Dr. Oliver Hankinson has received the 2019 SOT Education Award to commend his efforts to forward the careers of the toxicologists of the future.
Dr. Hankinson currently serves dual roles at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), both as a distinguished research professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and as the chair of the interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Molecular Toxicology. In addition to the mentorship he provides his students, Dr. Hankinson himself is an accomplished scholar, having earned his PhD in genetics from the University of Cambridge in England. He then performed his postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, the University of Colorado, and the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Hankinson’s passion for instruction in toxicology is evidenced through the creation of the UCLA interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Molecular Toxicology. In 1999, Dr. Hankinson led the effort to create a program at UCLA that would unite toxicological researchers who had previously belonged to several different divisions across the university. The resulting interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Molecular Toxicology, the first program of its kind in California, gives students access to the expertise and training in toxicology that they need for future success, including through mentorship by Dr. Hankinson. In 2000, Dr. Hankinson spearheaded the successful application for a “Lead Campus” grant in toxicology from the University of California to support trainees from UCLA, the University of California Riverside, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. When this seed funding terminated in 2008, continued support for the UCLA Molecular Toxicology Program was assured when Dr. Hankinson spearheaded a successful application to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for a predoctoral and postdoctoral T32 training grant in “Molecular Toxicology” that continues to this day. Further, Dr. Hankinson works to ensure that the program encourages diversity and mirrors the diversity of the general population.
In addition to the training he provides through the graduate program, Dr. Hankinson uses his own laboratory as an opportunity to guide students, specifically through research on the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. This research has resulted in significant advancements in this area, including the identification, cloning, and structural and functional analysis of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator.
The recipient of the 2011 SOT Distinguished Toxicology Scholar Award, Dr. Hankinson is an SOT member and highly encourages his students to be active participants within the Society. Prepared trainees from his laboratory, from the UCLA Molecular Toxicology Program, and from the T32 in Molecular Toxicology are regularly required to present at the SOT Annual Meeting, where Dr. Hankinson also facilitates networking between current and former interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Molecular Toxicology trainees and faculty by hosting a dinner that brings them together.