DOD experts gather, collaborate at APG for toxicology consortium

By Douglas Holl, Defense Centers for Pubic Health-Aberdeen Public AffairsFebruary 7, 2023

DOD experts gather, collaborate at APG for toxicology consortium
Public Health Service Rear Adm. Brandon Taylor welcomes members of the Tri-Service Toxicology Consortium hosted by the Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense at Aberdeen, Maryland, Jan. 31, 2023. The mission of the TSTC is to communicate, coordinate and optimize toxicology services within the Department of Defense. (Department of Defense photo by Graham Snodgrass) (Photo Credit: Graham Snodgrass) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – The Department of Defense’s leading toxicology experts were hosted in person and virtually Jan. 31 to Feb. 1 by the Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense at Aberdeen Proving Ground as part of a bi-annual meeting of the Tri-Service Toxicology Consortium.

“The mission of the TSTC is to communicate, coordinate and optimize toxicology services within the DOD,” said Dr. Mark Johnson, a charter member and chair of the TSTC, who also serves as the director of the Toxicology Directorate for Defense Centers for Public Health-Aberdeen, formerly the Army Public Health Center.

Johnson explained the toxicology mission is to understand exposures that may result in adverse effects on warriors, workers, and the environment.

“There are over 11 entities in the DOD that have toxicology as part of their mission,” said Johnson. “Each group has a slightly different mission regarding this task. It is through this venue we can best share data and expertise to better understand which exposures could be toxic and best make operational decisions to ensure the health of the warfighter and for military readiness.”

Johnson explained one of the benefits of the TSTC is the participating organizations various missions bring different levels and types of expertise and capabilities. Some excel at new approach methods, some at tools to investigate probability of genotoxic effects that could result in cancer or developmental effects. Some groups are very knowledgeable regarding chemical aspects that can predict dermal penetration; some have vast experience in conducting inhalation studies and know how best to evenly distribute a particulate in an atmosphere.

“These meetings help us all know who the experts are so we can best collaborate on wicked questions and develop study designs that can best answer the question,” said Johnson.

The Defense Health Agency Director of Public Health Public Health Service Rear Adm. Brandon Taylor welcomed the group and thanked them for the work they are doing in advancing public health.

“I’m seeing first-hand the benefits of service collaboration as we bring together public health teams across the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps into DHA Public Health,” said Taylor. “Our DOD and service toxicology experts are unique because they deal with chemicals that other federal agencies usually are not concerned with – things like smokes, obscurants, explosives, propellants, fuels, pyrotechnics, surety agents, and other military unique exposures.”

The TSTC currently has more than 30 collaborative projects under way, said Johnson. This includes characterizing effects from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, looking at new ways to identify toxicity more accurately and quickly for new materials, and the development of occupational exposure levels for trichloroethylene, or TCE.

“You are all doing great science and important work, and I want to thank you all again for your efforts across those TSTC projects,” said Taylor. “We have a responsibility to our service members, DOD civilians, the community, and their families to ensure we are identifying and mitigating risk. The work of the Tri-Service Toxicology Consortium is critical to this effort.”

The Defense Centers for Public Health-Aberdeen advances Joint Force health protection with agile public health enterprise solutions in support of the National Defense Strategy.

NOTE: The mention of any non-federal entity and/or its products is for informational purposes only, and not to be construed or interpreted, in any manner, as federal endorsement of that non-federal entity or its products.