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The purpose of the Interagency Coordinating Committee for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) is to promote safety testing methods that protect human health and the environment while replacing, reducing, and refining animal-based test methods. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ (NIEHS) mission is to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives; identifying the most human-relevant tests to characterize hazards presented by chemicals is consistent with that mission. In 2014 and 2015, NIEHS continued to support ICCVAM as a member agency and through the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM).
We are very proud of the NICEATM and ICCVAM accomplishments summarized in this report, and of the recognition that these accomplishments have received in the broader scientific community. Over the last two years, publications by NICEATM, ICCVAM, and collaborators have described testing approaches with the potential to reduce animal use for identifying potential endocrine disruptors and skin sensitizers and for safety testing of pertussis vaccines. For example, NICEATM and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists developed an approach for detecting and measuring estrogen receptor bioactivity that relied on Tox21 and ToxCast data. This approach has been accepted as an alternative to tests required by the EPA Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program, the first accepted use of computational tools to replace a regulatory requirement for animal-based testing and a demonstration of the utility of Tox21 efforts. NICEATM staff were recognized for their contributions to this accomplishment in January 2016 with an NIEHS Merit Award. The efforts of NICEATM Director Warren Casey, Ph.D., to introduce a more systematic review of traditional animal studies as a basis of comparison for new approaches were among his accomplishments noted when he was recognized by the Society of Toxicology with the 2016 Enhancement of Animal Welfare Award.
We would like to recognize changes in the NICEATM leadership that occurred in 2014 and 2015 and have helped drive these accomplishments. In 2014, Casey officially became NICEATM director after serving as acting director in 2013. In 2015, Nicole Kleinstreuer, Ph.D., was appointed NICEATM deputy director. Kleinstreuer brought expertise in computational toxicology to NICEATM over the last three years as a member of the NICEATM ILS support contract team. In her new role as deputy director of NICEATM, she will continue to lead computational toxicology projects, interact with NICEATM’s U.S. and international partners and stakeholders, and serve as an ICCVAM member from NIEHS.
Development, acceptance, and implementation of non-animal testing approaches are poised to become central themes in toxicology over the next few years, and NICEATM and ICCVAM are positioned to play key roles. As we reflect on the accomplishments of the past two years, we are also looking forward to continued progress in these areas.
Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., DABT, ATS
Director, NIEHS and NTP
John R. Bucher, Ph.D., DABT
Associate Director, NTP
Director, Division of the NTP, NIEHS