The Society of Toxicology (SOT) encourages members to visit undergraduate campuses to promote careers in toxicology through the Domestic and International ToxScholar Outreach Grants. Applications can be made to support travel to undergraduate institutions in the United States through the Domestic ToxScholar Grants or scientists can apply for funding for trips to other places in the world to make educational toxicology presentations using an International ToxScholar grant. The following is a description of how SOT member Pradeep B. Deshmukh was influenced by the SOT Domestic ToxScholar program to conduct a similar program in India.
I was inspired to run a program based on the SOT ToxScholar initiative in India, especially in my region, Maharashtra. The first of its kind was conducted on February 26, 2015, at the Sinhgad Institute of Pharmacy in Narhe, Pune-411041, Maharashtra State, India. The meeting was targeted to students at the local universities who are considering future careers in science. There were 60 students from local colleges and universities and eight faculty members. The Indian Pharmacological Society sponsored the event and the theme was from Bench to Bedside. Advertising was done primarily through email and on-line contacts at the various Pharmacology Colleges as well as local universities (Poona College of Pharmacy & B. J. Medical College, Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune).
For the panel of speakers, we had in attendance four members who included: Dr. Dinesh Kumar from the Indian Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, who is also the President of the Indian Pharmacological Society, and Dr. Ankur Dnyanmote, from University of California, San Diego, who gave a talk, On the Road to Discovery. I gave the Special Invited Lecture on Advances in Preclinical Safety and Efficacy Evaluation of Pharmaceuticals. More emphasis was given to animal science and careers in toxicology. Questions and comments focused on not only describing toxicology’s role in drug discovery but also on the importance of animal science including environmental enrichment. Also, the best way to find a toxicology program was discussed. Given the variety of people at the meeting representing toxicology, we were able to give a very broad view of how people get involved in toxicology at all stages of their career. We have already received positive feedback from the students in attendance.
I would like to give special thanks to Dr. Urmila Aswar, Assistant Professor, and Dr. K. G. Bothara, Principal of Sinhgad Institute of Pharmacy, who allowed me to model the US ToxScholar Program. In addition, I want to mention my sincere gratitude to SOT for encouraging me to run this program in India.
SOT encourages all members to participate in ToxScholar Outreach Grants. Applications are accepted on a continuing basis for the Domestic ToxScholar, with the Committee on Diversity Initiatives reviewing proposals for visits to schools with a high proportion of students from groups under-represented in the sciences, and the Education Committee reviewing other proposals. The Education Committee sets specific deadlines for the International ToxScholar applications.