SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
18 January 2018
Volume 19 Issue 1

Return to the Globe

Heard About High-Throughput Toxicology? Wondering How It Applies to Environmental Risk Assessment?

Dan Villeneuve and Natalia Vinas, Workshop Co-Chairs

SETAC North America is hosting a Focused Topic Meeting on High-Throughput Screening and Environmental Risk Assessment: State of the Science and Emerging Applications, held from 16–18 April 2018 in Durham, North Carolina, USA. The purpose of the meeting is to provide environmental scientists and risk assessors an introduction to high-throughput data and tools. Through a diverse program of plenary presentations, round table discussions, poster socials, exhibits, expert panels, hands-on tools demonstrations and story problems, participants will learn about the state of the science of high-throughput toxicology and be equipped with the background to critically evaluate how that science could be employed in a broad range of environmental risk assessment scenarios.

High-Throughput Screening and Environmental Risk Assessment Focused Topic MeetingMotivation for this Effort

For the majority of chemicals in commerce, available information concerning hazards to humans and wildlife is quite limited. Due to the wide range of species, life stages, mechanisms of action and associated lethal or sublethal effects that are of potential environmental concern, comprehensive whole animal testing is not viable for large inventories of chemicals. Furthermore, the fact that chemicals exist in a nearly infinite array of complex mixtures in the environment calls for efficient and informative tools to assess mixture toxicity concerns. Consequently, within the chemical safety assessment community, there has been increased emphasis on taking advantage of advances in biology and biotechnology to move away from reliance on whole animal testing and make increased and more effective use of in vitro and small scale in vivo methods. These methods should be amenable to high-throughput testing and linked to key biological pathways and processes that inform upon adverse outcomes that are relevant for chemical safety assessments.

Internationally, significant investments aimed at advancing high-throughput and computational predictive toxicology approaches have been made and thousands of chemicals have been screened through 10s to 100s of pathway-based assays focusing on human health. While there is recognized opportunity to use high-throughput screening data and computational tools to aid both human health and ecological risk assessments, those applications are often hampered by a lack of detailed understanding of the high-throughput screening data sets and associated computational tools that are available, what their strengths and limitations are, and how they can be appropriately applied to a range of risk assessment questions. In addition, the high-throughput screening bioassays can be applied not only to individual chemicals, but also to mixtures and environmental samples. This offers the opportunity for bioactivity-based surveillance and monitoring, but it poses challenges because not every HTS tool is compatible with complex environmental matrices. The focused topic meeting is aimed at addressing all opportunities and challenges related to application of HTS tools for environmental assessment.

Agenda In-brief

  • Day 1High-Throughput Screening and Ecological Risk Assessment – Background and Setting the Stage – Plenary presentations, panel discussion, interactive story problems, poster social and reception

  • Day 2: Introduction to Existing High-Throughput Data Sets and Associated Computational Tools; Application to Single Chemical Risk Assessments – Plenary presentations, interactive tools demos, plenary discussion

  • Day 3: Application of High-Throughput Data and Tools to Environmental Monitoring and Complex Mixtures; Interactive Story Problems – Plenary presentations, lunch-time poster session, interactive plenary discussion

Abstract submission for poster sessions and registration are currently open. For early-bird pricing, please register and submit your abstract by 14 February 2018

Authors’ contact information:,

Return to the Globe

Contact SETAC Globe
Contact the SETAC Europe office
Contact the SETAC Europe office