As I assumed the role of SOT president on May 1, I found myself reflecting on what a truly remarkable organization I have been trusted to lead. I’m not just thinking about the Annual Meeting, although it is still fresh in my mind—I’ll get back to that topic shortly. Rather my thoughts focused on you, the members, and your continued commitment to our discipline and to SOT. I have always been impressed by the number of people who are willing to volunteer their time in service to the Society. Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of inviting members to serve on SOT’s committees. Even though we all have day jobs, careers to pursue, families, dreams, and goals, people said “yes” enthusiastically. The energy and creativity our members bring to these committees propel the Society forward. I am thankful for these efforts, and I am proud to be part of an organization of engaged individuals sharing a mission to “create a safer and healthier world by advancing the science and increasing the impact of toxicology.”
The 56th Annual Meeting and ToxExpo in Baltimore was another example of our members and other attendees demonstrating commitment to exceptional science. We started the week with top-notch Continuing Education courses, which were attended by more than 1,900 people. Four of these courses are now available through CEd-Tox, the SOT Continuing Education Online system. We continued with outstanding daily plenary sessions covering the topics of data science, precision medicine, and the exposome. These can be viewed on the SOT website. The more than 6,800 Annual Meeting attendees were treated to 66 Scientific Sessions (symposia, workshops, platforms, and others), as well as 2,200 poster presentations. The week provided a marvelous opportunity to engage with colleagues, forge and renew collaborations and friendships, and, of course, learn. Not even the challenges presented by the weather could diminish the vitality of the meeting. I was personally impressed that on the last day of the meeting, the Thursday morning poster sessions and symposia were extremely lively.
Beyond the meeting, this past year Council focused on efforts related to our strategic priority to “Strengthen the Impact and Relevance of Toxicology.” We began with an analysis of our successes and our shortcomings as a discipline. We deliberated over ways that we can engage with the broader biomedical community to educate our colleagues about what we do as toxicologists and the value that our discipline brings to the science related to safety and health. We defined measures of success in this context.
One mechanism we discussed for engaging with other biomedical scientists is participation in other scientific societies. In the last issue of the Communiqué, SOT President John B. Morris wrote about our plan to increase our involvement in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Council agreed that one way to do this is to present scientific sessions related to toxicology at the AAAS meeting. Our SOT AAAS Task Force, chaired by Yvonne P. Dragan, is busy facilitating the submission of several proposals to the 2018 AAAS meeting. Council also decided that there would be benefit in joining the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), and we will be submitting an application for membership soon. If accepted, FASEB membership will provide opportunities for SOT members to join FASEB activities and to interact with scientists from a wide variety of disciplines. These efforts address our objective to increase mutual understanding among toxicologists and other disciplines. If you have any experience with FASEB or you are interested in representing SOT in its interactions with FASEB, please contact SOT headquarters or send me an email.
Relevant to our efforts to integrate toxicology with other biomedical sciences, the article in this Communiqué titled “Opioid Abuse and Overdose: How Toxicologists Are Addressing This Public Health Crisis” is of interest. Dr. Farinde makes an excellent case for the unique perspective that toxicologists can provide to address this important issue. This perspective can be applied to tackle many of the current challenges to a safe and healthy world.
What lies ahead for SOT leadership? In the upcoming year, Council will turn its attention to several of our objectives within the strategic priority to “Expand Outreach and Impact Globally.” We began these efforts by meeting with the leadership from EUROTOX in January. We hope this year to meet with representatives from some of the Asian toxicology societies to share mutual interests and concerns. We will keep you posted.
One last thought for this message: I started with an acknowledgment of the commitment of our members to the Society. In this regard, I would like to recognize and thank all of the members of Council. They serve with the best interest of the SOT as a guiding principle. They are fierce in their commitment to our members and their needs, and they are relentless in their efforts to advance the science of toxicology. In particular, I want to express appreciation to Past Presidents Peter L. Goering and John Morris, who have exemplified these qualities and from whom I have gained immeasurable insight. I am honored and humbled to become the president of this great Society.
Patricia E. Ganey
SOT President 2017–2018