The 15th Annual LRI workshop took place on 20 and 21 November in Brussels. The main focus of the workshop was on how a science-informed approach to decision making can contribute to relevant policy initiatives.
Opening remarks by Dr Hubert Mandery, Director-General of Cefic praised the work of LRI as an essential part of ensuring that the chemical industry in Europe retains its “licence to operate” with society.
Repeated themes in the workshop debate were the need to base policy on sound science but also to ensure that scientific results were clearly communicated to politicians and the public. Both audiences needed to trust science but prior perceptions, presumptions and prejudices often clouded decisions making. Contributions included an after dinner talk from Prof. Kenneth Dawson of University College Dublin, a video message from Julie Girling MEP, and plenary presentations from Prof Erik Lebret of Utrecht University and Prof Richard Sharpe of the UK’s Medical Research Council.
The workshop highlighted the successful work of the LRI Innovative Science Award since its inauguration in 2004. One million euros had been awarded so far and the programme had inspired excellent projects and made a huge impact on the careers of all the recipients so far.
The tenth recipient of the award, Dr. Sabine Langie from the Flemish Institute for Technological Research, was presented with her € 100 000 prize by Prof. Ellen Fritsche of the University of Düsseldorf: a previous winner of the award. Dr. Langie will use her award to broaden her current work on the analysis of DNA methylation patterns in the saliva of children participating in two significant birth cohort studies in Flanders.
The workshop also got an update on the work of 2012 winner Dr Andreas Bender of the University of Cambridge. He is assessing biologically relevant effects of compound exposure by chemical, biological and phenotypic data integration and has recently received a European Research Council Starter Grant worth up to € 1.5 million to extend this promising work.
The workshop showcased the results of some recently completed LRI projects. Areas of interest included thresholds of concern, bio-monitoring, domestic exposure, endocrine disrupters, nanomaterials, toxicogenomics and sediment testing. This session started with an overview from Prof Greet Schoeters of the University of Antwerp of an ICCA-LRI workshop held in Santa Fe, New Mexico on “What is Normal?” and what this meant for chemical safety assessment. ‘Normal’ is, in fact, an extremely dynamic state in biological terms.
Evidence based science
In the last session of the workshop Dr Norbert Bornatowicz of the European Chemicals Agency and Dr Krzysztof Maruszewski of JRC’s Institute for Health and Consumer Protection described their roles in ensuring that science was a basis of regulation and policy making at the European level. Finally the role of the media in responsible research and innovation was discussed by Erika Widegren of Atomium Culture.
Click here to view the final programme of the workshop.
Welcome and outline, Stuart Marshall, Unilever, LRI SIG
Opening remarks, Dr Hubert Mandery, Director General, Cefic, BE
Keynote session: What science for which questions? Chair: Dr. Stuart Marshall, Unilever, LRI SIG
A parliamentary perspective, Ms Julie Girling, Member of the European Parliament (video message)
What science for which questions, Prof Erik Lebret, IRAS, Utrecht University and RIVM and ESAP, NL
Keeping your eye on the goal: avoiding conflicts, agendas, emotions and presumptions, Prof Richard Sharpe, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, The Queen’s Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, UK
Plenary session LRI projects impact: focus on biomonitoring, thresholds and low dose, endocrine effects, toxicogenomics and sediment testing, Chair: Dr Bruno Hubesch, Cefic, LRI Programme Manager, BE
What is Normal in Santa Fe? Prof Greet Schoeters, University of Antwerpen and VITO, BE
B6: Toxicogenomic Investigation into False Positive Responses in the Local Lymph Node Assay (LLNA), Dr Darrell Boverhof, Dow, US
B8: New Threshold of Toxicological Concern (TTC) for inhalation exposure and derivation of thresholds with the database RepDose, Dr Sylvia Escher, Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine (ITEM), DE
AIMT2: Mechanism-based characterisation of toxicity for RepDose database substances: initial results on cytotoxicity and genomics, Dr Rob Stierum, Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), NL
EMSG57: Critical review of epidemiological evidence for the potential association between endocrine active chemicals and obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, Dr Judy LaKind, LaKind Associates, LLC, US
ECO17: Evaluation of test methods for measuring toxicity to sediment organisms, Dr Noel Diepens and Prof Albert Koelmans, Wageningen University, Department of Environmental Sciences, Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management (WU-AEW), NL
ECO16: Critical Body Residue Validation for Aquatic Organisms Exposed to Chemicals Causing Toxicity by Baseline Narcosis, Dr Joop Hermens, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, IRAS, Utrecht University, NL
LRI Innovative Science Award 2012-2013, Chair: Prof Ellen Fritsche, University of Düsseldorf & ESAP, DE
Looking Back on LRI Award: Nitromethane in an Early Career? Prof Ellen Fritsche, University of Düsseldorf and ESAP, DE
Determining Biologically Relevant Effects of Compound Exposure by Chemical, Biological and Phenotypic Data Integration, Dr Andreas Bender, University of Cambridge, Awardee 2012, UK
Environmental programming of respiratory allergy in childhood: the applicability of saliva to study the effect of environmental exposures on DNA methylation, Dr Sabine Langie, VITO (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), Awardee 2013, BE
Evidence-based Science for Critical decisions, Chair: Prof Michael Siegrist, ETH Zurich and ESAP, CH
Science in the regulatory process (REACH), Dr Norbert Bornatowicz, Senior Scientific Officer, ECHA, FI
Science based policy making. Who does what (and why)? Dr Krzysztof Maruszewski, Director of JRC-IHCP, IT
The role of the media in responsible Research and Innovation, Ms Erika Widegren, Executive Director, Atomium Culture, BE
Conclusions and future perspectives, Dr Bruno Hubesch, CEFIC Research & Innovation, LRI Programme Manager, BE