point of view, the variety of devices, flavors, and formulations represents a challenge for e-cigarette studies. Ms. Cobos-Uribe's research focuses on identifying which chemicals derived from e-cigarettes reach and interact with the respiratory mucosa and how these interactions may lead to disease or adverse health outcomes. 

 

Diversity Initiatives Fund

Recipient: Rakeysha Pinkston
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, MS, PhD candidate
Institution/Affiliation: Southern University and A&M College

Ms. Pinkston was thrilled to learn that she was selected to be a recipient of this award. She is deeply humbled for SOT's generous support. This award will play a major role in affording her the opportunity to travel and discuss her findings to a wider audience at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Francisco, CA, where she has been selected to present a poster-discussion presentation. Compared to a traditional poster session, this will provide additional exposure to her research, as she will be allotted time to also present her work orally. This conference is directly in line with her area of research, and as a graduate student in the final stages of doctoral study, this award marks a pivotal turning point in her academic career. It will not only allow her to obtain additional career development training to enhance her potential as a respiratory toxicologist, but it will also provide her with the opportunity to network and engage in conversation with accomplished researchers to generate new ideas.

Ms. Pinkston's area of research is in the field of Inhalation Toxicology, where she studies the effects of aerosols generated from various models of electronic cigarette (e-cig) devices, including JUUL and the 3rd generation style e-cig model, on lung health and immunity. To understand the toxicological effects these devices have on lung health, she exposes lung cells and macrophages utilizing a physiologically-relevant system that mimics human inhalation exposures to e-cig and JUUL aerosol. She also utilizes animal models to understand the effects these aerosols have on lung physiology. Her work is conducted in partnership with Louisiana State University, School of Veterinary Medicine under the mentorship of Dr. Alexandra Noël, who is her doctoral advisor. The work she will be presenting investigates the effect JUUL menthol-flavored aerosol exposure has on allergy-induced asthmatic responses in juvenile mice. This research topic is very timely due to current epidemiological evidence indicating that youth who use e-cigs, have increased risk of developing asthma. Not to mention, the high prevalence of e-cig usage in youth and young adults makes this is a major public health concern. Ms. Pinkston's goal is to provide new scientific information that is critical for public health policies and regulations of these devices. In the future, she intends to establish a career as an independent investigator.

 

Diversity Initiatives Fund

Recipient: Krystal Taylor
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University

Ms. Taylor was filled with joy and excitement when she found out that she had been selected as an award recipient. The Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award will help to finance her travel to attend the Scientist Mentoring & Diversity Program for Biotechnology in San Diego, CA. As an SMDP scholar, she will be paired with an industry mentor for one year and together they will work on developing and honing the skills that she has learned in school and through the lab so that they may be transferable and marketable to any industry career position.

Ms. Taylor's research involves looking at the impact of PFAS exposure on B cell development and antibody production. She hopes to develop a novel protocol to identify key players in an adverse outcome pathway with PFAS and the immune system. She believes the results from her research will continue to build the weight of evidence that will allow laws and regulations to be implemented to ensure that impacted communities receive the proper diagnosis, treatment, and access to services. After graduate school, she plans to pursue a consumer toxicology and science communications career. In these roles, she can be an advocate for the public to ensure that toxicants do not end up in their everyday use products and their environment, as well as ensure that the public understands the measures that consumer goods corporations take to guarantee that the best safety precautions were taken in each product line development. She applied for this award to help bridge the shortfall she has in gaining industry mentors. Her background is vast in academic experience and exposure so she knew that it would be vital to obtain guidance to help her navigate and pursue her passion in consumer toxicology.

 

Donald E. Gardner Inhalation Toxicology Education Award Fund

Recipient: Satya Achanta
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: DVM, PhD, DABT
Institution/Affiliation: Duke University School of Medicine

Dr. Achanta was very thrilled and honored to receive this prestigious award! Winning this award gave him a sense of recognition for the hard work and time that he put into his research. This award also encouraged him to continue to make meaningful progress in the field. He is thankful to the leadership and awards committee of the Inhalation and Respiratory Specialty Section (IRSS) for their thoughtful consideration of his application for this award. These funds will help him in organizing a webinar series on comparative inhalation animal models and strategies for the successful conduct of large animal studies. This webinar series will not only be beneficial to him but also serve their IRSS-SOT community in exchanging their knowledge on this topic, expanding our research, and probably bringing opportunities for collaboration. 

One of Dr. Achanta's research portfolios is to study the harmful effects and develop medical countermeasures against exposure to inhalation toxicants such as chlorine gas, phosgene gas, sulfur dioxide, and tear gas agents. As clinical trials are not feasible in humans for most of the toxicants, animal models play a key role in correlating the natural history of disease progression to humans. His research focuses on developing the most relevant animal models and testing potential medical countermeasures based on the mechanism of action. His long-term expertise in rodent and non-rodent inhalation studies helped him in winning this highly acclaimed award. Mr. Achanta's future goals include establishing a nationally recognized center for excellence to develop medical countermeasures. 

 

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Kian Afsharian
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BSc
Institution/Affiliation: University of Toronto

Mr. Afsharian is incredibly honored to be awarded this recognition from two societies whose members include the world's foremost leaders and innovators in the field of toxicology. The Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention has offered him tremendous support in the short time he has been a student member, through educational sessions, networking opportunities, awards, and more. Recognitions such as the Edward W. Carney Trainee Award not only enables him to attend international meetings that help him grow as a scientist, but also helps broaden societal awareness of research that seeks to improve human and environmental health.

Their lab investigates the contribution of reactive oxygen species (ROS) to the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders. More specifically, he is interested in determining if enhancement of oxidative DNA damage (i.e. 8-oxoG) in utero leads to epigenetic dysregulation in the developing brain, which can result in abnormal gene expression and postnatal behavioral deficits. His research explores various stages of brain development using distinct model systems: embryo culture to explore morphological development and early epigenetic programming; fetal brain analyses to explore functional development and late epigenetic programming; and behavioral analyses in postnatal mice to explore characteristics of clinically relevant neurodevelopmental disorders. Their goal is to demonstrate that reversal of these epigenetic changes, using distinct biomolecular probes targeting epigenetic regulators, can reverse behavioral deficits seen in mice exposed to ROS-enhancing drugs during gestation. These findings could facilitate the development of therapeutic interventions to prevent or mitigate behavioral disorders in humans. To investigate 8-oxoG-dependant mechanisms of epigenetic dysregulation during gestation, they first wanted to determine the time point of maximal 8-oxoG formation in the brains of mice exposed in utero to a ROS-enhancing drug, ethanol. The research for which Mr. Afsharian won this award involved a time-course study quantifying 8-oxoG formation following maternal ethanol administration. These findings will allow them to precisely select ideal timepoints for the analyses of epigenetic marks, gene and protein expression, and activity of epigenetic regulators.

 

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Bevin Blake
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: US EPA

Dr. Blake felt incredibly honored to receive the RDTSS Edward W. Carney Trainee Award. This award will help her pursue her research through supporting her travel to the BDRP 2022 Annual Meeting, where she will have the opportunity to share the work with scientists, researchers, physicians, and other birth defects research experts. The impact of research is not fully realized until it is communicated to others, and this meeting is the ideal venue for communicating research since it brings together experts from many diverse fields of study. She is excited to be able to present her work at this year’s meeting and hope it helps to generate new ideas for future studies. 

Dr. Blake's doctoral research was focused on improving understanding of the human health effects associated with exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which comprise a diverse universe of environmentally ubiquitous chemicals commonly used in the production of products resistant to heat, stains, oil, and water. To do this research, she used a blend of different scientific tools, including human epidemiological analysis, animal models, and cell culture systems. The specific research supported by the RDTSS Edward W. Carney Award was conducted using mice to help them better understand the effect of exposure to PFAS on the placenta. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a PFAS associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes including hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and low birth weight. PFOA has been phased out of production in the US and replaced with new compounds, including hexafluoropropylene oxide-dimer acid (HFPO-DA, commonly called GenX). The placenta plays a critical role in both maternal and fetal health, and it is suspected that PFAS exposure may impact placental function, but this isn’t fully understood for well-studied PFAS (like PFOA) or newer PFAS (like GenX). They hypothesized the placenta is a target of PFAS and exposed mice to PFOA or GenX during pregnancy. They found that exposure to either PFOA or GenX during pregnancy resulted in increased placental weight, decreased fetal-placental weight ratios, and lesions in the placental labyrinth which included atrophy and congestion. GenX exposure during pregnancy also disrupted placental thyroid hormone levels. They are currently in the process of completing transcriptome-wide gene expression analyses of the placentas to better understand the underlying biological pathways disrupted by exposure to PFOA or GenX in the mouse placenta. 

 

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Kendall Langsten
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS, DVM
Institution/Affiliation: Wake Forest School of Medicine

Dr. Langsten felt that it was an absolute thrill to learn that she had received this endowment award. It is wonderful to have hard work recognized and she is so honored that their work was chosen. This award will help cover the cost of her attendance to the Society of Toxicology meeting in San Diego. She hopes to use this opportunity to meet future collaborators and learn about toxicology.

They developed a mouse model of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, the most common subtype diagnosed in women, that spontaneously metastasizes from the mammary tissue to the bone. Bone metastases are incurable in women and often are associated with bone and nerve pain. There are few models of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer bone metastasis, and fewer models that do not include the administration of exogenous estrogens, which will modulate the bone microenvironment. Their model exhibits spontaneous metastasis to the bone without exogenous estrogen, is responsive to antiestrogen therapies (tamoxifen and faslodex) and is in an immunocompetent host, allowing them to characterize the immune response within the tumor and throughout the major organs. Dr. Langsten's future goal with this work is to determine the effects of certain antiestrogen therapies with specific tyrosine kinase inhibitors in their model to inhibit bone metastasis growth.

 

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Cassandra Meakin
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Dr. Meaken was honored and thrilled when she found out that she had been selected to receive the Edward Carney Trainee Award. This award will allow her to travel to San Diego and attend the SOT conference in person this year and expand her network by fostering collaboration with other scientists in her field. 

For Dr. Meaken's research project, she has successfully developed an experimental method that assesses how environmental compounds alter cellular migration and development of the human placenta. Several of the classes of compounds examined, including heavy metals, bisphenols, and organophosphate flame retardants, have implications for early and later life health outcomes. Her future goals include pursuing a career in regulatory toxicology where she may use her training and expertise to inform public health decision making. 

 

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Haneesha Mohan
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University Health Network (UHN), Toronto General Research Institute, Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower (PMCRT)

Dr. Mohan was deeply honored and very excited when she received the email from the Society of Toxicology (SOT). She says thank you so much for this prestigious opportunity and award for the Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology Specialty Section Edward W. Carney Trainee Award. Accepting challenging deadlines and working independently is the foundation of her education and work experience thus far in the field of science. She understands with this award provided by SOT, there is utmost responsibility and accountability required. Through these experiences, she has developed an understanding of methodological and funding compromises inherent in conducting research. This award strengthens her career path as a potential independent researcher, as she has the ability to depict her efficiency in data production and her awareness of funding to produce innovative research aiming for a sense of gratification in following a project from its genesis to its completion. Her training, along with her previous Postdoctoral and PhD work experience, provided the opportunity to edify her training career path in biomolecular sciences, therapeutics, and toxicology. Overall, winning this award is very dear to her heart, providing a pivot foundation for her career aspects in the field of Toxicology, where as a scientist she is to always be inspired and take the utmost pride in producing quality work in training, teaching, attaining success in her proposed research plans, and developing into an independent investigator. 

Dr. Mohan's research in the past and current years have focused on immunology and metabolic diseases where her main goal has been to explore fundamental and translational research to forge new intervention for diseases in immunology. She has been very intrigued by HIV and Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs that have been implicated in glucose metabolism but are less studied. She is always fascinated to determine how novel pharmacologic approaches in the field of HIV effect whole-body energy metabolism and its co-interactions with the immune system. Although there are many ARV drugs made to treat the HIV pandemic, which was once identified as a fatal disease, basic science has discovered multiple ways to treat HIV with effective scientific and translational discoveries to transition this pandemic to a chronic disease increasing one’s lifespan. Dr. Mohan's curiosity led her to explore this area by joining the Serghides lab, in the Department of Immunology and Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto, and Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada. There, she is pursing her current Postdoctoral fellowship, and in this lab she aims to determine the effects of ARV drugs in the fields of fetal development, maternal health and glucose metabolism. In this lab, they have been able to hone various skills on multiple novel models to implement in vitro and in vivo, that endeavor various experimental designs aimed to answer pertinent questions of clinical relevance in HIV, pregnancy and congenital anomalies. Patient samples and cohorts used within their studies conducted in their lab demonstrates the strength and capacity of their HIV proposals, and research accomplishment in their workforce are well laid to optimally plan, implement, and focus for high-impact prevention interventions and strategies to reduce HIV-related morbidity, child mortality, and women-related health disparities across the world. The future direction of her research is as follows: The majority of people living with HIV are women of childbearing age. Dolutegravir (DTG) and other integrase strand transfer inhibitors (INSTI) are commonly used antiretrovirals (ARVs) in people living with HIV, including pregnant women. While these ARVs are very good at preventing transmission of HIV from mother to child, the secondary effects of ARVs, which include maternal metabolic perturbations and negative effects on early fetal development, remain a concern. Higher incidence of neural tube defects (NTD) in women living with HIV receiving DTG from conception was reported by an ongoing NIH-funded observational study in Botswana. These findings highlight the urgent need to improve their understanding of the underlying pathophysiology associated with DTG exposure in pregnancy. Maternal obesity and diabetes are recognised risk factors for NTD. DTG has been associated with hyperglycemia and metabolic complications are common side-effects of ARVs. In this study they will investigate the impact of exposure to DTG and other INSTIs during pregnancy on maternal metabolic health and fetal development – focusing on NTD using a mouse model. They will examine whether DTG exposure affects maternal liver function and glucose metabolism. They will study the effect of DTG exposure on insulin–responsive tissues and examine the effects on insulin production and activity. Their study will help to determine if DTG exposure increases the risk for NTD and if this risk extends to other INSTIs. They will identify potential biomarkers of NTD in DTG exposed pregnancies, and mechanistically assess biological pathways contributing to NTD, specifically metabolic dysregulation. Their study will address critical knowledge gaps in their understanding of the pathobiology of NTD in the context of ARV use in pregnancy, establish a rational basis for further evaluation of effective interventions, and help inform regimen selection in pregnancy. As well, Dr. Mohan has generated data on close to 10,000 fetuses and has already published one paper on her findings on the impact of DTG exposure in pregnancy on fetal development, with two more papers in progress. With respect to the specific research for which she won this award: Background: Dolutegravir (DTG), an integrase strand transfer inhibitor (INSTI), is a WHO-alternative first-line regimen. Initial findings from an observational study in Botswana showed an elevated incidence of neural tube defects (NTDs) with peri-conceptional exposure to DTG. They have previously shown that DTG exposure yielding therapeutic levels in pregnant mice on a folate sufficient diet was associated with higher rates of fetal anomalies compared to control-treated mice. Here they explore potential DTG reproductive toxicities in a folate deficient pregnancy mouse model. Methods: Female C57BL/6 mice fed a folic acid deficient diet for a minimum of 2 weeks, were mated and randomly allocated to either control (water) or 1x-DTG (2.5mg/kg DTG+50mg/kg tenofovir 33.3mg/kg emtricitabine). Drug/water was administered once daily by oral gavage from day of plug detection to sacrifice at E15.5. Fetuses were assessed for anomalies by two independent reviewers who were blinded to treatment allocation. Mixed effects logistic regression was used to assess differences between treatment groups accounting for litter effects. Results: A total of 1533 fetuses from 209 litters were assessed (control n=103 litters, 756 fetuses; 1x-DTG n=106 litters, 777 fetuses). Percent viability, placental weight, fetal weight, fetal/placenta weight ratio, and maternal weight gain did not differ between groups. Crown-rump length was lower and head width was higher in the 1x-DTG vs. control groups. Seven NTDs (exencephaly, n=2; encephalocele, n=3; spinal bifida, n=2) were observed in the 1x-DTG group (7/777=0.9%), with no NTDs in controls. Fetuses exposed to 1x-DTG also had higher rates of severe turning defects (2.2% vs. 0.4%, p=0.04), abdominal wall defects (3.5% vs. 0.4%, p=0.04), limb defects (3.9% vs. 0.5%, p=0.001), cranial/spinal bleeds (15.7% vs. 5.4%, p<0.001), and severe edema (7.0% vs. 1.3%, p<0.001). Conclusion: DTG treatment was associated with higher rates of fetal anomalies compared to controls in pregnant mice on a folate-deficient diet. 

 

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Madeline Vera-Colon
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of California Riverside

Ms. Vera-Colon was very honored to have been selected for this trainee award. This is a very exciting opportunity and helps validate why her research is important. All a researcher can ever hope for is to make an impact within their research community. This trainee award will help distinguish her work and allow her to reach many different target audiences. The most rewarding aspect to research to her is relaying her findings to the public. Without this trainee grant, she would not be able to do this. Additionally, she will continue to advocate and support alternative methods to mammalian models.

Ms. Vera-Colon's dissertation project focuses on elucidating the effects of embryo-toxicants on embryonic skeletal development. In order to reduce animal testing, their lab utilizes a human embryonic stem cell differentiation protocol that reliably and reproducibly produces osteoblasts following a 20-day differentiation period. Therefore, they are able to recapitulate embryonic skeletal development using their in vitro differentiation model. Exposure to chemicals released from everyday sources are largely overlooked as a cause of birth defects. Ideally, evaluation of new toxicants would be tested on a multitude of species, however human embryonic exposure is clearly not ethical. Current assessments remain in need of a higher predictivity rate on humans. With the advent of human pluripotent stem cell models and their application to derive bone cells, it has now become possible to leverage these cells for risk assessment associated with environmental exposure. Ms. Vera-Colon's future work will segue into environmental justice motives to improve contaminant exposure and birth defect rates in largely minority communities. She will still be utilizing human embryonic stem cells as a human-relevant method to study embryonic development and reduce the necessity for animal testing. 

 

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Dinesh Babu
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Alberta

Dr. Babu was pleasantly excited and honored to receive the Drug Discovery Toxicology Specialty Section (DDTSS) Postdoctoral Poster Competition Award, as it truly marks a milestone achievement in his research career. Winning this award gives him great motivation and boosts his confidence to continue his passionate research in toxicological sciences. He expresses his sincere thanks to the DDTSS award selection committee for recognizing the value of his research work and selecting him for this award. Many thanks to Dr. Arno Siraki, his postdoc mentor, for his “radical” thoughts behind this innovative research study and for humbly providing him with an opportunity to pursue this work. Having been recognized with the DDTSS award, Dr. Babu firmly believes his poster will gain significant attention from an increased number of the diverse audience attending the 2022 SOT Annual Meeting, which will allow him to discuss the science and receive their constructive feedback to help improve his research work and prospectively disseminate it as a publication in the future. He also hopes the DDTSS award will help to highlight his research work and attract researchers for any future collaborations for this clinically related study.

Many drugs currently on the market are associated with toxicity, and their side effects have huge implications on our healthcare system. Dr. Babu's research interest essentially focuses on understanding the different ways by which drugs cause “unexpected” side effects (commonly known as “adverse drug reactions”). He has been actively participating in all the projects of Dr. Arno Siraki’s laboratory investigating this aspect of drug toxicology. His long-term career goal is to become an independent academic investigator and establish a laboratory to perform cutting-edge research on drug toxicology to investigate the ways to reduce the adverse reactions of the drug used in clinical practice. The research topic he will present at the 2022 SOT Annual Meeting, for which he was awarded the DDTSS Postdoctoral Poster Competition Award, involves the side effect of a drug (clozapine) used to treat patients with schizophrenia. Clozapine (Clozaril®) is the only drug approved to treat a significant fraction of those patients, referred to as “treatment-resistant schizophrenics,” who do not respond to treatment with other conventional medications. However, clozapine is associated with severe potential side effects like lowered white blood cell count (agranulocytosis). Edaravone (Radicava®) is the only drug that is believed to function through its antioxidant activity and is presently approved in the USA and Canada to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease. Thus, for the first time, this research study investigates the usefulness of cotreating edaravone with clozapine in a cell model to prevent the initial reactions considered to cause clozapine's adverse drug reactions.

 

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Shreyas Gaikwad
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University Health Science Center

Mr. Gaikwad was extremely delighted to receive this award, which provided him encouragement to work harder towards understanding the mechanisms of repurposed drugs.

His research focuses on repurposing FDA-approved compounds for their anti-cancer activity in pancreatic cancer (PDAC). Currently, he is working on establishing the anti-cancer activity of an anti-parasitic compound (MBO) in pancreatic cancer. He has established the immunomodulatory role of MBO in PDAC. Since immune checkpoint inhibitors have largely failed in PDAC, Mr. Gaikwad's future goal is to use MBO for potentiating the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors in PDAC.

 

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Raymond Hau
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona

Mr. Hau was pleasantly surprised when he was notified that he had received this award and was excited to share some of the work that he has done throughout his graduate school career. There are always many strong candidates that submit applications and he was very happy to find that his work appealed to the experts in the Drug Discovery Toxicology Specialty Section. He is proud of the work that he has accomplished, although he knows there are still a lot of avenues to investigate. This award reinforces the passion that Mr. Hau has for his research and will allow him to continue working on various spin-off projects that ultimately achieve the same end goal: understanding and predicting drug disposition across the blood-testis barrier.

Mr. Hau's research focuses on how certain chemicals such as contraceptives, antivirals, cancer chemotherapeutics, pesticides, and many others are able to circumvent the blood-testis barrier (a semi-selective cell membrane barrier) through transport proteins to disrupt male reproductive activity. The work that is described in his abstract is centered around a reversible, non-hormonal male contraceptive called H2-gamendazole, where a single oral dose of H2-gamendazole has been shown to cause reversible infertility in rodents, rabbits, and non-human primates. Although this effect suggests H2-gamendazole crosses the blood-testis barrier, the exact mechanism(s) are unknown. His work characterized the process(es) in which this drug crosses; however, additional work is necessary to directly identify the transporter(s) that are involved. In the future, Mr. Hau hopes to finally identify the transporter(s) that are involved with H2-gamendazole transport as well as to identify and characterize other transport pathways that permit other drugs such as antivirals and cancer chemotherapeutics to cross the blood-testis barrier for the treatment of viral infections (HIV, Zika viruses, etc.) or certain cancers.

 

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Kumaravel Mohankumar
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M University

Dr. Mohankumar was surprised to get the email and was so glad to receive this award. The value of the abstract was confirmed and this will empower him to focus on a more detailed study on the mechanism of this disease and the applications of more potent buttressed analog of C-DIMs that act as antagonist for NR4A1. Through receipt of this award, the impact of his research will be recognized by the scientific community and this will enhance his transition into a career of drug research and clinical applications. Dr. Mohankumar thanks SOT for its support, which is much appreciated.

Dr. Mohankumar's overall interest in the field of molecular toxicology has been focused on development of a highly potent NR4A1 ligands that are relatively non-toxic alternatives to current therapies and their potential clinical applications for treating cancer. Globally, their group has been a pioneer for studying the orphan nuclear receptor, NR4A1 and they have discovered a series of potent ligands for this receptor. Studies in their laboratory have identified and characterized the orphan nuclear receptor 4A1 (NR4A1, Nur77) as a novel pro-oncogenic target in several cancers. Dr. Mohankumar is currently studying the effect and molecular mechanisms of a series of potent ligands against this NR4A1. Their second and third generation analogs have KD values as low as 1nM for this receptor. His future goal is to get into a drug discovery research area. His specific research for this award is focused on investigating T-cell exhaustion in a syngeneic mouse model of colon cancer and the effects of CDIM/NR4A1 antagonists to reverse T-cell exhaustion and enhance immune surveillance. Their results demonstrate that NR4A1 antagonists inhibit many of these dysfunctional NR4A1-dependent effects in T-cells and this includes reversal of several markers of T-cell exhaustion and activation of cytokines. The combined effects of NR4A1 antagonists in both tumors and T-cells result in potent inhibition of colon tumorigenesis by targeting pathways/genes including PD-L1 in tumor cells and by enhancing immune surveillance through inhibition of NR4A1-dependent T-cell dysfunction. The results from this study formed the basis of a recently submitted R01 grant. This study represents the first report of a mechanism-based drug that can be used for anti-cancer immunotherapy. 

 

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Souvarish Sarkar
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Brigham & Women's Hospital

Dr. Sarkar was pleasantly surprised to receive the Drug Discovery Postdoctoral Award. This award validates some of the work that he has done and provides inspiration to continue his work in the field of drug discovery. 

Dr. Sarkar is currently building a model system to understand gene-environment interactions in Parkinson's disease (PD). Using a combination of scalable techniques, he has built a model that can identify novel polygenic interactions with environmental factors. Using this system, they are trying to identify druggable targets for those specific interactions, which will be a first step towards personalized medicine in PD. Dr. Sarkar aims to use this work to secure future NIH grants and transition to an independent position in the near future. 

 

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Muthanna Sultan
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of South Carolina School of Medicine

Dr. Sultan was super happy and excited upon receiving the email confirming that he was the recipient of the Drug Discovery Toxicology Postdoctoral Endowment Award. It is such an honor for him to receive this award and he is looking forward to the future and being more involved in the Drug Discovery Specialty Section activities.

The rationale for the study: Endocannabinoids are lipid molecules produced endogenously by host cells and bind to cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. N-Arachidonoylethanolamine or anandamide (AEA) is an endocannabinoid that has been shown to have immunomodulatory effects by their lab and others. In the current study, they have tested the hypothesis that AEA with a triple dose of 40 mg/kg I.P ameliorates Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) induced by Staphylococcus Enterotoxin B (SEB-50ug /mice) through modulating the expression profile of Micro-RNAs of the mononuclear cells that were isolated from the lungs, which these micro-RNAs have been shown triggering the proapoptotic cascades at the level of the genes. Specifically, they have addressed the role of AEA treatment which leads to downregulation of miR-125b-5p, and 16-5p targeting caspase 3, which may be responsible and involved in the induction and increasing the population of the apoptotic cells in the mononuclear cells significantly of the lung of SEB+AEA compared to SEB+VEH. Also, note that both the micro-RNA array and pro-apoptotic genes were confirmed by RT- qPCR. At the protein level, they isolated mononuclear cells from the mononuclear cells of the lungs and they run the western blot. Their results indicated that the expression of cleaved caspase 3 was significantly increased in the SEB+AEA compared to SEB+VEH. In addition, they have found in this study that SEB was able to induce proliferation in the T cells while AEA was able to suppress the proliferation significantly after administration of the treatment (AEA). 

Significance: In summary, their studies may lead to the use of specific miRNAs as biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of SEB-induced Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. In addition, the data generated provides insights into the development of preventive and therapeutic strategies against Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and other inflammatory diseases. 

Future Goals: Since this study has been shown so far that AEA ameliorating ARDS through modulation of Micro-RNAs of the mononuclear cells in the lung, then their next step is to confirm the microRNAs are targeting the specific genes, thus they are going to use the specific mimic and Inhibitor for both miRNA 125b-5p and 16-5p separately with a specific concentration for each one of them then followed by validation by RT-qPCR. Furthermore. To know more about gene expression across different cell phenotypes of the lung, they are going to use single-cell RNA sequencing to determine the level of caspase family gene expression, especially caspase 3. 

The role of the researcher in the work: The entire of this work was done by Dr. Sultan as a part of his research project as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of South Carolina, School of Medicine, with supervision and fund support provided by both of his mentors, Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti and Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti.

 

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Rulaiha Taylor
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Upon receiving this award, Ms. Taylor felt grateful and overwhelmed with joy. She expressed that it is so rewarding to be recognized as a trainee for hard work and research, especially through a global pandemic. This award will help her continue to pursue her research utilizing a novel double knockout mouse model to investigate the effect of individual bile acids on bile acid signaling and homeostasis, as well as their impact on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease/ non-alcoholic steatohepatitis development.

Ms. Taylor's research focuses on the molecular mechanisms and pathophysiology of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) caused by bile acid (BA) dysregulation. NASH is a more severe form in the spectrum of the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), characterized by steatosis, inflammation and fibrosis, which affects at least a quarter of Americans. NASH is a silent disease with few symptoms and its diagnosis requires invasive liver biopsy. Unfortunately, there are no current FDA approved drugs for NASH treatment. In the liver, BAs are synthesized from cholesterol and function as signaling molecules that suppress their own synthesis, regulate lipid and glucose homeostasis, and aid in the biliary secretion of lipids, toxic metabolites and xenobiotics. Individual BAs selectively activate nuclear or membrane receptors, e.g. chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA) is the most potent endogenous ligand of farnesoid X receptor (FXR). BAs mediate gut-liver crosstalk. Activation of FXR in the gut upregulates fibroblast growth factor 19 in humans (FGF15/19) (FGF15 in mice), FGF15 circulates back to the liver to activate signaling pathways to repress the expression of BA synthesis genes, Cyp7a1 and Cyp8b1, halting BA synthesis. BA mimetics are currently in development for the treatment of NASH utilizing the FXR-FGF19 negative feedback loop as molecular target because overwhelming evidence support FXR regulates the expression of genes involved in lipid and glucose metabolism, liver generation and inflammation. However, the full functions of individual BAs in vivo remain unclear. Ms. Taylor's current research is focused on investigating the full functions of BAs, including deoxycholic acid (DCA) it is currently approved as therapeutic although its mechanism of action are to be elucidated. Her future goal is to discover novel underlying molecular mechanisms to prevent and treat human fatty liver diseases.

 

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Lei Zhang
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M University

Ms. Zhang is a graduate research assistant in the laboratory of Stephen Safe, where she conducts research on the molecular oncology and potential clinical applications of a series phytochemical derived natural products that are ligands for the orphan nuclear receptor 4A1 (NR4A1, TR3, NUR77). Globally, their group (Dr. Stephen Safe) has been a pioneer for studying the orphan nuclear receptor NR4A1 and they have discovered a series of potent ligands for this receptor. Ms. Zhang's specific project is focused on the resveratrol, a NR41A ligands that are relatively non-toxic and can be used as adjuncts along with current therapies. Ms. Zhang will use this award to support the purchase of scientific analysis software. Her long-term goal is investigating the mechanism of receptors in cancer and developing/optimizing anti-cancer drugs based for the clinic therapies. 

 

Environmental Carcinogenesis Research Fellowship Fund

Recipient: Jonathan  Diedrich
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Dr. Diedrich was excited to be this year's recipient of the Carcinogenesis Specialty Section Environmental Carcinogenesis Merit Award for Postdoctoral Researchers! He would like to thank the Society of Toxicology and the donors for making this award possible. He knows this is a competitive and prestigious award and he feels incredibly honored to join the SOT's list of distinguished investigators that have also received endowment awards. Not only will the funds from the award be helpful for accommodations and travel to the 2022 SOT meeting, but the recognition will fuel networking opportunities and have an immediate positive impact on his career.

Dr. Diedrich's research focuses broadly on the role of obesity and cancer. Specifically, he is interested in how factors from fat cells promote tumor growth and multiple myeloma (MM) progression through changes in gene regulation. Understanding the epigenetic changes driving disease progression will provide therapeutic targets for prevention of this terminal disease. As a postdoctoral fellow, his goal is to expand on this work and develop strong pre-clinical and clinical collaborations to study the effects of obesity in hematological malignancies as an independent principle investigator at a research institute. 

 

Environmental Carcinogenesis Research Fellowship Fund

Recipient: Jennifer Toyoda
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MSc
Institution/Affiliation: University of Louisville

Ms. Toyada indicated it was an honor to be selected for the Carcinogenesis Environmental Merit Award for Graduate Students. The recognition of research in metals carcinogenesis and environmental and occupational airborne carcinogens benefits the field of toxicology and particularly the fight against lung cancer. The funds from this award will support Ms. Toyoda's conference attendance where she can build on the collaborations and scientific communication that help fuel the research in her lab.

Ms. Toyoda's project investigates how one of the most widespread environmental carcinogens, hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)], causes cancer. One of the key effects of Cr(VI) is it causes cells to acquire the wrong number of chromosomes, yet nobody knows how this happens. She proposes Cr(VI) disrupts proteins that control the number of centrosomes in the cell, and centrosome amplification deregulates chromosome segregation. She explores this hypothesis in four aims: 1) She has shown Cr(VI) targets a key centrosome regulator, securin, causing it to decrease by disruption of gene expression; 2) She is investigating the cause of gene expression disruption through either transcriptional defects or miRNA deregulation they have found via RNA sequencing; 3) She is translating these endpoints to Cr(VI)-exposed rats and to human lung tumors derived from Cr(VI)-exposed workers; 4) As Cr(VI) is a common toxicant to humans and wildlife including whales, yet whale cells escape the carcinogenic outcomes on centrosomes and chromosomes, she is investigating the species-specific differences in Cr(VI) effects. The results of this project will illuminate the mechanism of Cr(VI) carcinogenesis, inform risk assessment, and potentially identify targets that are key to metal-induced lung cancer.

 

Founders Award

Recipient: Leigh Ann  Burns Naas
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD, DABT, ATS, ERT
Institution/Affiliation: Magnolia Toxicology Consulting LLC

Leigh Ann Burns Naas, PhD, DABT, ATS, ERT, has been awarded the 2022 SOT Founders Award (for Outstanding Leadership in Toxicology) in recognition of her substantial, seminal, and multifaceted contributions to the science of toxicology and especially in fostering data-based decision-making in drug safety. Dr. Burns Naas received her PhD in pharmacology and toxicology from the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University in 1992, after which she enhanced her study of the immune system by training at the Mayo Clinic in T cell signal transduction. She went on to apply her knowledge of toxicology and the immune system in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, where her work has focused on the strategic aspects and the design of safety programs to support chemical product development and registration, as well as the clinical development and licensure for small molecules and biotherapeutics, including vaccines. Over the course of her career, Dr. Burns Naas has worked to bring regulators and industry together to start a dialogue on the state-of-the-science and best practices to help develop a testing framework for developmental immunotoxicology and conduct risk assessments for pharmaceuticals. The impact she has made in moving this area forward cannot be understated. Over the past two decades, Dr. Burns Naas has contributed to numerous drug registrations, either serving as the project toxicologist and lead regulatory submission author or providing strategic oversight for the development of the drugs and mentoring project toxicologists. In addition to these roles, she has contributed as a reviewer and editor of various regulatory dossiers, from initial first-in-human trials to registration and query responses. The list of drugs and potential new drugs to which she has contributed in one or more of these capacities is extensive. Beyond her proprietary work in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Burns Naas has made significant contributions to the scientific literature and discourse through 50-plus publications, 23 book chapters, and many abstracts. She also serves as a member of the Editorial Boards of the International Journal of Toxicology and Journal of Immunotoxicology and was the Editor of two volumes (the immune system and the hematopoietic system) of Comprehensive Toxicology, 3rd Edition and of Encyclopedic Reference of Immunotoxicology, 2nd Edition. These accomplishments highlight her passion for ensuring that scientific insights of high quality are shared with the scientific community to help advance the field of toxicology. Her efforts in safety testing to support pharmaceutical development also have included active engagement in endeavors to promote the reduction, refinement, and replacement of animals in research. In 2019, Dr. Burns Naas retired from the pharmaceutical industry and started her own consulting company, Magnolia Toxicology Consulting LLC, where she continues to contribute to the field. As an independent consultant, Dr. Burns Naas provides advice in the areas of nonclinical safety and strategic planning for drug development as well as technical due diligence for in-licensing business development opportunities. Dr. Burns Naas has contributed her expertise to many scientific societies, including through service on the Boards of Directors of the American Board of Toxicology, the Academy of Toxicological Sciences, and the International Consortium for Innovation and Quality in Pharmaceutical Drug Development. She has been an SOT member since 1995 and has served on the Scientific Program Committee, Continuing Education Committee, and Endowment Fund Board. She also served as Secretary of the Society and President of the Immunotoxicology Specialty Section and is a Charter member of the Biotechnology Specialty Section. Dr. Burns Naas is the only individual ever to have served as President of both SOT and the American College of Toxicology.

 

Frank C. Lu Food Safety Student Award Fund

Recipient: Lauren Heine
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Ms. Heine was extremely honored to have been awarded this year’s Food Safety Specialty Section (FSSS) Frank C. Lu Graduate Student Award. She remarked it is a privilege to be recognized by leaders in the field not only as an awardee, but also for the work carried out in the laboratory, which they are equally passionate about. This award will help further her research by providing her with the opportunity to form a long-term relationship with the FSSS and discuss her findings with world-class toxicologists at their annual reception.

The overall goal of Ms. Heine's thesis work is to evaluate steroid-sparing interventions that can provide protection against inhaled toxicant-induced autoimmunity. More specifically, her project focuses on how dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., those found in fish oil supplements) can be used to reduce the amount of steroid required to improve disease symptoms in lupus patients. To address this, she has used a preclinical murine model to determine the efficacy of the omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in reducing autoimmunity triggered by inhaled toxicants such as crystalline silica. In previous studies, their lab has shown that dietary supplementation with a human equivalent dose (HED) of DHA is effective in significantly reducing autoimmunity in juvenile lupus-prone mice. Considering these findings, they aimed to determine if this same HED of DHA would be efficacious in blunting silica-induced autoimmunity in adult lupus-prone mice that more appropriately models the age of silica-exposed workers. Similar to juvenile mice, dietary supplementation with DHA reduced the same endpoints of autoimmunity in adult lupus-prone mice. This specific work was recognized under the Frank C. Lu Graduate Student Award. Ms. Heine's long-term career goal is to study therapeutics aimed at the maintenance and restoration of the immune system following exposure to environmental toxicants. This work has provided her with important training in evaluating cost-effective dietary interventions to prevent or resolve autoimmune flaring resulting from exposure to environmental triggers, and thus improving the quality of life in lupus patients. 

 

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award Fund

Recipient: David Leuthold
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BSc, MSc, Dr rer nat
Institution/Affiliation: Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

Dr. Leuthold's first reaction was to find it unbelievable to receive this award. He felt honored and was happy about this kind of appreciation. It does not only account for his own effort but also recognizes the contributions of his whole research group. This includes several aspects, like practical support and valuable feedback, but also ongoing motivation throughout the course of such an intense project. He is grateful to be part of such an outstanding team. This award helps to pursue his research and provide even more motivation to continue and further develop his approach and to share his current knowledge with the next generation of scientists. The fact that this approach is recognized as useful for environmental research at this stage of development is highly encouraging.

What Dr. Leuthold likes most about his work are the diverse challenges that require new ideas and approaches every day. In other words, to apply creativity to critical aspects of societal development feels very satisfactory. His work is diverse and includes steps from hypothesis development, experimental design, conduction of experiments, supervision of trainees/ PhD students, exchange of ideas with colleagues, data management, establishment of data analysis pipelines, presentations and finally, of course, paper writing. He never gets bored of optimization – he is a perfectionist. In practical terms, he is mainly working with early developmental stages of zebrafish – an alternative model that provides seemingly endless options to study many critical aspects of environmental and human health. Thus, his future goals include to further develop whole-organism and molecular methods in zebrafish that allow them to better understand the underlying mechanisms of toxicity and diseases. The research conducted for the received award focuses on the development and application of a behavior assay battery in larval zebrafish in order to determine effects of chemicals on neurodevelopment and neuronal function. The initial idea was to extend the commonly applied but limited light-dark-transition assay and to assess chemical-induced alterations in behavior in a more comprehensive way to account for the complexity of the developing nervous system and its diverse chemical targets. One of the first steps was the establishment and optimization of acoustic tests to measure acoustic sensitivity to low- and high-volume tones of a certain frequency. Additionally, a sequence of acoustic stimuli was optimized for inter stimulus intervals in order to provoke habituation behavior – a non-associate form of learning that is also conserved in humans. After optimization of the various parameters, the assay battery was evaluated against a set of known pharmacological modulators with distinct neuromolecular targets such as NMDA receptor, GABA receptor and acetylcholinesterase. With the confirmation that the combination of the multiple behavior assays has the diagnostic capacity to differentiate these mechanisms, the battery was further evaluated against a set of chemicals that were previously shown to target the NMDA receptor in vitro – an ionotropic receptor known to play a major role in learning and memory processes. The underlying question here was, whether such compounds that induce a lack in learning and memory through interference with NMDA receptors can also be confirmed in zebrafish. The current findings confirm that the embryo-larval zebrafish model recapitulates exposure-induced learning deficit phenotypes observed in rodent models, thereby highlighting its potential as an alternative method. Finally, they could identify an environmental chemical which is used as a biocidal ingredient in cosmetic products to reduce habituation learning behavior, a fact that has not been shown before and that highlights the previously unknown neuroactive properties of this chemical. Dr. Leuthold had great support from a former trainee, who has now become a PhD student in their Molecular Toxicology group. She made great progress within just one year transitioning from a plant physiologist into a environmental toxicologist with impressive skills in the lab. He says that it was and still is a pleasure to train her and to collaborate.

 

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award Fund

Recipient: Souvarish  Sarkar
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Sarkar was pleasantly surprised to receive the Gabriel Plaa Education Award. This award validates some of the work that he has done and provides inspiration to continue his work in the field of drug discovery. Further, it will keep him motivated to be a good mentor for future generations of toxicologists. 

Dr. Sarkar is currently building a model system to understand gene-environment interactions in Parkinson's disease (PD). Using a combination of scalable techniques, he has built a model that can identify novel polygenic interactions with environmental factors. Using this system, they are trying to identify druggable targets for those specific interactions, which will be a first step towards personalized medicine in PD. He aims to use this work to secure future NIH grants and transition to an independent position in the near future.

 

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award Fund

Recipient: Hao Wang
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Washington

Dr. Wang was thrilled to be receiving this award. This generous award will help him attend international toxicology conferences to learn more from the other fantastic researchers.

Dr. Wang's research focuses on the investigation of neurotoxicity and the potential mechanisms of heavy metals and other environmental toxicants. He is currently trying to elucidate the role the gut-brain axis plays in the neurotoxicity of Cadmium, which helped win the award. In the future, Dr. Wang will try to find if there is any remediation to mitigate the neurotoxicity of environmental toxicants.

 

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Manasi Kotulkar
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Kansas Medical Center

Ms. Kotulkar was sincerely honored to have been selected as the recipient of the Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award offered by the Association of Scientists of Indian Origin, Society of Toxicology (ASIO-SOT). This award is very well recognized in the toxicology community. Receiving the award helped Ms. Kotulkar set up the foundations for her career path in toxicology. Ms. Kotulkar thanks SOT-ASIO for their generosity, which has allowed her an opportunity to interact, learn, and network with the researchers and scientists in the field of toxicology by attending the annual SOT conference. 

The liver has a unique ability to regenerate and repair after injury. Liver regeneration is likely to evolve due to the principal role of the liver in xenobiotic and nutrient metabolism. Ms. Kotulkar's research is focused on the mechanisms involved in cell proliferation during regeneration and cancer progression in the liver. Acetaminophen (APAP) is a widely used over-the-counter antipyretic and analgesic drug that is extremely effective at therapeutic doses. However, an overdose of APAP leads to acute liver failure. APAP overdose is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the Western world. N-acetyl cysteine, the only therapeutic option present is successful only if given within a few hours after APAP overdose. Previous studies from our laboratory and others have shown that activation of prompt liver regeneration following APAP overdose is critical for survival. Ms. Kotulkar is investigating the interaction between the orphan nuclear receptor Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 4-alpha (HNF4α) and transcription factor, cMyc in liver injury and regeneration after APAP overdose. Her initial studies showed that hepatocyte-specific HNF4α knockout mice (HNF4α-KO) showed increased liver injury following APAP overdose but still recovered at the same time as the WT mice. She also observed significantly higher cMyc expression in HNF4α-KO livers after APAP treatment. Next, she dosed HNF4α and cMyc double knockout mice (DKO) with 300mg/kg of APAP and studied injury and subsequent regenerative response. Her team observed that DKO mice recover faster, despite equal initial injury, as compared to HNF4α-KO and WT mice. The faster recovery of DKO mice was accompanied by reduced JNK activation and increased proliferative response. Most importantly, DKO mice showed significantly faster glutathione replenishment following initial depletion after APAP treatment. Their data suggested that cMyc promotes the development of injury in the context of HNF4α loss by inhibiting Nrf2 activation. They have uncovered a novel and complex signaling interaction between HNF4α and cMyc during acute liver injury and regeneration. Ms. Kotulkar's goal during her PhD is to perform meaningful research to understand the mechanisms of drug-induced liver injury and liver regeneration. After her doctorate studies, she would like to continue working in the field of toxicology. Ms. Kotulkar envisages herself working as a toxicologist in the drug industry where she wants to apply her knowledge for translational toxicology studies. 

 

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Archna  Panghal
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research

Ms. Panghal was extremely delighted and honored for getting recognition on an international platform and was grateful to the ASIO and SOT for providing her an opportunity to represent her research work. It was extremely motivating for her on the research front and presenting her work to a large audience on an esteemed platform will boost her confidence and help in shaping her career as a toxicologist. It provided her an opportunity to interact with researchers around the globe and design her research projects more constructively based on scientific interactions. This award helped her to build up a wide network of researchers engaged in the diverse field of toxicology.

Her work is in the field of reproductive toxicity with prime focus on the male reproductive toxicity. Briefly, Ms. Panghal is exploring the molecular effects of chemotherapy on male gonadal functions. She won this award for the work entitled “Juvenile Exposure and Germ Cell Risk Assessment in Adults: Study on Melphalan in Male Rats.” In this particular research work, she exposed male juvenile rats with the single and intermittent cycle of melphalan and assessed the risk of gonadal damage at the adult stage. The findings suggested that time of exposure, as well as the amount of exposure (total dosage administered), determine the magnitude of the damage in germ cell risk assessment in the rats. 

 

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Punnag Saha
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MSc
Institution/Affiliation: University of South Carolina

Mr. Saha was extremely delighted when he received the award notification from ASIO. Getting an award at the annual Society of Toxicology conference is a dream for budding toxicologists. This award immensely motivated him to work hard, so that he can further achieve more recognition in the coming days and establish himself as a leading toxicologist in the future.

Mr. Saha is currently a third-year PhD student at the Dept. of Environmental Health Sciences of the University of South Carolina. His lab, directed by Dr. Saurabh Chatterjee, works on various cyanotoxins and their novel mechanisms of toxicity using both In Vivo and In Vitro approaches. They also investigate how these toxins affect various organ systems and their pathophysiology under metabolic conditions like Nonalcoholic Fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In the future, Mr. Saha wants to further explore the role of these toxins in modulating the host's gut microbiome, and how that alteration of intestinal microflora might affect the host via the gut-brain axis. Mr. Saha's current research project involves a cyanotoxin called cylindrospermopsin (CYN), which is known to be a potent protein-synthesis inhibitor. By using a murine model, they wanted to determine whether oral administration of the toxin CYN resulted in any significant alteration of the gut bacteriome pattern in mice (also known as dysbiosis) and further link this dysbiosis to CYN-dependent hepatotoxicity. Although many studies have been conducted previously to elucidate various angles of CYN-toxicity, especially hepatotoxicity, none reported the CYN-mediated altered gut microbiome pattern and a possible link to the hepatotoxicity, which further adds novelty and emphasis to this work.

 

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Chittaranjan Sahu
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (NIPER)

Dr. Sahu was excited to receive this prestigious award. This award will encourage him as well as allow him to present his research work on an international platform. This will allow him to identify the next steps. This award is a recognition of his research work in toxicology and this support will strengthen his research career in the field of toxicology.

Dr. Sahu's present research work was focused on the adverse impact of the diabetic condition on bisphenol A induced male reproduction dysfunction in animals and humans. These results explored the toxicity of bisphenol A on reproductive health in diabetic conditions. The adverse/toxic effect of bisphenol A toxicity perturbed the testis, epididymis, as well as spermatogenesis processes in diabetic rats.

 

Health and Environmental Science Institute Immunotoxicology Young Investigator Student Award Fund

Recipient: Brandon Lewis
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Dr. Lewis was very thankful to receive this award as it will help propel his scientific career. He would like to thank the SOT Immunotoxicology Specialty Section for this generous award. 

Dr. Lewis utilizes both animal and human primary cell models of severe allergic airway inflammation in order to elucidate possible mechanisms of corticosteroid sensitivity. In the current project, the active metabolite of vitamin D 3 was used to enhance corticosteroid sensitivity. His future goals are to lead an independent research program. 

 

James Bond-Michele Medinsky Graduate Student Development Temporary Fund

Recipient: Graduate Intern Fellowship in Toxicology Program 
Award Year: 2022

Immersion in internships provides students with a unique appreciation of the day-to-day activities of toxicologists and paths for career success in industry, government, and nonprofit organizations. Such opportunities can help students establish their professional network, build confidence in career choices, and ultimately better prepare to transition into these employment sectors upon graduation.

In 2022, the James Bond-Michele Medinsky Graduate Student Development Temporary Fund supported an internship award through the Graduate Intern Fellowship in Toxicology (GIFT) program, which was chronicled in a Communiqué Blog.  The GIFT program offers graduate students funding to engage in internships within industry, government, and nonprofit organizations. This program enables outstanding doctoral students to pursue an internship in toxicology that advances their professional and scientific development. 

Jean Lu Student Scholarship Award Fund

Recipient: Karen Chiu
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Chiu was really honored and grateful to be awarded AACT Jean Lu Scholarship. She thanks SOT, her PI, her labmates, and collaborators for their support and guidance. The scholarship will be used to support her tuition fees in graduate school. 

Her doctoral work examines the impact of a chemical, called di-isononyl phthalate, commonly used to make plastics soft and durable and its impact on the gut. Specifically, she examines the impact of DiNP exposure on the large intestine from an immunological, endocrine, and microbial perspective, which was be presented at SOT in San Diego. Her future goal is to bridge her toxicology expertise with patent law. 

Jean Lu Student Scholarship Award Fund

Recipient: Hannah Xu
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: The University of Georgia

Ms. Xu was ecstatic upon receiving this award because it will help her travel to the 2022 SOT conference. Attending the conference will elevate her research by exposing her to the most cutting-edge technologies, ideas, discoveries, and critical feedback on her current work.

Ms. Xu's research includes testing potential food additives and supplements that may have adverse health effects by examining microbiome changes and determining whether these changes influence the overall health of vulnerable populations. Her future goal is to evaluate the changes in mechanisms due to chemicals of health importance. Her current project focuses on assessing the toxicity of nanocellulose on health. Microbiome analysis indicated that starch, sucrose, fructose metabolism, as well as many lipid-processing functions such as glycosphingolipid metabolism and biosynthesis might increase after nanocellulose ingestion. Changes in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism may directly impact glucose homeostasis. Additionally, changes in glycosphingolipids may alter neuron and certain immune cell functions. Therefore, the effects of nanocellulose on glucose homeostasis, immunity, and cognition were further evaluated in a type I diabetic model.

 

John Doull Student Award Fund

Recipient: Chao Ji
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Indiana University Bloomington

Dr. Ji is honored to be a recipient of the John Doull Risk Assessment Endowment Award. This award plays a crucial role in supporting the academic pursuits of young investigators to advance the field of environmental health risk assessment. This prestigious support from John Doull Endowment Fund gives her the chance to share their innovative scientific research work on genomic dose response modeling supporting the chemical risk assessment in the upcoming SOT meeting. This also gives her a unique chance to communicate with and learn from the other experts in the environmental health risk assessment field. She would like to sincerely thank organizers for giving her the opportunity to receive this award. She looks forward to showing her gratitude by contributing to their risk assessment community in the future, to educate and nurture young researchers, and to ensure future leaders in the risk assessment are continually supported for their passion and efforts.

Chemical risk assessment is widely applied in industries and regulatory agencies as an important tool to evaluate chemical toxicity in support of chemical registration, safety evaluation, and the development of regulatory exposure limit. However, the gap between the number of existing and newly introduced chemicals and limited capacity of comprehensive safety evaluation highlights the limitation of the traditional animal based toxicological assessment. Therefore, with the purpose of prioritizing potential chemicals for further in-depth toxicological research and evaluation, the National Toxicology Program started a major initiative to develop a high throughput screening program. Following this trend, they utilized the Bayesian method to develop a web-based dose-response modeling and benchmark dose (BMD) estimation system, Bayesian BMD (BBMD) (https://benchmarkdose.com), for utilizing genomic data. Different from the algorithm of the existing software, BBMD uses Bayesian model average method to account model uncertainty, which provides reliable results. Besides, the genomic BBMD system provides a user-friendly option in data storage and data sharing, and all the analyses through BBMD are automatically stored and are accessible for future usage or sharing. The ultimate goal of this research is to fill multiple gaps that hamper the large-scale adoption of genomic BMD methodology in industry and government, and contribute a user-friendly and reliable genomic BMD estimation system, BBMD, to greatly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of toxicity evaluation of chemicals. 

 

John Doull Student Award Fund

Recipient: Kruuttika Satbhai
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS, PhD Candidate
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University

Ms. Satbhai was elated upon receiving the award notification and felt incredibly grateful and honored. Her co-authors were also very happy to hear about the news. This award has provided recognition to their research and serves as a great motivation and encouragement to continue her research in Toxicology. The monetary reward will help her to cover expenses for the annual SOT conference as well as contribute towards the completion of an online course that will help to further her understanding of modelling concepts in the field of toxicology.

In the project that was selected for this award, they compared the toxicity of PFOA, and its replacement GenX using zebrafish larvae as an in vivo model. Various biological endpoints, such as survival, hatching success, swimming behavior, and uptake and elimination rates of both the chemicals were evaluated. The uptake and elimination kinetics were assessed using experimental data and modelling data, which were both found to be comparable. The findings of their study demonstrate that GenX was less toxic than PFOA according to the exposure effect concentrations. However, accounting for differences in bioconcentrations led to similar GenX and PFOA internal effect concentrations, suggesting similar toxic potencies. Further research is needed for a better understanding of the true safety of the replacement PFAS chemicals introduced as “safer alternatives.” As an immediate next step, Ms. Satbhai would like to pursue a postdoctoral degree and assess PBPK dynamics in the presence of chemical mixtures. She would also like to characterize and conduct a risk assessment of environmental-relevant chemical mixtures using aquatic ecosystems. Over the years, she would like to become a good scientist and an environmental toxicologist.

 

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

Recipient: Dipro Bose
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MTech
Institution/Affiliation: University of South Carolina

Mr. Bose was delighted and honored to be receiving this prestigious Laxman S. Desai Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award. Mr. Bose was grateful to the awards committee of the Association of Scientists of Indian Origin and the Society of Toxicology for selecting his research. It is extremely motivating for a graduate student like him to get an opportunity to present his research work on this international platform. He was extremely grateful to his PhD mentor Dr. Saurabh Chatterjee, a well-recognized scientist in the field of Toxicology, for guiding him. It will also provide an opportunity to exchange ideas with the experts in his field of research. This award inspires him to perform impactful research in the future.

Gulf War Illness (GWI) is a chronic multisymptomatic condition that persists among the aging GW Veterans even 30 years after the war. It is interesting to note that though significant research has been done, the pathophysiology of GWI remains elusive. Mr. Bose's lab has successfully identified mechanistic pathways which are responsible for the GWI pathology and are related to the alteration of the gut microbiome. Currently, Mr. Bose is studying the role of the microbiome-gut-brain axis associated with Gulf War Illness (GWI) pathology and identifying microbiome targeted therapeutic candidates which could ameliorate the symptom persistence in Gulf War (GW) Veterans. Host microbiome alteration is reported to alter antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) which increases host antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance has become an emerging threat to public health, especially among the elderly population in the age group 50-60 years, which is also the current age of the GWI Veterans. Due to conditions like immunosenescence, immune dysfunction, and exposure to multi-drug resistant bacteria due to multiple hospital and clinic visits, they have an increased risk of developing antibiotic resistance which causes treatment failures during infections in the future. Studies have also reported that exposure to various environmental toxins like pesticides, aerosols, and biocides causes increased antibiotic resistance in humans which is long-lasting. This evidence led to the present study where they hypothesized that exposure to GW chemicals could increase antibiotic resistance in GWI conditions. They performed whole-genome shotgun sequencing, metagenomic assembly, and functional gene annotation to study the gut resistome alteration in GW Veterans using the fecal samples. Results showed that the relative abundance of ARGs and mobile genetic elements (MGEs) was significantly increased in Veterans with GWI. The increased ARGs conferred resistance to multiple clinically important antibiotics like aminoglycoside, macrolide, and tetracycline. They also found that the increased MGEs in GWI Veterans had a high propensity to be transferred by horizontal gene transfer, increasing the risk of antibiotic resistance. Results from their established GWI symptom persistence mouse model, which mimics the health of the present-day GWI Veterans, showed that FMT treatment could reverse the increased antibiotic resistance due to GW chemical administration. Finally, they found that increased gut resistome due to GW chemical exposure was strongly associated with increased intestinal inflammation, systemic inflammation, and decreased neuronal plasticity in the GW mouse model. Interestingly, in GW veterans, they have identified a link between systemic inflammation and altered gut resistome. 

 

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

Recipient: Rama Kant
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Mr. Rama Kant was really happy with receiving this award. Mr. Kant will use the award money for his travel to the SOT 2022 Annual Meeting. 

Currently, Mr. Kant is working on understanding the toxicity of several chemical warfare agents (CWA) like nitrogen mustard, sulfur mustard, and lewisite, on ocular tissue. His work mainly concerns corneal tissue injuries induced by the above-mentioned CWAs, and investigation of the mechanisms of action of chemical warfare agents will help them in developing effective therapy against these chemicals. In Mr. Kant's submitted abstract, he and his team used Alpha-connexin carboxyl-terminal (aCT1) peptide as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of CWAs induced injuries. Alpha-connexin carboxyl-terminal (aCT1) peptide is a connexin43 mimetic peptide that has shown anti-inflammatory, regenerative, and anti-scarring properties via the stabilization of gap junctions (intercellular communication) as well as tight junctions (intercellular contacts) of epithelial and endothelial cells and a coordinated reduction in hemichannel activity. Their observation/data analysis from the tissue indicates that aCT1 reduced the NM-induced corneal thickness up to 51% and, reduced corneal stroma immune cell infiltration up to 78%. Although further studies are required to confirm the efficacy of the aCT1 peptide, this study supported the use of aCT1 as a candidate against CWAs induced injuries. 

 

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

Recipient: Chittaranjan Sahu
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (NIPER)

News of receipt of this award was exciting to Dr. Sahu and made him feel happy. This award provides recognition and encouragement, which helps him strengthen his future research goals. Further, it will support him to present his research work on an international platform at the Society of Toxicology. 

This present research work was focused on the adverse impact of the diabetic condition on bisphenol A induced male reproduction dysfunction in animals. This experiment explored the toxicity of bisphenol A on reproductive health in diabetic conditions at different cellular and molecular levels. The adverse/toxic effect of bisphenol A toxicity perturbed the testis, epididymis as well as spermatogenesis processes in diabetic conditions.

 

Mary Amdur Student Award Fund

Recipient: Stephanie Brocke
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ms. Brocke was honored to receive an award given in remembrance of Dr. Mary Amdur. She was a scientist in the truest sense of the word- not caring about titles or positions but about conducting the best possible research she could. Ms. Brocke finds this determination and bravery to be truly inspiring and what every scientist should strive to be. The award is helping to fund travel to Ms. Brocke's first SOT conference as a graduate student and she is extremely excited to meet other toxicology professionals and learn about career paths available to her after she graduates. She is also excited to present her research and get feedback and ideas from other scientists on interesting new avenues or perspectives to investigate. 

Ms. Brocke is researching the interaction between exposure to air pollution and viral infection in the respiratory tract. Many studies have found correlations between worsened air quality and increased incidence of respiratory viral infection. She is trying to replicate this effect in human airway cell cultures and investigate molecular mechanisms driving the interaction. She was awarded the Mary Amdur award specifically for a study in which she investigated how wood smoke exposure would affect infection with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes COVID-19). The impetus for this study was the observed increases in COVID-19 cases and deaths in regions of the western US experiencing heavy air pollution from wildfires in 2020. In the future, Ms. Brocke wants to work in the realm of environmental remediation and risk assessment. Specifically, she wants to work on clean-up projects at polluted sites and help incorporate the insights gleaned from research with real-world problem solving. 

 

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award Fund

Recipient: Ana Ferragut Cardoso
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Louisville

Dr. Ferragut Cardoso was very happy to receive this award. It is a great opportunity to share her work, get visibility, broaden her connections and professional experiences and increase her confidence, which are key factors to achieve a successful career. 

Dr. Ferragut Cardoso is a postdoctoral researcher in the States lab at the University of Louisville. They work with arsenic and its effects on human health, particularly skin cancer. Their main goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in chronic arsenic exposure-induced skin carcinogenesis. Her research is focused on the impact of miRNA dysregulation in arsenic-induced skin cancer. Her work has shown that overexpression of a specific miRNA, miR-186, is capable of inducing chromosomal instability possibly accelerating arsenic-induced transformation. This research has been awarded and the manuscript is in preparation. Her future goals are to become an assistant professor and secure research funding. 

 

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award Fund

Recipient: Danielle Kozlosky
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BSc
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Ms. Kozlosky was ecstatic to be chosen as the recipient of this award and was grateful for her work to be recognized by such a prestigious group. She plans to put the money from this award towards attending the annual SOT conference in person. At this meeting, she will meet other individuals researching heavy metals and join the Metals Specialty Section reception in person. She is incredibly excited to network with experts in the field and hopes to make long-lasting connections who also have a passion for studying metal toxicology.

Ms. Kozlosky's research investigates how in utero heavy metal exposure may induce toxicity on the placenta leading to poor fetal growth and nutrition. Early findings suggest that although the placentas of female offspring accumulate more cadmium, males appear to be more sensitive to Cadmium (Cd) toxicity. As one of the efforts towards understanding this phenomenon, they looked into changes in placental vasculature. Specifically, they looked at the placental labyrinth zone, where maternal and fetal gas, nutrient, and waste exchange occurs. As presented in her abstract, they assessed the size of maternal and fetal placental vasculature and found that vessels were markedly reduced in male placentas following Cd exposure. In light of this finding, they discovered that the protein expression of endothelial-related genes was significantly decreased in male placentas with minimal changes in females compared to each respective sex control. Future goals of this work will include extensive gene expression analyses, including analyzing changes in the expression of genes related to placental development, angiogenesis, metabolism, cellular processes, and nutrition. This future work will significantly enhance the understanding of mechanisms underlying fetal growth restriction that differentially affects male and female offspring. 

 

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award Fund

Recipient: Idoia Meaza Isusi
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, MS, PhD candidate
Institution/Affiliation: University of Louisville

Ms. Meaza Isusi was honored and surprised to get the Metals Specialty Section Graduate Student Research Award. She is very passionate about studying metals toxicology and this award is a recognition for her work on this field. This award will help support her travel the annual SOT meeting, where she hopes to meet other researchers and learn about other fields in toxicology. 

The awarded abstract title is “Chromate-induced Loss of RAD51 and Increased Chromosome Instability in Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells.” This is the first study translating Cr(VI)- induced DNA repair deficiency and chromosome instability, two key driving events in the mechanism of Cr(VI) carcinogenesis, to human bronchial epithelial cells. In the future, she will study the mechanism by which Cr(VI) might be remodeling chromatin topology, often observed in cancers. 

 

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award Fund

Recipient: Rachel Speer
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of New Mexico

This award will support disseminating Dr. Speer's research to experts in the field and provide the opportunity to collaborate with other researchers to advance this research project. She will be able to get valuable feedback and learn more about related research, which will inform the project and elevate the research.

Dr. Speer's research is focused on investigating an environmental metal pollutant, arsenic, and its role in cancer. This work considers the ways arsenic contributes to cancer development as a single agent and as a co-carcinogen. Specifically, this award is for work investigating co-exposures of arsenic and ultraviolet radiation using advanced genome sequencing techniques. They found arsenic alters how ultraviolet radiation damages and repairs DNA potentially contributing to ultraviolet radiation-induced skin cancers. Future work will aim to look at the specific mechanisms of how arsenic is causing these effects. 

 

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award Fund

Recipient: Po-Shun Wang
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Case Western Reserve University (CWRU)

Dr. Wang indicated it was a huge honor to receive news of the Metals Specialty Section Postdoctoral Research Award before attending the SOT annual meeting in San Diego. He was deeply honored by his superiors for this recognition of his current research project. In the future, he will keep working as hard as he can to make more novel findings toward his research field and specialty. 

Dr. Wang's primary research interests are directed toward understanding the role of oncogenic lncRNAs in human cancers, particularly focusing on the crosstalk between lncRNAs and other molecules, and how this interaction influences tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis. With his past research experience, as well as more advanced techniques and equipment in their research institute, his research goals continue to identify and functionally characterize those previously unannotated tumor-associated lncRNAs, which might serve as diagnostic or prognostic markers for therapeutic development in the future. In addition, his team reveals the findings regarding to oncogenic lncRNA ABHD11-AS1 functions as the regulators of alternative NF-κB pathway in Cr(VI)-transformed cells and NSCLCs by interacting with RNA-binding nuclear protein SART3. This is significant because a few studies have shown that distinct roles of tumor-associated lncRNAs in cell malignant transformation and tumorigenesis in metal carcinogen-induced carcinogenesis.

 

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award Fund

Recipient: Aggie Williams
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BA
Institution/Affiliation: Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology

Ms. Williams was extremely happy to receive this award for the Metals Specialty Section Graduate Student Research Award by SOT. She wants to extend her sincere thanks for the award SOT has presented. The fact that this award particularly recognizes her work gives her an amazing feeling of getting awarded for the efforts she put in. Thank you. She is truly honored to receive it. With this award, she intends to continue her studies to eventually become an independent researcher in the field of metals.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Hexavalent Chromium [Cr(VI)] is a metal known to cause human lung cancer, however its carcinogenic mechanism is currently unknown. Cr(VI) has been shown to cause DNA double strand breaks while simultaneously inhibiting the repair of those breaks resulting in chromosome instability, an early event of lung cancer. Previous studies have shown Cr(VI) disrupts the major break repair pathway called homologous recombination (HR) repair. In particular, Cr(VI) targets RAD51, a key protein within the HR pathway, preventing it from loading onto the DNA strand, but how it prevents this loading is unknown. Several proteins help orchestrate RAD51 loading and function through two protein complexes: BCDX2 complex, which consist of RAD51B, RAD51C, RAD51D, XRCC2 and the CX3 complex, which consists of RAD51C and XRCC3. How Cr(VI) effects these complexes remain poorly understood. Ms. Williams' current work is investigating the mechanisms of how metals like hexavalent chromium inhibit RAD51 loading through the impairment of RAD51 paralog complexes. Work accomplished so far shows Cr(VI) suppresses the BCDX2 complex response in human lung cells. Her future goal is to focus on the mechanism of Cr(VI) induced BCDX2 loss and translate the outcomes to human lung epithelial cells, animal lung tissue and human lung tumors. 

 

Mitzi and Prakash Nagarkatti Research Excellence in Immunotoxicology Award Fund

Recipient: Martina Iulini
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD student
Institution/Affiliation: University of Milan

Ms. Iulini was really happy to have received this award and be able to be at SOT's Annual Meeting. The participation in this event allowed her to enrich her knowledge, particularly in the PFAS world, which is her current research. Her interest in the world of toxicology and immunotoxicology is great. She is only at the beginning of her research path, and this meeting is a beautiful opportunity to learn, enrich herself, and discover new aspects of this great world. 

Ms. Iulini's research focuses on the attention of PFAS and their interaction with the immune system. Her PhD project, in collaboration with EFSA, involves the study of PFAS and their interaction with the immune system to fill the knowledge gap currently present. The aim of her project is to establish new knowledge about the toxicity of PFAS, leading to the development of a battery of relevant, consistent, and reproducible toxicological tests with the use of in silico and in vitro models. Her future goals will be concluding her PhD period and continuing with the study of the immune system. The project that won this award with was part of her fellowship period in Immunotoxicology laboratory. It focused the attention on understanding the mechanism under allergen potency, and in particular, the study focuses the attention on the role of protein kinase C in the activation on the dendritic cell and the role of selective miRNA. 

 

Mitzi and Prakash Nagarkatti Research Excellence in Immunotoxicology Award Fund

Recipient: Connor McGuire
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, MSc, PhD (2022 Expected)
Institution/Affiliation: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

The award was a great honor that Mr. McGuire was very proud to receive. The travel funding provided has proved to be immensely helpful in attending SOT for the purposes of networking and exploring career opportunities. It also helps open up the possibility that he can attend other conferences after SOT to present his research at other meetings. It has definitely proved helpful in presenting his research and alleviating the costs to attend this meeting.

Mr. McGuire is a 5th year PhD Student at the University of Rochester. His work focuses on discovering mechanisms of immune system alterations following developmental exposure to chemicals that disrupt the thyroid hormone pathway in a human relevant amphibian model organism. His future goals are to pursue a career in scientific consulting or risk assessment to leverage his technical knowledge of toxicology and human health to help corporations and governmental organizations make decisions in regulating chemicals that have a risk of human health impacts. The specific research Mr. McGuire won this award on was an "Excellency in Immunotoxicology Award," based on his strong record of contributions to immunotoxicology research in his doctoral and pre-doctoral studies, including his work on thyroid disrupters and thymocyte development as well as his strong commitment to mentoring, scientific outreach, and collaboration on other immunotoxicology projects with other labs.

 

Mitzi and Prakash Nagarkatti Research Excellence in Immunotoxicology Award Fund

Recipient: Melissa Wilkinson
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Dr. Wilkinson was so excited to receive this award! She was honored to have her research be selected out of so many great applicants. This award will be so helpful to offset the cost of traveling to SOT this year.

Dr. Wilkinson studies the effects of nitro-oleic acid on macrophage activation in acute lung injury and interstitial lung disease. For this award, she focused on the effects on macrophage metabolism with acute activation and gave it as a therapy in a chemotherapeutic model of interstitial lung disease. They found that nitro-oleic fatty acids inhibit mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis in activated macrophages and result in improved histological outcomes in their model of interstitial lung disease. 

 

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Subham Dasgupta
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Dr. Dasgupta felt fantastic to receive this award and be recognized for his work by peers and renowned scientists in the field. 

He is a developmental toxicologist and studying the role of non-coding RNAs on development. This work focuses on an aryl hydrocarbon receptor -dependent long non-coding RNA (slincR)- it's role in cartilage development and tissue regeneration. 

 

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Hyland Gonzalez
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, BA
Institution/Affiliation: Medical University of South Carolina

Ms. Gonzalez was very excited and honored to have received the MSBSS award! This award will help her pursue her research through allowing for broader connections to be made at the conference, leading to interesting discussions, networking opportunities, and potential future directions.

Often, the liver and intestine are considered to be the only sites of xenobiotic metabolism, but other organs also have significant metabolic activity, including the brain. Ms. Gonzalez studies enzyme activity in the brain in response to alcohol exposure, specifically cytochrome P450 2E1. This research project specifically involves investigating the subcellular localization of CYP2E1 after acute exposure using immunofluorescent chemistry with mouse brains as well as performing various assays on humanized C. elegans strains. While much of this project has been focused on acute alcohol exposure, she intends to examine the affects of chronic exposure as well in both models. Moving beyond the scope of this research, she hopes to continue toxicology research in graduate school.

 

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: David Leuthold
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BSc, MSc, Dr rer nat
Institution/Affiliation: Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

Dr. Leuthold said at first, it was unbelievable to have received this award. He felt honored and was happy about this kind of appreciation that does not only account for his own effort but that also recognizes the contributions of his whole research group. This includes several aspects like practical support, valuable feedback but also ongoing motivation throughout the course of such an intense project. He is grateful to be part of such an outstanding team. This award helps to pursue his research in a way that there is even more motivation to continue and further develop his approach. The fact that this approach is recognized as useful for environmental research at this stage of development is highly encouraging. 

What Dr. Leuthold likes most about his work are the diverse challenges that require new ideas and approaches every day. In other words, to apply creativity to critical aspects of societal development feels very satisfactory to him. His work is diverse and includes steps from hypothesis development, experimental design, conduction of experiments, supervision of trainees/ PhD students, exchange of ideas with colleagues, data management, establishment of data analysis pipelines, presentations and finally, of course, paper writing. He never gets bored of optimization – He is a perfectionist. In practical terms, he is mainly working with early developmental stages of zebrafish – an alternative model that provides seemingly endless options to study many critical aspects of environmental and human health. Thus, his future goals include to further develop whole-organism and molecular methods in zebrafish that allows them to better understand the underlying mechanisms of toxicity and diseases. The research conducted for the received award focuses on the development and application of a behavior assay battery in larval zebrafish in order to determine effects of chemicals on neurodevelopment and neuronal function. The initial idea was to extend the commonly applied but limited light-dark-transition assay and to assess chemical-induced alterations in behavior in a more comprehensive way to account for the complexity of the developing nervous system and its diverse chemical targets. One of the first steps was the establishment and optimization of acoustic tests to measure acoustic sensitivity to low- and high-volume tones of a certain frequency. Additionally, a sequence of acoustic stimuli was optimized for inter stimulus intervals in order to provoke habituation behavior – a non-associate from of learning that is also conserved in humans. After optimization of the various parameters, the assay battery was evaluated against a set of known pharmacological modulators with distinct neuromolecular targets such as NMDA receptor, GABA receptor and acetylcholinesterase. With the confirmation that the combination of the multiple behavior assays has the diagnostic capacity to differentiate these mechanisms, the battery was further evaluated against a set of chemicals that were previously shown to target the NMDA receptor in vitro – an ionotropic receptor known to play a major role in learning and memory processes. The underlying question here was, whether such compounds that induce a lack in learning and memory through interference with NMDA receptors can also be confirmed in zebrafish. The current findings confirm that the embryo-larval zebrafish model recapitulates exposure-induced learning deficit phenotypes observed in rodent models, thereby highlighting its potential as an alternative method. Finally, they could identify an environmental chemical which is used as a biocidal ingredient in cosmetic products to reduce habituation learning behavior. A fact that has not been shown before and that highlights the previously unknown neuroactive properties of this chemical.

 

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Marjorie Marin
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Dr. Marin was thrilled and honored to receive an award from MSBSS. This award will support her travel to SOT and give her an opportunity to talk about her research at the annual meeting, which will greatly advance her research and training. 

Dr. Marin's work focuses on understanding how environmental chemicals can negatively affect pancreas development. She is finding that PFOS, a ubiquitous environmental toxicant, increases pancreatic β-cell loss. Interestingly, there is also an indication that PFOS exposures during embryonic development leads to elevated biomarkers of diabetes at later life stages. β-cell loss is a common aspect of all forms of diabetes mellitus, a metabolic disorder that affects millions of individuals globally. Thus, understanding the implications of chemical exposure in β-cell dysfunction is highly relevant to human health. 

 

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Taina Moore
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS Expected 05/2023
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University | Tuskegee University (home)

Receiving this award came to much of Ms. Moore's surprise! This was her first time applying for any award at a conference and she found it shortly before it was due. Although she wasn't sure whether she would submit all the required materials in time, she still decided to apply. With that being said, she is very grateful for receiving this award. The money she receives will allow her to dedicate more time towards her studies as a chemistry major, brainstorming ideas about future directions with her research. She can also use this money to buy supplies for a spontaneous research idea she has! This will give her more freedom and creativity, where she will not have to limit herself due to financial circumstances. She says thank you again.

Ms. Moore's research project is about the therapeutic potential of nitrated fatty acids, specifically nitro-oleic acid (OA-NO2), in acute lung injury. Acute Lung Injury (ALI) is a spectrum of conditions characterized by severe inflammation in the lungs. OA-NO2 has been studied to reduce inflammation in other organs, but not as much in the lungs. Her project used a RAW 264.7 macrophage cell line stimulated with LPS to model the inflammatory state of macrophages in ALI. The purpose of their work in the Gow Lab is to understand the mechanism, OA-NO2 undergoes to inhibit an inflammatory (NF-kB) pathway and produce an anti-inflammatory cell response. In May 2023, Ms. Moore will graduate with a BS in Chemistry and she intends to continue pursuing research that will innovate and improve medicinal treatment. One day she would love to partake in research that incorporates hair care and pharmacology!

 

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Lauren Poole
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Dr. Poole was honored to have received this recognition from the Molecular and Systems Biology Specialty Section. This award helps make it possible for her to attend the 2022 SOT Annual Meeting. As a young investigator, attending this meeting is important for her to build her network and establish collaborations so that she can transition to an independent research career. 

Experimental evidence suggests that blood clotting factors contribute to the progression of chronic liver disease. Dr. Poole's 2022 SOT Annual Meeting abstract describes new findings from her postdoctoral research. Specifically, these studies identify the molecular mechanism of activation of a receptor for clotting factors that contributes to liver fibrosis, i.e., "scarring" of the liver. Her future studies seek to identify the downstream mechanisms linking activation of this receptor to expression of scar tissues, such as collagen. 

 

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Caroline Sturgis
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: Undergraduate Student
Institution/Affiliation: University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy

When Ms. Sturgis received this award notification, she was so incredibly excited. She knew that this was her first big step in research, and it made her goals feel more tangible. She is so grateful to be supported as an undergraduate researcher in such an encouraging and welcoming research lab. They have pushed her out of her comfort zone and built up her own confidence so that one day she too can have a successful career. 

Ms. Sturgis's research revolved around the effects exposure to benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), a cancer-causing chemical that is present in air pollution and some foods. Specifically, they wanted to know if parental exposure to BaP can have on their future generations of offspring. They used zebrafish to model what might be occurring in humans when exposed to this chemical. Their results suggest that when male parents are exposed to BaP, their offspring show signs of hyperactivity and have more alterations to which genes are expressed. These changes may be effecting development and causing the behavioral changes observed. In future works, they would like to investigate further the specific pathways being impacted.

 

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Eva Vitucci
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ms. Vitucci was very excited to receive this award. This award will help fund her travel to SOT's National Meeting where she plans to attend several scientific presentations and continued education courses to advance her understanding of molecular mechanisms of toxicity.

Ms. Vitucci's research investigates how air pollution affects the alveolar capillary region of the lung. Specifically, her research investigates how cells beyond the alveolar epithelium are affected by air pollution exposure and how they may participate in cardiovascular and respiratory disease development. She was awarded 3rd place for her work describing how alveolar epithelial cells modulate redox and pro-inflammatory signaling in nearby capillary endothelial cells using a novel in vitro model of the alveolar capillary region that she developed. Future goals of this work is to investigate how endothelial pro-inflammatory signaling and activation participates in respiratory and cardiovascular disease development. 

 

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Lindsay Wilson
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BSc
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Ms. Wilson was thrilled to hear she received this award. The notification made her feel proud and has given her confidence to continue striving for excellence in her research. Financially, this award will assist with transportation costs for her to access lab space. 

Ms. Wilson's research is focused on understanding molecular events that lead to developmental toxicity after exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). She is interested in how mechanisms differ between PAHs and the role of metabolism in PAH toxicity. The project for which she won this award involves toxicity screening and RNA sequencing after zebrafish exposure to retene. By combining these methods using several retene concentrations, they identified gene expression signatures correlating to different levels of toxicity and identified genes important to the overall toxicity response. 

 

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Abdulaziz Alshehri
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Mr. Alshehri was honored to have been awarded the PANWAT Student Award. This award is very meaningful because it is his first award as a researcher. It has strengthened his belief in himself and will be beneficial in helping him achieve his academic and personal goals.

Mr. Alshehri's research focuses on Cytochrome P450 1B1 (CYP1B1), which is an important enzyme that regulating the biological fate of several endogenous substrates, including melatonin, retinoic acid, arachidonate, and estradiol. CYP1B1 is known to have roles in eye development. Mutation in CYP1B1 linked to eye diseases includes primary congenital glaucoma (PCG). Using untargeted metabolomics and a retinal endothelial cell (REC) model derived from both wild-type (WT) and CYP1b1 KO mice. Two substrates (arachidonate and hypoxanthine), which strongly promote REC capillary morphogenesis in a CYP1B1-dependent manner. Hypoxanthine was found to strongly stimulate CYP1B1-mediated capillary growth in REC cells around (~20%) at low nanomolar concentrations (EC50 = ~30 nM). Comparisons of bioactivity among the four known CYP1B1 substrates (listed above) indicate that hypoxanthine metabolites stimulate REC cell morphogenesis on a par with all other known substrates, except for estradiol, which inhibits capillary growth. Hypoxanthine metabolites appear to play an important role in regulating eye growth and repair processes, informing new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of PCG and eye disorders linked to abnormal CYP1B1 expression. Mr. Alshehri's future goal is to participate in improving knowledge of CYP1B1’s tissue-specific metabolic function in the eye to guide new therapeutic strategies for PCG and related disorders.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Subham Dasgupta
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Dr. Dasgupta was really pleased and elated to get this award. He noted it is encouraging to be recognized by his peers.

Dr. Dasgupta is a toxicologist with a passion to understand how developmental exposures to environmental chemicals disrupt various events during the developmental trajectory. The specific work profiles ten flame retardants for molecular interactions (mRNA and micro RNA) and identifies common and unique targets and pathways across flame retardant classes.

 

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Kari Gaither
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Dr. Gaither was thrilled to receive this award. She has always been interested in environmental health and jumped at the opportunity to apply her research efforts towards this area in her postdoctoral research. Therefore, as a fairly new member to the field, being recognized for her efforts through this award only motivates her further to continue forward and pursue her research in spite of any challenges that might arise (including pandemics and the like!). This is a great acknowledgement that she is very proud to have received. 

With a rise in wildfire frequency and duration, there is a need to better understand how chemicals found in wildfire smoke affect health. Dr. Gaither studies a class of compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are found in wildfire smoke as well as cigarette smoke, superfund sites, and contaminated food sources. These chemicals can have wide-ranging health effects, including causing cancer or developmental problems, but how they do this is often poorly understood. Her research aims to identify the specific enzymes in our bodies that convert these chemicals into less toxic substances or more toxic metabolites. Once they know that, they can start to look at how differences in these enzymes in individuals could make some people more susceptible to potential negative health effects so they can take appropriate measures to protect their health. This is part of her future goals to contribute meaningful research that impacts human health outcomes and to work to improve those outcomes by communicating findings to the public. She received this award for research into how retene and phenanthrene, two chemicals in this class found in high concentrations in wildfire smoke, are metabolized by infants as compared to adults. Since there is a change in the presence and abundance in the types of enzymes that may detoxify these chemicals from infancy to adulthood, infants may be more susceptible to exposure to chemicals. They measured the rates at which retene and phenanthrene were lost using human liver microsomes and found that there were indeed both differences seen by age as well as interindividual differences in our infants in the rates of metabolism. They are currently working to identify the enzymes active in metabolizing these chemicals and studying their presence in the individual infants. They are also investigating the metabolites formed during the metabolic process. All of these efforts will help to assess susceptibility and protect age groups vulnerable to exposure.

 

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Whitney Garcia
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: PNNL

Ms. Garcia was very excited to receive this award. She had never won anything before and it made her more confident in her research and knowledge. 

Ms. Garcia's work aims to understand the role the gut microbiome plays in host health and disease. Ms. Garcia won this award by presenting her work on the gut's role in metabolizing environmental contaminants and showing how different contaminants elicit a different response when it comes to enzymes and rates. 

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: John Lam
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: Pursuing BS
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Mr. Lam was surprised to receive this award! The Pacific Northwest Association of Toxicologists Fall 2021 Conference was the first time he had ever presented any of his research. This award will help him continue the project, looking at other potential avenues for expanding his work. 

As an undergraduate researcher at Dr. Robyn Tanguay’s Lab, Mr. Lam was given the opportunity to work on his own project which investigated media-specific nanotoxicity outcomes in cell culture and zebrafish models. A portion of his research was presented at the PANWAT conference, specifically the tolerable concentrations of cell culture media and its effect on embryonic Zebrafish development. Currently, his future goals are to use these findings and assess the toxicity of various nanomaterials. A personal future goal is to continue utilizing the Zebrafish model to further explore disease treatment and prevention for human-based research in a graduate program. 

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Connor Leong
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Mr. Leong was surprised and honored to receive the Pacific Northwest Student Award. Receiving this award will help him pursue his research by allowing him to travel to other toxicology conferences and network with other scientists. 

Mr. Leong's research focuses on developing zebrafish behavior assays, which can assess the toxicity of a chemical exposure. He specifically focuses on developing assays that can be used in high throughput screenings and evaluate toxicity at a juvenile age. One behavior assay tracks the depth preference of a fish, to evaluate their level of stress and anxiety. The assay was optimized to assess of 12 juvenile fish per run, with a protocol length of 10 minutes. Future goals of his research are to further optimize the depth preference assay and develop additional behavior assays. 

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Yvonne Rericha
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Ms. Rericha was very proud to represent the Tanguay Laboratory and receive this award at the PANWAT annual meeting. She is grateful to the PANWAT officers who organized the meeting and provided opportunities for students to share their research, and she is also incredibly thankful for the mentorship of Dr. Robyn Tanguay and the friendship and support of all her labmates. This award will enable her to pursue training opportunities and continued education courses, at SOT and beyond, to gain additional skills to bolster her research and career.

The focus of Ms. Rericha's research is to investigate the toxicity of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) using zebrafish as a model for human and environmental health. PFAS, historically used in non-stick and stain-repellent materials and fire-fighting foams, are a large and diverse class of chemicals for the majority of which we have little to no toxicological data. Much of her work involves testing for morphological and behavior effects in zebrafish after PFAS exposure, identifying which PFAS have the potential to disrupt development, and working to identify trends based on chemical structure. For the study that she presented at PANWAT, she evaluated developmental effects of four short-chain PFAS all with four fluorinated carbons but with different chemical head groups. In addition to assessing developmental toxicity, she investigated how PFAS exposure causes adverse effects by evaluating changes in gene expression and affected biological pathways using transcriptomics. Moving forward, Ms. Rericha will conduct additional transcriptomic studies of PFAS toxicity, and plans to continue working to understand chemical hazards to environmental health.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Francesca Rossi
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: In pursuit of HBS in Animal Sciences
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Ms. Rossi was over the moon when she received this award.  It was such a great experience to present her research in a supportive environment and meet other people working in the field. She is hoping to present at and attend this year's SOT meeting, and PANWAT was such a great place to prepare for that meeting. This award will be helpful as she continues her research, especially as she focuses on her Honors College Thesis for Oregon State and future research projects.  

This project evaluated different varieties of grass and their endophyte profiles to identify strains that were naturally resistant to insects but non toxic to mammals in hopes of developing cultivars that are naturally protected from the sod webworm, a pest to the Oregon grass seed industry. Currently, Ms. Rossi works in the Endophyte lab at Oregon State, where she has spent most of her undergrad and hopes to continue to vet school with a focus on research and animal nutrition. 

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Lindsey St. Mary
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Dr. St. Mary was very excited and honored as PANWAT was the very first conference she had ever presented at (as an undergraduate); she noted it was very surreal to have come full circle. This has boosted her confidence in her new project as a postdoctoral fellow and allowed her further experience in presenting complex data sets.

Dr. St. Mary's current work consists of screening and categorizing 9,000 distinct chemicals found in the environment, consumer products, or used in manufacturing processes in order to assess phenotypic and transcriptional changes relevant to human disease. Additionally, she is comparing the developmental neurotoxic effects of another 87 compound library in zebrafish and an in vitro high throughput cell culture system, which is what she presented about at PANWAT 2021. Her goal, currently, is to hone her skills and experience analyzing and interpreting complex data sets to compliment her past molecular biology and analytical chemistry experiences with the ultimate goal to lead and direct toxicological studies in industry.

Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Student Award Fund

Recipient: Qiran Chen
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Florida, College of Public Health and Health Professions

Dr. Qiran Chen felt honored to be selected as the Postdoctoral Winner for the 2022 Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Student Award Fund. Dr. Chen felt the Society of Toxicology 2022 Annual Meeting was a great opportunity to get to know and be recognized by scientists in various fields. This award also increased the visibility of her work in toxicology and chemical risk assessment. 

Dr. Chen's project aimed to develop an advanced method of risk assessment with toxicogenomic data and physiological-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model. In the example of perfluoro octane sulfonate (PFOS), the developed RfDs were close the guidance values from the USEPA and the EFSA. The integration of genomic data and PBPK modeling can be a useful alternative approach in human health risk assessment of environmental chemicals. In future, this method may be also applied to other Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals, as well as PFAS mixtures.

 

Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Student Award Fund

Recipient: Yun Zhou
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Indiana University

Ms. Zhou was a little surprised and excited to have received the Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Student Award Fund. It strengthened her confidence and encouraged her to improve the modeling method by taking non-carcinogens and human variability into account.

Ms. Zhou's research focused on developing a novel modeling method that integrates the mode of action (i.e., biological pathways) of chemicals to derive a pathway statistically or biologically significant point on the dose-response curve (i.e., point of departure). This novel method considers quantifiable key events along the pathway, while the traditional approach only considers several critical effects. In addition, a new method is a unified approach for both cancer and non-cancer endpoints, whereas the traditional approaches for low dose extrapolation are different between carcinogens and noncarcinogens. To improve the applicability of the model and eliminate animal-to-human extrapolation, the proposed framework would be further developed and refined via incorporating critical dose levels estimated from epidemiological studies for the key events or sub-events along the pathway. It is anticipated that the new dose-response modeling would be applied to evaluate the risks of a wider range of chemicals, as supporting evidence from toxicological, epidemiological, and in vitro studies grows. Specific research includes three steps: (1) identifying and extracting key quantifiable events (KQEs) along the pathway of PCB 126-induced liver tumors to determine the MOA of this carcinogen; (2) estimating critical doses (i.e., BMD) for PCB 126 that sequentially activate a series of key events using the BMD methodology; and (3) evaluating pathway dose-response relationship to derive a probabilistic POD. For the first step, to find and extract dose-response information on PCB 126, a systematic literature search was performed based on the online database PubMed. Considering sufficient evidence to determine MOA and gender differences in outcomes, Zhou's team primarily focused on in vivo studies choosing female Sprague-Dawley rats as the subjects. The eligible studies should explicitly indicate dose-response data that apply at least three dose levels (including the control group) either in articles or supplementary documents with a statistically significant change in the response. In the second step, they applied different models that fit dichotomous and continuous dose-response data. In the third step, combining BMDs/BMDLs of various critical effects estimated in step 2 with the timing of occurrence of each event, they can generate the pathway dose-response relationship of PCB 126 by integrating the information of all KQEs defined above.

 

Perry J. Gehring Diversity Student Travel Award Fund

Recipient: Midori Flores
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS expected May 2022
Institution/Affiliation: St. Mary’s University

Ms. Flores was incredibly thrilled to have received this award. She is so very grateful. She has been attending the SOT meetings for the past 2 years and is very excited to finally be able to go in person. She has met so many wonderful people in the Society who she cannot wait to meet face-to-face soon! This award has given her the motivation to continue her research efforts, and especially in the field of Toxicology. She feels that her research matters, and not only that, that her voice as a minority matters as well. 

Ms. Flores's current research project is aimed at studying the toxicological mechanisms of microplastics in C. elegans nematodes. We are exposed to plastic all the time, and microplastics are very easily brought into the body via inhalation and consumption. So far, her lab at St. Mary’s University has created a novel assay to visualize microplastics within C. elegans. They are now working towards the characterization of toxicity, as well as using microplastics as a vehicle for other contaminants to enter the body. Her future goals are to keep elucidating emerging contaminants such as this, and further, to help pioneer efforts in expanding the field of space toxicology. The latter interest she has is what enabled her to win this award. Her research project with Dr. John Pierce Wise involves a literature review and mini-experiment to study the importance of space toxicology and bring awareness to why it should be expanded. They are entering a brand new space decade whereupon space travel is increasing very fast. They need to study the environmental health risks of space travel and the toxicity to their very cells.

 

Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Student Award Fund

Recipient: Bevin Blake
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: US EPA

Dr. Blake was absolutely thrilled and humbled to be selected for this award. She couldn't wait to share the news with her postdoc mentors who have supported her every step of the way. This award will help her pursue this research through generating exposure and increased interest in utilizing novel approaches in human health risk assessment within the risk assessment community. She hopes this award helps the work to reach a larger audience, and in doing so, stimulate the exchange of ideas for how the proposed approach could be applied to efficiently synthesize mechanistic evidence for other toxicants and/or health outcomes in future research.

Dr. Blake's work at the US EPA is focused on supporting human health risk assessments through providing toxicology expertise. She works with multidisciplinary teams of experts to review available evidence for human health effects associated with exposure to chemicals of concern. They critically appraise and synthesize the data and compose assessment documents as part of the hazard identification step in the risk assessment process. One of the current challenges in this area of research is synthesizing mechanistic evidence of toxicity, which can be difficult due to differences across studies in experimental methods, models, and scope. Her work uses a model male reproductive toxicant, benzo[a]pyrene, and the Key Characteristics of male reproductive toxicants approach in tandem with the mode of action framework to identify, organize, and synthesize the mechanistic evidence for male reproductive effects. This work demonstrates a systematic, efficient, and transparent qualitative method for identifying, organizing, and summarizing mechanistic data for male reproductive hazard identification that has the potential to be expanded to other toxicants of interest.

 

Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Student Award Fund

Recipient: Alexandra Cordova
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, BBA
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M University

Ms. Cordova was honored and extremely grateful to receive this award! She is incredibly passionate about this research project and the good that it can do for human and environmental health. She plans to dedicate this award to further the goals of this project, specifically to assist in continued development of these alternative dosing methods for complex substances. They hope that this research will not only inform risk-based decisions and exposure assessment, but also provide a rapid solution for time-sensitive analyses such as disaster scenarios.

Complex environmental substances can pose risks to human, animal, and environmental welfare in the event of natural or manmade disasters. No two disasters are alike, and substances can disperse variably throughout the environment, yielding mixtures of unpredictable composition. Protecting the health of afflicted communities and first responders is therefore of the utmost importance, and hazard mitigation is dependent upon efficient characterization of exposures. Ms. Cordova's research thus focuses on developing a streamlined method to characterize the chemistry and potential biological activity of complex and environmental substances. Specifically, toxicity testing via human cell-based models are necessary to exemplify potential adverse human health outcomes from exposure to complex substances. Thus, the project to which this award is dedicated aims to develop methods to facilitate dosing of such substances in small-scale, cell-based experiments. Moreover, they aim to use these dosing methods to model a more holistic representation of exposure to these substances, rather than only a fraction, as is the case with conventional methods. Upon optimizing these methods, she plans to apply them with substances of varying chemical complexity to characterize exposures to cells, as compared to the entire chemical profile of the substance. As a whole, this research aims to improve the availability of information for risk assessment regarding such complex and environmental substances, as well as for hazard mitigation in disasters.

 

Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Student Award Fund

Recipient: Anna Kreutz
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: US EPA

Dr. Kreutz was elated to receive this award. Receiving this award will help provide her work greater visibility so that the approach she has developed can be applied more broadly and hopefully provide greater opportunities for expanding this work and developing future collaborations.

Dr. Kreutz's longstanding research interest has been in identifying risk factors for brain development. Her graduate work focused on microglia, the immune cells of the brain, and their role in brain development and following maternal infection during pregnancy. As a postdoc at the US EPA, she is working on numerous projects, which include characterizing human toxicokinetic variability based on isozyme-specific clearance and PBPK modeling, toxicokinetic assessments of PFAS, and the work for which she received this award- development of an in vitro-in vivo extrapolation approach for developmental neurotoxicity studies. For this DNT-IVIVE approach, she performed PBPK modeling and used reverse dosimetry to calculate administered equivalent doses (AEDs), or doses that might elicit bioactivity in vivo, on a set of compounds shown to elicit bioactivity in a set of DNT NAMs conducted at the US EPA. She then compared these AEDs against exposure estimates to derive bioactivity exposure ratios- a margin of exposure metric. Notably, concentrations found to elicit DNT effects in vivo and breastmilk levels fell within the range of concentrations calculated with this approach. Dr. Kreutz's long term career goals center around performing screening for developmental neurotoxicity and characterizing barrier properties to better understand chemical distribution in vivo.

 

Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Student Award Fund

Recipient: Rachel Lacroix
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BSc (Hons)
Institution/Affiliation: University of Calgary

Ms. Lacroix was extremely excited to open her e-mail (at her bartending job, even!) to see that she was a successful applicant of the RASS Perry J. Gehring Graduate Student Abstract Risk Assessment Endowment Award. The award will not only mitigate financial barriers and allow her to travel to SOT 2022 this March to present her research to a larger audience of toxicologists, but will aid her in future endeavors, whether it be her short-term goals of continuing research and completing her PhD or her long-term goals of entering the toxicology industry.

Glyphosate has faced much controversy since its inauguration to agriculture in the 1970s, predominantly after claims of glyphosate-based herbicides causing cancer arose, mostly by occupationally-exposed individuals. While inconclusive, evidence suggests glyphosate has neural effects. Thus, Ms. Lacroix's research focuses on the effects of glyphosate on developing brains. Specifically, they expose zebrafish to glyphosate over neurodevelopment and analyze changes in behavior at juvenile and adulthood stages. Preliminary results suggest glyphosate affects social and locomotive behaviors. Understanding behavioral changes allows them to take a top-down approach, further investigating molecular and cellular facets of neurodevelopment to understand how glyphosate acts in vivo. Overall, Ms. Lacroix's research provides her with creative freedom and a deeper understanding of health issues pertaining to chemical exposure. This knowledge propels her drive for a career where she can become a part of the solution. She strives for a purpose-driven career where her work manifests in tangible, real-world change inspire her current aspirations of pursuing an industry career in fields including toxicology, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. 

 

Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Kayla Frost
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona

Ms. Frost is honored and humbled to receive such a prestigious award and is enthusiastic to use this award for further clinical research investigating renal expression changes in patients with inflammatory liver diseases. 

This research investigates renal alterations in patients with characterized inflammatory liver diseases. The goal is to identify a change that is represented across the most common types of liver diseases to provide insight for future clinical studies allowing them to look at liver diseases as a whole instead of separating them into characterized etiologies. This will allow clinical studies to overcome the major challenge of liver disease diagnostic discrepancies when investigating the impact on renal physiology. 

 

Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Lauren Thompson
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Ms. Thompson was thrilled to receive this award and it will help to push her renal toxicology work even further.

She works with Dr. Melanie Joy, PharmD, PhD on chemotherapy-induced nephrotoxicity. Current projects include a clinical trial of cisplatin-treated patients and mouse models of both cisplatin-AKI and immune checkpoint inhibitor nephrotoxicity. Her work aims to improve outcomes for cancer patients and limit treatment-related renal toxicities. She hopes to continue renal toxicology work in her future career.

 

Robert J. Rubin Student Travel Award Fund

Recipient: Danielle Kozlosky
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BSc
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Ms. Kozlosky was ecstatic upon hearing she was the recipient of this award. She remembers running back and forth between the receptions of various specialty sections and had just arrived to hear her name called for this award. The monetary accolade will enable her to continue her research by allowing her to allocate money towards assays to which she may not have initially had access. 

Ms. Kozlosky's research studies how gestational heavy metal (Cadmium, Cd) exposure leads to placental toxicity that differentially affects male and female offspring. The specific research that allotted her this award uses a mouse model to study Cd-induced growth restriction. Her results showed that although the placentas of Cd-exposed female offspring accumulated 40% more Cd than equivalent males, Cd-exposed male offspring are significantly smaller than male controls without much change detected in females among treatment groups. A deeper analysis pointed to diminished vasculature and reduced angiogenesis, specifically in the placentas of Cd-exposed male offspring, which may account for their smaller size. Ms. Kozlosky's future research will investigate how a protein in the placenta protects against the toxicity of cadmium that leads to poor nutrition and growth in babies.

Roger O. McClellan Student Award Fund

Recipient: Amanda Armijo
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: DVM, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: MIT

Dr. Armijo was elated and truly honored to receive the Comparative Toxicology, Pathology, and Veterinary Specialty Section Roger O. McClellan Student Award. Receiving this recognition fosters her determination and confidence to continue pursuing a career in research. Furthermore, this will help to broaden her network within SOT and provide recognition important for securing funding and future career positions. 

As a postdoctoral fellow in Professor John Essigmann’s laboratory, Dr. Armijo's focus has been on identifying mutational patterns induced by environmental toxicants. They use a new highly sensitive DNA sequencing method to determine patterns that a given chemical will cause in the genome. Understanding these mutational patterns as they relate to disease and susceptibility can inform strategies for remediation, intervention, and prevention associated with environmental exposures. One of the genotoxic chemicals they are studying is N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable human carcinogen (IARC, Group 2A) and a potent inducer of cancer in animals. Exposure to NDMA through contaminated drinking water is of major concern. NDMA has been identified as a major contaminant of several Superfund Sites, including the former Olin Chemical site in Wilmington, Massachusetts where its contamination forced the closure of five municipal wells. NDMA is metabolized into DNA-reactive chemical species that can directly alter DNA’s chemical structure to induce toxicity and mutations. They use a unique animal model and a highly sensitive DNA sequencing technology to allow them to study NDMA as a proof-of-principle model for tracking mutational patterns and as an etiological agent. Expanding this method of identifying mutational patterns from a given genotoxic agent and the diseases that result from the mutations will allow them to better understand ways that novel and effective therapies can be developed that take advantage of knowing the underlying genetic drivers of the given disease. Dr. Armijo's current goals are to apply for a K award and transition to be an independent veterinary-scientist in academia in the field of immunotoxicology. 

 

Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award Fund

Recipient: Dipro Bose
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: M Tech
Institution/Affiliation: University of South Carolina

Mr. Bose is honored and grateful for receiving the 2022 Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award from the Mechanisms Specialty Section. He would like to express his gratitude to the Awards Committee for selecting his research for this prestigious award. He would like to sincerely thank his PhD advisor, Dr. Saurabh Chatterjee, Professor at the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina and an eminent scientist in the field of toxicology, for providing him this opportunity to perform his research. This award will be an important milestone in his career as a researcher. It will provide him an opportunity to attend future SOT Annual Meetings and network with distinguished scientists and other fellow researchers in his field.

Presently, Mr. Bose is studying the role of microbiome gut-brain axis associated with Gulf War Illness pathology through mechanistic studies. Gulf War Illness (GWI) is a chronic multisymptomatic condition that affected nearly one-third of the United States Veterans who served in the 1990-91 Gulf War (GW). Among the symptoms reported by the GW Veterans gastrointestinal disturbance has been prominent having similarities with irritable bowel syndrome. GWI symptoms continue to persist in the GWI Veterans and although significant research has been done, the pathophysiology of GWI remains elusive. Bose's laboratory has identified that gut dysbiosis in GWI condition leads to intestinal tight junction disruption, gastrointestinal inflammation, and neuroinflammation by several mechanistic pathways like TLR4 mediated NLRP3 inflammasome activation and HMGB1-RAGE activation. Broad-spectrum antibiotics continue to be prescribed in many hospitals and clinics even when antibiotic stewardship programs report a decrease in use. Prolonged antibiotic usage increases the risk of intestinal and renal toxicity along with neuroinflammation. These evidences led to the present study where they hypothesized that prolonged broad spectrum antibiotic administration may exacerbate GW chemical induced toxicity in an established persistence GWI mouse model. In the present study ‘Prolonged broad-spectrum antibiotic use exacerbates gut dysbiosis and gastrointestinal inflammation in symptom persistence Gulf War Illness murine model’, they have found that exposure prolonged exposure to broad-spectrum antibiotics and GW chemicals led to increased systemic IL-6 expression along with gut dysbiosis, tight junction disruption and gastrointestinal inflammation. Mechanistic studies in intestinal epithelial cells showed that activation of IL-6 trans-signaling was responsible for gastrointestinal inflammation. They have also identified that increased IL-6 resulted in increased expression of Claudin 2, increased during gastrointestinal inflammation via PI3K and ERK pathways. Results from the study is important in advancing the present knowledge of GWI pathology as the mechanism of IL-6 mediated tight junction disruption due to GWI chemical toxicity have not been reported in earlier studies. It also identifies potential molecular targets including IL-6 for designing future therapeutic strategies to ameliorate gastrointestinal disturbances in GWI Veterans. Results from this study would also be relevant for patients suffering gastrointestinal disturbances due to prolonged usage of broad-spectrum antibiotics. This award motivates Mr. Bose in his current studies to further explore the mechanisms responsible for the symptom persistence in GWI Veterans due to environmental toxin exposure in the war theater. While investigating the mechanistic pathways, he has and continues to identify potential molecular targets for designing therapeutic strategies to ameliorate GWI condition. He aims to continue his career in Academia and he believes that his knowledge and training in his PhD program has prepared him significantly in the field of studying the mechanism of action of toxins in disease progression.

 

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Shreyas Gaikwad
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University Health Science Center

Mr. Gaikwad is extremely happy to receive the Sheldon D. Murphy award. It gives him the motivation to further pursue his research work in the field of cancer biology. At the same time, the award is extremely helpful and encouraging for him to present his work at the SOT Annual Meeting.

Mr. Gaikwad's research mainly focuses on drug repurposing in cancer with a more focused approach toward understanding whether the repurposed compounds will be a good fit as adjuvants for immunotherapies. His study is the first to establish the anti-cancer and immunomodulatory effects of a compound (MB- Name cannot be disclosed due to patent filing) in pancreatic cancer. In the study, they combined MB with anti-PD-1 therapy and observed a better-combined effect. This effect is important because combining MB with ICI might revive the efficacy of failed immunotherapies in pancreatic cancer clinical trials as reduced infiltration of T-cells in the tumor is the major reason for the failure of immunotherapy. Mr. Gaikwad's short term goal is to further understand and evaluate the immunomodulatory mechanism of MB, since repurposed compounds act through various pathways and an understanding of the exact mechanism is important for its translation to clinical models.

 

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: David Leuthold
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BSc, MSc, Dr rer nat
Institution/Affiliation: Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

Dr. Leuthold said at first, it was unbelievable to receive this award. He felt honored and was happy about this kind of appreciation that does not only account for his own effort but that also recognizes the contributions of his whole research group. This includes several aspects like practical support and valuable feedback but also ongoing motivation throughout the course of such an intense project. He is grateful to be part of such an outstanding team. This award helps to pursue his research in a way that there is even more motivation to continue and further develop his approach. The fact that this approach is recognized as useful for environmental research at this stage of development is highly encouraging.

What Dr. Leuthold likes most about his work are the diverse challenges that require new ideas and approaches every day. In other words, to apply creativity to critical aspects of societal development feels very satisfactory. His work is diverse and includes steps from hypothesis development, experimental design, conduction of experiments, supervision of trainees/ PhD students, exchange of ideas with colleagues, data management, establishment of data analysis pipelines, presentations and finally, of course, paper writing. He never gets bored of optimization – he is a perfectionist. In practical terms, he is mainly working with early developmental stages of zebrafish – an alternative model that provides seemingly endless options to study many critical aspects of environmental and human health. Thus, his future goals include to further develop whole-organism and molecular methods in zebrafish that allow us to better understand the underlying mechanisms of toxicity and diseases. The research conducted for the received award focuses on the development and application of a behavior assay battery in larval zebrafish in order to determine effects of chemicals on neurodevelopment and neuronal function. The initial idea was to extend the commonly applied but limited light-dark-transition assay and to assess chemical-induced alterations in behavior in a more comprehensive way to account for the complexity of the developing nervous system and its diverse chemical targets. One of the first steps was the establishment and optimization of acoustic tests to measure acoustic sensitivity to low- and high-volume tones of a certain frequency. Additionally, a sequence of acoustic stimuli was optimized for inter stimulus intervals in order to provoke habituation behavior – a non-associate from of learning that is also conserved in humans. After optimization of the various parameters, the assay battery was evaluated against a set of known pharmacological modulators with distinct neuromolecular targets such as NMDA receptor, GABA receptor and acetylcholinesterase. With the confirmation that the combination of the multiple behavior assays has the diagnostic capacity to differentiate these mechanisms, the battery was further evaluated against a set of chemicals that were previously shown to target the NMDA receptor in vitro – an ionotropic receptor known to play a major role in learning and memory processes. The underlying question here was, whether such compounds that induce a lack in learning and memory through interference with NMDA receptors can also be confirmed in zebrafish. The current findings confirm that the embryo-larval zebrafish model recapitulates exposure-induced learning deficit phenotypes observed in rodent models, thereby highlighting its potential as an alternative method. Finally, they could identify an environmental chemical which is used as a biocidal ingredient in cosmetic products to reduce habituation learning behavior. A fact that has not been shown before and that highlights the previously unknown neuroactive properties of this chemical.

 

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Hazel Lin
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Strasbourg

Dr. Lin is deeply honored to be selected, that her work has been recognized, and extremely grateful to partake in this wonderfully eye-opening conference which has enabled her to meet other equally enthusiastic toxicology trainees and to tap the brains of renown experts.

She compares different 2D materials with regards to their effects on immune cells. Her submitted abstract for this conference focused on graphene and molybdenum disulfide toxicological effects in primary human macrophages. 

 

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Nick Mallek
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mr. Mallek was very pleased to have received this award. It will help pursue communication of his research, as it better allows him to travel to communicate research findings, and spread the research story to the necessary stakeholders.

Mr. Mallek's research is on mechanisms of air pollution toxicity in the lung. His future goals are to continue to do high quality research in either industry applications or government research labs. The specific research that won this award was on newly identified issues with a new in vitro dosing strategy for inhalational toxicity research.

 

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Emily Marques
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Dr. Marques was very thankful to receive this award to support her travel. This SOT meeting was instrumental for networking and career development. 

Dr. Marques's research is looking at the how the environmental toxicant, PFOS, affects development of the pancreas and developmental origins of diabetes. This works represents new questions as starts to developing her own independent research interests. 

 

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Lauren Poole
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Dr. Poole was honored to have received the Sheldon D. Murphy Endowment award from the Mechanisms Specialty Section. She is extremely grateful that this award enabled her to travel to the SOT Annual Meeting to network with the top scientists in toxicology and share her research. 

Clinical and experimental evidence suggests that the blood clotting cascade contributes to the development of hepatic fibrosis, or "scarring" of the liver. The research she presented in this abstract at the SOT Annual Meeting seeks to identify how a specific class of receptors, called protease-activated receptors, may be activated by clotting proteases to promote deposition of scar tissue. Her future research goals will identify the exact mechanisms whereby clotting proteases activate PARs, as well as determine the feasibility of targeting PAR-1 as a novel therapeutic strategy in chronic liver disease. 

 

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Eva Vitucci
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Ms. Vitucci was so happy to receive this award. Being able to attend SOT as a trainee and present her research provides her with invaluable discussions with others that helps her research improve and be more impactful.

Ms. Vitucci researches how air pollution causes respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Specifically, she investigates the cellular responses to air pollution and how these responses explain how disease arises after exposure. She hopes to continue this work in the future. This award was given to Ms. Vitucci for her work investigating how different cells of the lung talk to each other in response to air pollution exposure.

 

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Zimu Wei
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Dr. Wei is truly honored to receive this prestigious Mechanism Specialty Section award and she appreciates the opportunity. 

Tissue injury induced by chemical exposures is inseparable from activation of the coagulation cascade and Dr. Wei's research work is focused on dissecting out these mechanistic connections. Dr. Wei's future goal is to continue the research work focusing on the role of blood coagulation activation in chemical induced liver injury. For the Sheldon D. Murphy award, Dr. Wei discovered that coagulation-mediated fibrin polymerization (i.e., blood clots) was not critical for early fibrin(ogen) accumulation in the acetaminophen-induced liver injury. Dr. Wei also discovered that these changes in fibrin structure occurred well in advance of peak acetaminophen hepatotoxicity. 

 

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Melissa Wilkinson
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Dr. Wilkinson was so surprised to receive this award at the Annual Meeting! She was not expecting to receive anything at the reception so it was such a nice surprise. This award will help her cover her travel to the meeting, which helped her to learn new and upcoming topics in her field.

Dr. Wilkinson is currently studying the potential of a nitrated fatty acid compound to reduce the effects of chronic and acute lung injury and the mechanism by which this occurs. Her future goals are to work in the science policy space to use her scientific expertise to help decision makers to make informed decisions. This research was specifically looking at the chronic administration of a chemotherapeutic, and the mechanisms by which her nitrated fatty acid compound mitigates the fibrotic injury typically seen. 

 

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Arturo Barahona
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, MPH
Institution/Affiliation: Florida International University

Mr. Barahona feels honored and privileged to receive the award for second place in the NTSS Graduate Student Poster Competition. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the support of his PI, Dr. Jason Richardson, and his lab mates. He would also like to thank the Society of Toxicology for putting together such a fantastic event. Receiving recognition for his work has provided a platform for sharing his findings with a broader audience and will continue to help foster friendships and collaborations with his colleagues. Thank you for this invaluable opportunity to contribute to the field of neurotoxicology. 

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a debilitating neurodegenerative disease for which there is yet no cure. Their research focuses on the effects of the organochlorine pesticide DDT, and its metabolite DDE, on the amyloid-beta pathology in a genetic mouse model of AD. Their data suggest these pesticides may accelerate the progression of the disease. In the future, they plan on testing out how this mechanism takes place and how it may be affected by other risk factors, such as the APOE genotype. They believe investigating how gene-environment interactions affect one's risk for developing the disease will help explain its etiology and hopefully pave the way for effective interventions. 

 

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Megan Culbreth
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: US EPA

Dr. Culbreth felt that this was an incredible honor to receive this award. She has been a researcher in the field of neurotoxicology for many years, so it was very encouraging that all the efforts of herself and her colleagues would be recognized. This award will allow her to continue to expand alternative testing strategies in the developmental neurotoxicity hazard evaluation space.

Alternative strategies to assess the potential developmental neurotoxicity of chemicals have rapidly expanded. Several of these approaches, however, still require animal-derived components; thus, likely are not as translatable for humans. Her research adapted one such testing strategy to be entirely animal component-free. This will not only potentially recapitulate human biology more closely, but will also eliminate any animal-use for chemical evaluation in this approach. The future goal will be to assess known developmentally neurotoxic chemicals in this test strategy to determine whether results align more firmly with human data relative to other approaches.

 

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Neda Ilieva
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Ms. Ilieva had a validating feeling when receiving this award, since this was the data she was most excited about since joining Briana De Miranda's lab at UAB. This award will help to facilitate funding to provide more figures and data analysis tools for her project, leading up to her qualifying exam and F30 submission.

Ms. Ilieva's current work focuses on crosstalk between the environment and genes that serves as a risk factor for neurodegenerative disease. Specifically, she is interested in how environmental exposure to common chemicals in the water and soil like Trichloroethylene (TCE) seems to cause damage in our brain cells at a molecular level, from the perspective of the mitochondria. This award was for her work on demonstrating how TCE seems to work through similar mechanisms as genetic mutations like the most common familial Parkinson's mutation - Leucine Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2), and this damage is either reversed or rescued by blocking this LRRK2 kinase. 

 

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Naomi Kramer
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Georgia

Ms. Kramer was excited and honored to win this award. The award will help increase her visibility as a scientist and hopefully connect her with other scholars who can help further improve her research. 

Flame Retardants are used in many of the products around us, from the clothing we wear to the furniture we use, to reduce their flammability. Unfortunately, over time these flame retardants shed off of their products into the surrounding environment. The flame retardants that Ms. Kramer studies (Brominated Flame Retardants) have many toxic effects, but the mechanisms underlying their neurotoxicity are not well understood. Lipids play a critical role in the overall health and function of our brains, making up ~50% of its weight. Her dissertation work focuses on how flame retardants can change the lipid composition in our brains to potentially lead to neurodegenerative disease over time. Moreover, her research indicates this may result from lipid metabolism changes in the liver, a critical organ in producing, packaging, and transporting these "building blocks" the brain needs. Overall, this work highlights the need to examine the body as an integrated system, rather than as isolated organs with isolated toxic responses. In the future, Ms. Kramer hopes this research will pave the way for new considerations in policy and risk assessment of neurotoxicity (e.g., neurotoxicity stemming from toxic effects on other organs such as the liver) as well as new avenues for treatment of neurodegenerative disease. 

 

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Anna Kreutz
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: US EPA

Dr. Kreutz felt that it was a wonderful surprise and honor to receive this award. It is a delight to feel that she is able to return to the field of neuroscience.

Dr. Kreutz's research interest follows identification and characterization of risk factors for neurodevelopment, identification of susceptible populations, and translation of experimental concentrations to human relevant dosages. She received this award for her work in developing a method to translate developmental neurotoxicity experimental concentrations to human relevant dosages during windows of susceptibility for brain development, including pregnancy and early life. This approach could be applied for risk assessment prioritization of chemicals of concern for developmental neurotoxicity.

 

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Rachel Lacroix
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BSc
Institution/Affiliation: University of Calgary

Ms. Lacroix was elated to receive notice that she was the recipient of the Neurotoxicology Specialty Section Toshio Narahashi Trainee Conference Endowment Award for 2022. After two years in a pandemic, she is excited to network with colleagues and share her science outside of her immediate bubble. Being Canadian, travelling to the United States can be costly – this award will not only mitigate the financial costs associated with travelling to SOT 2022, but will provide her with further opportunity to share her science. As a PhD student still early in her degree, the advantages of attending SOT 2022 in person are vast and the Neurotoxicology Specialty Section Toshio Narahashi Trainee Conference Endowment Award will play a large part in offering her this opportunity.

Ms. Lacroix's research focuses on glyphosate, the active ingredient in the world’s most used herbicides (glyphosate-based herbicides). There exists heavy debate on whether glyphosate is toxic to humans. Glyphosate first hit the shelves in the 1970s as an effective weed killer, marketed as safe due to glyphosate’s lack of known mechanistic target in humans. Now, with widespread claims of cancers and other health effects in occupationally exposed persons, scientists are focused on dissecting the effects of glyphosate in higher organisms. In her research, she seeks to understand whether glyphosate impacts neurodevelopment. She uses zebrafish as a model of glyphosate exposure with behavioral, cellular, and molecular outputs to understand holistically the toxicity of environmental levels of glyphosate. Currently, they see that glyphosate significantly effects social and locomotive behaviors, even at low doses. It is her hope that this research propels change to their current agricultural practices. After her PhD, Ms. Lacroix wishes to pursue a career in either biotechnology or pharmaceuticals to take her passion for change higher than the academic space.

 

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: David Leuthold
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BSc, MSc, Dr rer nat
Institution/Affiliation: Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

Dr. Leuthold felt honored and was happy about this kind of appreciation. It does not only account for his own effort but that also recognizes the contributions of his whole research group. This includes several aspects like practical support and valuable feedback but also ongoing motivation throughout the course of such an intense project. He is grateful to be part of such an outstanding team. This award helps to pursue his research in a way that there is even more motivation to continue and further develop his approach. The fact that this approach is recognized as useful for environmental research at this stage of development is highly encouraging.

What Dr. Leuthold likes most about his work are the diverse challenges that require new ideas and approaches every day. In other words, to apply creativity to critical aspects of societal development feels very satisfactory. His work is diverse and includes steps from hypothesis development, experimental design, conduction of experiments, supervision of trainees/ PhD students, exchange of ideas with colleagues, data management, establishment of data analysis pipelines, presentations and finally, of course, paper writing. He never gets bored of optimization – He is a perfectionist. In practical terms he is mainly working with early developmental stages of zebrafish – an alternative model that provides seemingly endless options to study many critical aspects of environmental and human health. Thus, his future goals include to further develop whole-organism and molecular methods in zebrafish that allow us to better understand the underlying mechanisms of toxicity and diseases. The research conducted for the received award focuses on the development and application of a behavior assay battery in larval zebrafish in order to determine effects of chemicals on neurodevelopment and neuronal function. The initial idea was to extend the commonly applied but limited light-dark-transition assay and to assess chemical-induced alterations in behavior in a more comprehensive way to account for the complexity of the developing nervous system and its diverse chemical targets. One of the first steps was the establishment and optimization of acoustic tests to measure acoustic sensitivity to low- and high-volume tones of a certain frequency. Additionally, a sequence of acoustic stimuli was optimized for inter stimulus intervals in order to provoke habituation behavior – a non-associate from of learning that is also conserved in humans. After optimization of the various parameters, the assay battery was evaluated against a set of known pharmacological modulators with distinct neuromolecular targets such as NMDA receptor, GABA receptor and acetylcholinesterase. With the confirmation that the combination of the multiple behavior assays has the diagnostic capacity to differentiate these mechanisms, the battery was further evaluated against a set of chemicals that were previously shown to target the NMDA receptor in vitro – an ionotropic receptor known to play a major role in learning and memory processes. The underlying question here was, whether such compounds that induce a lack in learning and memory through interference with NMDA receptors can also be confirmed in zebrafish. The current findings confirm that the embryo-larval zebrafish model recapitulates exposure-induced learning deficit phenotypes observed in rodent models, thereby highlighting its potential as an alternative method. Finally, they could identify an environmental chemical which is used as a biocidal ingredient in cosmetic products to reduce habituation learning behavior. A fact that has not been shown before and that highlights the previously unknown neuroactive properties of this chemical.

 

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Alyssa Merrill
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Rochester

Ms. Merrill was not anticipating to receive an award at all. Being her first time at an in-person conference in graduate school, she worried that she was not conveying her research well or being engaging enough. Receiving this award was a really nice validation that the hard work that she put into her research project is meaningful for the scientific audience and even the public. 

Overall, Ms. Merrill's research focuses on investigating the potential effects of environmental contaminants during pregnancy on both maternal mental and metabolic health. Approximately 1 in 10 women experience postpartum depression, often with increased anxiety. One class of environmental contaminants pregnant women are widely exposure to are per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are widely utilized in a variety of consumer goods and industrial applications, such as water repellant clothing and fire-fighting foams. PFAS have been shown to alter "anxiety-like" behavior in the offspring, but little research has been done investigating the potential maternal health consequences even though pregnancy is unique physiological state of the mother. To address this gap in knowledge, pregnant mice were exposed to a highly persistent PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), during gestation until birth. Maternal and "anxiety-like" behavior were then assessed in the mothers following birth. Long-term, Ms. Merrill hopes to take the knowledge she has gained to work in preclinical toxicology studies for pharmaceuticals and medical devices with a focus on the unique potential critical window of pregnancy. 

 

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Isha Mhatre-Winters
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Florida International University

Dr. Mhatre-Winters is very honored and thankful to the Society of Toxicology and NTSS for this prestigious award. This acknowledgement not only recognizes her research but will also keep her motivated and therefore, she would like to extend her deepest gratitude to the NTSS committee. Presenting her research to such a great audience at SOT and receiving this award will significantly aid in her career development in the field of neurotoxicology. 

This research primarily focuses on neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and investigating the mechanisms involved in the progression of the disease. APOE4 genotype is the strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and females have an increased risk of developing AD at a younger age which is modified by the APOE genotype. Neuroinflammation, a complex response modulated by microglia and astrocytes, is implicated in the progression and pathology of AD. In this study, they sought to identify the APOE genotype and sex-specific inflammatory profiles of primary microglia and astrocytes isolated from humanized APOE mice . As the incidence and cost of treating AD continue to rise dramatically, there is a desperate need to understand the interactions between non-modifiable risk factors such as sex and genotype on inflammatory responses for therapeutic interventions and she hopes that her research will aid in understanding the risk for AD from a more relevant standpoint and ultimately lead to an impact for patients. 

 

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Paige Mundy
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of California Davis

Dr. Mundy is extremely grateful and humbled to receive this award. This award will help her pursue her research by providing monetary funds as well as fostering professional relationships with those active in the Neurotoxicology Specialty Section.

As a postdoctoral researcher in Pamela Lein’s lab, Dr. Mundy uses zebrafish larvae to study the neurotoxic effects of chemical weapons of concern. She has worked with the zebrafish model for several years and enjoys assay development. She is particularly interested in environmental health problems and aims to work as a toxicologist, to act as a steward for human and environmental health. At SOT, she presented a project which described how Royal Demolition Explosive (RDX) triggers seizure activity in zebrafish larvae. This project established an in vivo model of RDX-induced seizures using larval zebrafish and explores the mechanism of action of RDX-induced seizures using the aforementioned model. The findings of this study will facilitate the development of more precise therapeutic countermeasures against RDX-induced seizures.

 

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Ferass Sammoura
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Florida International University

Mr. Sammoura is greatly honored to be receiving the NTSS Toshio Narahashi Graduate Student Poster Competition Award. He was absolutely thrilled to participate in the poster competition and the following reception. This award in particular means so much to him, for his mentors whom he looks up to and try to emulate have participated in this competition. NTSS provided an impeccable opportunity to share his research with experts in the field and receive important feedback for their future proposed studies. He would like to greatly thank his advisor, Dr. Jason R. Richardson, for his guidance, mentorship, and support in Mr. Sammoura's academic career and life. He would also like to thank his colleagues in the lab for their immense support. Thank you to SOT and NTSS for providing an amazing experience and platform for presenting their research. NTSS and this award has helped him by connecting him with experts in the field and establishing potential collaborative work with other outstanding laboratories.

Mr. Sammoura's current work focuses on exploring the environmental role of organochlorine pesticide DDT and its metabolite DDE in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease. DDT is an insecticide that was used extensively beginning in the 1940s until its general public use ban in 1972 in the United States. In 2014, their lab published findings indicating a significant association between serum levels of the pesticide and Alzheimer's disease. They utilize various in vitro and in vivo models to investigate how DDT affects Alzheimer's disease specifically and are currently seeing the effects particularly in the amyloid pathology. Interestingly, they have also seen these deleterious effects induced by its primary metabolite DDE, which has long been thought to be an inactive by-product. Their future goals are to elucidate the mechanisms by which DDT and DDE affect the amyloid pathway and further understand these mechanisms in the context of Alzheimer's disease. 

 

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Yi-Hua Tsai
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of California Davis

Dr. Tsai was beyond thrilled to receive this award! It is an affirmation for the time and effort her PI and herself put in this project. Upon receiving this award, it provided a boost of motivation to continue extended future studies to answer more interesting research questions they have.

Identifying pathogenic mechanisms that contribute to the long-term adverse neurological outcomes, such as cognitive deficits, associated with acute organophosphate (OP) exposures remains an area of active research. The findings from this research project implicate cellular senescence as a potential pathogenic mechanism linking acute OP intoxication to chronic neurotoxic outcomes and could be a potential therapeutic target for protecting brain functions in individuals acutely intoxicated with OPs. In the effort to understand the complexity of the pathogenic mechanisms involved in OP neurotoxicity, Dr. Tsai would like to further her work on the functional relationship between pathogenic mechanisms, such as oxidative stress and cellular senescence, following acute organophosphate intoxication.

 

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Ola Wasel
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: MS, MPH
Institution/Affiliation: Purdue University

Ms. Wasel was thrilled to receive this award. This award will help to defray the expenses for travel to the SOT Annual Meeting. She is looking forward to sharing her research with experts in the field. Also, attending the meeting will be a great opportunity to explore career opportunities through networking.

Ms. Wasel's research focuses on assessing developmental neurotoxicity of perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS) and 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoro-2-(heptafluoropropoxy) propanoic acid (GenX) using zebrafish biomedical model. PFBS and GenX belong to a class of chemicals called the Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The legacy PFAS are resistant to degradation, persistent in the environment, and are linked with many adverse health effects in humans. PFBS and GenX are currently used as replacements to the legacy PFAS. Unfortunately, PFBS and GenX are found to be also persistent in the environment but there is limited information on the safety of PFBS and GenX on human health. PFAS can pass through the placenta from the mother to the fetus, which poses a risk of developmental exposure. Neurotoxicity of PFAS is not fully understood, but there is some evidence that PFOS and PFOA exposure can affect dopaminergic system development. The results of this study showed that embryonic exposure to PFBS or GenX caused alterations in locomotor activity and changes in dopamine levels in zebrafish larvae. These results highlight that GenX and PFBS maybe not safe replacements to PFOA PFOA and PFOS as expected. Ms. Wasel's future research will include assessing the molecular basis of the dopaminergic changes upon exposure to PFBS and GenX.

 

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

Recipient: Dinesh Babu
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Alberta

Dr. Babu was pleasantly delighted to receive the Association of Scientists of Indian Origin (ASIO) SIG Toxikon, A Preclinical Toxicology Organization, and Dr. Dharm Singh ASIO International Travel Award. His sincere thanks to the ASIO SIG award committee for selecting him for this award based on his research work. This award truly adds value to his career by providing additional motivation to pursue his career in toxicology. He thanks his postdoc mentor, Dr. Arno Siraki, for his novel approach, which formed the basis of this research study and his consistent support in carrying out this study. He also would like to acknowledge his co-workers, Thom Le and Bela Reiz, who were instrumental in supporting him with this study. He hopes the recognition of his research work by the ASIO travel award will enhance the visibility of his poster with increased attention from the toxicology researchers attending the 2022 SOT Annual Meeting; this could provide him with an opportunity to share his science and get suggestions for additional experiments to strengthen the study. Additionally, this distinct recognition with the ASIO can possibly facilitate any potential future collaborations with other fellow researchers interested in this clinically relevant research study.

Several drugs currently used in medical practice are associated with some side effects, posing several financial burdens on the healthcare system. Particularly, treatment with some drugs results in “unexpected” side effects and Dr. Babu's current research works involve the role of drug metabolism in causing these adverse drug reactions. He has been working with his postdoc mentor Dr. Arno Siraki on several projects involving drug toxicology. His future goal is to emerge as an academic researcher and establish a laboratory dedicated to investigating the various mechanisms of adverse drug reactions and approaches to mitigate them. He was awarded the ASIO International Travel Award for presenting the research study at the 2022 SOT Annual Meeting, which involves a mechanistic approach to reduce the side effect of a drug (clozapine) used to treat schizophrenic patients. “Treatment-resistant schizophrenics” are the patients who do not respond to treatment with other conventional medications, and clozapine (Clozaril®) is the only drug approved to treat them. Unfortunately, lowered white blood cell count (called agranulocytosis) is a notable side effect associated with clozapine treatment in a significant fraction of those patients. Edaravone (Radicava®) is the only drug with purported antioxidant activity, currently approved in the USA and Canada to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and thus could be favorably used as a “repurposed drug.” For the first time, this research study investigates the possible usefulness of treating edaravone to prevent clozapine's adverse drug reactions using an in vitro model.

 

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

Recipient: Chittaranjan Sahu
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (NIPER)

Dr. Sahu was very happy to receive this award. He immediately shared the good news with his research supervisor Dr. G.B. Jena sir and his parents. This award is a recognition in the Society of Toxicology, which Dr. Sahu feels is an important platform for a research career. The award is a compliment to Dr. Sahu's research in the field of toxicology and will support him in presenting the research work.  

Dr. Sahu's research is on the toxic impact of diabetes on male reproduction due to food contaminant bisphenol A exposure (this mostly occurs in food materials with xenoestrogen properties). Dr. Sahu designed this experiment to explore the toxicity of bisphenol A in food safety/toxicology on reproductive health. He investigated the adverse/toxic effect of bisphenol A toxicity perturbed the testis, epididymis, and in spermatogenesis processes in diabetic conditions. Both the factors combined (in food material) significantly showed the male sub-fertility condition during reproductive age in diabetic rats.

 

Undergraduate Educator Award

Recipient: Kristine Willett
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Mississippi

Kristine Willett, PhD, has been awarded the 2022 SOT Undergraduate Educator Award in recognition of her exemplary undergraduate teaching contributions and her support of undergraduate educators—both in her classroom and in the greater scientific community. Dr. Willett received her PhD in toxicology in 1997 and conducted postdoctoral fellowships at Indiana University and Duke University. She then joined the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, where she now serves as Chair of the Department of Biomolecular Sciences and as a Professor of pharmacology and environmental toxicology. Since joining the University of Mississippi in 2000, Dr. Willett has been the instructor of record for all undergraduate toxicology courses, developing and subsequently updating the undergraduate Introduction to Toxicology and Introduction to Environmental Toxicology curricula. In the past five years alone, Dr. Willett has taught more than 200 undergraduate students. A tenured professor, Dr. Willett also has taught for many years in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, including presenting a conversations class in environmental health and a new experiential learning course on drinking water access and safety. Highly regarded among her colleagues, Dr. Willett has been recognized in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy with the Instructional Innovation Award and was a Distinguished Teaching Scholar. The university also recognized her with the Faculty Achievement Award. Dr. Willett’s mentorship of the diverse undergraduates who have worked in her laboratory is equally impactful to her classroom activities. She has hosted research experiences for 65 high school and undergraduate students, exposing them to her federally funded research, and has mentored 56 undergraduate students. Undergraduates are part of all Dr. Willett’s research projects with specific funding for undergraduate research from multiple mechanisms, and she has received two National Institutes of Health supplements—totaling more than $97,000—for summer research experiences for undergraduate students. Dr. Willett’s excellence as an undergraduate educator also is exemplified through the caliber of her students, who have received both scientific meeting travel awards and presentation awards and are co-authors of several of Dr. Willett’s publications. Many of Dr. Willett’s students have gone on to medical and pharmacy schools, and others are continuing their careers in toxicology and forensic toxicology. An SOT member since 2001, Dr. Willett has been a champion for undergraduate educators within the Society, including through her service as a member of both the Undergraduate Education Resources Task Force and the Faculty United for Toxicology Undergraduate Recruitment and Education (FUTURE) Committee. In addition to these appointments, Dr. Willett served as Co-Chair of the Undergraduate Education Subcommittee. In her roles within SOT, Dr. Willett contributed to publicly available education resources, including a series of Undergraduate Educator Network webinars and the Eminent Toxicologist Lecture Series, strengthening the Society’s impact in undergraduate education. In addition to this service, Dr. Willett is a Past President of the South Central Regional Chapter and Molecular and Systems Biology Specialty Section, is a member of the SOT Membership Committee, and is an inaugural Deputy Editor of Toxicological Sciences.

 

Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth Weisburger Scholarship Fund

Recipient: Emily Stevenson
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Ms. Stevenson was honored for her work to be recognized by the Women in Toxicology (WIT) Special Interest Group. WIT has so many dedicated and accomplished members, and she was excited to have been selected as the recipient of this award. The award funds will help to support her travel to scientific conferences and continuing education efforts at these meetings to help her become a more well-rounded scientist. 

Ms. Stevenson's work concerns lipid homeostasis in the lung, with a specific focus on pulmonary macrophages - an important cell type with many functions. In their model of acute lung injury, they have observed fatty macrophages, which she has hypothesized contribute to the injury observed. As effective therapeutic strategies for acute lung injury are currently lacking, she is focused on characterizing how mitigating lipid accumulation in these cells may improve injury outcomes. The research upon which the award was granted demonstrated that in a model of acute lung injury, Acat-1 inhibition decreased cholesterol esterification in the lung and altered surfactant composition and macrophage activation, which contributed to improved histological outcomes and decreased injury severity. After completing her PhD, Ms. Stevenson hopes to work as a toxicologist in the personal care or consumer products space. 

 

Young Soo Choi Student Scholarship Award Fund

Recipient: Joe Jongpyo Lim
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Washington

Mr. Lim felt that the the award was like a nice pat on the back. The current experiments that he is doing had multiple trials and errors. These involved a lot of failures multiple times, and some disappointment. After graduation, he wishes to continue his career as a researcher and a scientist. The award will greatly help him lay a solid foundation in continuing a life-long learning and scientific research in toxicology. He will first make use of it to come to the SOT meeting!

Mr. Lim's research project centers around the delayed onset of liver diseases from early life exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs often resist natural degradation and decomposition and they bioaccumulate in fatty tissues in humans and other organisms. One class of POPs is polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which were formerly used as flame retardants. PBDEs have been linked to thyroid hormone disorders, neurotoxicity, oxidative stress in the liver, and liver cancer in both animal models and humans. Recent and ongoing results have led to novel insights that early life exposure to POPs can have a life-long impact on disease risk, which may partly be regulated by the gut microbiome. Yet, the molecular interactions of between the gut microbiome and individual liver cell types remain unknown, especially at key stages during development. His central hypothesis is that the metabolic needs of specific cell types differ in developmental stages and is gut microbiome mediated. The rationale for this hypothesis is that each cell type performs unique metabolic functions, in which the interplay across organs and gut microbiome, is a critical determinant of metabolic processes. Applying methods for the quantification of cell-type proportions and their gene expression and metabolite abundance signatures, as well as the modification of the gut microbiome. Mr. Lim's specific hypothesis is that gut metabolites from early life exposure to PBDEs persistently perturbs the liver resident immune cell populations, e.g. Kupffer cells, NK cells, to differentially damage the metabolically active and structural cells, e.g. hepatocytes, cholangiocytes, endothelial cells, in the liver. Filling this knowledge gap will open new areas of mechanistic research in toxicology and public health.

 

Yves Alarie Scholarship Fund

Recipient: Linlin Zhao
Award Year: 2022
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Genentech Inc.

Dr. Zhao was truly honored to receive this award. It was a great morale-booster that supports and encourages her to continue doing her research. 

Dr. Zhao's research is about applying machine learning methods on toxicology related data to aid safety assessment for drug development. In the abstract that she submitted for this award, she applied a matrix factorization method for data imputation on the internal kinase data to support safety profiling. This method provides an efficient means to easily predict potential kinase off-target interactions and aid in identifying selective compounds with improved toxicity profiles and is currently used to support the hazard identification in early drug discovery.