Linda S. Birnbaum, PhD, DABT, ATS, is the recipient of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) 2018 Arnold J. Lehman Award. Dr. Birnbaum received her PhD in microbiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After several years in academia, she joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a senior staff fellow in the National Toxicology Program (NTP). While at NIH, she received tenure and led the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Chemical Disposition Group.
Dr. Birnbaum then moved to the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) where she worked for 19 years, mostly as the director of the Experimental Toxicology Division. Then, in 2009, she returned to NIEHS and NTP as director. From her years at the US EPA to her current position at NIEHS, Dr. Birnbaum’s contributions to risk assessment and the regulation of environmental chemicals have exemplified the type of impact this award is designed to recognize.
Dr. Birnbaum’s expertise with persistent organic pollutants, such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), led to her revolutionizing the principles of toxicology risk assessment through approaches such as the body-burden assessments and developmental susceptibility models. With international collaboration, Dr. Birnbaum was instrumental in the development of toxic equivalency factors (TEFs), transforming the ability to assess risk from different environmental mixtures. Furthermore, she is one of the first scientists to perform regulatory science research on brominated flame retardants and to apply this research to enhance the risk assessment of this class of agent. Her work to understand the pharmacokinetics and developmental impact of these agents has led to modifications or total bans of these chemicals to reduce or eliminate the health risk.
Dr. Birnbaum has authored more than 600 publications, many of which attest to her impact on regulatory toxicology and risk assessment. She is a member of the US National Academy of Medicine and has held leadership roles for the International Union of Toxicology (IUTOX), the Academy of Toxicological Sciences (ATS), and the American Aging Association.
A very active member of the Society since 1982, Dr. Birnbaum was the organization’s president for 2004–2005, as well as serving on many SOT Committees over the years, including the Awards, Nominating, Scientific Program, and Finance Committees.