As molecular designers, chemists require knowledge about how chemical structures and properties impact toxicity and environmental impact. Despite the wide adoption of green chemistry in higher education, the knowledge of toxicology principles is absent from the training of a chemist. By giving students a deeper understanding of chemistry through toxicology, students can be better equipped to design greener, safer chemical products and processes in both academic research and industry.
The Toxicology for Chemists modules are here!
Why Toxicology for Chemists?
The Toxicology for Chemists curriculum has been developed by Beyond Benign to facilitate the widespread adoption of green chemistry into chemistry curricula. The curriculum was designed and created by an advisory board and team of curriculum developers, comprising both chemists and toxicologists from academia, industry, and government. We collectively developed Toxicology for Chemists to help educators teach introductory-level chemistry students the basic principles of toxicology.
What makes a molecule hazardous to human health and the environment? How can we design chemical products with no detriment to ourselves and our surroundings? We hope this curriculum will help answer these questions and show students that designing molecules for specific applications is possible through a lens of green chemistry and sustainability.
The Toxicology for Chemists Curriculum additionally helps to fulfill a major Student Learning Objective in our Green Chemistry Commitment Program. It is our hope that educators can use these educational materials to feel fully supported in implementing toxicology knowledge into courses at their institution.
What can I find in the Toxicology for Chemists curriculum?
Toxicology for Chemists currently has 11 modules available for download. Each module contains approximately 3 hours of content for educators to use. The modules are designed to be delivered concurrently with introductory-level chemistry courses, but they can be adapted to suit advanced chemistry courses. The modules contain lecture slides, lesson plans, homework assignments, supplementary readings, and more. Small components of the modules can easily be incorporated into existing course materials, or individual modules can be used as standalone units within a course. The full Toxicology for Chemists Curriculum can also be used to construct a full course. We hope that educators will benefit from this flexibility!
Modules available for download:
Module 1 – The History and Principles of Toxicology
Module 2 – Understanding Hazard and Risk
Module 3 – Toxicokinetics and Toxicodynamics
Module 4 – Reaction Mechanisms in Toxicology
COMING SOON: Module 5 – Target Organ Toxicity
Module 6 – Toxicity of Metals
Module 7 – Environmental Fate, Persistence, and Biodegradation
Module 8 – Environmental Toxicology
Module 9 – Ecotoxicology
Module 10 – Predictive Toxicology
Module 11 – Structure-Activity Relationships
Module 12 – Case Studies, ChemToxTidbits, “Grab Bag” Folder
Models for Implementing Toxicology
Within higher education, four types of toxicology education models have been identified through the Green Chemistry Commitment signers. These examples highlight the many paths towards educating students on toxicology concepts.
Student Led Courses: Student-led courses are good approaches for faculty who are learning toxicology along-side their students. By creating a special topics course on toxicology, or a student-research course where students research topics and generate reports, faculty can gain expertise as they are learning the subject with their students.
Learn more about Dr. James Wollack’s student-led course at St. Catherine’s University.
Stand-alone Courses: Independent toxicology courses are often opportunities for co-teaching across departments, therefore helping to bridge expertise gaps (i.e., chemistry faculty teaming up with biochemistry or toxicology faculty). These stand-alone courses also allow for ample time in teaching students principles of toxicology, molecular mechanisms of harm, and the tools for predicting toxicological endpoints.
Learn more about Dr. Doug Raynie’s stand-alone course at South Dakota State University, co-taught by Dr. David Cartrette.
Learn more about Dr. John Warner and Dr. Amy Cannon’s stand-alone course at Simmons College.
Seminar Series: By inviting outside speakers in to discuss toxicology topics within existing seminar series programs, students can begin to learn about toxicology and related subjects, while also helping faculty to see the relevance to their own courses.
Invite a local industry expert who can help to make the case for student learning of toxicology concepts.
Integration into Chemistry Courses: Many colleges and universities are not able to implement separate stand-alone courses on toxicology. Faculty can use toxicology concepts to reinforce chemistry concepts within existing courses, providing students with a deeper understanding of the chemistry concept.
Access Toxicology for Chemists resources that align chemistry concepts with toxicology concepts for use within chemistry courses.
Learn how the Toxicology for Chemists working group is creating resources that align chemistry concepts with toxicology concepts for use within chemistry courses.
Additional Toxicology Resources
MoDRN (Molecular Research Design Network): MoDRN (Molecular Design Research Network) is a Green Chemistry and Green Engineering initiative, which focuses on the rational design of chemicals and materials to reduce toxicity. This multidisciplinary effort is led by four universities: Yale University, Baylor University, George Washington University and the University of Washington. They have developed open-access toxicology modules and have green chemistry videos available. http://modrn.yale.edu/undergraduate-curriculum
ToxTutor, U.S. National Library of Medicine, NIH: ToxTutor is an open-access tutorial covering key principles of toxicology. Students can learn toxicology principles at their own pace and receive a certificate of completion of the tutorial. https://toxtutor.nlm.nih.gov/
The Science of Chemical Safety Essential Toxicology, IUPAC: A resource for teaching and learning the fundamentals of toxicology. http://old.iupac.org/publications/cd/essential_toxicology/
Environmental, Health and Safety Data Resources, Toxics Use Reduction Institute: A guide for accessing credible environmental, health, and safety data on chemicals. https://guides.turi.org/beyond_sds
frequently asked questions
As molecular designers, chemists have the ability to prevent hazards from the very beginning design stage of a chemical product or process. By understanding more about the toxicity related to the chemicals that are used and designed, chemists can design molecules that have reduced human and environmental hazards. Toxicology is a key piece to understanding how chemists can reduce hazards of chemical products and processes.
How can I teach an unfamiliar subject?
This is a common challenge for chemistry faculty. We have found that faculty begin to familiarize their students in the concepts of toxicology through a number of different pathways – either by inviting in experts that can speak on a related topic, or by running student-led courses where faculty can learn alongside students. Chemistry faculty also find that this challenge presents an opportunity to reach out to colleagues in biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, and toxicology departments.
I’m interested. Where should I start?
Consider joining our Toxicology Working Group. It’s a great place to understand how others are beginning to teach toxicology, share resources, and to learn about the resources being developed to bridge this gap. You don’t need to have any previous experience with toxicology, just be willing to listen, learn and jump in if you want to contribute.