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American Association of Chinese in Toxicology (AACT)

President’s Message

Z. Alex Xu

Dear AACT members:

Fall greetings fellow AACT members! Over the summer, the AACT Executive Board had extensive discussions about what we could do to serve the needs of the membership at large and support the community of Chinese toxicologists. Our discussions were guided by the results from the AACT membership survey conducted late last year, as well as the new SOT Strategic Plan for 2019–2023.

Several years ago, when I ran for SOT Councilor I promised to “promote the participation of women and minorities, not only as a member, but also as active participants in the Society…”. Since then I had the opportunity to lead the Women in Toxicology (WIT) group, and worked successfully on promoting the recognition of outstanding women toxicologist and other initiatives. Now as the President for AACT, I am in a position to use this previous leadership experience to serve AACT members. One of the initiatives the AACT Board is taking this year is to promote the recognition of accomplished toxicologists of Chinese origin by nominating them for awards. After this initiative was announced to our members, we received multiple emails nominating some truly outstanding individuals for various SOT awards. We established an AACT committee to help nominate toxicologists in Chinese origin for SOT awards. The committee includes Xuefei Cao, Zhenquan Jia, Xiaoqing Guo, Wei Wu, Xuegeng Wang, Yongbin Zhang and Sophie Jia. Committee members are currently working with three candidates and multiple nominators to prepare nomination packages for each candidate. We are confident that the committee members will be able to submit all nomination package in early October! Moving forward, the AACT Board would like to encourage all toxicologists in Chinese origin to be more forthright and proactive in recognizing your own accomplishment or contributions, and those of your colleagues.

The Board has also been working on several other initiatives:

  • Networking opportunity: The AACT membership survey indicated that our members most value the networking opportunities provided by our special interest group. Networking is vital aspect of career development that builds long-term interpersonal relationships, establishes trust and connects members to job opportunities. This year, the AACT Executive Board considered several approaches to enhance the member networking activities outside the annual AACT business meeting and our reception at SOT. One of the networking approaches we took was to facilitate regional get-together events to expand opportunities for increased local contacts that open doors to new opportunities for business collaborations, career advancement and personal professional growth. We are currently working with the SOT headquarter and looking at ways to facilitate local activities through ToXchange. Some ideas include developing different forums based on geographic locations of member, and messages could be posted within these different forums for local meet ups. We are thankful for the help provided by experts within the SOT headquarter!
  • Career development: Based on the AACT survey, another main reasons for toxicologists to join AACT is to “enhance career development opportunities”. Our Student Representative, Yuwei Chang, shared her job-seeking experience as a new graduate and suggested that more networking and knowing what job opportunities are available is very important for students. Board members discussed how to strengthen network opportunities and promote career development for students, postdocs and junior scientists. We decided to work on facilitating a long-term AACT mentor-mentee relationships, and the first step is to create a mentor pool and a mentee pool. Our Councilor Suk (Cleo) Leung and Student Representative Yuwei Chang are leading this effort. More information will be provided as this initiative evolves.
  • The AACT Membership survey also revealed that the most requested seminar theme was “latest trends in toxicology”. We are planning two webinars between this fall and next spring around this theme, that will address timely topics such as genetically modified food, immunotherapy, marijuana, opioids, etc. Stay tuned for further announcements. Our Councilor Weimin Chen and Treasurer Sophie Jia are taking the lead on organizing the webinars on these emerging topics.
  • Outreach activities in China: AACT was awarded $4000 by SOT to support our outreach activities in China. A five-member AACT delegation (Sophie Jia, AACT treasurer and delegation leader, Ed Chow, Hua Shen, Shuyan Lu and Jiongjie Jing) attended the 9th National Toxicology Congress of the Chinese Society of Toxicology in Shanxi province this September. Their presentations covering basic toxicology research, safety evaluation in drug development and safety of occupational exposure were well received by meeting attendees. Sophie Jia and AACT Past President, Ed Chow, also met with CSOT President, Pingkun Zhou, General Secretary, Chao Liu, and others to exchange information and discuss future collaborations. One proposal is that CSOT and AACT exchange important and interesting news to help strengthen our network and enhance global outreach and engagement activities. In addition, the delegation also organized a workshop with ShanXi Medical University. This workshop, held on the campus, provided overviews of the advancements in the field of toxicology. The delegation also shared their overseas PhD and postdoc experiences with students in China. Sophie Jia also gave a toxicology education seminar at Shandong University Medical School. More details will be provided by the delegation in this newsletter. Many thanks to Sophie Jia, Yongbin and all delegation members for their leadership and contributions to organizing these activities! Many thanks to Lijie Fu from CSOT who helped to facilitate our activities in China.

The above initiatives and activities are aligned with the new three-year SOT strategic plan that includes goals such as facilitating career development using mentoring and other approaches, expanding global outreach, engagement and collaboration. The AACT Board will be preparing our agenda for the next annual AACT business meeting soon. Our Secretary, Li Zhan, has already started work on booking the venue for both annual business meeting/reception, career workshop and award lectures. Li Zhan will also lead the AACT Award Committee. There are many more routine tasks that the Board is undertaking to ensure success of the AACT. As always, these activities are the result of collaborative efforts from all Board officers, and support from volunteers is also the key! Volunteering is a great way to build networks and forge lasting relationships, so get involved early and often.

Tao Wang, MD, PhD, DABT

AACT President, 2019-2020