SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  10 October 2013
Volume 14 Issue 10

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Nashville Workshop on Mechanistic Effect Models for Ecological Risk Assessment

Mary Sorensen, ENVIRON International Corporation, North America, and Chair of SETAC’s Global Ecological Risk Assessment Advisory Group

The SETAC North America 34th Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee includes the Ecological Risk Assessment Advisory Group (ERA AG) and Mechanistic Effect Models for Ecological Risk Assessment of Chemicals (MeMoRisk)-sponsored workshop “Mechanistic Effect Models for Ecological Risk Assessment: Recent Progress and Future Directions.” There are various pressures to develop new approaches to the ecological risk assessment of chemicals. On the one hand there is pressure to test more chemicals, leading to economic pressures to reduce the costs of tests and to speed them up, and also ethical pressures to reduce the use of animals in testing. One response to these pressures is to make better use of observations on suborganismal responses arising from chemical perturbations to make an assessment of the likelihood of impact on targets of concern. Frameworks such as Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) take this approach. This framework offers the promise of identifying mechanisms that are responsive to chemical perturbation and of building in vitro testing methods around them. On the other hand, there are also calls for developing more holistic risk assessments that are more in tune with the needs of risk management, that relate more obviously to the objects of protection, and that thus express impacts in terms of health and/or ecosystem services. Finally, there are calls for approaches that make more explicit links between exposure and effects and that move away from expressing risks in terms of simple thresholds and toward outputs that can better inform management decisions. Mechanistic effect models encompass a broad range of quantitative tools to address these issues and support the quantification of risks for tested and untested chemical stressors.

Valery Forbes
Chair—Valery Forbes, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA
Diane Nacci
Co-Chair—Diane Nacci,USEPA, USA
Mary Sorensen
Co-Chair—Mary Sorensen, ENVIRON, USA

Speakers representing the academia, regulatory agencies, and industry tripartite are participating in a workshop intended to discuss how lessons learned from recent and ongoing initiatives in Europe and North America could facilitate the development and implementation of predictive modeling tools in the regulatory risk assessment of chemicals. The workshop is a mix of invited talks and panel discussions where audience participation will be encouraged. The following presenters and topics are planned:

  • Peter Calow, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, USA  
    • Overview of the Challenges
  • Virginie Ducrot, INRA France
    • Overview of CREAM Accomplishments
  • Udo Hommen, Fraunhofer IME, Germany
    • Modelink Conclusions & EFSA Activities  
  • Annemette Palmqvist, Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark
    • Mechanistic Models Linking Exposure and Effects: A Case Study with Nanoparticles
  • Wayne Munns, USEPA, Narragansett, RI, USA
    • From Ecological Models to Ecosystem Services in US Regulations
  • Ed Odenkirchen, USEPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
    • US Regulatory Application of Ecological Models
  • Anne Fairbrother, Exponent, Inc., WA, USA
    • Recommendations for Ecological Models to Assess Risks to Endangered and Threatened Species
  • Irvin Schultz, Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sequim, WA, USA
    • Recent Developments in Adverse Outcome Pathway Models
  • Valery Forbes, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, USA
    • Where Do We Go From Here?

We invite you to be an active participant and we look forward to seeing you in Nashville! For more information about the workshop, see the ERA AG page, MeMoRisk page or contact any of the Workshop organizers:,, or

Remember, the symposium is on Sunday, 17 November from 1:00-5:30 pm and you must register for it when you register for SETAC. If already registered, you can amend your registration to include the workshop or add the workshop when you check in.

Author contact information:

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