UI Hosts Great Annual CS-SOT Meeting

This year’s meeting of the Central States regional chapter of the Society of Toxicology (CS-SOT) was held September 20-21. Each year the meeting is organized at the home institution of the CS-SOT president, this year it is Dr. Gabriele Ludewig, so the 2007 location was Iowa City.

Photo of audience in MERF auditoriumThe University of Iowa had a very successful toxicology program within the Department of Pharmacology in the 1970s and 1980s. This program was the training home for no less than six Presidents of the SOT, i.e. R.L. "Bob" Dixon, Jim Gibson, Jerry Hook, Curt Klaassen, Mike McClain, and Ken Wallace. In addition, Gabriel L (Gabbie) Plaa, a faculty member in the UI program, was also later elected President of SOT. Many other former toxicology students and postdocs at UI have served in other key toxicology functions, like editors of toxicology journals, leaders of toxicology training programs, note James P. (Jim) Kehrer and Bernie Schwetz, to name two. The meeting place therefore could not have been more appropriate; in effect the gathering celebrated the past program and its present revival in a new UI Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Human Toxicology.

The meeting was also a celebration of the growth and strength of the Central States Regional SOT Chapter. Participants came in seven vans from the University of Kentucky Medical Center, and another four carloads arrived from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Iowa State University and KSI send representatives, participants came from the Iowa Department of Public Health, industry (Bayer Crop Science), and two of our invited guests were from Minnesota. Nearly 40 participants from UI brought the total number attending to about 100.

Dinner on Thursday nightActivites began Thursday evening with a sit-down dinner in the spacious glass-paneled atrium of the Medical Education and Research Facility (MERF). Following dinner was an hour of poster viewing. Most of the 52 excellent posters were the work of students and post-doctoral fellows whoPhoto of Yan-Wan Suh beside his poster competed for six travel awards for best poster presentation. Lively discussions with enthusiastic students and postdocs reverberated through the atrium. But the Thursday activities did not end there. Students and postdocs met at the Old Capitol Brew Works to enjoy the local beer and to get to know their peers in our chapter. Jennifer Rees, the student (SAC) representative of the chapter, had organized this highly appreciated opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences.

Friday started early with breakfast for the participants and an officers’ meeting for Gabriele Ludewig (president, UI), Hartmut Jaeschke (vice-president and president elect, KUMC), Yvonne Wan (past president, KUMC), and Jon Doorn (treasurer, UI) and the councilors Annelise Nguyen, KSU, and Grace Guo, KUMC (Rick Pleus, Intertox Inc, and Deon van der Merwe, KSU, could not be present).

The general meeting opened with a welcome from the UI Vice President of Research, Dr. Meredith Hay. Knowing that Dr. John Doull and his wife Vera were in the audience, Dr. Hay brought her copy of “Casarett and Doull’s Toxicology” for Dr. Doull to autograph, which he gladly did. Also present was the current editor of this “bible” of toxicology, Dr Curtis Klaassen, alumnus of the previous UI toxicology program (and proof of its continuing influence)

Plans had been for the first speaker to be UI alumnus and former president of the SOT Dr. Kendall Wallace, who unfortunately was prevented from attending by weather-related problems. His lecture, “Resurrecting the Central States Regional Chapter – A larger step from a large footprint”, will be presented at another occasion.

Photo of Dr. John Bucher with President Gabriele LudewigThe lectures began instead with another UI alumnus, Dr. John Bucher, Associate Director of the National Toxicology Program (NTP), who presented thought-provoking information on “The NTP and Toxicology of the 21st Century”. Following Dr. Bucher were Dr. Patrick Hannah (U of MN): Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase: Inactivation by Reactive Oxygen Metabolites of Environmental Arylamines; Dr. Grace Guo (KUMC): Interaction of the flame retardants, PBDEs, with xenobiotic nuclear receptors and transporters; and Dr. Jon Doorn (UI): Impairment of Dopamine catabolism via production of oxidative stress yields elevated levels of a reactive and toxic intermediate. After these lectures students Jennifer Rees (UI) and Scott Reisman (KUMC) moderated six student talks, presented by Bingxuan Wang (UI), Pengli Bu (KUMC), Matt McNeill (UI), Yui Cui (KUMC), Leena Chaudhuri (UI), and Zhong Ye (ISU).

A highlight of the afternoon was the awarding of this year’s John Photo of Dr. Doull with award winner Larry RobertsonDoull award to Dr. Larry W. Robertson (UI). Dr. Robertson was honored for his many years of research, which he described in his talk “Toxicity of halogenated hydrocarbons: signaling or metabolism, or both?” Also recognized was his academic and scientific service to the University of Kentucky Graduate Center for Toxicology, the Ohio-Valley SOT chapter, and since 2003 the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at UI, where he has reestablished the historic toxicology program as a new Interdisciplinary Graduate Program In Human Toxicology with the support of the College of Public Health and the Graduate College.

Meanwhile the poster judges, Drs Michael Duffel and Hans Lehmler (UI), Lora Arnold and Jason Glanzer (UNMC), and Bryan Copple and Hong LStudent Award Winners and Judgesu (KUMC), had made their difficult decisions, and the meeting ended with the announcement of the travel award winners: Yue Cui (KUMC), Erin M. Gagan (UI), Maxwell A. Gyamfi (KUMC), Venkatesha Venkatasubbaiah (UI), Li Yang, (UNMC), Yueming Zhu (UI) for Best Poster and Yue Cui (KUMC) for Best Oral Presentation.

Kendall Wallace’s prediction that this would be an important meeting historically for the CS-SOT was proven true: the strength of the toxicology programs in KS, IA, and NE; the enthusiasm of the students, postdocs, and faculty; the strong support from university administration, industry (with generous donations), and state governments—all were visible at the meeting and promise a bright future for the Central States Chapter of the SOT.