January 2021 Newsletter

January 2021 Newsletter
Table of Contents

Message from Chair
Introduction of New Officers
Drug Design and Delivery Webinar Series


Message from Chair

Picture of Natalia TretyakovaHappy New Year, TOXI members! I am honored and humbled to serve as TOXI Division Chair in 2021-2022. For those of you who do not know me yet, I am a Professor at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and the Masonic Cancer Center at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the founding director of the UMN Epigenetics Consortium. I have been an active member of ACS since 1997 and served in many leadership positions within TOXI including Executive Committee, Communications Committee, Finance Committee, TOXI Treasurer, and Chair-Elect. The TOXI Division has been an integral part of my professional life throughout my entire academic carrier, and I am excited for the opportunity to lead the Division for the next 2 years. On behalf of TOXI, I want to thank Shana Sturla (ETH) for serving as division Chair in 2019 and 2020. Under her leadership, we held two successful symposia (one of them virtual), improved our financial situation, and obtained ACS funding for TOXI Strategic Planning. Great job, Shana!

Year 2020 was difficult for many of us due to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our families and research programs. Most of us have been working from home while taking care of our children, teaching remotely, and directing research and collaborations via Zoom. Lab closures and social distancing have negatively affected our productivity and research progress. The virtually held Fall 2020 ACS national meeting was a success, but did not give us a chance to interact in person. 2021 is a new year, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our country has a new leadership, and vaccination programs are picking up full speed. There are plans for the Fall 2021 meeting in Atlanta, GA to be conducted in a hybrid mode, and all of us will be able to resume social and professional interactions in the near future.

The central theme of the ACS Fall 2021 meeting is Resilience of Chemistry. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we must be strong and flexible, continually developing innovative strategies that allow us to stay connected, share information, and grow as a division, despite the pandemic. Penny Beuning is the Program Chair for the Fall 2021 TOXI program in Atlanta. With the help of the vice Chair Michael Trakselis, she has put together an exciting program including topics such as toxicological assay development, role of gut in drug metabolism, and toxicology of aging. It is going to be an exciting symposium, both online and in person! Although there will be no TOXI programming at the Spring 2021 ACS meeting, we are planning an informal online meeting on Friday, March 26th. It will include scientific talks, executive committee meeting, and a workshop for students – please mark your calendars and stay tuned!

Our Chair Elect Michael Stone is leading the new TOXI Strategic Planning Committee. Committee members include Shana Sturla, Candy Chen, Beate Escher, Orlando Scharer, Bin Ma, Alessandra Frizzi, Kaushik Mitra, Ujjal Sarkar, Zucai Suo, Natalia Tretyakova, Linlin Zhao, Nicole Kleinstreuer, Elijah Petersen, and Rebecca Fry. The committee will work with an ACS moderator to help define the future of the Division.

The TOXI division is applying for an Innovative Program Grant that aims to increase the division membership from underrepresented minority groups. We are planning to conduct recruitment and retention steps to increase minority representation in our ranks. Any members interested in participating (online) are encouraged to contact Sarah Shuck (sshuck@coh.org). We strive to grow the number of TOXI members with diverse backgrounds.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Division of Chemical Toxicology. The Division was founded by Richard Loeppky, Larry Marnett, and Steve Hecht, who had a vision and the wisdom to provide a forum for chemists working in toxicology and related fields. We will celebrate with a special Anniversary Symposium highlighting researchers that contributed to Division’s growth and success over the past quarter of century. We are also conducting a ACS TOXI 25th Anniversary Logo Contest to help commemorate this important anniversary. Please email me at trety001@umn.edu if you have any other ideas!

Introduction of New Officers

Congratulations to our new officers!


Dr. Natalia Tretyakova received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from Moscow State University (Russia), and her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (with Jim Swenberg), followed by post-doctoral research at MIT (Tannenbaum group). She has been a faculty member at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities since 2000, where she is currently a Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and the Founding Director of the UMN Epigenetics Consortium. Dr. Tretyakova’s research program is supported by 5 grants for the NIH and ranges from structural studies of DNA and protein adducts to epigenetic changes associated with inflammation and development of biomarkers of cancer risk. She utilizes the tools of biological mass spectrometry, chemical biology, organic synthesis, genomics, and computational modeling in her research. Dr. Tretyakova has co-authored over 125 peer-reviewed publications. She has been active in American Chemical Society governance, serving as member of TOXI Executive Committee, Communications Committee, Finance Committee, Treasurer, and Chair-Elect. She is Editorial Board member of Chemical Research in Toxicology.


Michael P. Stone received his B.S. from the University of California, Davis, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine, followed by post-doctoral research at The University of Rochester.  He has been at Vanderbilt University since 1984, where he is Professor of Chemistry. Dr. Stone’s research is in the area of perturbations to DNA structure induced by chemical and environmental mutagens, and the relationships between modifications to DNA structure and mutagenesis and DNA repair. He utilizes both nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and X-ray crystallography in his research. Dr. Stone has co-authored over 130 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Stone has been active in American Chemical Society governance. He has served as Treasurer and on the Executive Committee of the Division of Chemical Toxicology. He is a past Editorial Board member of Chemical Research in Toxicology. Dr. Stone has also served on the Executive Committee and as Chair of the ACS Nashville Local Section.


Executive Committee, Member-at-Large

Matilde Marques was born in Santarém, Portugal. She holds B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering and a Habilitation degree (D.Sc.) in chemistry from Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), University of Lisbon, Portugal. She conducted postdoctoral work in chemical carcinogenesis at the FDA National Center for Toxicological Research, USA, and is currently a full professor at the Department of Chemical Engineering of IST, where she teaches organic and medicinal chemistry. She coordinated the M.S. and Ph.D. Chemistry Programs at IST until December 2016 and is vice-chair of IST’s Scientific Council (2017-present).

Her research focuses on the mechanisms of toxicity induced by environmental (e.g., aromatic amines, acrylamide) and therapeutic (e.g., antiestrogens, anti-HIV drugs) xenobiotics, on the development/validation of analytical methodologies for the detection and quantitation of biomarkers of exposure to toxic agents, with emphasis on MS-based methodologies, and on the design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of potential therapeutic agents.

She is a Member of the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Chemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the IUPAC Subcommittee on Toxicology and Risk Assessment. She has served as Chair of the Division of Medicinal Chemistry of the Portuguese Chemical Society and Council Member of the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry (2016-2020). She serves on the Editorial Board for Pharmaceuticals and the Editorial Advisory Board for Chemical Research in Toxicology and has been a Member of multiple working groups for the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Nominations Committee Member

picture of trevor penningTrevor Penning is a Professor of Systems Pharmacology & Translational Therapeutics, Biochemistry & Biophysics and OB/GYN, Director for the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, which is Penn’s P30 Environmental Health Sciences Core Center funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), he is also Co-Leader of the Tobacco and Environmental Carcinogenesis Program in the Abramson Cancer Center. Dr. Penning received a PhD in Biochemistry from Southampton University, U.K., under Professor M. Akhtar, FRS. Following his postdoctoral training with Professor Paul Talalay at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, he joined Penn as an Assistant Professor in 1982, becoming a full Professor in 1994. Dr. Penning has extensive administrative experience as Interim Chair of Pharmacology (1994-1996), as Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Research Training (1997-2005), and as Director of Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs (2002-2005). He has directed many multi-investigator grant initiatives.

Dr. Penning has conducted seminal work on hormonal and chemical carcinogenesis involving the Aldo-Keto Reductase (AKR) superfamily. His current work is focused on the role of human AKRs in steroid hormone metabolism and the metabolic activation of pyrogenic, petrogenic and nitro-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). In steroid hormone metabolism he has identified four human AKR1C enzymes that are involved in the pre-receptor regulation of steroid hormone action since they determine the local concentration of ligand for the androgen, estrogen and progesterone receptor. For PAH he identified a novel pathway of PAH activation catalyzed by AKRs that involves the formation of redox-active o-quinones, which has become widely accepted as an alternative pathway to diol-epoxide formation. He also directs a T32 Institutional Training Grant: Translational Research Training Program in Environmental Health Sciences (T32 ES019851), and he has been past-Chair of the Graduate Research and Training Group (GREAT) of the AAMC. He has trained over 40 pre- and postdoctoral trainees, many of whom have gone on to leadership positions in academia and industry. He has been Program Chair and Chair Division of Chemical Toxicology of the American Chemical Society (ACS) He has been a recipient of the Founders Award from the Division and is an ACS Fellow.


Penny Beuning is Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Northeastern University and was appointed chair in July 2020. She earned a B.A. in Chemistry from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. She completed postdoctoral research at MIT focused on the regulation of cellular responses to DNA damage. Her research on DNA damage tolerance and protein engineering has been recognized with a Cottrell Scholar Award, an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant, and a Chemical Research in Toxicology Young Investigator Award. Prof. Beuning has been active in efforts to enhance the recruitment and retention of groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences. She has volunteered for ACS as a facilitator for the New Faculty Workshops and on the Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs. She serves as TOXI Program Chair for the 2020 and 2021 August National Meetings, as Councilor representing TOXI, and on the Editorial Advisory Board of Chemical Research in Toxicology. She is a fellow of the American Chemical Society.

Alternative Councilor

Clementina Mesaros is a Research Assistant Professor of Pharmacology in the Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. She received her Ph.D. in organic chemistry (under the mentorship of Professor Robert Salomon) from Case Western Reserve University in 2005, then joined the Blair laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania were she quickly mastered the use of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and developed a chiral method to monitor the oxidative modifications that arise from the cytochrome P-450 (CYP)-mediated metabolism of arachidonic acid.

After her post-doctoral fellowship, she was appointed as the Technical Director of the Translational Biomarkers Core from the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology where she developed assays for metabolites involved in cellular oxidative stress and flux analysis of metabolites within intermediate metabolic pathways using stable-isotope dilution liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Some of the routine assays include quantification of isoprostanes, 8-oxo-dGuo, and chiral eicosanoids. She was involved in studying the mechanisms of bioactive lipid formation and signaling pathways related to environmental exposures. As opposed to simply assessing exposure based on direct quantification of the exposure itself, this approach attempted to make use of downstream consequences of exposures. She also established the use of omics approaches by LC-HRMS-based methodology in the Core as a tool for conducting sophisticated lipidomics and metabolomics research. During her time at Upenn, Dr. Mesaros collaborated closely with Professor Ian Blair and Professor Trevor Penning. She gained extensive expertise in translational research and in writing grant proposals and multidisciplinary collaborations through her role in Center. Dr. Mesaros has published over 90 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Mesaros’ current research is focusing on two main areas: 1. Investigating how lipid metabolism is disrupted as a consequence of mitochondrial dysfunction in Friedreich’s ataxia (FA). 2. Trying to understand individual and population-level environmental exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and to predict sub-populations of never smokers at high-risk of developing non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Dr. Mesaros has been an active member of the ACS TOXI division since she was a graduate student. She has been actively involved in judging the oral and poster presentations in the past TOXI meetings since 2014.

Drug Design and Delivery Webinar Series

The TOXI division has been awarded an Innovative Program Grant from ACS to conduct a series of webinars on innovative technologies to understand and predict drug toxicity. Dr. Kaushik Mitra has spearheaded the process. Last year, two excellent webinars focused on mitigating drug-Induced liver injury as part of the 2020 Drug Design and Delivery Symposium. The webinar recordings can be found at https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/acs-webinars/collections/2020-drug-design.html. The upcoming webinars will focus on cutting edge tools to predict toxicity. Please stay tuned for updates.