A Career Dedicated to the Advancement of the Science of Toxicology and SOT Has Earned David L. Eaton the 2024 SOT Merit Award

By Marie Fortin posted 24 days ago


This award recognizes an SOT member who has made distinguished contributions to toxicology throughout an entire career in areas such as research, teaching, regulatory activities, consulting, and service to the Society.

David L. Eaton, PhD, ATS, is recognized with the 2024 SOT Merit Award for a career dedicated to the advancement of the science of toxicology and SOT.


After receiving his doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Kansas Medical Center in 1978 under the guidance of Dr. Curtis Klaassen, Dr. Eaton quickly began a 40+ year career in academia as a researcher and administrative leader at the University of Washington (UW). As a testament to his educational and research acumen, he was a full tenured Professor by 1990, the Director of the UW’s Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health between 1995 and 2015, UW Associate Vice Provost for Research from 2006–2013 and the Dean and Vice Provost for the UW Graduate School from 2013 to 2018.


Throughout his academic career, Dr. Eaton served as the principal investigator on many National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, cumulatively totaling more than $60 million dollars and including multiple R01s, a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Center Grant, NIEHS Superfund Program Grant, and NIEHS R25 Grants. Throughout his academic career, he published 130 peer-reviewed research articles, 75 review articles and book chapters and edited 5 books. His contributions to toxicology education include authoring several important book chapters, including the Principles of Toxicology chapters in Casarett and Doull’s Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons, Rosenstock & Cullen’s Textbook of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, and Maxcy-Rosenau-Last Public Health and Preventive Medicine. He currently serves as editor of the Principles of Toxicology Volume (and principal chapter) in the 15 volume series, Comprehensive Toxicology. During his academic career, Dr. Eaton directly mentored 15 master’s students, 13 doctoral candidates, eight postdoctoral fellows, and numerous undergraduate students.


Dr. Eaton’s laboratory research focused on the molecular mechanisms underlying the initiation of cancer due to chemical exposures in our diet and environment. Notably, his work on aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) and its metabolite AFB-8,9-epoxide, which can form adducts in DNA and ultimately giving rise to mutations that can predispose individuals to cancer, has provided invaluable insights and has had a profound impact on our understanding of human health risks associated with AFB1 exposure. In his later career, Dr. Eaton made strides in the realm of microphysiological systems to revolutionize toxicity testing. His development of a liver-on-a-chip model using human hepatocytes and the elucidation of organ-organ interactions in vitro using human tissues have opened new horizons in toxicology research.


Dr. Eaton is a generous volunteer for scientific and government organizations. In addition to extensive service to the NIH as a grant reviewer and member of the NIEHS Council (2013–2017), Dr. Eaton was a member and Chair of the Board of Scientific Councilors for the National Toxicology Program, 2019–2022. Notably, he has been an elected Councilor for the International Union of Toxicology, served on the Board of Trustees of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences, and Treasurer of the American Board of Toxicology. In addition to notable service to these toxicology societies, Dr. Eaton has extensive volunteer participation in leadership capacities for nongovernmental organizations such the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI) and the Health Effects Institute (HEI). Of special note is his participation over the years as Committee Member, Chair, or Review Monitor/Coordinator on two dozen National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) reports. In recognition of his extensive contributions to science and medicine, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1995 and then to the National Academy of Medicine in 2011. In 2020 he received the David Rall Medal from National Academy of Medicine in recognition of his outstanding service as Chair of numerous National Academy Committees focused on important environmental and public health sciences issues, such as a review of the US EPA’s risk assessment of dioxins and dioxin-like chemicals, and the public health consequences of e-cigarettes.

Dr. Eaton’s service to SOT is truly exemplary. A full member of the Society since 1983, he is also an active member of the Carcinogenesis and Mechanisms Specialty Sections, serving as President of the Mechanisms Specialty Section (1996–1997). As evidenced by his receipt of the SOT Achievement Award in 1993, an AstraZeneca Traveling Lectureship Award in 1995, the SOT Public Communications Award and the SOT Pacific Northwest Regional Chapter Toxicology Achievement Award in 2014, his accomplishments in the field of toxicology have long been recognized. Having been a member of the SOT Membership Committee, the Audit Committee, the Endowment Fund Board, the Nominating Committee, and numerous other task forces and Committees, Dr. Eaton’s service to the Society has been invaluable. Serving as the elected Secretary of the Society from 1995 to 1998 and as President (2001–2002), Dr. Eaton’s dedication to the science of toxicology as a researcher, volunteer, and leader has been truly exemplary and is recognized by the 2024 SOT Merit Award.


Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog about the awardee(s) is based on the nomination materials provided. This citation is being shared under the Award Committee Chair’s name as part of their official duties and should not be interpreted as their personal or professional opinions.