is milestone event for College
The October dedication of the new Toxicology Building on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus was a day of significant milestones for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: The building, which will house the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, is the College’s first building on Centennial Campus. The dedication ceremony was the occasion for the announcement of the Ernest Hodgson Toxicology Education Endowment, created in honor of William Neal Reynolds Professor Hodgson, who served as the department’s first head. And Dr. Damian Shea, currently serving as interim department head, announced the planned creation of an undergraduate minor degree program in environmental toxicology.
Dr. James L. Oblinger, College dean, hosted the event. The science of toxicology “is the driving force behind fundamental advances in the life sciences,” Oblinger said. “There has been a tremendous need for this building.”
Oblinger explained that, since the department’s founding in 1989, the faculty had worked in seven locations across the university campus. The new building, he said, “will now provide a home for relevant, responsible programs in toxicology research, teaching and extension, here at the center of the biosciences neighborhood on Centennial Campus.”
The new building stands next to Partners II biotechnology complex, which houses bioinformatics research facilities and the Genomic Research Laboratory. Built with a $14 million appropriation of state funds, the Toxicology Building will include research laboratories and offices, a small-animal facility, an aquatics research facility, a high-hazard laboratory, a 20-workstation computer classroom and an auditorium.
The Environmental and Molecular Toxicology Department studies the effects of chemicals on human, animal and environmental health. Through the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, it educates people about pesticide safety, environmental contaminants and food safety, household chemical hazards, contaminants in surface water and groundwater, and related topics. The Toxicology Extension Program is one of just six in the United States. Its innovative agro-medicine program, operated with East Carolina University and North Carolina A&T State University, helps improve the health of North Carolinians involved in agriculture and was recently awarded a five-year, $3-million center grant by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Chancellor Marye Anne Fox told the group that the research taking place in the new facility will address the challenges this nation will be meeting in the next few years and will enable our country to respond to challenges that come to us at home and from abroad. “We will be improving the quality of human life and the health of the environment with the work we do here,” Fox said.
Shea, interim department head, said, “Locating the new building on Centennial Campus will strengthen the toxicology department’s interaction with government agencies and private industries.” He mentioned the department’s service to all three missions of the College, noting the stellar graduate and research programs and the extension toxicology program, “one of the few such programs in the country,” as well as announcing that “undergraduates will not be forgotten: We’ll soon be offering an undergraduate minor in environmental toxicology.”
Hodgson, responding to Oblinger’s announcement of the endowment in his honor, reminisced about the days when “we started the department as impetus to get a building” and paid tribute to the Toxicology Extension program. “Our Extension service is really a model for toxicology and one that other programs would do well to emulate,” Hodgson said. He then acknowledged his late department colleague, Dr. Frank Guthrie, and Guthrie’s role in establishing the program by saying, “We all look forward to the next phase.”