From Murder to Mechanisms–SOT 2017 Eminent Toxicologist Lecture Series

Lecturer: Michael A. Gallo, PhD, ATS, DABT of Rutgers University.

Toxicology has a long and intriguing history from the use of toxins and toxicants from plants, metals, and venoms by the ancient peoples to the understanding and use of modern derivatives in hunting, warfare, murders, and suicides in the present day. Modern experimental toxicology and analytical chemistry expanded along with introduction of food and industrial products in the past century. Synthetic estrogens, pesticides, and several drugs, including sulfanilamide, were in use by 1940. The 1956 Gordon Research Conference on Toxicology and Safety Evaluation formed the nexus of SOT, founded in 1961. Scholars had the vision to see the wisdom of an expanded scientific and professional organization with a focus on toxicology. The Thalidomide disaster, the publishing of Silent Spring, the Delaney Amendment of the FDCA, the advent of the Pill, Agent Orange and the Vietnam War, and hazardous waste sites (Love Canal and others) drove toxicology and regulations into the 1970s and 1980s. Molecular and cellular toxicology expanded throughout the remainder of the 20th century with outstanding work on carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, endocrine disruption, and the fetal origin of childhood and adult diseases. The 21st century dawned with genomic studies and the age of ‘omics which has elucidated several exciting approaches to and understanding of mechanisms of toxicity.