HESI Insights - January 2019

HESI 30th Anniversary Guest Article

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Happy New Year! 2019 marks HESI’s 30th anniversary year and 30 years of collaborative science for a safer, more sustainable world. Leading up to HESI’s Annual Meeting in June, we will be featuring guest articles highlighting HESI’s accomplishments over the past 30 years. Dr. Samuel Cohen (University of Nebraska Medical Center) provided feedback on HESI’s “Alternatives to Carcinogenicity Testing” project to kick off the year. Dr. Cohen shared, “This was a monumental effort with respect to evaluation of six in vitro and in vivo test systems for possible use in place of the two year bioassay in the mouse. An enormous number of individuals from pharmaceutical companies, from academia, from the FDA, and from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) were involved. Ultimately, the results of this undertaking set the guidelines for the ICH for these assays and the acceptance of these assays by regulatory authorities including the FDA, EMA, Japan, Health Canada, and agencies around the world evaluating pharmaceuticals. This project epitomizes the value and strength of HESI as an organization in being able to bring together outstanding individuals from academia, government, and industry to address a critical and urgent issue.”

To learn more, join us at the 2019 HESI Annual Meeting in June to hear Dr. Cohen address this history as well as contemporary challenges and opportunities towards innovating cancer risk assessment. Also at the June meeting, learn about newly launched HESI programs in carcigenomics to build on this long history of relevant, predictive, and efficient cancer risk assessment. Stay tuned for more 30th anniversary highlights in the coming months!

Society of Toxicology
Founders Award

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Congratulations to Dr. Lois Lehman-McKeeman, HESI Board Chair, for winning the 2019 Society of Toxicology (SOT) Founders Award for outstanding leadership in toxicology! Additional congratulations to Dr. Suzy Fitzpatrick, HESI Emerging Issues Advisor, and Dr. Cheryl Walker, HESI Toxicology Training Collaborator, for their 2019 SOT Awards as well. Click here to see the full list of 2019 SOT awardees.

Roundtable on CiPA and
Cardiac Safety

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Jennifer Pierson, HESI Senior Scientific Program Manager, recently moderated a “CiPA in Hindsight” roundtable, featuring opinions from HESI Cardiac Safety Committee members Drs. Gary Gintant (AbbVie), Jean-Pierre Valentin (UCB), Hua-Rong Lu (Johnson & Johnson), and Alexandre Ribeiro (FDA). Watch the video online here. The roundtable session covers the evolving roles of stem cell–derived cardiomyocyte use in CiPA and drug safety assessment.

Staff Fellow Opportunity at FDA

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The US FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories is seeking a full-time Staff Fellow in Electrophysiology. Read more and apply online here.

COMPARE 2019 Coming Soon

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We are only a few days into the new year but HESI and collaborators of the COMPARE Allergen Database have been working hard on the final details for the COMPARE 2019 update. The COMPARE Database is a transparent resource for the identification of protein sequences that are known or putative allergens. COMPARE 2019 will be released in January 2019, with a fresh “new look” thanks to the fabulous efforts of the JIFSAN team. Improvements in the new database format are as follows:

  • The format will include an updated referencing system for the supporting literature, using PubMed IDs (PMIDs).
  • Individual records will automatically display reference information (authors, title, journal, and PMID, for each reference associated with a sequence) for all related articles.
  • Clickable metadata will include 1) hyperlinks in the sequence accession numbers and 2) article PMIDs that will redirect the user to the direct sources (sequence records in NCBI or UniProt and article abstracts in PubMed).
  • The amino acid sequence data will display in each individual record (in addition to being listed in a FastA format in a downloadable file, as in previous years).

We express our sincere thanks to all the partners contributing to this effort: General Bioinformatics, JIFSAN, the reviewers in the COMPARE panel for their extensive contributions during the review and for remaining available post-review until the update release, and the Steering Team members who provide valuable end-user feedback.

Stay tuned and check www.comparedatabase.org in a few days for the 2019 version! For more information, please visit the website or email compare@hesiglobal.org.

New Staff: Shermaine Mitchell-Ryan

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Please join us in welcoming our newest staff member, Shermaine Mitchell-Ryan! Shermaine is our new Scientific Program Manager and comes to us as a native Washingtonian and product of the District of Columbia Public School System. She completed her BA in Biology with a minor in Theater Arts from St. Mary’s Public Honor’s College in St. Mary’s City of Maryland, a Master’s in Cancer Biology Prevention and Control from a dual-institution program at the University of the District of Columbia and Georgetown University, and her PhD from the Department of Developmental Therapeutics at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Cancer Biology/Pharmacology. Most recently, Shermaine served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program office, where she assisted in managing an $18 million federal program geared toward increasing the participation and success of women in STEM academic careers.

HESI Board Meeting & 2019 Initiatives

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Earlier this month, the HESI Board of Trustees met to review scientific programs, progress the strategic plan, and set goals for 2019. Throughout the course of two days, the HESI staff and Board took strides to improve HESI’s scientific foresight, create a more strategic communications plan, and raise awareness of HESI as a platform within the science community. Over the next six months, the HESI Board Executive Committee will develop a refined set of strategic objectives for discussion at the June 2019 HESI Board of Trustees meeting and for presentation to HESI membership. The Board also approved a new metrics and evaluation process to enhance the communication and strategic assessment of HESI’s broad scientific portfolio and its impact.

Cardiotoxicity Workshop
at FDA

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Save the date for the upcoming FDA- and HESI-sponsored workshop on “Leveraging Human-Relevant Cardiomyocytes in Nonclinical Studies to Provide Mechanistic Insights into Cardiovascular Safety Liabilities.” This event will be held in the FDA Great Room at the White Oak campus in Silver Spring, MD, on 29 March 2019. For more information, please contact Jennifer Pierson (jpierson@hesiglobal.org).

Thyroid Hormone
Assessment Workshop

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The HESI Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology (DART) Technical Committee and the European Teratology Society (ETS) will hold a 2-day workshop on 9−10 May 2019 in Washington, DC, to address the state of the science of thyroid hormone assessment testing in young rodents in regulatory settings and improving data interpretation of thyroid changes and their relationship to adverse outcomes. Results of the HESI-ETS historical control survey/database will also be presented. Registration will open later this month. Space will be limited, so mark your calendars now! For more information, please contact Connie Chen (cchen@hesiglobal.org).

From the Leadership

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As individual scientists, we are eager to publish our research findings and hope that the results will be read, cited, and have a positive impact. The same is true for the dedicated and hardworking HESI technical committees. In order to gain insight into the reach of HESI publications, the Communications and Outreach Committee commissioned an analysis of 335 HESI publications from 1997-2018. As a whole, these HESI publications have been cited nearly 20,000 times as indexed by Google and PubMed. Looking at citation activity by publication and year, citations of HESI publications have consistently increased each year, with 2018 looking to surpass 2017. The citing journals are consistent with HESI’s focus on health and the environment, with the vast majority of citing articles appearing in five subject categories: Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Pharmaceutics; Biochemistry Genetics and Molecular Biology; Environmental Science; Medicine; and Agricultural and Biological Sciences. The primary authors citing HESI publications represent 1,653 different organizations including a wide variety of government, institute/nonprofit, academic, and commercial entities. The geographical distribution of citing authors from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America includes 75 different countries and demonstrates the global reach of HESI. Overall, the findings are impressive and attest to the fact that HESI is clearly making a valuable scientific contribution. There will be more on HESI’s impact over the last thirty years at the meeting in June 2019.  I hope to see you there.

Charlene McQueen
HESI President

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Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI)

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Fax: +1-202-659-3859

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