2018 ACT Award Recipients


Distinguished Scientist in Toxicology Award

Cheryl Lyn Walker, PhD

Director, Center for Precision Environmental Health at Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Cheryl Lyn Walker is the director of the Center for Precision Environmental Health at Baylor College of Medicine, where she holds the Alkek Presidential Chair in Environmental Health and is a professor in the departments of Molecular & Cell Biology and Medicine. Dr. Walker is internationally recognized for her work in environmental health and elucidation of molecular mechanisms of disease. Her studies on the role of the epigenome in gene-environment interactions have yielded significant insights into mechanisms by which early-life environmental exposures influence health and disease across the life course.

Dr. Walker earned her BA in 1977 from the University of Colorado-Boulder in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, and a PhD in 1984 in cell biology from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, with additional postdoctoral training as a staff Fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. She has been recognized with the Cozarrelli Prize from the National Academy of Sciences, the 2016 Leading Edge in Basic Research Award from the Society of Toxicology (SOT), and the 2018 Roy O. Greep Award for Outstanding Research from the Endocrine Society. Dr. Walker is a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2016 she was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Walker is a Past President of the Society of Toxicology and Past President of Women in Cancer Research of the American Association for Cancer Research, and she has held numerous leadership and service positions on advisory boards of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, for the National Academies, National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and several foundations and patient advocacy groups. Currently, Dr. Walker serves on the Board of Scientific Advisors for the National Cancer Institute and the committee on “Gulf War and Health: Generational Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War” for the National Academy of Sciences.

Mildred Christian Women’s Leadership in Toxicology Award

Hanan N. Ghantous, PhD, DABT

Pharmacology/Toxicology Supervisor at the Division of Antiviral Products, US FDA/CDER

Dr. Hanan N. Ghantous joined the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a pharmacology/toxicology reviewer in 2001, and since 2007 she has been the pharmacology/toxicology supervisor at the Division of Antiviral Products, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Dr. Ghantous has presented at national and international scientific and regulatory meetings, has served on several US FDA committees, has been involved in writing guidance documents, and has represented the US FDA at various public forums. She has been mentoring local and international pharmacy interns since she joined the US FDA. Before coming to the US FDA, Dr. Ghantous worked for approximately 10 years at the DuPont Company. Dr. Ghantous has been a member of the American College of Toxicology since 2000. She served on many committees over the years, including the Council (2011–2013) and as Vice President-elect, Vice President, President, and Past President (2014–2017).

In addition, Dr. Ghantous has been a member of the Society of Toxicology since 1989, where she served on the Continuing Education Committee (2010–2013). She is one of the founders of the SOT’s Biotechnology Specialty Section and served as a Vice President-elect, Vice President, President, and Past President of the Specialty Section (2010–2013). Also, she served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Toxicology (2010–2014) and was the President of the Board of Directors from 2013–2014.

Dr. Ghantous received a BS in pharmacy from the University of Baghdad, Iraq; an MS in pharmacology from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland; and a PhD in toxicology from the University of Uppsala, Sweden. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anesthesiology, University of Arizona, and received her board certification as a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology in 1995. Dr. Ghantous has more than 30 years of combined experience in general and regulatory toxicology.

Service Award

Elaine V. Knight, PhD

Interdisciplinary Scientist/Toxicologist, National Cancer Institute, NIH

Dr. Elaine V. Knight currently serves as an interdisciplinary scientist/toxicologist in the Toxicology and Pharmacology Branch, Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. She has an extensive background with more than 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, where she served as a research scientist and research fellow, respectively, in research and development at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development (Johnson & Johnson).

Dr. Knight was the recipient of the 2011 Food and Drug Administration Leveraging Collaboration Award as a member of the CDISC (Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium) SEND (Standard for Exchange of Nonclinical Data) Team for the creation of SEND and the associated implementation guide. In addition, Dr. Knight was awarded the 2012 IPEC Foundation Marshall Steinberg Memorial Award for outstanding contribution in the field of excipient safety spanning many years of service.

She served on the ACT Council from 2006–2008 and as Secretary from 2009–2010. She served on the Education Committee from 1999–2001, the Program Committee in 2002, the Nominating Committee from 2004–2005 and 2011–2012, the Publications Committee from 2008–2011, as an ad hoc member of the Resource Committee in 2016, and as a member of the Awards Committee from 2014–2017.

Also, Dr. Knight served as a advisory faculty member for the American College of Toxicology and Society of Toxicologic Pathology course, Pathology for Nonpathologist, May 5–8, 2008, in Falls Church, Virginia. Currently, she is an editorial board member of International Journal of Toxicology. She has also co-chaired Continuing Education courses and symposia at the ACT Annual Meetings.

Dr. Knight served as a representative for the National Cancer Institute (National Institutes of Health) as point-of-contact liaison with the National Toxicology Program from 2011–2018. She is an observer with the International Pharmaceutical Excipients Council of the Americas and a member of the Society of Toxicology. Dr. Knight has been a member of ACT since 1997 and has attended 18 of the past 20 Annual Meetings.

Carol C. Lemire Unsung Hero Award

Lijie Fu, PhD, MPH, ATS

Deputy Director and Vice President, National Shanghai Center for Drug Safety Evaluation & Research (NCDSER/InnoStar

Dr. Lijie Fu is deputy director and vice president at National Shanghai Center for Drug Safety Evaluation & Research (NCDSER/InnoStar) in China. He is a Fellow of ATS and has been active in the fields of toxicology for more than 30 years. He graduated from Shanghai First Medical College and practiced in occupational medicine for more than two years after graduation. He received his master’s degree in pesticide toxicology in 1982, and PhD in toxicology and health risk assessment in 1987, in which he was one of the first two individuals receiving a PhD degree in toxicology in China.

Dr. Fu received his postdoctoral training in National Developmental Toxicology Program at Thomas Jefferson University US, prior to joining Haskell Lab of DuPont as a visiting scientist/study director in 1989. He has worked in CRO industry and being involved in the establishment of several nonclinical testing labs in the US and China such as WuXi AppTech, Medicilon/ MPI, SNBL, and InnoStar Haimen. Dr. Fu was retained by WHO as an Expert on Safety Evaluation and GLP regulations, and has been actively involved in the establishment of a regulatory system in China. He was appointed by several Chinese regulatory agencies including the China Ministry of Environment Protection (MEP) and Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) as a leading expert/scientific advisor for chemical/pesticides evaluation/ registration and testing laboratory certifications.

Dr. Fu served as Vice President (2009–2018) and Secretary General (2013–2018) of the Chinese Society of Toxicology (CSOT), and is the President for the Asian Society of Toxicology (2018–2021). He was elected as an Executive Committee (Director) of the International Union of Toxicology (IUTOX) in 2016 and serves as a Co-Chair of the Education Committee and Chair of the Toxicology Recognition Task Force of the Union. He has been an active member of ACT and has served as Co-Chair/Chair for three courses in China co-organized by ACT and CSOT and as a faculty member for the ACT Study Director course in India.

Dr. Fu is on the editorial board of International Journal of Toxicology, and the advisory editorial board of the Chinese Journal of Pharmacology & Toxicology. He has edited several books, published numerous book chapters and articles in Chinese and in English.

Early Career Professional Award

Kristina DeSmet, PhD, DABT

Senior Toxicologist, United Therapeutics Corporation

Dr. Kristina DeSmet is a senior toxicologist at United Therapeutics Corporation, where she is responsible for the nonclinical safety evaluation of small molecule and biotherapeutic drug candidates for the treatment of chronic and life-threatening conditions. Prior to joining United Therapeutics, she was a senior scientific investigator at GlaxoSmithKline, where she served as the safety assessment representative on early- and late-stage development projects and marketed products within the dermatology therapeutic area.

Dr. DeSmet completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Watkins, where she investigated mechanisms of drug-induced liver and kidney injury in animal models. She received her PhD in health sciences from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (2009) and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology (2013). Dr. DeSmet has been an active member of the Society of Toxicology since 2005 and the American College of Toxicology since 2011. She was one of the first members of the ACT Early Career Professional Outreach Subcommittee, which she co-chaired in 2017, and currently she is serving on the Education Committee.

Award for Best Paper Published in International Journal of Toxicology

Recio L., Friedman M., Marrioni D., Maynor T., Chepelev N. L. “Impact of Acrylamide on Calcium Signaling and Cytoskeletal Filaments in Testes From F344 Rat” International Journal of Toxicology: Volume 36 (2): 124–132, 2017

North American Travel Grants

Presented to:

Olushola Awoyemi, Texas Tech University

Josephine Brown, University of Cincinnati

Nazmin Eti, University of Iowa

Larisa Gearhart-Serna, Duke University

Melissa Heintz, Clemson University

Venkata Pallavi Kompella, University of Texas at Austin

Sireesha Manne, Iowa State University

Olalekan Ogunsakin, University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Muhammad Rahman, University of Iowa

Puneet Vij, MB Research Laboratories

2018 North American Graduate Fellowships

Presented to:

Benjamin Elser, University of Iowa

Timur Khaliullin, West Virginia University

Matthew Ruis, Duke University

2017 North American Graduate Fellowships

Michael Kerins, University of Arizona

Sumira Phatak, Utah State University

Allison Phillips, Duke University

Eric Uwimana, University of Iowa

International Travel Grants

Presented to:

Olusegun Adebayo, Redeemer’s University, Nigeria

Flora Aigbe, University of Lagos, Nigeria

Goran Gajski, Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health, Croatia

Thilini Wijerathna, South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration, Sri Lanka

To apply or nominate for a 2019 ACT Award visit the Awards website.