Author Archive

Top 10 Reviewers for Toxicology Research

In celebration of Peer Review Week, with the theme of Recognition for Review – we would like to highlight the top 10 reviewers for Toxicology Research in 2016, as selected by the editorial team for their significant contribution to the journal.

We would like to say a massive thank you to these reviewers as well as the Toxicology Research board and all of the toxicology community for their continued support of the journal, as authors, reviewers and readers.

Name

Institution

Dayong Wang

Southeast University

Hanna Stevens

University of Iowa

Manuel Alvarez-Guerra

Universidad de Cantabria

Wen Chen

Sun Yat-sen University

Sumedha Roy

University of Burdwan

Zhiyong Tang

National Center for Nanoscience and Technology

Xinbiao Guo

Peking University

Samera H Hamad

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dongye Li

Xuzhou Medical College

Y M Zhou

Nanjing Agricultural University

As a little added bonus to celebrate Peer Review Week, for the next four weeks our reviewers will be in with a chance of winning a fantastic prize! Simply submit a review for any of our journals between 19 September and 16 October 2016 and you will be automatically eligible for a chance to win one of our fantastic prizes.

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Call for papers: Systems Toxicology

You are invited to contribute to the upcoming Toxicology Research themed issue on Systems Toxicology.

Guest Edited by Professor Ian Wilson (Imperial College London, UK) this upcoming themed issue will cover a wide span of topics, from mathematical in silico models, more descriptive “omics”-based approaches (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabonomics, etc.), to developing a systems view of toxicity.

Systems toxicology, which forms a subdivision of systems biology and was pioneered by Leroy Hood, has many definitions, but as a framework for hypothesis generation and testing may represent an important new way of explaining, modelling and predicting the consequences of the exposure of organisms to toxins. It is clear from even a cursory examination of the literature that systems toxicology has now reached a sufficient state of maturity that a themed issue dedicated to this field is overdue.

For your article to be considered for this themed issue we must receive your manuscript by 3 February 2017.

Communications, Full Papers and Review articles are welcomed. If you are interested in submitting please contact us to let us know.

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The Collaboration Gene

Success in academic–industry collaboration could be improved by selection of appropriate Collaboration Interface Participants (CIPs) based on inter-individual variability in expression of the putative collaboration gene, clb.

The world of academic – industry collaborations

Collaborations play a vital role in innovation and in the pursuit of new translatable knowledge. These can range from very informal interactions through to the creation of start-up companies with unlimited opportunities for generation of

Figure 1. The Interaction Continuum from informal networking through shared students and postdocs to small business spin offs and start-ups (image by Ruth Roberts).

societal and commercial value (Figure 1). Very early informal interactions play a vital role in providing informal peer review and challenge that can be used both in affirmation of ideas and strategies as well as in ‘unsticking stuckness’ (when problems that can seem insurmountable are easily resolved by a different perspective). Further along the continuum, resources can be pooled to catalyse conceptsa and move pilot projects forward to grant applications and subsequent publication1,2.

As well as studentships, there could be postdoctoral fellows, fee for service contracts and generally ‘bigger things’ at this contractual entry level in the continuum. This step also provides opportunities for cementing relationships via tangible output such as the organisation of scientific sessions and coauthored publications, all of which are positive indicators for further grant funding. Finally, collaborations can lead to commercial opportunities ranging from patents to the creation of startups companies that may ultimately by floated or sold hopefully with significant gain for those who backed the right risk.

The Fourth Dimension of the Industry-Academia Collaboration Continuum

Collaborations are often thought of in 3 dimensions; money, time and geography. From the industry side, the money aspect includes budgetary constraints that must be balanced with perceptions of cost of the collaboration versus perceived value to the sponsoring organisation. From the academic side, scientists are often competing for limited resources within the institution or with external funding bodies. Fortunately for the UK academic environment, studentships are relatively plentiful since cost is shared between the host institute and funding bodies such as the BBSRC3 and the MRC4.

Time is another key element both in terms of the duration of the collaboration but also since trends and priorities ebb and flow with economic cycles. During times of plenty, organisations are much more likely to support projects that pursue knowledge for knowledge’s sake; during harder times funding streams may be only for applied work where the potential for commercial impact is more obvious. For some organisations funding may dry up altogether in leaner times. Geography is also key: despite predictions that the electronic era would overcome geographical barriers, collaboration distances have not increased over time and regional collaboration clearly predominates3.

Although money, time and geography are key parameters in both the initiation of and the success of collaborations, there is a fourth dimension often overlooked: people (Figure 2). The majority of collaborations have been initiated, cemented and progressed when like-minded scientists from different organisations discover a common goal, a shared curiosity or a pet hypothesis to be addressed. Often these scientists may already know one another – an informal survey of a couple of large UK-based companies revealed that a disproportionate number of the MRC and BBSRC studentships were with the industry sponsors’ previous PhD supervisorb. Success at this early stage depends on the willingness of scientists to engage and to take the time and energy to share their thinking informally, to listen carefully to the challenges others are facing and to incorporate this thinking into their own ideas.

Figure 2. The Four Dimensions of the Evaluation of the Evolution of Industry-Academic Collaboration (image by Ruth Roberts).

The Collaboration Phenotype

Most academic and industrial organisations fully recognise that collaboration between academia and industry is key to creating and driving forward innovation in the biosciences, particularly in the search for new medicines. As a consequence of this, most organisations invest significant effort into seeking, organising, maintaining and publicising collaborations. Organisations often have full or part time roles aligned to these tasks, given titles such as industrial liaison manager, head of academic outreach or externalisation director. But in my experiencec and that reported by colleagues, some of the most potentially complex collaborations run smoothly with some institutions whereas even the most simple of studentships can hit numerous inexplicable problems with others. In some organisations, it would seem that collaboration comes naturally and intuitively whereas elsewhere it has to be forced via top-down instruction, perhaps based on targets or process. This appears to be as effective as planning to be spontaneous.

So what can be done to rectify this? As highlighted earlier, people are the key fourth dimension in the likely success of industry-academic collaboration. So, institutions need to think carefully about the selection of the their Collaboration Interface Participants (CIPs) since these are the individuals that can make a success of almost any project and equally well can kill a great idea before it can be explored. CIP phenotype must be considered when selecting individuals for formalised collaboration roles (industrial liaison manager, head of academic outreach, externalisation director, etc) but also in informal interfaces such as meeting potential collaborators and attending networking events such as conferences and discussion groups. Certain informal tests can be applied to shortlist these individuals based on behavioural phenotyped but also on motivation where primary positive indicators could include a genuine enthusiasm and excitement for the topic whereas primary negative indicators could include process (numerical personal and/or institutional targets), competitive behaviours and/or self-promotion. CIPs with the right collaborative phenotype will dramatically enhance success in innovation and delivery. In contrast CIPs with the wrong phenotype will default to process, generating innumerable barriers to innovation and progresse killing any potential collaboration before it really started.

Figure 3. Family tree showing inheritance of clb genotypes. Individuals carrying two copies are natural and compulsive collaborators (image by Ruth Roberts).

So what explains these differences in behaviours? We propose these are driven by differences in expression of the collaboration gene, clb (Figure 3). Homozygous individuals (clb+/+) are driven to collaborate and have a very open and encouraging attitude to new ideas, especially those coming from others. They are willing to run with concepts and take risks. In contrast individuals homozygous for the recessive mutant (clb-/-) appear unable to exhibit collaborative behaviours and are intrinsically suspicious of new ideas especially those proposed by scientists from another organisation. Generally, the clb-/- genotype will seek to solve issues without consultation, exhibiting the so called have-all-the-answers (HATA) phenotype. When placed into a collaboration interface the clb-/- genotype will often create complex processes, structures and metrics in place of judgement and intuition. In contrast, individuals that are hemizygous for the collaboration gene (clb+/-) are highly variable in behaviour and appear to be directly influenced by their environment. In a negative collaboration environment (Table 1) these individuals may behave largely as the clb-/- genotype, resorting to HATA mode especially when challenged. However, when placed in a dynamic, collaboration positive environment or team, collaboration behaviours are switched on creating the induced collaborator (IC) phenotype. These observations provide tentative evidence for environmental regulation of the clb gene, although the mechanisms of such an induction remain to be elucidated.

Table 1. Impact of a negative (-ve) or a positive (+ve) collaborative environment on behaviours in individuals negative, heterozygous or positive for the putative collaboration gene. HATA: have-all-the-answers; IC: induced collaborator; Coll: collaborator (table by Ruth Roberts).

Table 1. Impact of a negative (-ve) or a positive (+ve) collaborative environment on behaviours in individuals negative, heterozygous or positive for the putative collaboration gene. HATA: have-all-the-answers; IC: induced collaborator; Coll: collaborator (table by Ruth Roberts).

Conclusions

Humans’ ability to collaborate to obtain otherwise inaccessible goals may be one main cause for our success as a species6; thus it is not surprising that similar behaviours are central to higher order functions such as success in scientific endeavour. For mutually beneficial collaboration, individuals need cognitive mechanisms to coordinate actions and methods to disseminate benefits in a way that incentivizes partners to continue collaborating6. It is tempting to speculate that the clb gene plays some role in controlling these mechanisms. Additionally, we highlighted earlier that homozygous individuals (clb+/+) have a very open and encouraging attitude to new ideas, and are willing to run with concepts and take risks. Recent data have correlated risk taking behaviour to variations in local brain structure7 suggesting there may be a structural basis for the differences in collaborative behaviour associated with clb genotype. In summary, it’s vital that forward-looking organisations consider CIP phenotypes alongside money, time and geography as a key parameter that will dictate the likely success of their collaborative efforts.

References

1. A. C. Bayly, N. J. French, C. Dive and R. A. Roberts, Non-genotoxic hepatocarcinogenesis in vitro: the FaO hepatoma line responds to peroxisome proliferators and retains the ability to undergo apoptosis, J. Cell Sci., 1993, 104, 307-315.

2. A. C. Bayly, R. A. Roberts and C. Dive, Suppression of liver cell apoptosis in vitro by the non-genotoxic hepatocarcinogen and peroxisome proliferator, nafenopin. J. Cell Biol., 1994, 125, 197-203.

3. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 2015. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/studentships/

4. Medical Research Council (MRC) 2015. http://www.mrc.ac.uk/skills-careers/studentships/

5. S. Von Proff and  A. Dettmann, Inventor Collaboration Over Distance: A Comparison of Academic and Corporate Patents, Scientometrics, 2013, 94, 1217-1238.

6. A. P. Melis, The evolutionary roots of human collaboration: coordination and sharing of resources, Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci., 2013, 1299, 68-76.

7. Z. Nasiriavanaki, M. ArianNik, A. Abbassian, E. Mahmoudi, N. Roufigari, S. Shahzadi, M. Nasiriavanaki, B. Bahrami, Prediction of individual differences in risky behaviours in young adults via variations in local brain structure. Front. Neurosci., 2015, 9, 359-345.


a The Catalyst Concept was well illustrated one Friday evening in 1996 when Caroline Dive brought some H33256 (a DNA stain) to my lab on the off-chance that suppression of apoptosis could explain why cultured rat hepatocytes survived indefinitely in the presence of peroxisome proliferators. These data provided the pilot work for a successful BBSRC grant application and subsequent publications that helped move forward the field.

b This can be very productive but a future hypotheses to be tested proposes that exciting and fruitful collaborations are more likely to arise from new relationships and new ideas.

c Chair of the AstraZeneca Global Safety Assessment (GSA) External Collaborations Group (ESG) 2007-2012.

d The poster session test: positive indicators include full participation and engagement; negative indicators include disappearing to ‘catch up with a few emails’.

e Confidentiality agreements, intellectual property rights, legal contracts, key performance indicator (KPI) metrics, etc.

Any views or opinions presented in this post are solely those of the author and may not represent those of The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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Introducing Toxicology Research Associate Editor Christie Sayes

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Christie Sayes (Baylor University, USA) as our newest Associate Editor.

Christie Sayes


Dr. Christie M. Sayes is an Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Toxicology at Baylor University. She is a subject matter expert in nanomaterial-related toxicology and exposure. Her activities include working with partners, collaborators, and clients in designing & directing studies and training & advising facility staff.  She possesses a working knowledge of laboratory science and U.S. regulatory climates. Routine activities include data collection, analyses, and interpretation as well as results documentation and reporting. Christie received her PhD in Chemistry in 2005 from Rice University.  Her dissertation focused on the nano-bio interface. In 2005, she joined The DuPont Company as Visiting Scientist and aided in the drafting of the DuPont-Environmental Defense Nano Risk Framework.


We welcome Christie and her expertise to the Toxicology Research Editorial Board as Associate Editor alongside Frederik-Jan van Shooten and Ping-Kun Zhou. This appointment strengthens the Editorial Board, with all papers handled by an expert in the field. Submit your paper to Dr. Sayes today!

You can keep up to date with the latest developments from Toxicology Research by signing up for free table of contents alerts and monthly e-newsletters.

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Themed collection on nanotoxicology now published!

A new themed collection on nanotoxicology is now available, featuring articles from across a number of Royal Society of Chemistry journals, including Toxicology Research. This collection of papers provides insights into the toxicological effects of rare earth, noble metal, carbon, silica, and lipid nanomaterials in various systems, and the impacts for health and disease.

If you are interested in this important and topical area of research, discover the latest breakthroughs in this themed collection.

The following articles from the collection are free to access for the next four weeksEnjoy!

Silver nanoparticles – wolves in sheep’s clothing?
Rasmus Foldbjerg, Xiumei Jiang, Teodora Miclăuş, Chunying Chen, Herman Autrupa and Christiane Beer
Toxicol. Res., 2015,4, 563-575
DOI: 10.1039/C4TX00110A

Synthesis and in vivo toxicity assessment of CdSe:ZnS quantum dots functionalized with EDTA-Bis-Cysteamine
Narmada Bag, Rashi Mathur, Firasat Hussain, Namita Indracanti, Sweta Singh, Shivani Singh, Ram Prakash Chauhan, Krishna Chuttani and Anil Kumar Mishra
Toxicol. Res., 2015,4, 1416-1425

Transgenerational safety of nitrogen-doped graphene quantum dots and the underlying cellular mechanism in Caenorhabditis elegans
Yunli Zhao, Qian Liu, Shumaila Shakoor, Jian Ru Gong and Dayong Wang
Toxicol. Res., 2015,4, 270-280
DOI: 10.1039/C4TX00123K

Quantum dot induced cellular perturbations involving varying toxicity pathways
Abdullah Al-Ali, Neenu Singh, Bella Manshian, Tom Wilkinson, John Wills, Gareth J. S. Jenkins and Shareen H. Doak
Toxicol. Res., 2015,4, 623-633
DOI: 10.1039/C4TX00175C

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