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Computational Toxicology Research Program

2007 International Science Forum on Computational Toxicology

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May 21, 2007 Recap

May 21 - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency opened an unprecedented International Science Forum on Computational Toxicology at its Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, campus. The 3-day conference convenes 450 scientists from 160 organizations and 14 countries in the largest ever meeting at the EPA campus. The goals of the conference include (1) allowing world experts to discuss developments in computational approaches to toxicology, (2) broadening the understanding of this new field by traditional scientists and the lay public, and (3) publicizing research underway at EPA's National Center for Computational Toxicology and two EPA-funded external research centers.

In his welcome, National Center for Computational Toxicology director Dr. Robert Kavlock, defined computational toxicology as the ability "to integrate modern computing and information technology with molecular biology to improve Agency prioritization of data requirements and risk assessment of chemicals." During the 3-day conference, participants will examine the digitization of legacy environmental and health data, examine the unification of dispersed data, and discuss scales of chemical and biological information, physiology, biology, and biochemical pathways and networks.

Dr. George Gray, EPA's Assistant Administrator for Research and Development, (pictured with 3-D glasses used in viewing several of EPA's posters) discussed the challenge of getting and using high quality data, the specificity of pathways, and differential sensitivity of individuals to chemicals. Computational toxicology, if seen as a marriage between math and biology, will have its ups and downs - but is most certainly the path forward to meeting many scientific challenges.

Next, Drs. Rory Connolly (EPA) and Richard Corley (DOE Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) co-chaired the first plenary session on Virtual Tissues. In the evening, conferees met one another during a poster session showcasing more than 100 posters and listened to the evening keynoter, Duke University Professor Gabriele Hegerl, as she introduced climate modeling, how it parallels modeling challenges in computational toxicology, and recent conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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