History of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences
Author: Mildred S. Christian, PhD, Fellow ATS
Argus International, Inc.
The Academy of Toxicological Sciences (ATS) was established in 1981, to assure
the objective and unbiased understanding and interpretation of toxicity data
developed for the protection of public health. This objective was
in contrast to the American Board of Toxicology (ABT). ABT was set up primarily
to direct the ethical behavior of laboratory scientists in design, execution
and proximate interpretation of toxicity data, whereas, ATS was oriented
toward governing the practices of interpreters of data bases related to the toxicity
and safety of chemical substances. ATS certifies toxicologists who are internationally
identifiable, based on peer-review by a Board of Directors, as those most
qualified in the field. Thus, it sets a standard to ensure that ethical research
and behavior is inherent in our profession and that only highly qualified
individuals in the field are members.
This brief history presents some personal memories of the Academy’s founding and development.
Like any history, it is biased by the writer. It is intended to provide both an overview of the Academy
and also some insight into the people participating in the Academy and the way the Academy has changed in some
of its aspects over time. Any errors or omissions are unintentional and entirely the fault of the author.
It is my hope that it will demonstrate the impact of time, place and perspective, as well as the possibility of
individual influence, on the development of the Academy and our field. It is also hoped that additions
(and corrections, if appropriate) will be made so that this document does not become static.
Founding of the Academy
In 1981, regulatory toxicology, and to some extent, scientific
inquiry, was experiencing difficulties because instances of fraud
had occurred in the development of some pharmaceutical products.
Further investigation identified fraudulent practices in multiple
academic institutions and publications as well. A revolution in
professional societies ensued regarding development of “Codes
of Ethics” and “Professional Standards”, elements
that were considered inherent prior to this upheaval. The overall
result was, among other things, requirements for national and international “Good
Laboratory Practices”, or as more commonly identified, “GLP’s.”
Certification for toxicologists was not generally considered necessary
before this event. Until then, the only “Certified” or “Boarded” participants
in the drug development process were the “Board Certified
Veterinary Pathologists.” The first draft of the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) GLPs
identified that toxicologists and other participants in studies
used to support development of a registered pharmaceutical product
would need to be certified. Such certification became controversial,
and ultimately, this requirement was not included in the final
US FDA document. Good Laboratory
Practice Regulations; Final Rule. 21 CFR Part 58).
Many experts, particularly in some academic subdisciplines of toxicology,
where regulatory issues were of little interest, considered it
inappropriate to have certification by an examination. They considered
such an examination to be demeaning, that they had no qualified
peers, and, that society membership and participation identified
interested and qualified professionals to be qualified. It
should be noted that this was a time when as many as six letters
of recommendation were required for membership in the Society of
Toxicology, interviews commonly occurred before membership acceptance
in some societies, e.g., the Teratology Society, and there was
considerable animosity between academia, government and industry.
The Academy owes its birth to the American College of Toxicology (ACT)
because ACT was the first professional society to accept the regulatory
needs of toxicologists in industry and government as also relevant
to the field. Thus, this peer-review certification, like that conferred
by the Academy of Toxicological Sciences, was formed in part in
reaction to the lack of response of the Society of Toxicology and
other professional societies to the ethical issues and environmental
concerns that arose in the 1980s.
The following quote is from a June 26, 1980, letter from Dr. Joseph F. Borzelleca,
President-Elect, and chairman of the Task Force on Professional Standards, of
the American College of Toxicology to Council and documents the beginning of
“The rapid development of the science of Toxicology has prompted the need
to assure uniformly high standards in the understanding and interpretation of
toxicity data developed for the protection of public health. The identification
of qualified individuals meeting these high standards is of prime importance.
Recognizing this, the President, Dr. Selikoff, has made it one of the highest
priorities of the American College of Toxicology. A Task Force was established
(roster attached) to address this issue.” Members of this Task Force are
- Dr. Joseph F. Borzelleca
- Dr. Robert P. Giovacchini
- Dr. Joseph V. Rodricks
- Dr. Sorell L. Schwartz
- Dr. Christopher O. Schonwalder
- Dr. Robert G. Tardiff
Needless to say, Dr. Joseph Borzelleca and the other Task Force members were active in founding the Academy.
Although never serving as President, Dr. Borzelleca served as an ATS Councilor for almost 15 years.
Origin of Name
Dr. Bob Tardiff was the one who named the organization, and both Dr. Joe Borzelleca and Dr. Bob Giovacinni endorsed it.
The "Academy" was meant to underscore the Scholarship of the organization through its members, and the “Toxicological Sciences”
represented Bob’s vision of the recognition of the numerous specialties developing and maturing within the field of
toxicology (it also served to counter the view held by some that ATS should be solely for “generalists”).
Use of “Diplomate” Versus “Fellow”
Originally, certificates identified those elected to membership as “Diplomates, ” but, when this designation became
commonly used for many certifications, some of which did not include peer-review, the title was changed to “Fellow.”
This occurred primarily at the suggestion of Dr. Arthur Furst, one of the first individuals certified and at the time, a member
of the ATS Board of Directors, when Dr. Don Gardner was President.
Official Form for Identification
Several different identification forms have been used, and it was recognized that standardization was needed in order
to ensure recognition. In a board meeting in 2000, it was officially recommended (and discussed at the ensuing annual meeting)
that there were two possible forms for use: 1) Fellow, ATS; and 2) F.A.T.S. (with periods after each letter). This information
was distributed to all Fellows along with the membership list.
Board and Officers
Early elections were based on only one candidate for any office, as the office was considered to be an honor
and responsibility, and it was considered inappropriate to place potential candidates in opposition to one another.
Beginning in 1995, two candidates were nominated by the nominating committee for each office, with the exception of
Secretary/Treasurer. This exception was made because service in this office required that the candidate agree to
supply the administrative support for the Academy, which included secretarial and mailing services, copying services
and conference calls.
The Academy is forever indebted to those Fellows and their corporations who provided the administrative services
to the Academy before it attained its current financial status. These are noted below.
Holders of the Office of Secretary/Treasurer
||Dr. Robert G. Tardiff
||Dr. David J. Brusick
(assisted by Ms. Diane Sheehan)
Hazleton Laboratories (now Covance)
||Dr. Mildred S. Christian
(assisted by Ms. Marjorie A. Vargo)
Argus Research Laboratories (now Charles River Preclinical Services, Pennsylvania)
Nominations were originally made by the Past President and his/her appointed
committee. The currently ongoing constitutional revisions are addressing
a more formal and open
nomination process that will include more participation by the general membership.
Until 1994, the Board of Directors met quarterly to review applications,
usually in Bethesda, Maryland,
at The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB),
an interaction originally facilitated by Dr. Myron Mehlman, one of the first
Diplomates. As travel funding
became limited, and applications increased in number, the Board has held
more frequent meetings by conference calls.
Each president and council (board) had an impact on the Academy reflecting their
personal styles and affiliations. However, regardless of the individual members
of the Board,
all applications were always reviewed by each member, and the total scores
and individual attributes of each applicant were considered. Rejection of any
applicant always required
consensus of the entire Board, and any letter of rejection always provided
information regarding areas for improvement. The list of Presidents and the
Board Members who served
demonstrates the high level of expertise inherent in the Fellows of the Academy.
||Dr. Robert P. Giovacchini*
||Dr. John P. Frawley*
||Dr. George J. Levinskas*
||Dr. Charles L. Winek
||Dr. Edwin V. Buehler
|| Dr. Robert G. Tardiff
||Dr. Emil A. Pfitzer*
||Dr. Mildred S. Christian*
||Dr. Gordon W. Newell
||Dr. Robert Snyder
||Dr. Donald E. Gardner
||Dr. John A. Thomas
||Dr. A. Wallace Hayes
||Dr. Judith A. Graham
||Dr. James A. Popp
||Dr. Janice E. Chambers
||Dr. Sidney Green
||Dr. William Slikker Jr.
||Dr. Charlene A. McQueen
||Dr. Glenn Sipes
||Dr. Barbara D. Beck
||Dr. William Brock
The Annual Meeting of the members has been traditionally held at a dinner
occurring during the Annual Society of Toxicology Meeting. In 1994, Dr. Bob
Tardiff designed and then presented
the members with the official lapel pin of the Academy. A pin is now presented
to each new Fellow along with the first Certificate. In the early meetings,
there was often some entertainment,
and few of us will ever forget Dr. Charlie Winek’s “Presidential address.” Several members annually promised to perform as a string quartet, although
the complexities of carrying instruments
have resulted in this never materializing. Essentially all ladies present
as guests until the mid-1990’s were Fellow’s wives, and traditionally, for
at least the first five years, they were presented with roses. As more women
were accepted into the Academy, this practice
was discontinued, although accompanying wives sometimes continued to appear
surprised when certification or re-certification documents were presented to
women whom they had assumed were
accompanying persons. It has now become common for a few accompanying husbands
to attend. With time, the entire membership has become representative of the
gender and minority memberships
of the professional societies. One of our most memorable dinners was in New
Orleans, shortly before hurricane Katrina.
In addition to the required business meeting, other activities usually occur including:
1) wearing of formal attire at the dinner, an activity first suggested by President Emil Pfitzer in
1995, and endorsed since that time as denoting our very special status;
2) providing ribbons to
new members to wear, to make them easily identifiable for welcoming into the Academy, first suggested
by Dr. John Thomas in 2000;
3) collection of names for potential membership, also first suggested by Dr. John Thomas;
4) passing of the gavel to the incoming president and presentation of a plaque to the outgoing president.
Early membership was essentially all male, primarily academic and limited to men in “General Toxicology.”
Applications from individuals in specialized fields, such as teratology, risk assessment, phototoxicology,
genetic toxicology and epidemiology, were rejected. Beginning in 1994, then President Bob Tardiff led the
Board in amending the original position and accepting applications of international experts in specialized
areas of toxicology. Generally, such experts were members of one or more professional toxicology
organizations as well as a specialized professional society. One criterion generally expected was
that the individual would have held the Office of President in a professional society. Review of the membership
of the Academy demonstrates the remarkable number of Past Presidents of the Society of Toxicology, American College
of Toxicology, European Toxicology Society, Teratology Society, Society for Risk Analysis,
and Environmental Mutagen Society who are Fellows.
With recognition that membership was limited to approximately 150 individuals, in 2000,
President John Thomas made a formal effort to increase membership, both by publicizing
the Academy and its activities at professional societies, and by contacting screened individuals
for interest in membership. These activities resulted in an increase in membership to
approximately 180 individuals. The Academy also began an annual contribution of $1000 to the American
College of Toxicology at that time, for two student travel awards it has
sponsored a lecture or debate at the European Society of Toxicology on a bi-annual basis.
As shown in the growth chart, the initial group of 14 Diplomates grew to a total of 188
Fellows who have been certified between 1982 and 2006. As of the writing of this history,
3 have resigned (all in 2005), six are deceased, and 35 are emeritus. Each of the others
has continued to go through a review and recertification process at five year intervals.
As of the most recent count, there are 161 men and 18 women. Although the majority of the active
Fellows are from the United States, active Fellows also are from Germany (4), Canada (3), the United Kingdom
(3), Italy (2), Japan (2), Switzerland (2), France (1), The Netherlands (1), Norway (1) and Turkey (1).
Beginning in 2003, under the leadership of Dr. Jim Popp, the Academy initiated
multiple changes that ultimately permitted
it to be independent of the Secretary/Treasurer’s Office donated support services
of approximating $10,000 annually. The majority of the decisions regarding these
modifications of the Academy’s constitution, the difficult decisions to collect
annual dues and increase formalization of the review processes for all levels
of Fellowship, fell to Boards presided over
by Dr. Janice Chambers and Dr. Sidney Green, along with the process of selecting
a Secretariat. Several new committees also were formed, one of the most effective
being that for design and implementation of a new website. It was chaired by Drs. David
Eaton and William Slikker Jr. through which all administrative functions of the
Academy can now occur. In July of 2005,
administrative support became the responsibility of Association Innovation
and Management (AIM), with the appointment of an Executive Secretary, Ms. Clarissa Russell Wilson.