An interview podcast bringing you the people and stories behind the science of how biological, physical, and chemical agents may cause adverse reactions to public, animal, and environmental health. This podcast is presented by the Society of Toxicology (SOT) and hosted by SOT members Anne Chappelle and David Faulkner.
After graduating from the University of Delaware with a BS in biology in 1991, Anne Chappelle accidentally found her calling when she worked a gap year in an industrial toxicology laboratory. As it turned out, toxicology was the perfect marriage of protecting both human health and the environment. She then went on to receive her PhD in pharmacology and toxicology from the (now) University of the Sciences in Philadelphia in 1997, focusing on upper respiratory tract toxicity.
For the last 20+ years, as a toxicologist and risk assessment expert for the chemical industry, Anne has been thrilled to not work in a laboratory anymore. Along the way, she has added a few more titles: spouse; DABT; Principal of Chappelle Toxicology Consulting, LLC; occasional blogger at My Toxic Life; and most life changing (and expensive): Mom. She is thrilled to be partnered with David to add podcast co-host to the list because it gives her the opportunity to “channel my inner Terry Gross.”
David Faulkner’s interest in science started at age five with a few Bill Nye the Science Guy VHS tapes and hasn’t diminished since. A lifelong artist and science fan, David has worked in nearly every mass communication medium to share his love of science with the world. Now, as an early career toxicologist, David is living out his dream of co-hosting a science podcast! With a budget! And a producer! And super cool guests! And an awesome co-host! David thinks Bill would be proud.
David attended the University of Michigan, where he completed a BS in microbiology, a BA in English language (emphasis in creative writing), and an MPH in environmental health sciences, and the University of California Berkeley, where he completed a PhD in molecular toxicology under the supervision of Dr. Chris Vulpe. He has held postdoctoral appointments at the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and just started a new position as a toxicological risk assessor. He also is a full-time parent to two adorable purple velvet plants: Planthony Bourdain and Marie Planthoinette.
The viewpoints and information presented in Adverse Reactions represent those of the participating individuals. Although the Society of Toxicology holds the copyright to the production, it does not vet or review the information presented nor does presenting and distributing the Adverse Reactions podcast represent any proposal or endorsement of any position by the Society.
The Intersection of Toxicology, Environmental Health Law, and Justice
As the foremost experts on the effects of chemicals, biological substances, and more, toxicologists are key contributors to health regulation and laws. Law Professor and lawyer Claudia Polsky, University of California Berkeley, discusses how science can influence environmental health law, as well as environmental justice, with co-hosts Anne Chappelle and David Faulkner and reveals legal gaps in protecting public health.
About the Guest
Claudia Polsky, JD, MAS, is a Clinical Professor of Law and the founding Director of the Environmental Law Clinic.
Before launching the Clinic, Ms. Polsky spent 18 years as a public sector and public interest environmental litigator: 14 as a Deputy Attorney General in the Environment Section of the California Department of Justice and four at Earthjustice and Public Citizen Litigation Group. She has litigated cases in trial and appellate courts, including the US Supreme Court; testified before Congress and the California legislature; and drafted and successfully defended environmental regulations.
Ms. Polsky also served as Deputy Director for Pollution Prevention and Green Technology at California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control. There, she managed a program that addressed an area of ongoing professional focus: reducing exposure to toxic chemicals throughout the supply chain, from workers to consumers and communities impacted by toxic waste. The Environmental Law Clinic handles many toxics-reduction matters, ranging from pesticide exposure cases to the regulation of hazardous ingredients in consumer products. It also addresses other issues of environmental health and environmental justice, including climate justice and access to safe drinking water for all.
Ms. Polsky’s past environmental advocacy work has encompassed negotiating conservation easements for The Nature Conservancy; protecting threatened Pacific salmon populations through dam removal; obtaining an injunction to save 50 million national forest acres from logging and roadbuilding; and serving as a volunteer park ranger in Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks.
Pitfalls in Pharmaceutical Production: Protecting the Actual Drug Makers
While pharmaceuticals provide positive benefits for patients, what about workers that may be exposed during production? Elizabeth M. Vancza, Merck & Co. Inc., reveals to co-hosts Anne Chappelle and David Faulkner the role of occupational toxicologists in understanding the exposure risks of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and other substances that may affect worker health, as well as how to protect them from these exposures.
About the Guest
Elizabeth M. Vancza, PhD, DABT, is currently an Associate Director of Occupational Toxicology at Merck & Co. Inc., where she assists business operations in the areas of occupational toxicology, potent compound safety evaluation and awareness, product quality/safety, and hazard/risk assessment. Before joining Merck in 2021, she worked as an occupational toxicologist for SafeBridge Consultants for over 10 years, serving clients worldwide, primarily from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.
Dr. Vancza earned her PhD and MS degrees from New York University, with respective concentrations in inhalation toxicology and immunotoxicology, and she remains a guest lecturer for the graduate program in the areas of risk assessment and genomics. She also is an Associate Member of the Occupational Alliance for Risk Science (OARS) Workplace Environmental Exposure Level (WEEL) Committee.
Dr. Vancza joined the Society of Toxicology (SOT) in 2004 and has remained an active member through her involvement on various committees and student outreach efforts for several Specialty Sections, Regional Chapters, and Special Interest Groups. She most recently completed a three-year term as Vice President (year one), President (year two), and Past President (year three) for the SOT Northeast Regional Chapter in 2021.
The Big Picture of Small Things: Nanotoxicology
Nanoparticles are manmade fibers, particulates, and other objects that are so small that when inhaled, they can escape the lungs and enter other body systems. Timothy Nurkiewicz, West Virginia University, studies the effects of these and other particulars. He discusses his inhalation and nanotoxicology research, as well as work with the National Guard on developing facemasks to protect against airborne diseases, with co-hosts Anne Chappelle and David Faulkner.
About the Guest
Timothy R. Nurkiewicz, PhD, is the E.J. Van Liere Medicine Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the West Virginia University (WVU) School of Medicine. He is also the Director of the WVU Inhalation Facilities and Center for Inhalation Toxicology (iTOX) and has been a guest researcher with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health since 2008.
Dr. Nurkiewicz’s research is in the fields of microvascular physiology and toxicology, with specific focus on pulmonary exposure to particulate matter and engineered nanomaterials. His research program pioneered novel investigations in the field of maternal nanomaterial exposures and fetal microvascular ramifications. Through iTOX, his lab and team are able to replicate the atmospheres that humans are exposed to in order to advance understanding of their acute and chronic toxicities.
Dr. Nurkiewicz earned a BS in exercise and sport science from Pennsylvania State University, a MS in exercise physiology from WVU, and a PhD in physiology from WVU. He completed postdocs at Texas A&M University and WVU. Currently, Dr. Nurkiewicz serves as an Associate Editor for Frontiers—Vascular Physiology and Particle and Fibre Toxicology and is a founding member and Past President of the SOT Cardiovascular Toxicology Specialty Section.
Tox in the Family: Generational Exposure and DDT
Blood samples and health records for 15,000 pregnancies provides a wealth of scientific data. Add samples and records from the resultant children and grandchildren, and you have an invaluable cohort with which you can study the long-term results of events that occur during pregnancy. Barbara Cohn with the Public Health Institute is the Director of such a cohort and discusses it with co-hosts Anne Chappelle and David Faulkner, including what she and colleagues have discovered about the generational effects of exposure to DDT and other substances.
About the Guest
Barbara A. Cohn, PhD, is Director of the Child Health and Development Studies (CHDS) at the Public Health Institute. CHDS is home to a groundbreaking study, which originated in 1959, designed to shed light on the various factors impacting health during pregnancy and early childhood. Between 1959 and 1967, 15,000 pregnant women and their families were enrolled. Researchers continue to study these rich data and conduct important follow-up studies to further examine how events during pregnancy impact the subsequent health of fathers, mothers, and their children and grandchildren. Dr. Cohn consults with researchers around the world on the use of the CHDS data for health research.
In addition, Dr. Cohn directs research examining how pregnancy protects against breast cancer and influences other health problems in mothers and their children in order to identify natural protective mechanisms that can be used for prevention. She also investigates whether early life exposure to environmental chemicals during pregnancy affects obesity, immune function, reproductive health, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurodevelopment, cancer, and health disparities in mothers and their children across the life span.
Dr. Cohn holds a doctorate in epidemiology, a master’s degree in city and regional planning, a master’s degree in public health planning, and a bachelor’s degree in zoology, all from the University of California, Berkeley.
Bringing Cohorts in Cahoots with Lab Science
The fields of epidemiology and toxicology sometimes find themselves at odds, but Gradient’s Julie Goodman, an epidemiologist and toxicologist, shares how the two disciplines can complement each other to evaluate public health risks. Dr. Goodman also dives into the finer points of systemic reviews and meta-analyses in her conversation with co-hosts Anne Chappelle and David Faulkner.
About the Guest
Julie E. Goodman, PhD, DABT, FACE, ATS, is an epidemiologist and board-certified toxicologist with over 20 years of experience. She is a Principal with Gradient and applies her multidisciplinary expertise to evaluate human health risks associated with chemical exposures in a variety of contexts, including products, foods, and medical applications, as well occupational and environmental exposures.
Dr. Goodman is a fellow of both the American College of Epidemiology and the Academy of Toxicological Sciences. She was also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, where she taught a class on meta-analysis for several years. Before joining Gradient, she was a Cancer Prevention Fellow at the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Goodman has authored numerous original peer-reviewed research articles, review articles (including systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and weight-of-evidence evaluations), and book chapters on a wide variety of chemicals and health outcomes. She has presented her work to a wide variety of audiences.
Dr. Goodman obtained her master's in epidemiology and PhD in toxicology from Johns Hopkins University.
Estradiol Complicates Everything: Toxicology across the Gender Spectrum
When it comes to hormones, everyone has them all, but their levels are where things get interesting. How chemicals affect estrogen signaling in the brain is the research focus of Troy Roepke, Rutgers, who talks to co-hosts Anne Chappelle and David Faulkner about how gender is not easily defined biologically, what it is like to be a “fabulously queer” professor, and how science can better serve the LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities.
About the Guest
Troy Roepke, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Department of Animal Sciences, where their research goal is for a greater understanding of the interaction between novel steroid (estrogen) signaling pathways, neuroendocrine functions, maternal and adult diets, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals on homeostatic functions controlled by the hypothalamus, as well as the long-term consequences of maternal exposures to low doses of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in model species and how these maternal exposures may affect normal adult offspring physiological functions.
In addition to their teaching and lab duties, Dr. Roepke serves as Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. Dr. Roepke believes one of the most important aspects of being an openly queer professor is to create a lab environment that is supportive of all historically excluded students and trainees, especially LGBTQ+ students. They believe that great science happens when one creates a supportive, diverse, and inclusive environment that prioritizes teamwork, positivity, and respect wherein each team member feels welcomed and encouraged to bring their true authentic selves to the lab.
Dr. Roepke received a doctorate in physiology with a designated emphasis in reproductive biology from the University of California Davis in 2005. Their postdoctoral training was at Oregon Health & Science University, studying the neuroendocrinology of estrogens from 2005 to 2011 where they were the recipient of a K99/R00 Pathways to Independence Award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to study how endocrine disruptors influence metabolism.