The Society of Toxicology (SOT) is interested in strengthening global participation and outreach. One of the several mechanisms of achieving this objective is through the Global Senior Scholar Exchange Program. Professor Gonzalo Diaz from the National University of Colombia in Bogota was one of the recipients in 2014 and was hosted by Wilson K. Rumbeiha, Professor in The College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Dr. Diaz attended the 2014 SOT Annual Meeting, followed with a two-week visit in Dr. Rumbeiha’s laboratory.This visit opened new opportunities for interactions with the National University of Colombia, including the possibility of sending students from Colombia to conduct graduate work or to run specific experiments that are impossible to run locally in Colombia. Such an exchange is of great importance for the development of toxicology research. A second area of collaboration identified is in the area of veterinary diagnostic toxicology as this Columbian university does not have an analytical diagnostic toxicology laboratory. The opportunity to send toxicological samples for diagnosis to Iowa State University opens the possibility of publishing unreported toxicological issues in Colombia.
Dr. Rumbeiha paid a reciprocal visit to Colombia in December 2014 for one week. During his visit, he gave two presentations at the National University of Colombia in Bogota. Dr. Rumbeiha, who is also the President of Toxicologists Without Borders, Inc., presented “Toxicologists Without Borders, Inc: Vision and Mission” to an audience of about 40 students, faculty, and staff. The objectives of this not-for-profit outreach organization were discussed and attendees were encouraged to submit proposals for consideration. His second talk was “Career Pathways in Toxicology,” also to an audience of about 40 people. The talk covered a wide range of topics about SOT, the role of toxicologists in society, career opportunities for toxicologists, and SOT Global initiatives that are devised to attract new professionals to the Society. Pictured are the attendees at Dr. Rumheiha's talk on "Career Pathways in Toxicology" at the National University of Columbia, Bogota.
Dr. Rumbeiha met and had discussions with many toxicologists, including Professor Miguel Cote, Head of the Toxicology Program at the National University of Colombia. He also met Professor Jaime Fernando Gonzalez of the Aquatic Toxicology Program. A major area of need identified was help to train toxicologists at the PhD level. The National University of Colombia trains toxicologists up to the MSc level only. The program at Iowa State University was highlighted by Dr. Rumbeiha and Professor Diaz. Pictured at the left are Professors Diaz (left) and Rumbeiha (third from left) with two graduate students in Professor Cote's lab.
Finally, while in Colombia, Dr. Rumbeiha visited the National Health Institute of Colombia, also in Bogota. He was hosted by David Andres Combariza, Director of the Center for Occupational Health Laboratory. Dr. Combariza pointed out two areas where his lab seeks collaboration. First is environmental research on the impact of heavy metal pollution from mining activities. Second, he indicated that Colombia uses a lot of pesticides for agriculture, and there is a need to educate locals on proper pesticide use practices. Dr. Rumbeiha concurred with Dr. Combariza that this is one area where Toxicologists Without Borders could provide assistance.
In summary, a seed has been planted by SOT in Colombia. Both Dr. Rumbeiha and Professor Diaz are continuing their engagements. Both are optimistic that there will be increased interest to join SOT from Colombia. Areas of joint collaborations identified include training of students at the PhD level, environmental toxicology research, and pesticide use education for local users. SOT members interested in collaborating with the National University of Colombia or with the Center for Occupational Health Laboratory, National Health Institute of Colombia, can contact either Dr. Rumbeiha or Professor Diaz.
Watch for announcements concerning funding of the Global Senior Scholar Exchange Program in 2015–2016.