History of RASS

The Society of Toxicology sponsored invited speakers and scientific sessions devoted to risk assessment beginning in the 1970s. The first poster session devoted to risk assessment was held at the Annual Meeting in Dallas in 1988. The room was small, and the crowd was overflowing. Just the previous evening, about 60 toxicologists and risk assessors had held an organization meeting to found a Specialty Section. Later that year, the Society approved the creation of the Risk Assessment Specialty Section (RASS). Membership was 90 the first year and topped 300 by 1991, making RASS the largest of the specialty sections. Membership went over 400 in 1998, then settled back near 300 after the creation of the Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section.

RASS sponsored its first session at the Annual Meeting began in 1989. This tradition has grown to the point where RASS now sponsors or co-sponsors at least five sessions each year. Continuing Education courses in risk assessment were first offered in 1990; beginning and advanced courses have been offered approximately every other year since. Attendance has always been very high.

RASS gave its first award to Bruce Molholt for the best presentation in risk assessment at the 1990 Annual Meeting. RASS began giving student awards in 1994. At the suggestion of Dennis Paustenbach and Rory Conolly, RASS began giving awards in 1995 for best published papers in risk assessment. These awards have become much sought-after and highly prized.

A most important series of events in the relationship between risk assessment and the SOT began when the Ad Hoc Committee on Improving the Scientific Basis for Risk Assessment recommended to SOT Council that the Arnold J. Lehman Award recipients be expanded to include risk assessors, in recognition of their scientific contributions to the regulatory process. Eight members of RASS have been so honored, Carol Kimmel, Roger McCarthy, Dennis Paustenbach (2002), Michael Dourson (2003), Melvin Andersen (2004), Rory Conolly (2005), Harvey Clewell (2006), and Vicki Dellarco (2007).