Collaboration. Partnership. Teamwork. Working together. All words to describe ways in which we interact in a productive way with one another.
I returned a few weeks back from the Japanese Society of Toxicology (JSOT) meeting in Osaka feeling very positive about the relationship that SOT has developed with this sister society. The EUROTOX meeting is coming up soon, and I’m looking forward to the additional scientific engagement there again this year. Our relationship with these sister societies is strong, and Council has reiterated our commitment to growing such relationships. SOT is co-hosting the IUTOX 15th International Congress of Toxicology (ICTXV) in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 15–18, 2019, a meeting which aims to bring toxicologists and related biomedical scientists together from around the globe to share our science.
As a Society, we are doing much to interact across the globe to advance the discipline of toxicology. There are other toxicology organizations we have yet to build solid connections with, such as ASIATOX and organizations in Latin America and Africa (among many, many others), and Council continues to hold discussions about when and how to best engage with these groups, whether there are opportunities to utilize our existing relationships to help forge new ones, and how to be further engaged with one another in advancing our discipline globally.
One recent opportunity was the 10th Congress for Toxicology in Developing Countries (CTDC) in Belgrade, Serbia, in April of this year. SOT contributed as a meeting sponsor, providing funds for actually holding the meeting, and via the SOT Endowment Fund, supporting the travel of nine trainees to the congress and thus enabling participation to those who would not otherwise have had the chance to attend. The meeting report notes that CTDC participants included representatives coming from surrounding countries such as Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Hungary, and Romania and also from destinations such as the United States, Australia, Japan, China, and South Africa. I and other Council members in attendance were impressed by the scientific excellence of the sessions and participants. We also were struck by the importance of this meeting to those who attended and the need to continue to engage here, efforts which will complement committee work within SOT, such as the Global Senior Scholar Exchange Program [Editor’s Note: SOT is currently seeking hosts for the 2019 Global Senior Scholars. Applications are due September 15.].
Beyond an increasing need for global engagement, we also know that our discipline has been—for many years—increasingly intertwined with other scientific disciplines. Last year, in an announcement regarding SOT joining FASEB, SOT Past President John Morris noted, “The concerns of toxicologists are frequently shared by biologists, biomedical researchers, and other related scientists, and we look forward to working alongside them on issues of importance to our scientific communities.” To begin that engagement, SOT made appointments to several FASEB Committees, and we are now learning about them and trying to understand how we can better utilize this opportunity to engage more broadly. One such opportunity is the 2020 Science Research Conference Series, for which FASEB is currently soliciting proposals—submitting proposals for sessions or conferences like this hosted by like-minded organizations is actually another important priority for SOT and is my next topic for discussion.
We would like to further collaboration and increase our engagement with the biomedical community through co-hosted scientific meetings/sessions. This is essentially the basis of the SOT/EUROTOX Debate, EUROTOX Bo Holmstedt Memorial Award/SOT Merit Award Lecture exchange, and the SOT and JSOT Joint Symposium exchange. While these are very formal and initially were developed by members of the executive committees of the respective organizations, there are and will continue to be other opportunities that may be part of our Annual Meeting or a sister society annual meeting or other venue. These may come from your own interactions with other societies to which you belong or from someone in another society who has an idea that may be of mutual interest. Council wants to encourage these activities when they are consistent with our mission and vision. The question that naturally arises is how does someone make this type of joint opportunity happen? Recently, Council discussed and developed a process for reviewing requests/ideas for inter-society scientific exchanges and encourages members to assist in identifying and facilitating these exchanges:
1) If the idea of a joint collaborative activity arises between an SOT member and representative of another society, an SOT member should be designated as the point of contact for these efforts.
2) The idea should be shared with the Vice President-Elect (the 2018–2019 Vice President-Elect is George Daston) for the purpose of determining whether it should be forwarded to the Scientific Program Committee for possible inclusion in the upcoming Annual Meeting or to the Contemporary Concepts in Toxicology (CCT) Committee for further consideration of scientific merit and determination of format (e.g., CCT or other). In an expansion of its current role, if the CCT Committee deems an idea is not suited for a CCT meeting but has merit in a different format, one of the following steps will be taken:
- If the proposal is for a FASEB or other non-SOT conference, the CCT Committee will notify Council, and the proposal will move forward to the other organization.
- If the proposal is more suited to another type of format (e.g., a webinar), the CCT Committee will forward the proposal to an appropriate component group or committee (or possibly the Scientific Liaison Coalition) for further discussion.
This process is clearly brand new and will likely be refined as members continue to bring collaborative ideas to the Society. And don’t forget that SOT also has an application and process in place for organizations who would like SOT to sponsor or support a toxicology-related meeting.
We’re only about seven months from our next annual society gathering! I hope you saw my July 26, announcement that both registration and housing are open for the 2019 Annual Meeting in Baltimore. (Side Note: Do you like the new weekly SOT newsletter? After receiving feedback from the membership about the amount of communication that our members receiving, SOT Council worked to develop this new, digest format email to reduce the number of SOT emails you receive while continuing to keep you informed of Society activities and opportunities. Your feedback of this new format is welcome.) After a thorough review and discussion in June, the Scientific Program Committee has tentatively accepted 73 sessions, and the Continuing Education Committee is working on 14 courses. Just as toxicology is constantly evolving so is the SOT Annual Meeting. Last year, you may remember we introduced all-day Poster Sessions (which will continue in 2019), and this year, we’re piloting 90-minute Symposium and Workshop Sessions. This new format will enhance the scientific content of the meeting, increasing the number of topics and research for discussion. Check out the Program section of the Annual Meeting website to see what else is being planned.
Also related to the 2019 meeting, the abstract submission site opened on August 15, so you can start submitting abstracts for sharing your research in poster and/or platform format. One thing new for this year is that abstract submissions will be active through October 19, which is about a week or so longer than previous years. Don’t wait, though, because you’ll find that October 19, will be here before you know it. Finally, I encourage you to take advantage as soon as possible of the early-bird registration rates and the exclusive hotel fees that SOT has arranged.
A brief update on the two key Council-level goals for this year:
- First, I want to thank all who participated in individual or focus group interviews regarding the strategic plan. I know it was challenging getting the groups together with competing schedules and time zones, but we did it! We also are grateful to those who were randomly selected to participate in the online survey, as we received a good set of data. This all happened in the July/August timeframe, and the information is now being analyzed for presentation during the September Council Meeting.
- The second brief update is on the Board of Publications search for the new editor-in-chief (EIC) for Toxicological Sciences. We have several candidates whose applications are being reviewed. If you are interested but have not submitted your application, please do so as soon as possible. We will accept applications until we have selected a new EIC, but I encourage you to not wait too long to submit your materials.
Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that the Awards Committee is accepting nominations for SOT Awards. The deadline for these (and the Supported Awards) is October 9. Please consider nominating someone for an award. There are many deserving members, but they have to be nominated to be selected. If you are interested but need more information, I recommend reviewing information on the SOT Awards by Category page. There you can review the 2018 Awardees and a historical list of awardees, as well as the various categories of awards beyond the SOT Awards and Supported awards, such as Endowment Fund, Regional Chapter, Special Interest Group, and Specialty Sections awards. Importantly, remember that the awards in these other categories have different application/nomination deadlines, so review each award page carefully. Looking across all categories (SOT, Supported, Endowment Fund, Regional Chapter, Special Interest Group, and Specialty Section), there are 233 Awards to be given this year! For those wanting to nominate someone but who aren’t sure how to go about the process (or whether your candidate is best qualified for the award you want to nominate them for), this is where mentorship can be very helpful. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone.