The Society of Toxicology has selected two toxicology leaders from their respective countries to participate in the 2015 SOT Global Senior Scholar Exchange. Sunisa Chaiklieng is from Thailand and Deepak Dhakal is from Nepal. These Scholars will be matched with Hosts having similar research and training emphases from established toxicology programs.
Sunisa Chaiklieng, Dr. Biol. Hum, is an Assistant Professor of Occupational Health in the Department of Environmental Health Science and Occupational Health at Khon Kaen University, Muang, Thailand. The department provides PhD and Masters level programs in Public Health and also has three undergraduate programs in (1) Occupational Health and Safety, (2) Environmental Health Science, and (3) a combined program in Occupational Health and Safety-Environmental Health Science. Dr. Chaiklieng is the program director for a new Occupational Health and Safety MSc program that will begin in 2015.
The research focus in Dr. Chaiklieng’s department is air pollution with an emphasis on benzene. Health surveillance is of increasing importance in Thailand due to the increase in the number of cars, and there is a significant occupational exposure to benzene for those working at gas stations, and an increasing incidence of cancer in the population caused by a long-term exposure to volatile organic compounds. There is a need to establish a good biomarker for benzene exposure as well as the implementation of a uniform qualitative risk assessment to set safe exposure limits. Specific biomarkers are needed for effective detection under low concentration of exposure as well as qualitative risk assessment. Different agencies have established varying recommended levels of exposure but there is a lack of a standard for conditions of exposure. Combined expertise in different fields, i.e., toxicology, epidemiology, statistics, computer science, and engineering will be needed to establish effective health surveillance in the workplace and make Thailand safer.
Some ways that the exchange program can support her efforts include the following:
- Exchange of information about course requirements and learning outcomes for toxicology programs
- Assistance with alignment of the Master’s in Occupational Health and Safety with accreditation requirements in the United Kingdom, European Union, and the United States
- Collaboration among faculty and postdoctoral trainees in writing research papers related to occupational toxicology and risk assessment
- SOT members serving as committee members for Master’s and PhD students and producing joint publications
- Cooperative research in health risk assessment of benzene exposure
- Faculty exchanges for training programs
Deepak Dhakal, MS, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Patan Multiple Campus, Institute of Science and Technology at Tribhuvan University, Patan, Nepal. He also is president of the National Society of Toxicology (Nepal). Although toxicology is a new area for Nepal, environmental toxicology has recently been added to the graduate chemistry curriculum and previously in the bachelor’s curriculum. Mr. Dhakal has conducted research on pesticide residues in food commodities and clinical solid waste.
The appropriate Host and Host institution would have state-of-the-art capability for the analysis of toxic chemicals and the capacity for risk assessment of human health and the environment. He seeks collaboration to identify, evaluate, and control emerging environmental contaminants such as those in drinking water, pesticide residues, and stored obsolete toxic chemicals such as PCB and pesticides. Techniques would include the development and application of analytical methods focusing on separation (GC, LC), extraction/enrichment, compound–specific isotope analysis, and process-oriented environmental chemistry for organic/inorganic pollutants in air, soil, and water.
Some ways that the exchange can support his efforts include the following:
- Curriculum development to include higher level of studies in toxicology
- Mobilization of new researchers
- Sharing knowledge and skills in the topic areas mentioned above, including international seminars and workshops
- Training in and implementation of risk assessment of toxic chemicals
- Further development of technical research technical skills properly to tackle the current problems related to the management of obsolete toxic chemicals
- Improved access to publication of findings in international scientific journals
- Increased effectiveness for National Society of Toxicology (Nepal)
The Education Committee looks forward to receiving excellent Host applications for exchanges that will continue the previous success of the program into this fourth year.