Through the generous support of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award, I attended the Gordon Research Seminar and Conference in Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Toxicity held in Andover, New Hampshire, from August 12–18, 2017.
During the Gordon Research Conference (GRC), I was able to hear lectures from a group of world-leading experts ranging from a variety of different research areas from environmental, industrial to pharmaceutical toxicology. The GRC also provided an opportunity for networking and career development with all the participants. I was able to interact with other graduate trainees and scientists at all levels and present my research in an informal setting during poster presentations. This experience has fostered networking and more idea sharing.
One of the key things that I was able to gain from attending the 2017 GRC conference was the exposure to other toxicology areas with which I was completely unfamiliar. This year the topics covered were: xenobiotic receptors and their novel functions, genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of toxicology, noncoding RNA and their roles in regulating toxic responses, the current states of humanized models, and the circadian rhythm of gut microbiota and their influence on host and metabolic functions. The conference has allowed me to further understand the different types of questions that are being answered by these different fields and which systems are appropriate for which models.
During my graduate studies, I have become interested in understanding more about the drug discovery field and using my toxicological background to help improve and expedite the process. My research at the University of California, San Francisco, is focused on investigating the potential of the Biopharmaceutics Drug Disposition Classification System (BDDCS) as a methodology for evaluating toxicological outcomes of therapeutic agents. The goal of this research is to advance the understanding of toxicities associated with the liver and the skin, the two organs most commonly involved in serious adverse drug reactions through the application of physicochemical properties on in vitro screening assay data and human clinical data. Specifically, my work has implications in terms of physicochemical drug properties and in vitro assays that should be conducted for the evaluation of Stevens Johnson Syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis (STS/TEN) and drug-induced liver injury (DILI).
The knowledge I gained in the GRC conference allowed me to expand my current flow of knowledge in the risk assessment field using computational models and systems biological approaches. I believe that attending this conference has helped me better integrate some ideas on the in vitro and in vivo toxicity data available to carry my computational modeling research project. My career goal is to become an expert in bridging the gap between the in vitro toxicology assays and the PK/PD analysis to allow for more rapid translation of therapeutic targets.
The SOT Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award enables undergraduate and graduate students to engage in additional education and career development opportunities to enhance their personal development. Administered by the Committee on Diversity Initiatives, the SOT Diversity Initiative Endowment Fund provides the award that aims to increase and retain individuals from groups under-represented in the biomedical sciences. Recipients of this award are chosen based on criteria that include quality of proposed experience, relevance of the proposed professional activity to a career involving the science of toxicology, academic achievement, and recommendation by an academic advisor.