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King University News :: Members of King's Biology Department Invited to Present at International Conference on Development Neurotoxicity Testing

Rekek Negga, King College alumna and staff member, has been invited to present at the Third International Conference on Alternatives for Developmental Neurotoxicity Testing (DNT) in Varese, Italy May 10-13, 2011.

The conference, hosted by the European Commission Joint Research Centre, will focus on advancing the science of developmental neurotoxicity for better safety evaluation.  Attending the conference will be over 100 scientists, researchers, academicians, and representatives from industries, and other organizations from over 20 countries, all concerned with children's health, alternatives to animal testing methods, and environmental protection.

Humans are exposed throughout their life to many chemical substances, even during the prenatal period. In particular, the effects of the prenatal and early childhood exposure on the developing and maturing nervous system are of growing concern.  From a number of incidents it is known that exposure to high levels of toxic substances in early life may lead to lasting neurological complications and may impose substantial burdens on affected individuals, their families and society.

Negga, leading author on the abstract entitled, Treatment of Caenorhabditis elegans with Glyphosate Suggests Offspring and Reproductive Toxicity, will give a platform presentation as a part of the conference.  Negga’s talk will focus on data generated in the lab of Vanessa A. Fitsanakis, Ph.D., assistant professor and chair of the biology department at King College, as well as data from the senior thesis project of Megan Johnson, who graduated from King on May 7, 2011, Summa Cum Laude with Honors in independent study in biology from Fitsanakis' lab.  In her presentation, Negga will discuss how the Fitsanakis lab uses microscopic, transparent worms to model what happens to the nervous system following exposure to herbicides that contain the active ingredient glyphosate.

The selection of our abstract was monumental, said Fitsanakis.  By the acceptance of our lab's abstract and the offer to reimburse the travel expenses of the presenter, we are encouraged that our research will furhter underscore the importance of using C. elegans as a neurotoxicological animal model in international labs.  It is my hope that in the future more students will be able to take advantage of similar opportunities to submit abstracts to international meetings abroad.