Tox ShowDown Debuted at 2012 SOT Annual Meeting

What curious Australian egg-laying mammal is venomous? Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527 are the names of two substances used to help in the cleanup of what recent environmental accident? The TUNEL assay is used to assess _____? To which drug was Sherlock Holmes addicted?

If you know the answers to these questions, you could have been a prize-winning contestant at SOT’s rousing Tox ShowDown, held on the evening of March 13 in conjunction with the 2012 SOT Annual Meeting in San Francisco. An It’s Academic style game, inspired by the North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology’s long running Toxicology Quiz Bowl and St. John’s University’s Tox ThrowDown, the ShowDown tested contestants’ knowledge of a cornucopia of toxicological fact and fancy.

The event was organized by Sue Ford (recipient of SOT’s 2012 Undergraduate Educator award) and Jessica Placido of St. John’s, timekeeper and scorekeeper, respectively, and Phil Wexler of the National Library of Medicine, emcee. In spite of competition from other tempting social activities, the Tox ShowDown, aided by its mix of education, entertainment, prizes, cash bar, and just plain craziness, drew a sizeable and enthusiastic audience. Good-humored cheering and jeering students constituted about half the crowd. The contestants brought an admirable mixture of toxicology knowledge and personal panache to the game. The three teams were:

  • The Toxic Metabolites: Brent Kerger, ChemRisk; Mark Maddaloni, US EPA; Alessandro Venosa, Rutgers University
  • The Free Radicals: Peter Goering, US FDA (and SOT 2010–2012 Secretary); Lou Trombetta, St. John’s University; Toni Hayes, Pfizer (winning team)
  • The Endocrine Disruptors: John Duffus, Edinburgh Centre for Toxicology (and recipient of SOT’s 2012 Education Award); Prasad Krishnan, Penn State University; Anne Pilaro, US FDA

The distinguished judge for the evening was Marion Ehrich of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and past president of SOT. Dr. Ehrich wielded a spiffy gavel consisting of a crab mallet donated by SOT headquarter's staff, topped by a purple rubber squeeze toy.

In Round 1, teams were asked questions sequentially and allowed to confer. They were awarded one point for a correct answer. In Round 2, a question was posed to all teams, and the first contestant to raise a hand in reply to a question would be called upon to answer. His or her team would get one point for a correct answer, and be given a multi-part bonus question to accrue more points.

The Graduate Student Leadership Committee (GSLC) was the primary SOT affiliated sponsor for the event. Prizes donated by Elsevier (laptop bags, mouse pads, and Zagat’s America’s Top Restaurants guides) were distributed to all participating contestants, while prize books for the winning team were donated by CRC Press/Taylor and Francis Group (Handbook of Laboratory Animal Science, 3rd ed. Vol 1, Newman’s Fundamentals of Ectotoxicology, 3rd ed, and The Toxicology of Fishes ). CRC Press also provided three door prize books (Laboratory Mouse Procedural Techniques, Laboratory Rat Procedural Techniques, and Wexler’s Chemicals, Environment, Health: A Global Management Perspective). Finally, a crystal beer stein, elegantly engraved by Matt Geraci, a clinical toxicologist in Jacksonville, Florida, and donated by his firm, The Blasting Furnace, was awarded to Marion Ehrich.

And although the contestants could undoubtedly quote toxicological chapter and verse on phthalates, one of their biggest challenges of the evening was spelling the word itself.

Mike Gallo of Rutgers, in attendance with several of his students, commented, “The ShowDown was a great experience that brought together toxicologists, from students to seasoned practitioners. Terrific esprit de corps. Questions ranged from Shakespeare to current topics. A teachable moment for all attendees, contestants, and judges. Phil Wexler deserves special thanks. This is an event that should be continued at future SOT meetings.”

Tox ShowDown is planned for San Antonio,and if you’d like to participate, it’s not too early to express your interest; just contact David Rossé.

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