Introducing and Expanding Toxicology Concepts and Education at the University of Ghana

By Nesta Bortey-Sam posted 06-15-2023 11:06

Nesta Bortey-Sam at the University of Ghana

In May and early June, I conducted a ToxScholar visit at the University of Ghana.

First, I want to thank SOT for the opportunity to share important toxicology concepts and toxicology education with other scholars, educators, and students. I also thank my host and Department Head for Chemistry, Dr. Mary Anti Chama; the College of Basic and Applied Sciences; College of Health Sciences; and the University of Ghana for the warm reception.

As a chemist and toxicologist, I understand the need to create and expand awareness on critical concepts that impact health. Although the University of Ghana Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology offers a toxicology course, it is taken by only a few students compared to the general student population. My talk was expected to create and expand awareness of toxicology and contribute to the introduction of a toxicology and/or chemical toxicology course.

During the week-long visit, I gave two separate toxicology talks—one was designed for students in public health, environmental science and sustainability, and marine/fisheries, while the other was directed toward students in chemistry, biochemistry, and pharmacology. I also got the chance to meet and discuss toxicology concepts with senior members of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences. In total, close to 150 undergraduate and graduate students and faculty participated to discuss basic and relevant concepts in toxicology, careers in toxicology, graduate school, job prospects in toxicology, toxicology-related research, toxicology and health promotion/protection, areas of specialization, and many other topics. It was quite a discussion, and there were several thought-provoking questions. We also had a great time discussing how the areas and principles of toxicology could impact public health and the day-to-day applications of toxicology.

Following my talk, other discussions with faculty members in the Departments of Marine and Fisheries Sciences, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Chemistry were centered around the need to embed toxicology and toxicology concepts into the curriculum, therefore, contributing to the introduction of a toxicology course and/or participating in the existing toxicology curriculum. The individual discussions with students following the talks were interesting, and conversations around pollution, persistent compounds, and environmental protection were key.

I once again thank SOT for the efforts to create awareness to expand toxicology knowledge around the world.

SOT encourages toxicologists to make toxicology and career presentations to undergraduate audiences. Although funding for ToxScholar travel is paused for the 2023–2024 fiscal year, members can engage with undergraduates locally or in conjunction with other travel. The “ToxScholar Outreach” website web page provides information for toxicologists to use to promote undergraduate engagement in SOT as well as slides that can be adapted for toxicology presentations.