NST 121, Computational Toxicology, has been a requirement for Toxicology majors, minors, and Specialization “majors” since the course inception by Dr. Dale Johnson in 2006. The course is an inquiry-based science course where students work in small cooperative groups and are given tools, data, and basic concepts to solve toxicity-related environmental, public health, and/or disease-oriented problems in novel ways. Outstanding student projects are selected each year to potentially be presented at national scientific meetings. Committed students continue to work on the projects with Dr. Johnson until the meeting deadline for submission, usually during the following Fall semester, which for many students is post-graduation. In March 2017, a major milestone was reached; over 100 different students from this course have been co-authors of these presentations. This also results in a literature citation for each student since abstracts are published in an official Journal Supplement.
At the National Society of Toxicology meeting in March 2017, students presenting included Pooja Srinivas, Jennifer Tian, Andrew Lau, Varun Bahl, Jessica Zavala, Alondra Hurtado, Tianxia (Margaret) Xiao, Samantha Wong, Revathi Muralidharan, Miin Choi, Esha Dalvie, Natalie Soto, and Lois Yang.
Another, potential benefit from the course is an opportunity to be selected for an internship at USFDA working in a computational toxicology group. This collaborative program also started in 2006, initially in the Drug Division, and is now in the Food Division. Since its inception, over 20 students from the course, as UC Berkeley graduates, have worked as interns at USFDA, some staying for 2 years.
Dr. Johnson and Dr. Rudy J. Richardson, his colleague from the University of Michigan, have recently (March 2017) edited a new book, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The book is entitled “Computational Systems Pharmacology and Toxicology”.