Leigh Ann Burns Naas Receives 2022 SOT Founders Award (for Outstanding Leadership in Toxicology)

By Ilona Jaspers posted 02-03-2022 14:45


Leigh Ann Burns Naas, PhD, DABT, ATS, ERT, has been awarded the 2022 SOT Founders Award (for Outstanding Leadership in Toxicology) in recognition of her substantial, seminal, and multifaceted contributions to the science of toxicology and especially in fostering data-based decision-making in drug safety.

Dr. Burns Naas received her PhD in pharmacology and toxicology from the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University in 1992, after which she enhanced her study of the immune system by training at the Mayo Clinic in T cell signal transduction. She went on to apply her knowledge of toxicology and the immune system in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, where her work has focused on the strategic aspects and the design of safety programs to support chemical product development and registration, as well as the clinical development and licensure for small molecules and biotherapeutics, including vaccines.

Over the course of her career, Dr. Burns Naas has worked to bring regulators and industry together to start a dialogue on the state-of-the-science and best practices to help develop a testing framework for developmental immunotoxicology and conduct risk assessments for pharmaceuticals. The impact she has made in moving this area forward cannot be understated. Over the past two decades, Dr. Burns Naas has contributed to numerous drug registrations, either serving as the project toxicologist and lead regulatory submission author or providing strategic oversight for the development of the drugs and mentoring project toxicologists. In addition to these roles, she has contributed as a reviewer and editor of various regulatory dossiers, from initial first-in-human trials to registration and query responses. The list of drugs and potential new drugs to which she has contributed in one or more of these capacities is extensive.

Beyond her proprietary work in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Burns Naas has made significant contributions to the scientific literature and discourse through 50-plus publications, 23 book chapters, and many abstracts. She also serves as a member of the Editorial Boards of the International Journal of Toxicology and Journal of Immunotoxicology and was the Editor of two volumes (the immune system and the hematopoietic system) of Comprehensive Toxicology, 3rd Edition and of Encyclopedic Reference of Immunotoxicology, 2nd Edition. These accomplishments highlight her passion for ensuring that scientific insights of high quality are shared with the scientific community to help advance the field of toxicology. Her efforts in safety testing to support pharmaceutical development also have included active engagement in endeavors to promote the reduction, refinement, and replacement of animals in research.

In 2019, Dr. Burns Naas retired from the pharmaceutical industry and started her own consulting company, Magnolia Toxicology Consulting LLC, where she continues to contribute to the field. As an independent consultant, Dr. Burns Naas provides advice in the areas of nonclinical safety and strategic planning for drug development as well as technical due diligence for in-licensing business development opportunities.

Dr. Burns Naas has contributed her expertise to many scientific societies, including through service on the Boards of Directors of the American Board of Toxicology, the Academy of Toxicological Sciences, and the International Consortium for Innovation and Quality in Pharmaceutical Drug Development. She has been an SOT member since 1995 and has served on the Scientific Program Committee, Continuing Education Committee, and Endowment Fund Board. She also served as Secretary of the Society and President of the Immunotoxicology Specialty Section and is a Charter member of the Biotechnology Specialty Section. Dr. Burns Naas is the only individual ever to have served as President of both SOT and the American College of Toxicology.