SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
15 June 2017
Volume 18 Issue 6

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Advancing the Adverse Outcome Pathway Framework

Markus Hecker, University of Saskatchewan, and Carlie LaLone, US Environmental Protection Agency

A SETAC Pellston Workshop® that focused on “Advancing the Adverse Outcome Pathway Framework,” which was held in April in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, was co-chaired by Carlie LaLone, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Markus Hecker, University of Saskatchewan. This workshop involved thirty-nine cross-sector participants from North America, Europe and Asia, including four post-doctoral fellows and one graduate student.

Since the original publication on the adverse outcome pathway (AOP), the framework has matured significantly and has increasingly been recognized as a powerful approach for organizing pathway information in a format applicable for chemical risk assessment. With increasing interest in and uptake of the AOP framework, a need was identified to engage the global scientific and regulatory communities in identifying future directions for the framework. Therefore, as a means to reach beyond current stakeholders, the SETAC Pellston Workshop was initiated and developed based on input collected from a Global Horizon Scanning exercise, where a survey asked volunteer participants to “propose questions that identify key outstanding challenges or limitations that must be addressed in order to realize the full potential of the AOP framework in research and regulatory decision-making.”

The Horizon Scanning exercise led to the collection of 340 valid questions that were subjected to a ranking exercise conducted by the steering committee (13 members) of the workshop.  A description of the Horizon Scanning approach and ranking exercise can be found in a recently published ET&C Focus article. This ranking exercise resulted in the identification of four core themes that were addressed during the Pellston Workshop:

  1. AOP networks and their applications (Workgroup leaders: Dries Knapen, University of Antwerpen, and Daniel Villeneuve, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
  2. Quantitative AOPs and their applications (Workgroup leaders: Stefan Scholz, UFZ Leipzig, and Edward Perkins, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
  3. Regulatory use of the AOP framework (Workgroup leaders: Katherine Coady, The Dow Chemical Company, and Patience Brown, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)
  4. Roadmap to expand awareness of, involvement in and application of the AOP framework and AOP knowledge-base in the broader scientific and regulatory and environmental policy communities (Workgroup leaders: Annamaria Carusi, University of Sheffield, and Gerald Ankley, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

The workgroups identified several central topics that spanned the four core themes, including the need to simplify and translate to the broader stakeholder community beyond the groups of scientists currently involved with the AOP framework. Furthermore, there was recognition the AOP framework has facilitated a change in mentality that previously had separated human toxicology and ecotoxicology, and that it provides unprecedented opportunity for interaction among stakeholder groups (users and developers) and collaborative partnerships.

In conclusion, the SETAC Pellston Workshop “Advancing the Adverse Outcome Pathway Concept: An International Horizon Scanning Approach” successfully collected and addressed questions from the global community that were used to establish a road-map to guide future research and regulatory initiatives, identified global issues and key uncertainties regarding the applicability and readiness of the AOP concept to address current regulatory and scientific needs.  The following are anticipated products of this workshop:

  • A collection of publications in the SETAC journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and other journals
  • Session titled “Advancing the Adverse Outcome Pathway Concept – An International Horizon Scanning Approacha” and co-chaired by Markus Hecker and Carlie LaLone at the upcoming SETAC North America 38th Annual Meeting, which will be held from 12–16 November in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Sessions at the Society of Toxicology 2018 meeting in San Antonio, Texas, the SETAC Europe 2018 meeting in Rome, Italy, and the SETAC Asia-Pacific 2018 meeting in South Korea

For more information, contact Pellston workshop co-chairs Markus Hecker or Carlie LaLone.

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