About JSOT / President's Message

Message from the 14th President of the Japanese Society of Toxicology

Prof. Akira NAGANUMA
Dear friends and colleagues,

   I assumed office as the 14th president of the Japanese Society of Toxicology on June 30, 2016, taking on the great honor and responsibility of leading this society for the next two years.
   JSOT traces its origins to the Toxic Action Research Group, which was launched in 1975. This forebear evolved into a scientific society in 1981, changing its name to the Japanese Society of Toxicological Sciences. The name was changed to its current form in 1997. From the beginning, our society has had a sizable membership, counting 1,083 colleagues in 1982, the year after its establishment. Today, that number has climbed to around 2,600, making JSOT the world’s second largest toxicology-related society, following the Society of Toxicology in the United States.
   Toxicology is a realm of science that seeks to help promote and maintain human health by identifying and evaluating the health effects of the food and chemicals that enter our bodies, and by elucidating the mechanisms of action behind the substances found to have harmful effects. In order for us as humans to stay healthy and grow as a society, we must constantly strive to ensure the safety of our food, which provides us with the nutrients we need to enjoy healthy lives. And, human health also strongly depends on access to safe medicine. As attested to by the fact that some 70% of JSOT members are affiliated with pharmaceutical companies and other businesses, the biggest focus of research carried out by our membership is the evaluation of drug safety. By rigorously assessing the effects of medication on human health, particularly adverse side effects, we can help drug manufacturers to more efficiently produce safe products. Another way that JSOT contributes to production of pharmaceuticals founded on solid, efficient safety evaluation is our toxicologist certification program. This program was established to improve the quality of personnel responsible for toxicology testing or evaluation, and grants the title of “Diplomate of the Japanese Society of Toxicology” to members who have demonstrated sufficient knowledge and experience in toxicological research.
   Our society also has another very important role—determining the human health effects of chemicals found in environmental pollution and other sources of exposure. In the past, Japan experienced major health crises stemming from environmental pollution, most notably Minamata disease and Itai-itai disease. When these two diseases emerged, their causes were not known at first, so they were simply referred to as “intractable” or “rare” illnesses. As time passed, however, scientists were able to determine that they arose from contamination of the environment with methylmercury and cadmium. Today, there are various intractable diseases whose causes remain unknown, and we cannot rule out the possibility that some of them may be the result of chemical exposure. Moreover, accidental ingestion of toxic substances and suicide/murder by poisoning continue to occur with a relatively high frequency, so one of our duties as a society of scientists is to make efforts to raise public awareness of the various toxic substances found in everyday life.
   In recent years, the evaluation of drug safety has become increasingly complex, as seen in the drug interaction issues rising from the combined use of different medications. At the same time, chemical contamination of the environment is taking place on a global scale, becoming a major social problem for the international community. In order for us as toxicologists to play our part in contributing to the solution of such challenges, it will become all the more important for us to create new knowledge and foster new generations of scientists, based on an interdisciplinary network of collaboration. Toxicology is indispensable to humankind’s endeavors to overcome these challenges and safeguard all people’s health, so as president of JSOT, I will do my best to promote research and education that can take this science to even greater heights.


Akira Naganuma
Japanese Society of Toxicology