Society of Toxicology

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Founders of the Society of Toxicology (SOT), incorporated in 1961, came from toxicology laboratories in academia, government, and the private sector. The driving force behind the founding of SOT was the lack of recognition being given to toxicologists by pharmacologists. The toxicologists were primarily involved in the safety assessment of chemicals and drugs, and they had a difficult time publishing their results. The toxicologists had a forum in the Gordon Research Conferences that initiated a series of conferences on toxicology and safety evaluation in 1954. The attendees of these conferences, and especially its early chairs, developed the concept of the SOT as a professional and learned scientific organization. In 1959 they held a small meeting to bring the society into being, and between 1959 and 1961 the founding members were selected. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, the first American journal dedicated to toxicology (and the original journal of the Society), and edited by Harry Hayes, Fredrick Coulston, and Arnold Lehman, was published.

Many of the founders of the SOT were colleagues, students, and collaborators of Professor E. M. K. Geiling, who is credited by many as the father of modern toxicology. Drs. Kenneth Du Bois (the first president of the SOT), Geiling, and Frances Kelsey published their Textbook of Toxicology in 1959. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has been a strong supporter of toxicology. It has funded toxicology training grants for several decades, and houses the National Toxicology Program. The SOT has grown because of the many toxicologists, both trainees and investigators, supported by the NIEHS.

The SOT is now an international professional and learned society. Several other countries have modeled their national toxicology societies after the SOT, and the SOT has developed regional chapters and specialty sections to accommodate its broad membership. The specialty sections have provided a venue to attract investigators from disciplines that were thought to be disparate from toxicology, and these investigators have spurred the toxicologists to address questions about the molecular mechanisms of toxicants. The SOT has also grown because of the support of many foundations and private donors. Each year at its annual meeting, now attended by over 4,000 scientists, the SOT presents several prestigious scientific awards and fellowships, sponsored by many donors, to students, postdoctoral fellows, and established investigators. The importance of the SOT is evidenced by its many members serving on critical local, national, and international committees, reviewing the impacts of chemicals, foods, and drugs on society.

Michael Gallo

(see also: Toxicology )

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Society of Toxicology

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