November 10, 2015
Texas Tech University has been chosen as one of only two universities to host international experts in the field of toxicology as part of the Society of Toxicology’s (SOT) 2016 Global Senior Scholar Exchange Program (GSSEP).
Texas Tech’s Weimin Gao will host Oladipo Ademuyiwa from the Federal University of Agriculture in Abeokuta, Nigeria, while Duke University Medical Center’s Mohamed Abou-Donia will host Wafa Hassen from the Department of Cellular Physiology and Toxicology at the High Institute of Biotechnology of Monastir, Tunisia.
“I am absolutely honored to have been selected for such a prestigious award from the Society of Toxicology,” Gao said. “This reflects the standing and appreciation of my accomplishment in the field of toxicology. Texas Tech being selected by SOT as one of the two host institutions reflects the strength and reputation of our program at the national level. We are thrilled to represent Texas Tech University in the Global Senior Scholar Exchange Program, and we look forward to a productive exchange by hosting Dr. Ademuyiwa.”
Gao is associate chairman of the Department of Environmental Toxicology in The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) and an associate professor of molecular epidemiology. The department and institute have a well-established research program in the areas of molecular toxicology, analytical toxicology, ecotoxicology, aquatic toxicology and human health. In addition, a graduate research program is taught by faculty with expertise in molecular toxicology, analytical toxicology, human health and other areas. Gao and other faculty are involved in global outreach and collaborative research in environmental contaminants and human health.
“The Department of Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech University has a well-established graduate research program in the area of toxicology and environmental health,” Gao said. “Therefore, our department will serve as a model for Dr. Ademuyiwa to establish a similar program for graduate students in this area at the Federal University of Agriculture in Nigeria. It is our hope that he will share his experience in our program where he can interact with our colleagues and students at Texas Tech. Additionally, this exchange program will open the door for potential collaborations between Texas Tech University and the Federal University of Agriculture.”
The research in Ademuyiwa’s department focuses on the mechanistic bases of the effects of xenobiotics on cellular metabolism in both humans and animals, particularly metals with potential occupational and environmental exposure such as lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury. These studies match with those at Texas Tech that include the environmental fate and toxic effects of some metals and thus provide a possible area of collaboration. The Federal University of Agriculture does not have a curriculum in toxicology so learning about the program at Texas Tech will be valuable.
“Scientific exchange programs are valuable for both the visiting scientist and the host institution,” said Todd Anderson, director of TIEHH and chairman of the Department of Environmental Toxicology. “We expect the visit to help increase toxicology capacity in developing countries, Nigeria in this case. We will benefit from Dr. Ademuyiwa’s visit through the exchange of ideas, and certainly Weimin will benefit from the opportunity to visit Dr. Ademuyiwa’s home institution.”
GSSEP funding supports the extended exchange visit to the host campuses as well as travel funding for the hosts to visit the scholars’ campuses during the next year.
“Visiting Nigeria will be a great learning experience both scientifically and culturally,” Gao said. “I think it will be helpful to get an idea not only about the graduate program at the Federal University of Agriculture in Nigeria but also the research in the area of toxicology. It would be an important experience to understand how the toxicological research at Dr. Ademuyiwa’s institute is addressing environmental concerns, particularly in the perspective of Nigeria. Furthermore, it can help us to develop a mutually beneficial and realistic collaboration between the two institutions.”
This is the fifth year for the GSSEP. Its primary goal is to increase toxicology capacity in developing countries by providing professional opportunities for scientists through relationships supported by the Society of Toxicology. The scholars selected are expected to build on this opportunity by strengthening toxicology within their universities and countries.
The Institute of Environmental and Human Health was created in 1997 as a joint venture between Texas Tech and the Texas Tech University
Health Sciences Center to assess the impact of toxic chemicals and diseases on the
physical and human environments, including air, water, soil and animal life.
Researchers investigate elements in the environment, both those that are naturally occurring such as disease and those caused by humans, such as nuclear activity, pollution or chemical or bioterrorism, which negatively impact the environment. It is one of the few labs in the country dedicated to environmental toxicology.