This In Memoriam was co-authored by Leigh Ann Burns Naas and Michael P. Holsapple.
Albert E. Munson, PhD, one of the founders of the field of immunotoxicology, passed away on April 16, 2022.
Dr. Munson was retired from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), where he led the Health Effects Laboratory Division in Morgantown, West Virginia. Before his move to NIOSH, he was a Professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College of Virginia (MCV). Dr. Munson joined MCV as a Research Scientist in the cancer center in 1956 and rose to become a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in 1983. At MCV, Dr. Munson led major research projects on pharmacology, toxicology/immunotoxicology, and microbiology and conducted pioneering studies of the effects of chemical exposures on the immune system. Results of these studies have contributed substantially to the scientific understanding of how exposures to a variety of chemical agents may affect the body’s ability to respond to infections and other health risks.
Dr. Munson was the founding member and President of the Foundation for Immunotoxicology (FIT), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the field of immunotoxicology. Many young investigators and students were able to expand their knowledge and professional network as a result of FIT travel grants to attend these annual meetings. Dr. Munson also was one of several individuals who were a key driving force behind the creation of the SOT Immunotoxicology Specialty Section (ISS). In its inaugural year, he served as a Councilor and was the seventh ISS President. He served the American College of Toxicology as a Councilor from 1991 to 1993 and was a member of the Toxicology Study Section of the National Institutes of Health and the Immunotoxicology Committee of the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council. Dr. Munson also served on the editorial boards of Toxicology and Pharmacology, Fundamental and Applied Toxicology (now Toxicological Sciences), Journal of Leukocyte Biology, Archives of Toxicology, and International Journal of Immunopharmacology.
He has received numerous scientific honors, including Outstanding Faculty Member for the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology (1976); Outstanding Faculty Member for the MCV Graduate Studies Program (1977); the Virginia Commonwealth University Distinguished Award of Excellence in 1991 as an outstanding faculty member in teaching, research, and service; and Outstanding Scientist of Virginia by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1993. He was the recipient of the prestigious SOT Education Award in 1997, an honor presented to an individual who is distinguished by the teaching and training of toxicologists and who has made significant contributions to education in the broad field of toxicology. In 2013, he was honored by the American College of Toxicology with the Distinguished Scientist Award.
In addition to his commitment to the education and training of the next generation of scientists, Dr. Munson also was committed to service to his profession. He instilled these values in those whom he trained. His many students and postgraduate trainees have developed successful programs in their respective fields; have held influential positions in academia, government, and the corporate sector; and have continued to contribute to the discipline. As such, Dr. Munson’s impact on the discipline of immunotoxicology has been profound.
Dr. Munson was a member of several scientific, honorary, and professional societies, including SOT, the American College of Toxicology, the International Society of Immunopharmacology, the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the Society of Risk Assessment. He obtained his PhD in pharmacology from MCV and an MS in biochemical pharmacology from the State University of New York at Buffalo.