Fall 2019 Symposium

Bridging Across Levels of Analysis to Advance Neurotoxic Risk Determination: Toxicology for the Second Fifth of the 21st Century

Duke Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program (ITEHP), Duke University Superfund Center

Fall 2019 Symposium

Oct 11, 2019, 8:00 AM – 3:15 PM, Field Auditorium, Grainger Hall, Duke University

Chair: Edward D. Levin, Ph.D., Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

Registration is CLOSED!

Click HERE to view the agenda! (updated Oct 5)

The ‘omics advances over the first fifth of the 21st century have provided a wealth of information for all biological sciences including neurotoxicology. However, determining the biologic meaning of this mass of data is challenging.  It is clear that a plethora of data points does not by itself provide useful understanding of neurotoxic risk. The integrated organism, in particular, the highly interconnected brain has many levels of integration and compensation that define biologic risk in addition to incipient chemical impacts on cellular function as catalogued by high throughput in vitro assays. The big data provided by ‘omics investigation gains much more value when interpreted in the context of more complex levels of organization. “Toxicology for the 21st Century” was initially thought by some as a way by which the high throughput ‘omics approach could index all molecules and all biochemical processes and that from these revolutionary techniques all toxic risks would be determined in a rapid throughput manner.  Nearly twenty years into the 21st century, this promise remains to be fulfilled. This is not a new experience with scientific revolutions. The invention of the microscope 500 years ago opened our eyes to a previously unknown world of biology, microbes. This revolutionary technique, as valuable as it was and continues to be, did not in a few years (or centuries) rid us of infectious disease. Scientific revolutions open new avenues for discovery, but there always remains much more to understand. What is needed is not just more sophisticated high through-put assays and more time, but rather a different approach, one that integrates high throughput testing with the understanding gained from analysis of more complex systems, a spectrum of research approaches. Advancing beyond the hubris that we would with ‘omics quickly know everything about everything, we can proceed in a more reasonable fashion to incorporate the fruits of the ‘omics revolution together with the investigations on more complex scales to go from facts to understanding of neurobehavioral toxicity.

This symposium brings together researchers from a range of complementary approaches from in vitro cell-based assays, to invertebrate research with C. elegans and Drosophila, to zebrafish models, mammalian rodent studies and human epidemiology. The speakers will discuss how their level of analysis can inform and be informed by research by other levels so that we can approach a more comprehensive understanding of neurotoxic risks and solutions for toxicology in the second fifth of the 21st century.