As I contemplate the May 11 expiration of the US Public Health Emergency for COVID-19, I also reflect on the state of SOT following a global pandemic that took millions of lives and reshaped how we interact and exchange ideas. We were fortunate to have strong leadership that navigated the challenging landscape of the past three years, and we have discovered many things about ourselves and our Society. We had to learn completely new ways to communicate during the pandemic—remember when we thought zooming was driving too fast or in my case something that my rabbits did? Coming back to in-person meetings, we’ve had to relearn the critical skills of small talk and how to be safe and comfortable around others again.
Coming off an outstanding SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo in Nashville, we can be confident that the Society is in a strong position to maintain our leadership in toxicology and to represent the diverse members and sectors that make up SOT. I am both proud and honored to assume the stewardship of this Society.
SOT is your Society, and we will soon begin the preparations for the 2024–2026 Strategic Plan. From June to August, SOT Council will conduct an environmental scan to help inform us regarding where the Society is and explore where we might be in the future. Members will have the opportunity to provide input through a variety of mechanisms, and I encourage to you to participate whether by completing a survey or interview, joining a focus group, or by reaching out to current leaders of Component Groups or SOT Council members to share your thoughts on what our future should look like. We want to hear from you on how to strengthen our meeting and membership so that SOT can continue to be the scientific home of choice for all scientists who are engaged in toxicology—for you and the next generation of leaders—as we have for more than 60 years. We anticipate that your input will guide the decision-making process by identifying areas where SOT resources—both financial and volunteer—should be allocated. The input will help identify our priorities and areas where we can improve efficiency.
A long-term task force will explore further into the future, with the intent of providing an additional information stream to assist in strategic planning. The task force will be asked to consider relevant trends in science, technology, and demographics that have the potential to affect SOT and the science of toxicology; although to make this manageable, the consideration of science will focus primarily on advances that have the potential to introduce new research areas in toxicology and to attract new members from related fields. Technology should be primarily considered regarding advances that could improve our mission of providing a forum for scientific exchange, whether through meetings or publications.
As part of my role as SOT President, I look forward to engaging with the leadership of our partner societies, such as SOT member José Manautou who is currently serving as the International Union of Toxicology (IUTOX) President. IUTOX is amid preparations for its 12th Congress of Toxicology in Developing Countries (CTDCXII), which is taking place in Santiago, Chile, April 15–18, 2024. I encourage you to consider submitting a scientific session proposal for CTDCXII by the May 31 deadline. In June, I will join the Japanese Society of Toxicology (JSOT) President, Mamoru Mutai, for the JSOT 50th Annual Meeting at Pacifico Yakohoma. I hope other SOT members are able to join us. And, of course, our longstanding partnership with EUROTOX, whose current President is SOT member Félix Carvalho, continues as SOT Past President Lois Lehman-McKeeman presents a Merit Award Lecture and we hold the second part of the SOT/EUROTOX Debate during EUROTOX 2023 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, September 10–13, 2023.
As I think about the year to come, I am reminded of the excitement and energy at the meeting in Nashville in March. Thank you to all who were in attendance exploring the Scientific Sessions, exhibits, and Poster Sessions and participating in the numerous social and networking opportunities. I thank you in advance for your support and input as we move forward with the strategic planning process in the coming year and look forward to working with Council to continue to explore how we can best serve our membership.