To recognize the importance to pharmacology and toxicology of his contributions to basic science, Dr. Sven-Eric Jordt has been awarded the 2019 SOT Leading Edge in Basic Science Award.
Dr. Jordt received his PhD from Free University of Berlin in Germany in 1997. He then became a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Molecular Neurobiology in Hamburg, Germany, and then at the University of California San Francisco Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology. He continues to play a pivotal role in academia through his current positions as an associate professor with the Duke University School of Medicine’s Department of Anesthesiology, with Duke’s University Program of Environmental Health (UPEH), and with the Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry.
Dr. Jordt’s work has largely involved TRP channel biology, a cutting-edge area of toxicology within which he is a leader. His extensive investigation of sensory TRP ion channels and their role in responding to physical and chemical signals resulted in the identification of the sensory ion channel TRPA1 as the major receptor for reactive environmental toxicants and inflammatory agents in sensory neurons innervating the airways. Dr. Jordt also focuses on the means by which basic research findings can be translated to applied research in medicine, including asthma research, the discovery of countermeasures against chemical threats, and the health effects of smoking and electronic cigarettes.
Dr. Jordt has been recognized many times within the field of toxicology. For example, he earned an American Asthma Foundation Early Excellence Award because of his work with TRPA1-deficient mice that showed TRPA1’s role in allergic airway inflammation and airway hyperreactivity and bronchoconstriction seen in asthma. He also is a past recipient of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Outstanding New Environmental Scientist Award and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
Dr. Jordt’s expertise has been shared with the scientific and the nonscientific populations. His work has been published in many prestigious scientific journals, and he has authored several book chapters. Additionally, news outlets for the general public, such as CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio, have interviewed him. He has been an SOT member since 2009.
EDITOR'S SIDEBAR: Leading Edge in Basic Science Award Lecture at the SOT 58th Annual Meeting and ToxExpo
Dr. Sven-Eric Jordt will give the Leading Edge in Basic Science Award Lecture on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm, in Room 309 of the Baltimore Convention Center during the SOT 58th Annual Meeting and ToxExpo. The topic of Dr. Jordt’s lecture is “Sensing the Chemical Environment: Receptors, Mechanisms, and Implications for Toxicology.” The lecture abstract is as follows:
The capability to detect chemicals in the environment is crucial for animals to identify and evaluate food sources, to initiate social and reproductive behaviors, and to evade toxic chemical exposures. Chemosensory neurons of the somatosensory system, originating in the trigeminal, vagal, and dorsal root ganglia, play a key role in exposure detection, triggering pain, itch, irritation, and essential reflex responses such as cough. Studies by the Jordt laboratory identified Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) ion channels as key sensory receptors for reactive aldehydes such as acrolein, the major irritant in tobacco smoke; for extremely painful tear gas agents and toxic isocyanates; and for oxidants such as chlorine gas and ozone.
While TRP channels trigger essential protective reflexes, continuous activity during chronic toxic exposures and inflammatory sensitization contribute to chronic environmental diseases. TRP channels maintain inflammation and airway hyperreactivity in asthma, contribute to the runaway inflammatory response and pulmonary edema following toxic inhalation exposures, and promote neuropeptide-driven skin pathologies upon exposures to blistering agents and other chemicals. Innovative animal models revealed a key role for chemosensory neurons as mediators of chronic pruritus and inflammation in contact dermatitis to poison ivy allergens and other haptens.
Recent work revealed key contributions of TRP channels to tobacco-use initiation and nicotine dependence, as receptors for irritants in smoke and e-cigarettes, and for flavors such as menthol that suppress irritation and increase nicotine intake. Whole transcriptome analysis of sensory neurons revealed the plasticity of the chemosensory system and essential mechanisms controlling toxicant sensitivity.