HESI Insights - November 2023

HESI THRIVE is Accepting Letters of Intent for its Seed Grant Program

Improving quality of life after cancer

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HESI THRIVE is a seed grant program that is innovating translational research and improving quality of life after cancer. By providing researchers with both seed funding and access to critical networks, THRIVE enhances 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.

THRIVE provides seed grants for clinical and translational research and technology-based solutions that enhance our ability to predict when and how adverse effects may occur in patients who have received cancer treatment. The THRIVE grant program is designed to provide seed funding to investigators for the testing of initial hypotheses and collecting of preliminary data to help secure long-term funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and/or other major institutions. For details on eligibility, funding, the application process, and key deadlines, please click here.

THRIVE will accept letters of intent from 13 November 2023 until 8 April 2024.

For more information, contact research@hesithrive.org.

HESI Cardiac Safety Paper Linked to UN Sustainable Development Goal

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A 2021 publication by the HESI Cardiac Safety Committee titled “Use of the ZDF Rat to Model Dietary Fat Induced Hypercoagulability is Limited by Progressive and Fatal Nephropathy” has recently been linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. HESI is proud to be recognized for their contribution to building science for a safer, more sustainable world through cross-sector global collaborative initiatives.

The study (Pugsley et al., 2021. Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods) focused on the effects of high versus low dietary fat on the development of Type 2 diabetes in obese male ZDF rats, including biomarkers to detect early signs of hypercoagulability and vascular injury in the absence of overt thrombosis. Results showed that the ZDF rat at the age, sex and weight used in this study is highly sensitive to dietary fat content that can exacerbate prothrombotic, metabolic and renal disturbances and increase mortality.

Global Risk Assessment Training Center (GRATC) Website Launch

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HESI’s Global Risk Assessment Training Center (GRATC) now has its very own webpage!


GRATC’s mission is to increase access to and availability of foundational chemical risk assessment capacity building, training, and resources, particularly in low and middle-income and resource-limited regions.

Visit the website to learn more about GRATC’s objectives, scope, events, and partnerships.

For inquiries, please contact Dr. Michelle Embry at membry@hesiglobal.org

Translational Antibody-Drug Conjugate Safety Assessment: A Novel HESI Program Proposal

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  • Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) have the potential to advance patient benefit by providing targeted delivery of therapeutics for both oncology and non-oncology indications.
  • Advances in this space will require more robust methods to identify translationally appropriate nonclinical methods for safety assessment of ADCs.
  • This newly launching program will leverage HESI’s expertise in academic, government and industry collaboration and study design/execution to define opportunities and guide the selection of new translational methods for the nonclinical safety evaluation of ADCs.

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HESI Emerging Issues Committee 2024 Call for Proposals

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The Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI) seeks your suggestions for priority emerging scientific issues (human or environmental health) that should be addressed through a focused, multi-sector, collaborative program. Proposals will be reviewed in early 2024 and one or more may be selected to form a new scientific program within HESI.

This is NOT a grant program and no direct financial awards to external parties will be made. However, selected programs may receive funding in the form of HESI support for scientific program design, coordination, and staffing. We are seeking topics that focus on the applied human and/or environmental health sciences and that require scientific perspectives and expertise from academia, government, industry, NGOs, clinicians, and/or other research sectors.

Looking for somewhere to start? Learn more about HESI’s existing scientific activities on our committees page and in the 2022 Annual Report. These resources may help guide you when considering your idea, however, HESI welcomes all new proposals whether they are captured in these lists or not.

The deadline to submit proposals for consideration is 15 January 2024.

Click here to learn more about the Emerging Issues process and complete the proposal form!


HESI Next Generation Ecological Risk Assessment Committee Workshop on Alternatives to In Vivo Chronic Fish Testing

25 – 26 October 2023


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A HESI workshop on “Alternatives to Chronic Fish Toxicity Testing” was held in Paris, France on October 25-26 2023, attended by 35 multi-sector scientists from 12 different countries. The workshop was aimed at developing a strategy to guide alternative approaches for the assessment of chronic toxicity to fish, with a focus on how new science and approaches can be effectively used to improve our ability to protect the environment from the potential chronic impacts of chemicals.

As follow-up from this workshop, specific topics/projects will be considered by expert work groups. The list below highlights some of the key messages representing new lines of thought regarding alternatives to chronic fish ecotoxicity testing:

  • Overall, there was a general shift away from the concept of one-for-one replacement and towards an integrated approach for chronic fish testing linking various approaches and lines of evidence.
  • NAM tools for investigating chronic fish toxicity need to be mapped, evaluated, and linked to a broader, integrated/intelligent strategy.
  • A coordinated network of individuals working within the ecoNAM space needs to be established with an initial goal to map out ongoing method developments and data collection efforts.
  • There is value in developing a menu of approaches to prioritize traditional chronic fish in vivo testing such that it is only conducted when truly needed to fill data gaps.
  • Efforts should be undertaken to explore the role of NAMs to help reduce uncertainty in assessments (e.g., cross-species extrapolation, application factors, levels of concern, etc.).
  • Further work should be initiated on how NAMs can help define groupings and/or analogue substances where insufficient information is available to characterize chronic fish toxicity (e.g., chemistries, mechanisms/modes of action, endpoints, etc.).
  • Population modeling aims and needs should be incorporated within laboratory testing communities to inform data generation and direction on future approaches.
  • Existing and NAM-based approaches across endpoints and applications relevant to chronic fish toxicity should be integrated. Links should be created to improve tools and assessments (e.g., bioaccumulation/ADME; specific endpoints relevant for chronic toxicity (including endocrine); in silico, in vitro, in vivo, population modeling, data from other taxa; acute and chronic, etc.).

A satellite workshop was held on November 12th in conjunction with the SETAC North America Meeting in Louisville, KY. This meeting was attended by 16 participants and built on discussions and themes from the Paris workshop, with additional discussion related to alternatives for effluent assessment.

For more information about this workshop or the HESI Next Generation in Ecological Risk Assessment Committee, please contact:

Risk Assessment Training Course on Sustainable Pesticides Management for Food Security in the West and Central Africa Region

8 November 2023, Virtual


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Michelle Embry (HESI Deputy Director) served as a lecturer for a training course hosted and organized by CropLife Africa Middle East that was held in Grand Bassam, Cote D’Ivoire. She gave a virtual lecture on “Linking risk assessment and risk communication.” The session was attended by delegates from Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Ghana who are experts in regulation of plant protection products, Heads of Divisions, Services and Pesticide Registration Offices and regional experts.

EFSA/BfR Conference


9  – 10 November 2023, Berlin, Germany

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Sandrine Déglin presented a poster on behalf of the Environmental Epidemiology Committee at the EFSA/BfR conference titled “Using Epidemiological Studies in Health Risk Assessments: Relevance, Reliability and Causality”. The poster summarizes the results of the survey distributed to an international group of risk assessors to better understand how they value epidemiology, and what could increase and improve their use of epidemiologic data in human health risk assessment.

For questions please contact Sandrine at sdeglin@hesiglobal.org.

European Partnership for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EPAA) Partners Forum

13 – 14 November 2023, Brussels, Belgium


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Adam Lillicrap (NIVA; HESI Board of Trustees) gave an overview presentation on behalf of the HESI Next Generation Ecological Risk Assessment Committee at the EPAA Partners Forum Meeting on the Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing for Environmental Safety Assessment. The presentation provided an overview of the ongoing projects within the committee. For more information, contact Michelle Embry (membry@hesiglobal.org)


HESI UVCB Webinar by Dr. Antony Williams

30 November 2023 @11am EST

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The HESI UVCB Committee will host a webinar presented by Dr. Antony Williams of the US Environmental Protection Agency titled “Applying Cheminformatics to Develop a Structure Searchable Database of Analytical Methods” at 11am EST on November 30th. Registration is required.

View abstract, speaker bio and registration details here.

From the Leadership

Michelle Embry, PhD, HESI Deputy Director

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I am going to talk about LEGO. I assume most are familiar with these interlocking plastic bricks – either from playing with them or accidentally stepping on one of them barefoot! However, LEGO comes to my mind often when thinking about HESI projects. Recently, the HESI Next Generation Ecological Risk Assessment Committee hosted two workshops focused on alternatives to chronic fish toxicity, and it was exciting to hear that most attendees felt that we already have the LEGO pieces – the tools and methods available to improve our ability to protect the environment from the potential chronic impacts of chemicals. These LEGO bricks include NAMs, existing fish in vivo tests, and information from other endpoints and species relevant for chronic toxicity. The future of ecological risk assessment will hinge on how various pieces come together, not simply swapping out one piece for another. The real work needed centers around developing fit for purpose integrated strategies (e.g., the instruction book for the castle/dream house/airplane) that also link across various ecologically-relevant endpoints. I am excited to see what we can build within this and other HESI committees!

With kind regards,

Michelle Embry, PhD
HESI Deputy Director

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