Richard E. Peterson is the recipient of the 2014 SOT Distinguished Toxicology Scholar Award. Dr. Peterson currently serves as the Charles Melbourne Johnson, Distinguished Chair in Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his PhD in Pharmacology in 1972 from Marquette University School of Medicine, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Dr. Peterson has made a number of seminal contributions in the areas of reproductive and developmental toxicology, ecotoxicology, cardiovascular toxicology, and risk assessment. He helped to develop and apply TEQ approaches to real–world scenarios resulting in a tremendous positive societal benefit. He determined, for the first time, that lake trout embryos in Lake Ontario were exquisitely sensitive to dioxin and dioxin-like compounds. Morever, he predicted that if the environmental contaminant levels declined, the population would thrive. The breeding recovery in Lake Ontario lake trout that has taken place is consistent with the decrease in dioxin and dioxin-like compounds.
Furthermore, Dr. Peterson observed that the cardiovascular system was the primary target of these compounds in fish embryos. This led his group to establish zebrafish as a model for developmental toxicity. Recent efforts have demonstrated that dioxin impacts the development of the cardiovascular and craniofacial system by altering the expression of well-conserved genes opening up opportunities for rapid translational studies. His work has led to a paradigm shift to allow the use of aquatic models for human health related research and has laid a path for scientists to follow. His research on dioxin in fish, birds, and mammals demonstrated that embryo and/or fetal exposure is far more susceptible to dioxin toxicity than adult exposure. These findings enhanced recognition of the risk that embryonic exposure to dioxin poses to fish and wildlife populations and to children’s health and revealed how little is known about environmental factors, such as dioxin, in the fetal basis of adult disease.
The Society is pleased to present Dr. Peterson with the 2014 SOT Distinguished Toxicology Scholar Award.