SPotlight Newsletter

SPotlight Newsletter

Fall Issue 2019

President's Report

Greetings SPS Colleagues,

The 2019 Annual Meeting in Barcelona Spain is nearly upon us! We have more over 430 registered for the meeting with more than 170 posters, 51 exhibitors, and the Wednesday evening social event at the Go Beach Club is sure to be a fun event featuring Spanish acoustic guitars. Tickets may be difficult to obtain as it appears that they have sold out! 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 Carrie Markgraf, 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.

Continuing Education courses will be held on Monday, September 23 and offer a range of topics for your consideration. As the main meeting gets underway, you can expect two keynote lectures presented by opinion leaders in the field and about 50+ scientific sessions. Please attend our Annual Members’ Meeting and Awards Ceremony, which also features the SPS Distinguished Service Award (DSA) Presentation. I will have the honor to present the 2019 DSA to Dr. Brian Guth. Brian has distinguished history in the Safety Pharmacology Society and has 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 Sunday, September 22nd. 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 Barcelona—have safe travels and enjoy the Meeting!

Michael Engwall, DMV, PhD, DSP

Annual Meeting News

2019 Annual Meeting Plenary Keynote Speakers

SPS Barcelona Annual Meeting, September 23-26, 2019

We are pleased to welcome Kevin Eggan, PhD, Harvard Stem Cell Institute as our 2019 Plenary Keynote to speak on The Utility of Human Stem Cell Models of Nervous System Disorders: Progress and Clinical Proof of Concept on Tuesday, September 24 from 08:30–09:30.

We also have a second Plenary Keynote, on Wednesday, September 25 from 08:30–09:30 by Michael Burczynski, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine, who will be speaking on Leveraging the In Silico World of Data to Identify Personalized Medicine Approaches for Novel Drug Targets.

We hope you will join us for these two engaging presentations in Room 112 at the CCIB.

Distinguished Service Award Interview

DSA Interview with Prof. Brian D. Guth, PhD

Brian Guth, PhD

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

A: I can’t say that I ever made a conscious decision to have a career in safety pharmacology. In fact, when I was making the move from academia to the pharmaceutical industry, the field of safety pharmacology had not really been established as a scientific endeavor. There is also an element of luck involved as opportunities arose along the way. In the late 90s I had the chance to take over leading a group dedicated to what we referred to as “General Pharmacology” which is nothing other than safety pharmacology in the way we practice it. In any case, I found myself in a role that I have thoroughly enjoyed as it focused on drug safety and with cardiovascular physiology and pharmacology as a major area of interest which coincided well with my academic training.

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

A: There have been numerous people that have provided inspiration and support along the way. Also seeing the field of safety pharmacology develop as an independent discipline with regulatory importance confirmed the importance of what we do. One of my early mentors that deserves recognition is Dr. John Ross, Jr. who I worked with once I completed my Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego. He was a meticulous scientist and he taught me the importance of maintaining the highest possible quality of performing, analyzing and reporting studies. John passed away earlier this year and I remember our work together as being productive, rewarding and giving me a good start on a career in science. Beyond that I have profited over the years from having outstanding colleagues and collaborators which has benefited my work and made it enjoyable.

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

A: I think that Safety Pharmacology has already made a significant impact on bringing safe medications to patients. That is, we already have the tools to make a difference in drug development, when we use those tools effectively. One of the things that I found unexpected and disappointing was the reaction of some pharmaceutical companies to reduce their efforts on doing Safety Pharmacology on the basis of the ICHS7A guidance. It was clearly not the intention of that guidance to suggest only doing the minimal amount of studies to be compliant. I am still an advocate of a performing a broad panel of basic studies in drug research to understand what pharmacological properties a given compound has and this should always be complimented with specific studies based on the intended pharmacological target and potential direct or indirect effects. In the research phase of drug development, we should be doing everything we can to characterize our potential drug candidates. We need to keep the focus on doing good, thorough science.

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

A: One of the challenges we still face is training the next generation of safety pharmacologists, as I think the field is still not well recognized by young people, even those being trained in physiology and pharmacology. However, for those fortunate enough to find their way into the field of safety pharmacology I would definitely encourage keeping an open mind on how one profiles new drugs to provide the best possible characterization of its properties. As mentioned before, the guidances are a starting point but should not be the end of things. Think about the compound you are testing, its intended pharmacology, as well as potential unintended pharmacology and design and conduct tests to confirm that a given drug is doing what it should. We have a variety of experimental tools available and new ones are being developed rapidly. Take advantage of all of that, to make drugs as safe as we possibly can.

Q: Are you able to give us any insight on what you will touch upon during your DSA presentation this year at the 2019 Annual Meeting?

A: I have been very fortunate in my career to have worked with a long list of outstanding colleagues that have become good friends. There is very little that I have accomplished in my career that I don’t immediately associate with the participation with one or more colleague. I think receiving the DSA presentation is the perfect opportunity to recognize those that have helped me along the way.

SPS Junior Investigator and Student Travel Award Recipients

Junior Investigator Travel Award Recipients

Nicholas Ether
Michigan State University
Poster #105

Helene Griessel
North-West University
Poster #93

Poonavit Pichayapaiboon
Chulalongkorn University
Poster #63

Kinza Rafi
University of Karachi
Poster #83

Cristian Trovato
University of Oxford
Poster #115

Margaret White
Charles River Laboratories
Poster #133

Zachary Zimmerman
Charles River Laboratories
Poster #21

Student Travel Award Recipients

Jordi Llopis Lorente
Universitat Politècnica de València
Poster #108

Francesca Margara
University of Oxford
Poster #110

Christina Schmid
University of Kaiserslautern
Poster #164

Thank You to Our 2019 Sponsors!

2019 Meeting Sponsors

Know Before You Go! Barcelona, Spain

We are looking forward to seeing you in Barcelona, Spain for the 2019 SPS Annual Meeting. The Meeting is shaping up to be the event of the year! 

Mobile App

The 2019 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: Spain is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. (and other) citizens may enter Spain for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. If you are traveling from another country outside of the Schengen Area, please check with your local embassy to find out if you need to apply for a visa before you plan to travel to Spain.


While the potential for threats/protests to occur during our time in Spain is low, we do take safety and security seriously. The CCIB has a security presence during our Meeting and will be checking all entrants into the building for badges, please plan to have your badge ready to show security personnel. We do encourage all attendees to remove their badges when leaving the CCIB. We also wish to remind you to be aware of your surroundings and stay alert while in tourist locations and public spaces, especially for petty theft opportunities. While we do not discourage you from exploring Barcelona, we wish to remind you to remain especially vigilant about your personal security when sightseeing. If you find yourself in an unsafe situation and need assistance, the local emergency number is 112.

Centre de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona (CCIB) Information

All attendees should follow the signs to enter the CCIB through Entrance C. If you enter a different entrance, other than C, you will not be able to get to the SPS Meeting rooms. We will have signage outside the building directing you to Entrance C.

Transportation to/from the Airport

To/From the Airport (Distance from CCIB)

Barcelona El Prat International Airport (BCN)
20 km

  • Taxi
    20 minutes
  • Metro
    25 minutes
  • TRAM
    8 minutes from Plaça Españya
    T4 Maresme Fòrum
  • Bus
    H16, 7, 136
Things to See and Do in Barcelona

The largest city in Catalonia is home to iconic architecture, a mouthwatering culinary scene and a vibrant nightlife. Please visit Turisme de Barcelona’s website to discover anything you might need to know to explore this beautiful city.

Sustainability Efforts at the CCIB

At the International Convention Center of Barcelona (CCIB) they are committed to the protection of the environment. They have partnered with cleanCO2 to help attendees find ways to offset their carbon emission generated during your trip to Barcelona.

To calculate and donate to offset your carbon emissions, please visit the cleanCO2 website.

Mobile App Available—Download Today!

SPS Annual Meeting App 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 allows 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.

SPS Barcelona

Download the App

Future Meeting Location Highlights

SPS 2020 Montreal

SPS is looking forward to holding our 2020 Meeting in the beautiful city of Montréal and in 2021 we are pleased to announce we will be hosting the SPS Meeting in Brussels, Belgium.

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 Montreal and Brussels are sure to accommodate attendees’ preferences and serve as excellent locations for the SPS Annual Meeting.


SPS 2019 Northeast Regional Meeting: Register Today


The Safety Pharmacology Society Northeast Regional Meeting, Skating Ahead of the Puck: Safety Pharmacology for Evolving Therapeutic Modalities, will be held at the Charles River site in Shrewsbury, MA on October 17, 2019. Registration is free for Students and Postdocs; registration for all others is $75. Included with the registration fee are coffee breaks/snacks and lunch. Topics covered will include:

  • New look at secondary pharmacology
  • Alternative modalities
  • Early derisking strategies
  • Up and coming in vitro technologies
  • Immune modulations

Don't miss this opportunity for open discussion, to interact with the safety pharmacology community, and deepen your knowledge on this topic.

Thank you to the Organizers: Donald Hodges, Alan Bass, Susan Goody, Andrew Sonderfan, Robert Dunn, Malar Pannirselvam, Amy Kim, and Samuel Chuang.

Thank you to our Vendors and Sponsors:

SPS Sponsors

Register Online Now

SPS 2019 Bay Area Regional Meeting: Save the Date


Save the Date for the Safety Pharmacology Society Bay Area Regional Meeting, which will be held at the Genentech facility in South San Francisco, CA on November 8, 2019. Registration is free for Students and Postdocs; registration for all others is $75. Included with the registration fee are coffee breaks/snacks and lunch.

Thank you to the Organizers: Dale Stevens, Dinah Misner, Carrie McMahon, Ray Chui, Michael Pugsley, Chris Mathes, and Najah Abi-Gerges.

Registration will open in early October.

SPS Collaborations and Activities


  • SOT Scientific Liaison Coalition (Member since 2011)
  • JSPS Meeting Participation (March 2019)
  • SOT Global Gallery and Post-doc Mixer participant (March 2019)
  • UW Madison Distance Learning Course support (April–November 2019)
  • ASCPT Webinar share with SPS Members (May 2019)
  • SPS is Partner Organization in the EU Commission Grant: INnovation in Safety Pharmacology for Integrated cardiovascular safety assessment to REduce adverse events and late stage drug attrition (INSPIRE) (May 2019–September 2023)
  • EFPIA/PhMRA/JPMA/S7B-E14 working group support of face to face meeting
  • Drug Safety South Africa support/meeting participation

Upcoming Webinars

Upcoming Meetings

Member News

Recent Publications of Interest

Electrophysiological characterization of drug response in hSC-derived cardiomyocytes using voltage-sensitive optical platforms

Human organotypic bioconstructs from organ-on-chip devices for human-predictive biological insights on drug candidates