Cast Your Vote: Select the New EMGS Officers for 2022-2023
The EMGS Nominating Committee has selected the candidates for this year’s election. This year we will be choosing a Vice President-Elect and five Councilors. Each candidate has agreed to volunteer their time and energy to serve both the Society and its members.
VOTING DATES: September 5 - 23, 2022.
Vice President-Elect Candidates
Patricia L. Opresko, PhD
University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Patricia L. Opresko is a tenured Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. She holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology at the School of Medicine. Patty is Co-Leader of the Genome Stability Program at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, and a member of the Center for Nucleic Acid Science and Technology at Carnegie Mellon University. She received her BS from DeSales University in Chemistry and Biology and her doctorate from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Patty conducted her postdoctoral training with Dr. Vilhelm Bohr at the National Institute on Aging studying the molecular pathology of Werner Syndrome, a cancer-prone premature aging disorder. She started her laboratory in 2005, investigating mechanisms of genomic and telomere instability associated with aging and cancer. Her lab studies how environmental genotoxic and oxidative stress accelerate telomere shortening, and roles for DNA damage and repair in telomere maintenance. In 2006, Patty received the Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholars Award in Aging and the Outstanding New Environmental Scientist Award. She is currently a principal investigator on an R35 RIVER grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and co-PI on a National Cancer Institute R01 grant.
Patty is internationally recognized for her work in genome stability, telomere biology and DNA repair, and has published over 85 peer-reviewed manuscripts. She is an Associate Editor for DNA Repair and an editorial board member of Mechanisms of Aging & Development. She served on numerous research grant review panels for NIH and other organizations, including the NIEHS Environmental Health Sciences Review Committee. Patty was elected to serve as Vice-Chair of the Gordon Research Conference on Mammalian DNA Repair in 2021, and Chair in 2023. She has given several Keynote lectures and received numerous awards including the Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging (2019) and the Merrill J. Egorin Excellence in Scientific Leadership Award (2020). She is greatly involved in graduate and postdoctoral mentoring across several departments at the University of Pittsburgh and teaches in Genetic Toxicology, Biology of Aging, and Genome Instability graduate courses.
Patty has been highly active in EMGS since joining in 2005 and has regularly participated in the annual meetings by presenting and chairing sessions. She served on the Program (2008), Awards and Honors (2011-2013), Finance (2017-2020), and Executive (2018-2019) Committees. Patty was elected as a Councilor (2017-2020) and as the DNA Repair SIG Representative to the Program Committee (2020-present). She serves as an EMGS representative to FASEB. Patty has participated in several International Conferences on Environmental Mutagens. She encourages her students and postdocs to attend EMGS meetings to take advantage of the terrific science, and valuable structured opportunities for networking and career development. She values EMGS for the opportunities to participate in a scientific society that shares her interests in genome stability, genotoxic exposures and human health, and looks forward to continued EMGS growth and advancement.
Stefan Pfuhler, PhD
The Procter & Gamble Company
My name is Stefan Pfuhler and I am a genetic toxicologist working at Procter & Gamble where I serve as a Research Fellow in our Global Product Stewardship division, overseeing genotoxicity-related topics for all business sectors with great support by a team of knowledgeable colleagues. Genetic toxicology has been my focus and passion for over 30 years, since completing my biology master thesis and a doctorate in human biology at the University of Ulm, Germany. Leading the genotoxicity laboratory for a contract research organization in Munich, Germany, first introduced me to the world of GLP and OECD guideline testing. Noticing the challenges of animal methods while I was there sparked my interest in alternative approaches and ultimately led to a career in industry which started with a job at Wella AG in Germany, later acquired by P&G. There, I was introduced to the challenges of the 7th Amendment to the EU cosmetics legislation, prohibiting animal testing for genetic toxicology.
My research interests include the improvement of the in vitro genotoxicity testing battery and direct replacement of animal methods. I have led a program that developed and validated human ‘3D’ skin model-based comet and micronucleus assays which have recently been accepted into the OECD test guideline development program. Further active areas of research are genotoxicity of botanical extracts, and Mode of Action determination to distinguish primary from secondary DNA damaging agents as well as risk assessment of genotoxins. I have published over 60 peer-reviewed papers and several book chapters in this space and regularly serve as a peer-reviewer and on two editorial boards (Mutagenesis, and Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology). My contributions to the field also include active efforts promoting the reduction of animal use. To this end, I have led an International Workshop on Genotoxicity Testing (IWGT) workgroup demonstrating reduction opportunities in our field, such as studies that combine different genotoxity readouts in the same animals.
Now, why am putting my hat into the ring for an EMGS leadership position? First, I am strong believer in the value and importance of scientific societies as one of the few remaining ‘refuges’ where data-based decision making can happen and have been an active member and supporter of “EMS” societies since 1994. Second, realizing that the last EMGS president with an industry background dates back to 1989, I feel like serving the society in this role is important and will help strengthen the ‘applied’ arm of EMGS. Third, I intend to leverage my international experiences to help strengthen ties with other “EMS” societies globally to the benefit of this scientific field. Leadership experiences that qualify me for this role include the long-term chairmanship of the CE Genotoxicity TF, multiple leadership roles within the HESI Genetic Toxicology Technical Committee (GTTC), membership on HESI’s board of trustees and on the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Institute of in Vitro Sciences (IIVS), as well as the organization of multiple scientific meetings, workshops, and symposia. Thank you for your consideration.
Andrew Truman, PhD
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
In 2005, Dr. Truman was awarded a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University College London, UK, after completing his studies in the laboratory of Professor Peter Piper. During this time, he identified the first chaperone interaction mediated by phosphorylation (between Hsp90 and the Slt2 MAP kinase). His first first-author paper (co-authored with Dr. Stefan Millson) titled “A two-hybrid screen of the yeast proteome for Hsp90 interactors uncovers a novel Hsp90 chaperone requirement in the activity of a stress-activated mitogen-activated protein kinase, Slt2p (Mpk1p)” has been cited over 180 times. In 2006, he took a position as a postdoctoral scholar at Johns Hopkins University under the advisement of Dr. David E. Levin, publishing several papers on the impact of phosphorylation on kinase-substrate specificity. In 2009, he joined the University of Chicago as a Research Assistant Professor to gain expertise in phospho-proteomics and DNA damage response under the mentorship of Dr. Stephen Kron. Combining his previous expertise in kinase signaling and molecular chaperone function, he published the first detailed study on Hsp70 phosphorylation and its impact on the cell cycle in Cell.
In 2015, he established his research lab at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2021. He has been a main proponent of the concept of the “Chaperone Code”, the myriad of PTMs that impact the function of chaperones in all organisms. To date he has published 51 papers in journals that include Cell, Molecular Cell, PLOS Genetics and Journal of Biological Chemistry.
As a former First-generation student Dr. Truman strongly believes in helping to mentor and amplify the diverse voices of the next generation of researchers. He has been an organizer and Session Chair at several major meetings including the Annual Midwest Stress Response and Molecular Chaperone Meeting, the Virtual International Congress on Cellular and Organismal Stress Responses and International Symposium on The Chaperone Code. He has reviewed numerous proposals for the NIH, NSF, National Science Center Poland and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.
Dr. Truman is aware of the current challenges in publishing especially for new investigators. He works to ensure a fast and fair publication process as a Senior Editor for Cell Stress and Chaperones. In 2020, he was honored to become a Fellow of the Cell Stress Society (FSSI).
Dr. Truman is an avid mountain biker and spends his weekends tackling some of the toughest (and most fun!) trails in the North Carolina countryside.
Jennifer Kay, PhD
Silent Spring Institute
Dr. Jenny Kay is a Research Scientist at Silent Spring Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to uncovering the environmental causes of breast cancer and other women’s health concerns. Her work focuses on the toxicology and carcinogenicity of environmental exposures, particularly regarding the interplay between genotoxicity and endocrine disruption. She is developing a research program within the Institute using mammary organoids to study the unique and shared biological mechanisms disrupted after exposure to a genotoxicant, an endocrine disruptor, and both in combination. This work will help uncover key processes underlying breast carcinogenesis following exposure to mechanistically distinct chemicals and support further understanding of the effects of environmental co-exposures.
Prior to joining Silent Spring, Dr. Kay received her PhD in Biological Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she also completed a postdoctoral fellowship under the guidance of Dr. Bevin Engelward. There, she used the novel RaDR transgenic mouse model to explore the mechanistic relationships between DNA damage, inflammation, mutations, and cancer. By developing methods for detecting homologous recombination-driven mutations within intact fresh RaDR tissues by fluorescent microscopy, Dr. Kay’s work helped form the foundation for the world’s fastest, least expensive in vivo model for measuring mutagenesis. With these mice, Dr. Kay demonstrated that the accumulation of mutant cells during inflammation-induced intestinal carcinogenesis is driven primarily by clonal expansion rather than de novo mutagenesis. She went on to help found the MIT Superfund Research Program (MIT SRP), where she led animal-based research projects studying how Base Excision Repair (AAG) and Direct Reversal (MGMT) influence susceptibility to alkylation-induced toxicity, mutations, and cancer. Her collaborative research integrated key biological endpoints over time to map the progression from N-nitrosodimethylamine exposure to toxicity and cancer in mice, demonstrating that lack of AAG or MGMT severely increases mutagenesis and carcinogenesis, whereas Aag overexpression results in acute toxicity. Dr. Kay also led the MIT SRP Research Translation Core, serving as the communication hub between interdisciplinary MIT SRP research projects and government agencies, community partners, other academics, and lay audiences.
Annie Hamel, PhD
Charles River Laboratories
With her Master in biology, specialized in toxicology and human and animal physiology, and with over 10 years of experience in applied genetic toxicity testing, Annie has experience directing more than 350 in vitro and in vivo safety genetic toxicology assessment studies. She has high experience in the in vivo assays, the comet assay field and in 3D cultures with metabolic competency. She was responsible of development and implementation of new assays in addition to software validation for automation implementation. She highly cares about animal’s welfare by being for long time on the IACUC committee and her interest in innovative methodologies to decrease animal usage. She was also involved in improving current processes and involved in innovation projects as the application of better solutions to regular assays. She currently fills the Scientific Director role of the Genetic Toxicology department at Charles River Laboratories Senneville site, Canada.
Daneida Lizarraga, Ph.D
Daneida Lizarraga holds a Ph.D. in Biotechnology from University of Barcelona and completed her post-doc training from Maastricht Universiteit in the Netherlands. She has joint ownerships of two patents and authored numerous publications on molecular biology and epigenetics. Daneida joined EMGS back in 2009. Before joining Danaher Corporation, she was an assistant Project Scientist at UC Berkeley, studying epigenetic markers for epidemiological studies in early childhood. Since joining Industry in 2016, Daneida has been involved in leading the development of gene expression tests, including RUO and IVD products that serve the needs of Precision Medicine, Oncology, Infectious diseases, and Reproductive Health. She is an active participant in diversity and inclusion initiatives, and a true believer in EMGS vision to support the next generation of scientist to propel worldwide science.
Joanna Klapacz, PhD
The Dow Chemical Company
Dr. Klapacz is a Product Sustainability Consultant at the Toxicology and Environmental Research and Consulting (TERC) laboratory at The Dow Chemical Company, where she is responsible for conducting safety testing, chemical registrations, human health risk assessment, and research examining Mode-of-Action related to chemical carcinogenesis. Dr. Klapacz has led the development of an epoxide-induced nasal tumors Adverse Outcome Pathway and is involved in the Mode-of-Action research on DNA alkylation and genotoxicity induced by industrial chemicals. Dr. Klapacz has 13 years of experience working as a regulatory toxicologist supporting the safe use of industrial and consumer chemicals. She has also been active in various STEM mentoring programs throughout her career. Dr. Klapacz earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry with Minor in Biology from Wayne State University (Detroit, MI) in 2003 studying cellular processes that lead to mutation. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center of Environmental Health Sciences (2003-2007, Cambridge, MA) investigating alkylating DNA damage and response, and at TERC (2008-2009, Midland, MI) studying epigenetic changes following chemical exposures. Dr. Klapacz has served on the HESI Sustainable Chemical Alternatives Committee, Interstate Technology Regulatory Council, ECETOC Conceptual Framework for Polymer Risk Assessment study section, The Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD Adverse Outcome Pathways Panel, and The Center for Advancing Risk Assessment Science and Policy Group within ACC, as well as on various other trade groups. She is an author/co-author of 20 publications including peer-reviewed articles and book chapters such as Genetic Toxicology in the “Casarett & Doull’s Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons, 9th Edition”. She has been a member of the EMGS since 2009.
Kathleen Hill, Ph.D
Kathleen Hill, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Geneticist in The Department of Biology at The University of Western Ontario in London Ontario, Canada. Her laboratory team studies de novo mutations and mutational signatures toward discovery and characterization of novel mutagens and mutational mechanisms. Her team uses single gene transgenic mouse mutation detection assays, mouse SNP genotyping assays and next generation sequence technologies for mutation detection. Her team applies custom software developed ‘in house’ and with collaborators for visualization of mutation data and analysis of mutation landscapes and signatures. Her team also studies genomic signatures: patterns in genome sequence [k-mer] composition that are taxon and mutation signature specific. Her team’s latest interests are in application of machine learning and deep learning approaches for genome sequence classification and cluster detection, respectively.
Kathleen has been a member of EMS/EMGS since 1995; her first meeting attended was the transgenic mouse mutation detection system meeting in Vancouver BC. Kathleen completed her HBSc and MSc in Biology at UWindsor where she employed SCE and MN assays in a large environmental monitoring program of wild caught mice in Southwestern Ontario through the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. She also examined MN levels in wild fish, amphibian, and bird species in Southwestern Ontario. Her PhD [Zoology, Western University] explored genomic signatures across diverse genomes using Chaos Game Representation as a novel analytical tool to visualize and compare genome short sequence composition. Her PDF training was at the Mayo Clinic [Biochemistry] and City or Hope [Molecular Genetics]
The EMGS annual meeting has been the “go to” research conference for her research students and these students have been richly rewarded with wonderful mentoring from EMGS members. These students have enjoyed travel, poster, and platform presentation awards at the EMGS annual meeting. Two students from the Hill laboratory were the top award winners for the inaugural EMGS Bioinformatics Challenge. Kathleen also served as supervisor for an awardee for the inaugural EMGS Undergraduate Research Scholarship program. EMGS is a fantastic research society for all students and new investigator trainees.
Kathleen has actively contributed to the EMS/EMGS society with participation as a judge for the annual poster and platform presentations at the EMGS annual meetings. Kathleen, as a new investigator, served a term on the EMS Council. Kathleen has co-chaired the In Vivo Mutagenesis SIG. She has assisted in organizing and judging the EMGS Bioinformatics Challenge. She has served as a member of the EMGS Awards and Honors committee, Education Student and New Investigator Affairs committee, and the Membership and Professional Development committee. She has chaired sessions of the EMGS annual meeting and participated in the annual meeting Program Committee. Most recently, Kathleen has been most fortunate to have partnered with the EMGS society to see her large undergraduate classes in Human Genetics and Genome Organization, Mutagenesis and DNA Repair participate at the EMGS annual meeting with online attendance.
Leslie Recio, PhD DABT
Leslie Recio PhD DABT is the Chief Scientific Officer at ScitoVation. Prior to ScitoVation, Dr. Recio was the Chief Scientific Officer and Director of the Genetic and Molecular Toxicology group at ILS 2004-2022. Dr. Recio obtained his B.S. in Microbiology and M.S. and Ph.D. in Toxicology from the University of Kentucky and has been Diplomat of the American Board of Toxicology (DABT) since 1998. Dr. Recio has over 30 years of experience in toxicology research in the areas of mutagenesis, toxicogenomics, and regulatory genotoxicity assessments. His research program includes a broad range of cell-based systems integrating molecular genetic approaches to examine mode-of-action, identify predictive biomarkers of adverse outcomes and the development of toxicogenomics data useful for benchmark dose analysis to derive point of departure estimates used in risk assessments. Dr Recio is internationally recognized for his research in genetic and molecular toxicology, mode-of-action work using genomic technologies, and expertise in regulatory genetic toxicology. He has served on the OECD Genetic Toxicology Expert Working Group since 2014 and at ILS was the principal investigator for the National Toxicology Program (NTP) genetic toxicology testing program for 18 yrs. More recently Dr. Recio has been committed to developing New Alternative Methodologies (NAMs) to replace or reduce the reliance on animal testing by developing genotoxicity assessments in human hepatocyte models. In a collaboration with MIT (Bevin Engelward) and U of Ottawa (Carole Yauk), he has developed a human-relevant genotoxicity testing platform using metabolically competent human hepatocytes integrated with rapid detection of genotoxicity and mode-of-action based genomic profiling. Dr. Recio has been appointed to the editorial boards of Mutagenesis, Toxicological Sciences and Mutation Research Reviews. He was appointed as an Associate Editor for Toxicological Sciences from 2016-2019. He is a member of several scientific societies, including the Environmental Mutagen Society, the Society of Toxicology, and the Genetics and Environmental Mutagenesis Society, and has served several elected leadership positions.
Marc Andrew Beal, PhD, MSc
Dr. Marc Beal is a Research Scientist at Health Canada in the Food Directorate. His scientific work and research is highly aligned with the missions of the EMGS. During his PhD at Carleton University, he focused on integrating genomic tools within existing toxicity guidelines to characterize chemical mutagenesis in the germline. This work was consistent with the original aim of the EMGS to study germ cell mutagens. He applied whole genome sequencing and array comparative genome hybridization to study how chemicals can induce heritable mutations throughout the genome in mice. This resulted in publication of the first study to demonstrate that mutations induced in sperm lead to inherited mutations. His recent research focuses on the modernization of chemical risk assessment through the development and promotion of novel approaches to reduce the use of animals in genotoxicity testing. He is currently leading a HESI-Genetic Toxicology Technical Committee case study that is exploring the utility of in vitro to in vivo extrapolation (IVIVE) modeling to derive points-of-departure from in vitro genotoxicity data. In his lab at Health Canada, he is exploring in vitro models and microphysiological systems to assess the genotoxic profile of chemicals that are present due to food processing/packaging or are naturally occurring in food.
Marc has been an active member of the EMGS since joining in 2010 and was a recent recipient of the EMGS’ Newly Independent Investigator Engagement Award. He previously served as the co-chair of the Heritable Mutation and Disease SIG and as a member of the EMGS website task force committee. He is the current co-chair of the Genotoxicity Risk Assessment and Public Health SIG. He is also a member of the program committee and local organizing committee for the 13th International Conference on Environmental Mutagens meeting. Marc is passionate about the work of the EMGS and is looking forward to exploring more leadership opportunities within the society.
Vasily N. Dobrovolsky, PhD
National Center for Toxicological Research, US FDA
Dr. Dobrovolsky joined the U.S. FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research in 1998 as a staff fellow, and then as Research Microbiologist. His research interests are focused on design and implementation of innovative in vitro and in vivo models in mutation research. In the last few years, Dr. Dobrovolsky contributed to the development and validation of the Pig-a assay confirming DNA mutations in mutant phenotype cells measured by flow cytometry and extending the methodology for detecting and analysis of Pig-a mutant cells in various mammalian species and in cultures of eukaryotic cell. His research interests include engineering transgenic animals and cell lines via traditional or targeted insertion technologies and their subsequent use for studying mutagenesis. Recently his efforts are concentrated on characterizing chemical- and CRISPR-induced mutations in various biological models by whole-genome next generation sequencing and embracing such information for safety assessment of FDA-regulated products.
Vasily received a M.Sc. degree in Biotechnology from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Moscow Russia, in 1988; a Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biology from Shemyakin Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, in 1994. His postdoctoral training was with Bob Heflich at NCTR from 1994-1998 under the scholarship from the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. While a postdoc he developed Tk+/- knockout mouse model for studying in vivo mutation.
Dr. Dobrovolsky is a member of the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society since 1995. He participates in the work of several FDA and international committees, including OECD Expert Groups on developing an OECD Test Guideline for the in vivo Pig-a gene mutation assay. He has co-authored 90 papers in peer reviewed journals and book chapters.
EMGS Secretary Candidate
Janice M. Pluth, PhD
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Janice Pluth is an Associate Professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in the Department of Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences. Prior to this she had worked as a research scientist in the Division of Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. Dr. Pluth’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that contribute to the etiology of radiation-induced mammary carcinogenesis.
She has been a NASA investigator since 2004, and incorporated studies designed to unravel how early damage events relate to longer-term effects and to cancer risk. Her research has incorporated the use of both high and low LET radiations as a means to induce both simple and more complex DSBs, to study how differences in the complexity of the breaks affect cellular responses. More recent studies have incorporated 3D tissue models to paint a more realistic picture of in vivo responses as well as the effects of microgravity. Her more recent interests are also focused on identifying the etiology of radiation-induced cancer and the importance of stem cells in this process.
Dr. Pluth has been a member of the Environmental Mutagen Society since 1992. She has served a Council Member (2003-2006), initiated the Women in EMGS SIG and served as Chair (2007-2011), was president of Epigenetics SIG (2013-present), and has served on the EMS Membership and Professional Development committee (2007-2010), and the Education, Student and New Investigator Committee (2004-present). She has been the EMGS secretary since 2016.