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History of Toxicology at NC State University

NC State is a land-grant institution composed of ten colleges that educate more than 36,000 students each year, and its research and educational missions are supported by more than 9,000 faculty and staff members. Toxicology and EHS research were formally organized at NC State with the establishment of a NIH multi-disciplinary Program Grant, Mechanisms of Pesticide Toxicity, and the subsequent creation of a university-wide interdepartmental Toxicology Program. This Program was co-founded by Drs. Frank Guthrie and Ernest Hodgson of the Department of Entomology. Initially the Toxicology program had a research focus on the biochemical mechanisms of the toxic effects of pesticides in mammalian systems.

Since the initiation of the toxicology-training program, a number of milestones have been achieved. These include:

  • 1953   NC State establishes the Pesticide Residue Laboratory to study the potential effects of pesticide residues in crops on human and animal health – signals the start of toxicology research at NC State
  • 1964 NC State toxicology researchers win NIH multi-disciplinary Program Grant (ES00044) Mechanisms of Pesticide Toxicity with multiple projects and project leaders. This grant was reviewed and re-funded every 5 years until 1996 – funded for 32 years.
  • 1967   NC State wins NIH Training Grant – Molecular and Environmental Toxicology (ES00083) this training grant received a new ES grant number in 1977 (ES007046) and is still active – one of NIEHS longest running training grants – funded for over 55 years
  • 1970   Interdepartmental Toxicology Program established – offers a minor in Toxicology
  • 1979   Interdepartmental Toxicology Program offers PhD and MS degrees in Toxicology
  • 1979   First PhD in Toxicology Awarded
  • 1989   Department of Toxicology established
  • 2001   New Toxicology Building (59,000 square feet) opens on NC State’s Centennial Campus
  • 2012   Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program – Cluster hire in environmental health sciences – four new faculty hires 2012-13, one new faculty hire 2019 and one new faculty hire 2020
  • 2013   Department of Toxicology merged with other Departments (Genetics, Microbiology, Biology) into the new Department of Biological Science in the recently formed College of Science
  • 2013   Interdisciplinary University-wide Toxicology Graduate Program continues as highly ranked graduate toxicology program
  • 2015   Center for Human Health and Environment funded by NIEHS P30 grant – re-funded in 2020 for 5 more years.
  • 2020   Superfund Center for Environment and Human Health Effects funded by NIEHS P42 grant

Throughout its history, NC State’s Toxicology Program has embraced multidisciplinary state-of-the-art approaches and technologies and powerful model systems to understand both exposure and mechanisms relating to human disease and environmental stress. Strong core courses in toxicology and focused research have long been part of the Toxicology Program at NC State, and currently we offer concentrations:

  • Molecular and Cellular Toxicology
  • Environmental Toxicology
  • General Toxicology 

Over the decades, the Toxicology Program has been highly successful in training MS and PhD students and post-doctorates who continue to contribute to the field of toxicology in academia, industry, and government.