SPotlight Newsletter

Spotlight Newsletter

President’s Report

The 2018 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC is nearly upon us! We have over 450 registered for the meeting with more than 190 posters, 50 exhibitors, and the Tuesday evening social event at the W Hotel is sure to be a fun event – plan to purchase tickets before they sell out! In addition, the Mobile App is ready for download and the Final Program is now available on the SPS website along with other relevant Meeting Materials. A huge thanks to the Program Committee led by Mike Engwall, who have put together an exciting conference, and to Krystle Correll and colleagues at AIM, for the incredible planning and organization that goes into it.

Additionally, you can expect two keynote lectures presented by key opinion leaders in the field and about 50+ scientific sessions. Do not miss our Annual Members’ Meeting and Awards Ceremony, which also features the SPS Distinguished Service Award (DSA) Presentation.  I am delighted to be presenting the 2018 DSA to Dr. Mary Jeanne Kallman, a key person in the Safety Pharmacology Society who significantly shaped, promoted and represented the discipline of safety pharmacology right from its beginnings.

Lastly, best of luck to those taking the Diplomate in Safety Pharmacology Certification Exam this year on Saturday, September 29th. I hope you all have a successful outcome!  Thanks to the DSP Committee for putting the exam together and to ensure that the quality, rigor and fairness of the questions is maintained over time.

See you all soon in Washington, DC — have safe travels and enjoy the Meeting!

Martin Traebert, PhD, DSP, ERT
President, Safety Pharmacology Society

Annual Meeting News

2018 Annual Meeting Plenary Keynote Speakers

We are pleased to welcome Wilson Compton, MD, MPE, National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD, United States as our 2018 Plenary Keynote to speak on Science=Solutions for the US Opioid Crisis on Monday, October 1 from 08:30–09:30.

We also have a second Plenary Keynote, on Tuesday, October 2 from 08:30–09:30 by Walter Koch, PhD, Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, United States, who will be speaking on The Promise and Perils of Heart Failure Gene Therapy.

We hope you will join us for these two engaging presentations in Thurgood Marshall Ballroom North at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

Distinguished Service Award Interview

DSA Interview with Mary Jeanne Kallman, PhD, DSP

Q: Can you briefly summarize your career in safety pharmacology and what initially attracted you to the discipline?

A: My strength is as a CNS Safety Pharmacologist. I always thought that Neuroscience was complex and fascinating. Prior to taking a real safety pharmacology job at Lilly I was engaged in teaching and research in Pharmacology and Toxicology. I had a bifurcated career in pharmacology and toxicology with NIH grant money in both areas and research focused in both areas. A real safety pharmacology job offered the perfect opportunity to continue in the application of both areas to novel drug development. I also had extensive experience working with multiple species prior to my employment at Lilly. Lilly offered the opportunity to work on large animal solutions to problems. My safety pharmacology career specifically started in 1991 when I joined Lilly and I am still engaged in safety pharmacology work today as a consultant.I have been a SPS member or engaged in the Working Group since 1991.

Q: What or who has provided inspiration for you during your career?

A: On the simple level, my answer would be my parents and family, my mentors and advisors at all levels of my education and work environments and all my students at Virginia Commonwealth University and at the University of Mississippi. I think that I was inspired more by my students than I inspired them.

Other inspirations for the best drug development and the way to function professionally came from individuals with serious physical limitations or extensive experience with drugs that did not provide ideal treatments. My father was the victim of a serious car accident in mid-life, but he always was determined to function normally and did so with a smile and encouragement for everyone else. One of my faculty colleagues at the University of Mississippi was diagnosed with MS in his 20s. He was very physically limited and was confined to a wheelchair, but he pushed to do his faculty job which was not always easy for him.  He was driven to contribute professionally and do what was easy for everyone else. 

I also had an advisor who was always positive about the way he worked with students and young professionals.  Even when he needed to give negative feedback he found a way to make it a positive event with advice for how to move forward. He also provided some excellent advice to me early in my career. His advice was that I would always be challenged with too many projects. He recommended that I only comment to those projects that I planned to complete in excellent form and to leave the other projects for others to conduct. He also preached about keeping things in perspective and not being too hard on yourself and others. I found this to be a useful lesson when inspiring students to more past what they thought were devastating professional failures.  

Q: What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing the field of safety pharmacology?

A: I think that we have several challenges. First the transition in the stability of positions in the pharmaceutical business. This increases the need for SPS to have and even larger role in providing white papers and conversations with regulatory groups about crucial standards for the delivery of SP studies and the interpretation of those studies. This was well within the scope of each drug company in the past but with the high rate of turnover within companies the society becomes even more important in the sharing of the area wisdom.

I think the challenge of transitioning, as much as possible, from in vivo to in vitro work with the use of appropriate biomarkers of safety is critical.  Many groups both within SPS and outside of SPS, such as some of specialized HESI groups and the 3Rs group, are working toward this end. It will be difficult to replace all in vivo experimentation, but we need to act on opportunities when possible. We already have great difficulty finding new scientific hires with live animal experience and students are more focused on scientific training in non-in vivo techniques. To make this transition we need to develop translational/predictability of the new techniques to the clinical situation.  Strong model development will be needed to make the transition.

The final most pressing challenge is finding a niche for SPS that will support new members with the opportunities and resources to do their jobs. This is changing, and folks are more focused on electronic connections and exchanges. The SPS need to be a leader in supporting young professionals.

Q: What advice would you have for someone just entering the field?

A: When starting any new job remember that it is not where you come from but rather what you will do with it that will count. Never lose your excitement, curiosity, and enthusiasm for science that got you to your job. I would recommend that you do the following specific things for success:

1) Develop your writing and speaking skills, if you cannot communicate at the outstanding level you will not succeed
2) Seek opportunities to expand your skills even if those opportunities do not have an accompanying salary
3) Educate yourself on new topics that will give you the opportunity to grow your professional and analytical skills 
4) Find a mentor with the company where you work and a mentor outside of your company 
5) Volunteer for committees or programming at conventions. You might not succeed with your first offer, but folks will remember you the next time that they need someone
6) Build a network with other safety pharmacology scientists that can provide support. We really are a small group and typically generous with our time.  You will have failures, but you should learn from them and move on to challenge yourself,
7) Do not be thin skinned. Keep a perspective of who you are. Have contacts in the real world and develop other interests that can expand what you apply in your safety pharmacology job.

Q: Are you able to give us any insight on what we can expect during your DSA presentation this year at the 2018 Annual Meeting?

A: My talk will focus on my history. How my career developed, where I come from, what experiences supported my career development. I will also focus on the scientific and SPS issues that I have championed across my career. I will provide an overview of my scientific accomplishments in understanding convulsive issues, abuse liability, understanding therapeutic/safety margins, and early work on pesticide//solvent interactions and development of behavioral tolerance.  I will also stress that no one makes accomplishments without collaborators, mentors, and non-scientific experiences.

SPS Junior Investigator and Student Travel Award Recipients

Junior Investigator Travel Award Recipients

Edward Humphries
Metrion Biosciences
Poster #28

Katie Lee
Pfizer, Inc.
Poster #4

Luigi Margiotta-Casaluci
Brunel University London
Poster #105

Corey Petrella
Pfizer, Inc.
Poster #63

Jennifer Shaffer
Charles River Laboratories
Poster #138

Linda Starnes
Poster #187

Student Travel Award Recipients

Nicholas Ether
Michigan State University
Poster #103

Sophie Fletcher
Coventry University
Poster #59

Hanne Jansen
University of Ghent
Poster #132

Chon Lok Lei
University of Oxford
Poster #33

Thank You to Our 2018 Sponsors!

Know Before You Go! Washington, DC

Know Before You Go!—Washington, DC

We are looking forward to seeing you in Washington, DC for the 2018 SPS Annual Meeting. The Meeting is shaping up to be the event of the year! 

Mobile App
The 2018 mobile app is available for download; all registered attendees should have received an email from DoubleDutch with login instructions.  The app will be the best place to find real-time information regarding sessions, speakers, attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, maps, and access to poster abstracts.

International Travel Information

Visas: Find out if you need to apply for a visa before you plan to travel to The United States. Find out if you need a visa.  All international travelers will need a current passport for entry into The United States. Please be sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the length of your stay in the United States.

While the potential for threats/protests to occur during our time in DC is low, we do take safety and security seriously. We will have a security presence at the Meeting near the Exhibit areas and session rooms and encourage all attendees to remove their badges when leaving the hotel.  We also wish to remind you to be aware of your surroundings and stay alert while in tourist locations and public spaces. While we do not discourage you from exploring Washington, DC, we hope you keep some of these suggestions in mind when sightseeing.

Headquarters Hotel

The Washington Marriott Wardman Park is the headquarters hotel, all SPS Meetings will take place at the Headquarters hotel. The hotel is located in the Northwest DC’s Woodley Park neighborhood, a quiet oasis in the heart of the city with 16 acres of gardens, just steps away from the Metro, Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle. The SPS Annual Meeting will take place in the Washington Marriott Wardman Park.

Washington Marriott Wardman Park
2660 Woodley Road NW
Washington, DC 20008


To/From the Airport (Distance)

  • Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Metro Station: 0.1 mi
  • Union Station: 3.5 mi
  • DCA airport: 7 mi
  • IAD airport: 24 mi
  • BWI airport: 34 mi

Prices and Transportation

Taxi Fares

  • From Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA): approximately $30
  • From Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD): approximately $60
  • From Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI): approximately $88

Washington Metro Area Public Transit

  • From National Airport Metro Station: By rail Blue Line towards Largo Town Center, transfer to Red Line towards Shady Grove at Metro Center Station, exit at Woodley Park-Zoo Metro Station (approximately 35 minutes)
  • From Dulles International Airport: Silver Line Express Bus to Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. By rail from Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, Silver Line towards Largo Town Center, transfer to Red Line towards Shady Grove at Metro Center Station, exit at Woodley Park-Zoo Metro Station (approximately 75 minutes)
  • From Union Station Metro Station: By rail Red Line towards Shady Grove, exit at Woodley Park-Zoo Metro Station (approximately 15 minutes)
  • Use WMATA’s Trip Planner to view exact fares and schedules

Things to See and Do in DC

DC offers numerous options for familiarizing yourself with the city, whether it be on foot, Segway, bike, or bus! Guided city tours are provided by numerous reputable companies.

Museums, Monuments and Memorials
Washington is the home of the Smithsonian Institute which includes 17 world-renowned museums, galleries and a zoo, all are free and open to the public. DC is famous for its national monuments and memorials, the majority of which are situated around the National Mall, America’s most-visited national park.

Home to several Michelin Star restaurants and celebrity chef José Andrés, DC dining doesn’t disappoint. Start planning your culinary tour of the city now!
The things to do and see in Washington, DC are nearly endless, to explore even more click here.

Mobile App Available—Download Today!

All registered attendees, as of September 10, have been sent a login to the app. We will be doing weekly imports as additional registrations come in.
If you are registered and did NOT receive the email, please check your spam filter/folders and add the email "" to your contact/safe list to ensure you receive future emails.
This interactive app will allow you to:

  • View the schedule and sessions, save sessions to your personal agenda, and get detailed presenter information.
  • Stay up to date on the most popular sessions, promotions, and events in the Activity Feed.
  • Receive announcements and obtain the most up-to-date information about what's going on.
  • Expand your professional network and have fun by interacting with other attendees in the app.

Top Four things to do after login:

  1. Update your Profile and set your preferences (don't forget a picture!)
  2. Browse the agenda and add sessions to your personal agenda
  3. View our Exhibitors and bookmark the booths you wish to visit 
  4. Post in the Activity Feed what you are looking forward to the MOST at the Meeting

Need some help? DoubleDutch has a resource center for attendees that should answer any questions that you may have about using the app. You may also contact support directly.
We are looking forward to seeing you in Washington, DC! 

Download the App

Future Meeting Location Highlights

SPS is looking forward to holding our 2019 Meeting in the beautiful city of Barcelona, Spain and in 2020 we are pleased to announce we will be heading back to Canada and will be holding our Meeting in Montreal.

We understand that attendees prefer going to cities with direct flights, nearby restaurants and attractions, and minimal distance between exhibits, posters, and scientific sessions. The venues in Barcelona and Montreal are sure to accommodate attendees’ preferences and serve as excellent locations for the SPS Annual Meeting.


SPS Collaborations and Activities

SOT Scientific Liaison Coalition (Member since 2011)
JSPS Meeting Participation (February 2018)
SLC Webinar (February 2018)
DGPT/SPS German Pharm-Tox Summit course support/participation (February 2018)
SOT Global Gallery participant (March 2018)
UW Madison Distance Learning Course support (April–October 2018)

Upcoming Webinars

Upcoming Meetings


Recent Publications of Interest

High-frequency autonomic modulation: a new model for analysis of autonomic cardiac control

Cross - site comparison of excitation-contraction coupling using impedance and field potential recordings in hiPSC cardiomyocytes