Associate professor of environmental health sciences Alicia Timme-Laragy received the 2021 Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Women in Toxicology Special Interest Group during the SOT’s annual meeting held March 12-26, in a virtual format. The award is given annually to individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of toxicology in the early stage of their careers.
“I am so honored to receive this award,” says Timme-Laragy. “I work with a great team of researchers and students here at UMass, and this award reflects their hard work as well. I’m excited to continue to build my research program and advance the fields of developmental toxicology and redox biology.”
A developmental toxicologist with expertise in how early life exposures to pollutants affect health, Timme-Laragy has served on the faculty at the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences since 2013. Her research aims to elucidate cellular and molecular mechanisms of toxicant-induced oxidative stress in embryonic development and identify later-life consequences of embryonic exposure to oxidative stress, using the zebrafish as a model system.
Oxidative stress occurs when the products of oxidative processes exceed the cell’s capacity to handle them. The resulting imbalance causes a disruption in redox signaling, damage to macromolecules, leading to cellular damage and eventually to a variety of disease states.
In addition to receiving her honor, Timme-Laragy participated in the SOT annual meeting as an invited speaker at a joint symposium on oxidative stress held by the SOT and the Japanese Society of Toxicology. The symposium highlighted advances in research on the role of oxidative stress in adverse outcomes and explored multiple mechanisms and outcomes of oxidative stress.
Timme-Laragy’s talk, titled "The wrong place at the wrong time - redox stress in the developing embryo," covered the glutathione antioxidant defense system in the zebrafish embryo, how it changes with developmental stages, and how it responds to chemical exposures.
“I presented new approaches that we have developed to visualize the glutathione system in vivo to help us identify sensitive target tissues of chemical exposures that cause oxidative stress,” says Timme-Laragy. “We found critical windows during which the growth of the pancreatic islet in the zebrafish is affected by these exposures and may predispose to later life metabolic disease. We hope this research lays a foundation for identifying later-life health impacts of early life toxicant exposures, and identifies potential interventions.”
Founded in 1961, the Society of Toxicology is a professional and scholarly organization of scientists from academic institutions, government, and industry representing the great variety of scientists who practice toxicology in the US and abroad. Its Women in Toxicology Special Interest Group promotes the recruitment and retention of women to a profession in the toxicological sciences; provides leadership opportunities for and recognizes the accomplishments of women toxicologists; and sponsors scientific and educational programs on current scientific information and scientific policy issues that advance the science of toxicology.