HESI Insights - May 2021

Lectures on Botanical Ingredient Safety Evaluation for Pharmacy Students in Malawi

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The virtual event was attended by approximately 30 pharmacy students and faculty members of the College of Medicine at the University of Malawi (Blantyre, Malawi), with excellent lectures by Dr. Stefan Gafner (American Botanical Council) and Dr. Cynthia Rider (National Toxicology Program, NIEHS). Both are members of the Botanical Safety Consortium’s (BSC) Steering Committee. The connection was initiated by Dallas J. Smith, PharmD, a former Peace Corps Response Volunteer, who served as a Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacognosy lecturer at the College of Medicine in Malawi from 2019 to 2020. The lectures were given as part of the College of Medicine’s Pharmacognosy module, which teaches students about the efficacy and safety of medicinal plants and other natural ingredients and is part of the curriculum for pharmacy students in Malawi. Further collaboration between the College of Medicine at the University of Malawi, HESI, and the BSC is ongoing. These include a short (6-month) descriptive cross-sectional study to evaluate traditional and complementary medicines used concurrently to treat non-communicable diseases in Malawi, as well as a pilot study on phytochemical fingerprinting and genotoxicity screening of Ariscolochia hockii. For more information on the BSC, please contact Connie Mitchell (cmitchell@hesiglobal.org) or Michelle Embry (membry@hesiglobal.org).

Environmental Epidemiology Committee Webinar Series

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Earlier this year, the HESI Environmental Epidemiology Committee launched a webinar series to illustrate the critical role epidemiology can play in the field of quantitative risk assessment. On 27 April, Drs. Omobola Mudasiru (American Petroleum Institute), Dana Sargent (Bayer/CropLife International), and Sandrine Deglin (HESI) presented ongoing efforts from their respective organizations to increase the impact of epidemiology in the field of risk assessment. You can watch the recording of the webinar by clicking here.

In the coming months, additional webinars will continue to provide insight on how to best realize the full potential of human studies in risk assessment and regulatory decision-making and will highlight ongoing efforts in this space.

To learn more about the Environmental Epidemiology Committee or the webinar series, or to suggest speakers, please contact Sandrine Deglin (sdeglin@hesiglobal.org).

Award Announcement

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THRIVE is a competitive seed grant program designed to support research that helps to predict, reduce, or prevent adverse events associated with life-saving cancer therapy. We are pleased to announce this year’s grant award winners, selected from over 50 proposals received from more than 30 different institutions. Each of the winning proposals, listed below, will receive $50,000 in funding to support their research in making cancer patient quality of life an active research priority.

2021 HESI THRIVE Grant Award Winners

HESI THRIVE Research Study: Gene therapy to prevent chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy

  • Stefanie Geisler, MD
  • Washington University

HESI THRIVE Research Study: Defining an inherited predisposition to cancer therapy-induced cardiomyopathy

  • Krishna Aragam, MD
  • Massachusetts General Hospital

HESI THRIVE Research Study: Diabetes after breast cancer: A role for adipocyte progenitor cells

  • Elizabeth Wellberg, PhD
  • Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

HESI THRIVE Research Study: The role of oogenic JNK in chemotherapy-induced premature ovarian failure

  • Shou Xiao, PhD
  • Rutgers University

By providing researchers with both seed funding and access to critical networks, THRIVE will enhance the visibility of the patient need, the value of the research, and the reasons that larger funding entities might elect to incorporate these research streams into future funding priorities. To help support THRIVE or learn more, please visit the website here.

HESI Innovation Prize: Application Submission Now Open!

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Apply now for the inaugural HESI Innovation Prize – an unrestricted cash prize of $80,000 USD. In 2021, the HESI Innovation Prize will recognize a public sector scientist(s) who has helped to reduce disproportionate health burdens in underserved populations and/or to promote greater health equity via their work or efforts in one or more of the following areas that are central to HESI’s core operations: (1) safe and effective medicines, (2) food safety and security, (3) chemical and consumer product safety, and/or (4) environmental quality and sustainability. The Prize will recognize impact achieved via research, training/education, and/or programmatic approaches.

HESI will be accepting applications from 1 April to 30 June 2021. Awardees will be notified of their selection by August 2021 and must be willing to give a presentation about their work to the HESI membership.

For more information, please click here or email hesiprize@hesiglobal.org.

Upcoming GTTC Committee Meetings


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The HESI Genetic Toxicology Technical Committee (GTTC) will be hosting several meetings in the coming weeks. On 25 May 2021, the GTTC Quantitative Analysis Working Group will host a virtual workshop to discuss 2020–2021 activities as well as emerging challenges and upcoming milestones. Presentations will collectively cover a variety of topics and issues pertaining to the refinement of quantitative methods for interpretation of genetic toxicity dose-response data in a risk assessment context. This virtual workshop is open to GTTC participants only. Learn more here.

Additionally, the GTTC 2021 Annual Meeting will take place on 1–3 June 2021. This virtual meeting is open to GTTC participants only. Learn more here.

Register Now! 2021 HESI Annual Meeting


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Don’t miss the 2021 HESI Annual Meeting on 9 June 2021! Join us for an opportunity to connect virtually with human and environmental health scientists from around the world while learning more about HESI’s ever-evolving portfolio of programs and new science on the horizon. This year’s agenda features exciting speakers addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the future of safety assessment, including Dr. Donna Rivera (US Food and Drug Administration), Dr. Simon Funnell (Public Health England/World Health Organization), Dr. Frederic Béen (KWR Water Research Institute, The Netherlands), and more! Learn more and register here.

Botanical Safety Consortium Annual Meeting


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The Botanical Safety Consortium (BSC) is hosting its annual meeting on 24 June 2021 from 11 AM to 3 PM EST. Talks will include updates on the consortium’s progress and future plans, as well as keynote talks on botanical safety evaluation research. The meeting is free and open to all. Learn more about the BSC annual meeting agenda and speakers here and register here.

From the Leadership

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Despite hoping we are close to seeing the end of exclusively online meetings, I am looking forward to this year’s HESI Annual Meeting, as we have a variety of interesting presentations planned. The program will begin by highlighting new scientific interests and foresights from a HESI perspective, before moving to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the future of safety assessment. Perspectives will range from pharmaceutical product development to environmental health protection, including population data insights and lessons learned.

With the largely increasing number of people that have been vaccinated in the United States and Europe, we are fortunate to be seeing a decrease in COVID-19–related illnesses in these areas. This has not been the case in countries like India and Brazil, where a fast vaccination development process is unavailable. This is not only worrisome for the people living in those areas, but it also poses a global risk as COVID-19 remains endemic in certain parts of the world. Therefore, prioritizing the advancement of vaccines against COVID-19 in developing countries will help us all get back to normal faster.

While we expect the near future to show us to what extent HESI can contribute to these efforts, we thank you all for your continued participation and dedication during this time.


Martin van den Berg, PhD, ERT
HESI Chair

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