News and Reviews
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I want to send my regards to all fellow toxicologists around the world from my beautiful though cold homeland, Finland. Even though the summer here can be pleasant and warm, right now we have around 60 cm (two feet) of snow in Helsinki, and the thermometer for the past few weeks has been stuck between -13 and -22 degrees centigrade (+6 - -12 F).
Soon enough, we will leave the cold weather behind us to usher in spring then summer, which means the 12th International Congress of Toxicology to be held in Barcelona, Spain on July 19–23, 2010 is fast approaching. The organizers have been very successful in attracting abstracts to the meeting, which is quite exciting because any congress is only as good as its participants and the program. The venue, the city of Barcelona, is a unique attraction and one of UNESCO’s world culture heritage sites.
I would like to express my personal appreciation to the Spanish Society of Toxicology (AETOX) for their hard work in planning ICTXII. In conjunction with EUROTOX and their other international partners, they have done an excellent job. I want to especially congratulate the President of the Congress, Professor Eugenio Vilanova from Alicante for his work and the efforts of his Spanish colleagues in guaranteeing the success of the Congress.
The Executive Committee of IUTOX has worked hard during its 2007–2010 term to further increase the focus and relevance of the strategic goals of IUTOX. One goal has been to organize attractive toxicology meetings around the world. Last September, the 7th Congress of Toxicology in Developing Countries (7CTDC) was jointly organized by the South African Society of Toxicology and IUTOX. The meeting was a success with attendance of about 300 toxicologists from throughout Africa and from many other parts of the world. Another major undertaking of IUTOX has been organizing local courses on risk assessment in Brazil, South Africa and Nigeria. The goal was to have a positive impact in each region—a goal which has been well achieved. Silvia Barros from Brazil and Mary Gulumian from South Africa have played key roles in these activities as have Elaine Faustman and Wally Hayes in organizing training courses in Nigeria.
Collaboration with the World Health Organization has been important for IUTOX during recent years, especially participation in the Strategic Approach for International Chemicals Management, the so-called SAICM process, driven mainly by governments and supported by international scientific organizations. Collaboration with SETAC and IUPAC has been fruitful, and SETAC has been especially interested in working together with IUTOX.
Remarkable challenges ahead are the major events in the coming years; the 8th Congress of Toxicology in Developing Countries will be organized in Bangkok in 2012 by the Thai Society of Toxicology and the 13th Congress of Toxicology will be arranged by the Korean Society of Toxicology in Seoul, South Korea. The organizers of these events need full support from the global toxicology community to make sure that these events will also be resounding successes.
I wish you all good health and prosperity in 2010. Let’s meet in Barcelona at the 12th International Congress of Toxicology in July this year!
Kai Savolainen President, International Union of Toxicology
Helsinki, February 2010
The World Library of Toxicology—An International Resource of Information on Human and Environmental Health
Launched at the IUTOX 7th Congress of Toxicology in Developing Countries (7CTDC) in September 2009 by Toxipedia, in collaboration with the USA National Library of Medicine (NLM), the International Union of Toxicology (IUTOX), and the Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders (INND), the World Library of Toxicology, Chemical Safety, and Environmental Health continues to grow and develop into a trusted resource for information on the work being done around the world to create a healthier and safer planet.
This free global Web portal provides the scientific community and public with links to major government agencies, non-governmental organizations, universities, professional societies, and other groups addressing issues related to toxicology, public health, and environmental health. The World Library of Toxicology (WLT) works directly with a network of country correspondents consisting of toxicologists and other scientists who maintain their own country-specific pages with accurate and up-to-date information. Over 50 countries from all seven continents are represented in the WLT, with the goal of ultimately including all interested nations.
Along with serving as a portal to key resources, the WLT sets the stage to connect research scientists from government and industry, academia, non-governmental organizations, the environmental advocacy community, and interested laypeople from around the world with each other. By making these diverse stakeholder groups aware of each others’ activities, the World Library of Toxicology will serve as a catalyst to encourage global collaborations and minimize duplicative efforts. Its goal is to serve as a resource to improve global public health by encouraging collaboration and harmonization of standards.
WLT was introduced to IUTOX members at the recent 7CTDC meeting in Sun City (see report on that meeting in this issue). At that introduction, Dr. Philip Wexler from the U.S. National Library of Medicine introduced this NLM resource and provided an overview of the World Library of Toxicology. Dr. Steven Gilbert from INND discussed the excitement of using an interactive wikipedia approach for Toxipedia implementation. Dr. Elaine Faustman discussed IUTOX’s role in this international information source. Of particular interest to the 7CTDC participants were representative presentations by WLT Country Correspondents who attended the Congress. Representatives attending the meeting and sharing their experiences included: New Zealand (Ravi Gooneratne), Iran (Mohammad Abdollahi), Tanzania (Revocatus Ma), South Africa (Mary Gulumian), Nigeria (Orish Ebere Orisakwe), Cameroon (Asongalam Emmanuel Acha), Greece (Aristidis Tsatsakis), and Egypt (Sameeh Mansour).
During 2010 the WLT will focus efforts on expanding the number of countries from several regions around the globe, including Africa, Latin America, and SE Asia that currently lack a strong representation on the site (See the Toxipedia Web site for a list of countries the WLT would like to include in 2010). In addition, Toxipedia will be presenting research on emerging issues of interest to WLT countries, and producing related teaching resources and articles for its country correspondents to use and disseminate to other practicing professionals in their country. We are also developing an interactive mapping feature to highlight individual country resources.
The WLT has also recently launched a partnership program to foster relationships with organizations with similar goals and missions. By developing these partnerships, the WLT aspires to create mutually beneficial relationships that broaden our reach and highlight each other’s work. Current partners include the African Society of Toxicological Sciences, the Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders, the International Union of Toxicology, and the National Library of Medicine.
To stay up to date with the latest information from the WLT send your e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org. Inquiries about becoming a partner or joining as a new country can be directed to the same e-mail address.
IUTOX Leadership 2007–2010 Executive Committee
IUTOX Officers and Directors welcome comments from all member societies. If you have any suggestions, please send them to us at IUTOX Headquarters.
Kai Savolainen (President), Daniel Acosta, (President-elect), A. Wallace Hayes (Secretary-General), Jun Kanno (Vice President), Alexander Buerkle (Treasurer), Silvia Barros (Director), Elaine Faustman (Director), Barbara Hales (Director), Mumtaz Iscan (Director), Lewis Smith (Director).
IUTOX Co-Sponsors Nigerian Risk Evaluation Course
A highly successful Chemical Risk Evaluation course was held August 17–20, 2009, in Abuja, Nigeria. The Nigerian National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), in collaboration with Aiida-4 MEDICAL CONSULTANTS LTD and with co-sponsorship from International Union of Toxicology (IUTOX) organized a chemical/biology risk evaluation course for regulatory and academic personnel. The course was designed to address key public health issues in Nigeria.
Poisonings cause more serious public health problem than generally recognized, more than 4 million poisoning episodes occur annually in Nigeria (IOM, 2005) and most of these poisonings involve chemicals including pharmaceuticals, pesticides and herbicides. To reduce this risk from accidental poisonings, regulatory agencies require that certain products and chemicals are tested to determine their potential to cause life-threatening or fatal acute systemic toxicity. Risk evaluation supports these evaluations as it utilizes what is known about the adverse effects observed in experimental or epidemiological studies, including all inherent uncertainties of these studies to present qualitative and quantitative statements about the risk to humans assessing exposure to chemicals and informing decisions on how various chemicals can be used in an acceptable way.
The course trained regulatory personnel in government agencies, pharmaceutical industries and toxicologists in the academics in low income countries to increase their knowledge and experience in recent trends in the field of chemical risk evaluation and to better understand the data evaluation process. They used an active participatory learning process that uses a mixture of interactive lectures, small group and panel discussions and group work including presentation of the group work by the participants.
Because of the successes of this initial course a follow-up course is planned for May 23–30, 2010.
Upcoming Society Meetings
Sun City, South Africa Host to 7CTDC By Mary Gulumian, President, TOXSA
The 7th Congress of Toxicology in Developing Countries (7CTDC), organized by the Toxicology Society of South Africa (TOXSA) under the auspices of IUTOX, was held in Sun City, South Africa from 6 to 10 September 2009. Over 170 delegates from 36 countries attended the Congress, of which 113 were from developing countries.
"Harmonization of Toxicology Issues between Developed and Developing Countries" served as the theme for the Congress. Featured topics included toxicity testing and risk assessment, as well as regulatory requirements as practiced in developed countries with the aim of helping to reduce the burden of toxic substances in developing countries.
The scientific program of the Congress was comprised of continuing education courses, plenary presentations, parallel sessions as well as symposia and workshops, roundtable discussions, and platform and poster presentations, all of which addressed pressing toxicology issues in developing countries such as risk assessment, environmental pollutants, poison centers, biological monitoring, and food safety. Current emerging issues such as toxicogenomics, GMOs, and nanotechnologies were also discussed. Expert toxicologists from multidisciplinary backgrounds from all over the world were invited to present their latest scientific innovations. Opportunities were also given to new, upcoming graduate toxicologists to present their work.
Awards were presented for the best presentations, with first prize for best poster going to Emmanuel T. Nyahangare of University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe; second prize to Tracy Snyman of the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; and the third prize to Liyan Liang of the Guangdong Poison Control Centre, China. The best oral presentation prize went to Dolores H. Rodriguez Rivero of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Sponsorship from both international and national societies and organizations contributed to the success of the Congress.
Sameeh Mansour, Professor at the National Research Centre in Cairo, carried on his tradition of presenting the Egypt Cup to the Congress organizers during the Opening Ceremony. The Cup will remain in South Africa until it is delivered to the Thai Society of Toxicology at the 8CTDC meeting in 2012 in Bangkok.
Scholars at Risk Promotes Academic Freedom and Defends the Human Rights of Scholars Worldwide
Editor’s Note: Donna Breskin, IUTOX Executive Director, attended a Scholars at Risk (SAR) seminar hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in January, 2010. SAR contributed the following article for publication in the IUTOX newsletter.
For nearly ten years, Scholars at Risk has been a leading defender of scholars and higher education communities worldwide. In 2009, Scholars at Risk members continued to save lives by providing sanctuary to professors, lecturers, researchers and other intellectuals who suffer threats in their home countries. Last year, more than 43 at-risk scholars from 20 countries were placed in host universities and colleges within our network of 220 member institutions in 28 countries around the world. Many more scholars have received advice and referrals for essential assistance, such as legal and asylum services. SAR also continues to strengthen its Scholars in Prison project, issuing alerts and conducting letter-writing campaigns for scholars detained or missing in Azerbaijan, Iran, Pakistan and Thailand, among others. All of this work is made possible by the generous support of the Sigrid Rausing Trust.
In response to growing need, SAR has also established an Emergency Fund to help scholars who are victims of threats or persecution and in critical financial need, but have not yet arrived at a host institution. Two awards have been made already. The fund is made possible by unrestricted gifts from individuals. For information or to make a donation, please visit our Web site.
Growing the Network
Promoting Academic Freedom
Broadening SAR’s Reach
There is still much to do: Urgent appeals for help continue to arrive from at-risk scholars around the world. Attacks on universities continue. With your support, SAR looks forward to taking on these challenges in the year ahead.
International Council for Science Strengthens International Science for the Benefit of Society
Editors Note: IUTOX is a proud member of ICSU and benefits from the resources and information made available from their Secretariat in Paris as well as from their regional offices in Africa, Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean. The briefing below summarizes their comprehensive mission. If you would like more information about ICSU or a specific topic addressed below, please visit their Web site.
The International Council for Science (ICSU) is a non-governmental organization with a global membership of national scientific bodies (119 Members, representing 139 countries) and International Scientific Unions (30 Members). ICSU mobilizes knowledge and resources of the international scientific community to strengthen international science for the benefit of society. Activities focus on three areas: International Research Collaboration; Science for Policy; and Universality of Science. The long-term strategic vision is for a world where science is used for the benefit of all, excellence in science is valued and scientific knowledge is effectively linked to policy making. In order to achieve this vision, ICSU has developed a Strategic Plan 2006–2011 which identifies key priorities and associated actions. This briefing note summarizes key priorities and provides a few examples of specific activities to illustrate how ICSU operates. More information on these and many other activities can be found at the ICSU Web site.
International Research Collaboration
ICSU works with strategic partners to plan and coordinate international research programs that address major issues of relevance to both science and society. To this end, a number of interdisciplinary bodies have been created, addressing various themes, including oceans, the Antarctic, space research and solarterrestrial physics. ICSU is also exploring whether it can make significant contributions in areas such as health and energy.
Global Environmental Change has been a key area for ICSU for more than 40 years. Currently, there are four global environmental change programs co-sponsored by ICSU—the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP), International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) and DIVERSITAS (an international program on biodiversity). Together, these programs promote, coordinate and integrate over 2 billion euros of research and provide the scientific basis for major international assessments and conventions, including the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) was established in 2008 to address the impacts of disasters on regional and global scales. IRDR brings together the combined talents of the natural, socio-economic, health and engineering sciences from around the world. The programme will focus on hazards related to geophysical, oceanographic, climate and weather events.
Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) was established in 2008, to address the scientific knowledge gaps identified in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. PECS aims to determine how policies and practices affect resilience of ecosystem services that support human well-being and allow for adaptation to a changing environment.
The International Polar Year 2007–2008 was one of the most ambitious coordinated international science programs ever attempted. Over 160 projects involving thousands of scientists, from over 60 countries and a wide range of research disciplines, set out to discover more about the Polar Regions and their critical influence on the rest of the planet. The results from the research will continue to become available over the coming years and will play an important role in ensuring the vitality of the Polar Regions.
Science for Policy
ICSU works at the intersection of science and policy, to ensure that science is integrated into international policy development and that relevant policies take into account both scientific knowledge and the needs of science. ICSU promotes dialogue and shared understanding between the scientific community, policy makers and society more broadly.
Sustainable Development: ICSU is working with various governmental and non-governmental partners to implement the Plan of Action that was agreed on at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002. As part of the follow-up to the WSSD, ICSU represents science at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, developing papers and organizing international delegations of scientific experts to contribute to the meeting dialogues and side-events. The Commission provides a valuable forum for communicating scientific information to policy-makers and developing a needs-based multi-stakeholder research agenda for sustainable development.
Global Earth Observation: Global monitoring is a key link in the chain connecting interdisciplinary research to scientific assessments and policy making. ICSU, together with various UN bodies, sponsors the three global observing systems, which focus on the climate, oceans and land. ICSU is also involved in the process to develop an implementation plan for an integrated Global Earth Observation System of Systems.
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: ICSU is working with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other stakeholders to develop a science-policy platform for biodiversity and ecosystem services, which will play a role similar to that of the IPCC in climate change. The new Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society, and DIVERSITAS, will provide scientific knowledge to the platform.
Universality of Science
The Principle of the Universality of Science embodies freedom of movement, association, expression and communication for scientists as well as equitable access to data, information and research materials. The Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the Conduct of Science serves as the guardian of the Principle, adherence to which is a condition of membership to ICSU. This committee plays an important role in resolving visa problems for individual scientists and ensuring that scientists can freely associate and communicate.
Data and Information: The flow of, and access to, scientific data and information are critical factors in ensuring the participation of scientists in international research. A number of ICSU bodies—including the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA), the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) and the new World Data System (WDS)—are working at both an operational and policy level to improve the quality and accessibility of various types of scientific data and information.
Regional Offices: ICSU has three Regional Offices—Africa, Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean. The offices support scientific networks in their regions, facilitate the participation of scientists from developing countries in the activities of ICSU and its members, and ensure that the ICSU strategy and activities are responsive to the needs of developing countries. The activities of the offices are guided by dedicated regional scientific committees.
Administration and Governance
The main ICSU Secretariat (16 staff in 2009) is based in Paris and ensures the day-to-day planning and operations under the guidance of an elected Executive Board. A small number of Policy Committees assist the Executive Board in its work and a General Assembly of all members is convened every three years.
IUTOX Education Committee Survey
The Education Committee has recently completed a membership survey designed to ask about member society interests with an emphasis on toxicology education, involvement in IUTOX activities and state of toxicology within their member countries. Over 65% of our current member societies at the time of the survey responded (51 members were polled). The demographic spread of these responding member societies were as follows: Europe (14), S. Africa (3), Asia (9), Australia (1), S. America (1) and North America (5). Preliminary reports on this survey were shared at the IUTOX EC meetings during the last year and these helped to inform the IUTOX strategic retreat and follow-up.
Responses Regarding Mission—Questions regarding the mission of IUTOX revealed that ninety three percent of IUTOX member societies agreed with the IUTOX mission statement as being appropriate. When asked to identify the most important value of IUTOX to their societies the following items were identified with greater than 50% response:
Responses on Education—The educational value of IUTOX activities were emphasized and member societies have indicated that the IUTOX education courses covered topics of toxicology significant to the member societies. As input for planning future activities member societies responded as follows:
Interactions with IUTOX
Member Society Challenges and Success—IUTOX was interested in the state of member societies especially as it related to regional issues. Towards that end, the survey asked member societies to identify significant changes and successes with their members. In response to these questions, member societies reported the following:
Interactions with IUTOX
Demographics of our Toxicological Community—The survey also was interested in determining the geographic demographics of the education of their member societies.
The Education Committee of IUTOX would like to especially thank each of the member societies for these valuable responses and insight into toxicology around the globe. The Executive Committee of IUTOX has already been acting on these and many other responses and we welcome your additional insights and contributions.
For additional details and specifics on regional breakdown, please contact Dr. Elaine Faustman, Director and Chair of the IUTOX Education Committee. Special thanks should go to the current members of the IUTOX Education Committee who were instrumental in developing this survey. They include IUTOX Directors Mumtaz Iscan, Silvia Barros and Barbara Hales.
Did you know…
We’re eager to hear from you since IUTOX benefits from your feedback and ideas. If you would like to share your accomplishments and news with other member societies, please e-mail your contributions to IUTOX Headquarters.
You have been receiving your 2010 dues notices starting in February. Please help us give your society proper credit for payment by e-mailing the wiring details to us at IUTOX Headquarters. REMEMBER: your dues must be paid in full for 2007, 2008, and 2009 in order to cast your vote(s) at the IUTOX General Assembly in Barcelona on July 22.
IUTOX enjoys Non-governmental Organization (NGO) status with the World Health Organization and we are happy to refer you to their fantastic array of resources. WHO provides a tremendous amount of helpful information, books and materials to the public. You may visit the WHO Web site to see a complete listing of publications: WHO publications and documents—in multiple languages—are available for free download from the WHO Library database. Printed copies can be ordered from the WHO Bookshop, which offers discounts on orders from developing countries. The Bookshop also offers priced subscriptions to periodicals, book series and thematic packages.
New Release: WHO Monograph on Selected Medicinal Plants—Volume 4