2020 HESI Annual Meeting

HESI Annual Meeting
9-10 June 2020

Tuesday 9 June 2020

11:00 AM

Welcome and Introduction
Dr. Martin van den Berg, Utrecht University, Incoming HESI Chair of Board

11:10 AM

HESI CITE Lecture: Machine Learning for Environmental Toxicology: Current Challenges and Future Opportunities (download presentation)
Dr. Thomas Miller, Brunel University London

Read Abstract and Bio

Machine Learning for Environmental Toxicology: Current Challenges and Future Opportunities

Machine learning (ML) has become a prominent area of research across many different scientific fields in recent years. The technology offers many advantages over experimental and mechanistic approaches, including the ability to analyse complex and large scale data that have become the norm, not least with the advent of “big data.” However, ML in environmental toxicology has seen a somewhat precarious future with slow uptake of the technology across the field. The relatively poor integration in comparison to other fields stems from several challenges that include regulatory acceptance, training  in computational skills, ML algorithm interpretability and data-sharing. The presentation herein will cover previous novel applications of ML in environmental toxicology, current barriers to its acceptance in environmental toxicology and potential solutions to overcome these challenges.

Dr. Thomas Miller, Brunel University London

Thomas Miller is a recently appointed Lecturer at Brunel University London and currently holds a PhD in Environmental Toxicology. Previous taught degrees include a MSc in Analytical Chemistry and a BSc(Hons) in Biology. His interdisciplinary research is currently focused on the impact of environmental micropollutants on aquatic wildlife with areas of focus including metabolomics, lipidomics, toxicokinetics and advanced computational workflows. In particular, he has several years’ experience in utilizing machine learning to address specific challenges in environmental toxicology and analytical chemistry which have included the prediction of bioconcentration for regulatory risk assessments and the prediction of retention time to support tentative identification of unknown chemicals.

11:50 AM

HESI CITE Lecture: Transforming Biopharmaceutical Research with AI: From Target Identification and Validation to Designing Better Compounds
Prof. Jackie Hunter, BenevolentAI

Read Abstract and Bio

Transforming Biopharmaceutical Research with AI: From Target Identification and Validation to Designing Better Compounds

This talk will exemplify how AI can be used right at the beginning of the R&D process to improve target identification and validation as well as being used to identify key pathways in disease. Benevolent’s technology platform can be used to better predict the properties of molecules including their safety leading to fewer compounds needing to be physically made. There are still considerable challenges in applying the technology – primarily around access to data, especially negative data and these will be discussed.

Prof. Jackie Hunter, BenevolentAI

Professor Jackie Hunter held senior positions at global pharmaceutical organisations including GSK, Proximagen and OI Pharma Partners before joining BenevolentAI as an Executive Board Director in 2016. She brings vast academic and business experience in the biomedical and pharmaceutical sectors. For her services to the pharmaceutical industry, she was awarded a CBE in 2010, Birthday Honours and the 2010 Women of Achievement in Science, Engineering and Technology Award for Discovery, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She gives the company the insight it needs to operate its unique business model – one which sees it not only researching, but also developing the blueprint for new drugs.

12:30 PM

Panel Discussion: What are the greatest hurdles to implementing AI approaches to improve human and environmental health protection?
Dr. Thomas Miller, Brunel University London, and Prof. Jackie Hunter, BenevolentAI

1:00 PM


Wednesday 10 June 2020

12:00 PM

New Scientific Programming at HESI: What, How, and Why?
Dr. Syril Pettit, HESI Executive Director, and Dr. Ronald Hines, HESI Emerging Issues Committee Chair

12:10 PM

Emerging Issues Proposal: Building Novel Methods and Science for Ototoxicity Detection and Prevention (view recording or download presentation)
Dr. Laura Maurer, ExxonMobil, and Colleagues

Read Abstract and Bio

Emerging Issues Proposal: Building Novel Methods and Science for Ototoxicity Detection and Prevention

Increased scientific advances in multiple, interdisciplinary fields provide promising opportunities to improve hearing health in the global population. A primary WHO Sustainable Development Goal is to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages”: this worldwide aim will be enhanced by the realization that scientific advances may make it possible to prevent or reverse (currently “irreversible”) hearing loss. Overall wellness measures include hearing health, from birth to old age, and the interrelatedness between hearing health and other wellness measures have been demonstrated around the world (c.f. European Union 2015). As of 2017, reported global statistics suggest that Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) for all ages includes an upward trend for hearing loss since 1990 (with over 65 million people affected by 2015). The financial burden associated with hearing loss treatment and compensating for (currently irreversible) disability is significant.

Read the full proposal here.

Dr. Laura Maurer, ExxonMobil

Laura Maurer is a Senior Toxicologist at ExxonMobil Biomedical Sciences, Inc. and holds a PhD and MPH in Toxicology, both from the University of Michigan, followed by a postdoc at Duke University. In her current role, she provides toxicology support to the basic and intermediate chemicals and polymers groups in the form of product risk assessments and registrations, occupational exposure limits, and has participated in trade groups in the US and EU. Prior to joining ExxonMobil in 2016, Dr. Maurer’s research projects relevant to this proposal include investigating the role of mammalian aging and associated deficits within the audiovestibular complex in response to neurotoxicant exposure.

12:45 PM

Newly Launched / Proposed Projects Seeking Participation

Agricultural Chemical Safety Assessment 2.0: Integrated Human Health and Environmental Risk Assessment (view recording)
Dr. Douglas Wolf, Syngenta, and Colleagues

Read Abstract and Bio

Agricultural Chemical Safety Assessment 2.0: Integrated Human Health and Environmental Risk Assessment

In order to advance innovation more rapidly and efficiently within the agricultural chemistry community a globally coordinated effort bringing together regulatory authorities, including risk managers, and the regulated industry to discuss scientific and technical aspects of registration, would formally recognize the global aspect of the crop protection industry and encourage uniformity in testing requirements and most importantly how data are evaluated to support safe use and scientifically defensible human health and environmental risk assessment transcending mutual acceptance of data through a globally accepted framework for knowledge generation and evaluation to inform risk assessment. The outcome would more rapidly provide innovative products for farmers that mitigate the growing effects of climate change, address the challenge of producing more food with less land and water, the growing resistance of pests to greater numbers of traditional chemistries, and the lack of harmonization in the evaluation process across regions that will decrease the time and numbers of animals and studies needed to address real and perceived safety issues.

Dr. Douglas Wolf, Syngenta

Dr. Wolf graduated in 1981 from the University of Missouri with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (D.V.M.) and, after 6 years in clinical veterinary practice, attended Purdue University where, in 1991, he completed a pathology residency and received a research Ph.D in Veterinary Pathology. Doug was a staff scientist for 6 years at the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology (CIIT) where he studied chemical carcinogenesis. From 1997 until 2013 Doug held various positions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, initially as a Principal Investigator at the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL), where he continued research in chemical carcinogenesis and molecular pathology. Dr. Wolf held several formal leadership roles at EPA as a Branch Chief in the Environmental Carcinogenesis Division, as Director of the Toxicology Assessment Division, as Assistant Laboratory Director in NHEERL and as Director of the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. He received numerous awards for innovative work at the US EPA to provide solutions to improve regulatory science and decision-making. In November 2013 he joined Syngenta Crop Protection as Regional Lead for Toxicology and Health Sciences in North America. Doug is currently a Senior Syngenta Fellow where he leads international efforts to advance the science of risk assessment focusing on crop protection chemicals. Dr. Wolf has authored or coauthored over 145 journal articles, book chapters, and technical reports and has presented at numerous national and international scientific meetings. In 2004 he was elected a Fellow of the International Academy of Toxicologic Pathologists and in 2007 a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences.

The Botanical Safety Consortium: A Public-Private Partnership to Improve Botanical Safety (view recording)
Dr. Cynthia Rider, National Toxicology Program, and Dr. Stefan Gafner, American Botanical Council

Read Abstracts and Bios

The Botanical Safety Consortium: A Public-Private Partnership to Improve Botanical Safety

The Botanical Safety Consortium (BSC) is a public-private partnership aimed at enhancing the botanical safety evaluation toolkit. This partnership is the result of a Memorandum of Understanding between the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI). The BSC serves as a global forum for scientists from government, academia, consumer health groups, industry, and non-profit organizations to work collaboratively on developing and integrating new methods based on sound science into routine botanical safety risk assessments.

The objectives of the BSC are: to engage with a broad group of stakeholders to leverage the best scientific safety approaches; establish the appropriate levels of chemical characterization for complex botanical substances; identify pragmatic, fit-for-purpose, in vitro and in silico assays to evaluate botanical safety; evaluate the application of these tools via comparison to the currently available safety information; and to integrate these tools and approaches into a framework that can facilitate robust evaluation of botanical substances. Initial endpoints of focus are genotoxicity, hepatotoxicity & ADME, developmental & reproductive toxicity, and systemic toxicity. Additional working groups on chemical analysis and data analysis have also been initiated. This presentation will provide an overview on the structure, goals, and strategies of this new initiative.

Dr. Cynthia Rider, National Toxicology Program

Cynthia Rider, PhD, DABT, is a toxicologist with the National Toxicology Program (NTP), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), where she serves as project leader for a diverse portfolio of testing programs including polycyclic aromatic compounds, botanical dietary supplements, and industrial chemicals. Dr. Rider’s research interests are in evaluating and refining methods to predict mixture toxicity based on data from components or whole reference mixtures. She received her B.S. from Tulane University in Environmental Studies and Biology and her Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in Environmental Toxicology. She completed post-doctoral training in the Reproductive Toxicology Branch of the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.

Dr. Stefan Gafner, American Botanical Council

Stefan Gafner, PhD, is American Botanical Council (ABC)’s Chief Science Officer, the technical director of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP), editor of the Botanical Adulterants Monitor, and writes articles for HerbalGram and HerbalEGram.

Dr. Gafner received his degree in pharmacy at the University of Bern School of Pharmacy in Bern, Switzerland. He earned his doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences – with a focus on phytochemistry (the chemistry of plants) – at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, from the internationally respected phytochemist Professor Kurt Hostettmann. His doctoral thesis focused on the search for new antibacterial and antifungal compounds from African medicinal plants in three plant families (Asteraceae, Bignoniaceae, and Myricaceae). Dr. Gafner conducted his postdoctoral research at the University of Illinois – Chicago, in the College of Pharmacy’s highly regarded Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy (the study of medicines from plants and other natural sources).

Highlights of Dr. Gafner’s impressive career include the discovery of dozens of new natural products, the development of more than 40 methods for the identification and authentication of herbal extracts, and the validation of methods for more than 20 over-the-counter drug ingredients for consumer products.

2:00 PM


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