Our Annual Meeting

The 2022 CRIS Science Day will focus on developmental immunology and immunotoxicology as well as on the effects of nanoplastics on human health.

Session One: Developmental Immunology & Immunotoxicology

Co-hosted by the Alternatives to in vivo Developmental Immunotoxicity Testing Working Group

Fenna C.M. Sillé, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Talk Title: A Path Forward: Current and Future Perspectives on Developmental Immunotoxicity Testing

Dr. Fenna Sillé is an assistant professor of Environmental Health & Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. Her motto is that a “healthy environment equals healthy people.”

Dr. Sillé’s interest is in studying how environmental exposures change the immune system and increase the long-term risk of respiratory infections and lung cancer. For her research, she combines her expertise in immunotoxicology, microbiology, and functional genomics, with metabolomics and exposure epidemiology. Her lab currently focuses on the sex-specific effect of early-life as well as chronic arsenic exposure on cancer, tuberculosis, influenza, and vaccine efficacy – issues that affect millions of people worldwide. In addition, she is investigating sex differences and the COVID-19 associated cytokine storm. As the director of the JHU Exposome Collaborative, Dr. Sillé leads several studies focused on the impact of the cumulative imprint of environmental influences and associated biological responses throughout the lifespan on human health. With her research, she hopes to identify potential targets for intervention to reduce the burden of disease in exposed communities.

Finally, Dr. Sillé is the program coordinator of the Developmental Immunotoxicity (DIT) Program within the JHU Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing. In this role, she leads the International DIT Working Group aiming toward a functional framework of new approach methods for developmental immunotoxicity testing.

Eliver Ghosn, Ph.D., Emory University School of Medicine

Talk Title: Prenatal Immunity Represents a Functionally Distinct Hematopoietic Lineage

Dr. Eliver Ghosn is a developmental immunologist, and a faculty member of the Lowance Center for Human Immunology at Emory University. He is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and member of the Emory Vaccine Center, Children's Center for Immunity and Applied Genomics, and the Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis graduate program. Before joining Emory, Dr. Ghosn received training in immunology and stem cell biology at Stanford University and the University of Tokyo (Japan).

At Emory, the Ghosn Lab applies multi-omics single-cell technologies as a systems immunology approach to study the development and function of the prenatal immune system, in both humans and mice. The prenatal immune system includes tissue-resident lymphoid and myeloid cells that develop early in fetal life and persist throughout adulthood. The studies on prenatal immunity may provide new insights into the development and function of the human immune system in infants and adults, impact the development of age-targeted vaccines, and shed new light on the mechanisms that lead to autoimmunity, allergy, and other hematological disorders (leukemia/lymphoma, immunodeficiency, etc.) that are predominant at different developmental ages.

Juan Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker, Ph.D., University of Toronto
Talk Title: From Stem Cells to T Cells, Applications and Implications

Dr. Zúñiga-Pflücker is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Immunology, University of Toronto, and a Senior Scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute. He is a Canada Research Chair in Developmental Immunology. He received a Ph.D. in Genetics-Immunology from the George Washington University, Washington DC, USA, with his graduate studies performed at the National Cancer Institute, USA. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, USA. His research centers on the study of hematopoiesis, Notch signaling, thymus biology and T lymphocyte lineage commitment and differentiation, with a focus on developing model systems for the study of human T lymphocyte development from stem cells, and the generation of T cells for immune-regeneration and immune-regulatory therapies. His laboratory developed the OP9-DL system and then discovered how to generate T cells from stem cells in a stromal cell-free system. These discoveries led to co-founding Notch Therapeutics, for which he serves as chair of the scientific advisory board. He is a Distinguish Fellow of the American Society of Immunologists and has served as Councillor, Vice-President, and President of the Canadian Society for Immunology.

Isha Khan, Ph.D. Candidate, Michigan State University

Talk Title: Characterization of an In Vitro Model of Human Hematopoiesis to Study the Role of Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Signaling in Human Hematopoietic Differentiation

Isha Khan is a Ph.D. candidate who is working toward a dual major in Pharmacology and Toxicology and in Environmental and Integrative Toxicological Sciences at Michigan State University. His research project involves study of mechanisms by which aryl hydrocarbon receptor signaling modulates human hematopoietic differentiation from umbilical cord blood derived hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells using single-cell transcriptomics and multiparametric flow cytometry. Mr. Khan holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honors) degree from University of Dhaka, Bangladesh and a Master's degree in Pharmacology from King’s College London, UK.


Session Two: Effects of Nano- and Microplastics on Human Health

Robert Ellis-Hutchings, Ph.D., Dow Chemical
Talk Title: Microplastics and Human Health - What Do We Know and What Are We Missing?

Dr. Ellis-Hutchings works as a toxicologist at Dow and provides leadership and guidance on the health, safety, and sustainability of new and existing Dow products. He leads active efforts within Dow and the industry to understand and address scientific gaps relating to the potential risk of microplastic hazards to humans. He is involved with several multi-stakeholder microplastic committees including PlasticEurope’s microplastic science team, which he chairs, and microplastic task forces within the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), and the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA). He is also a member of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) Europe’s dietary microplastic initiative.

Christie Sayes, Ph.D., Baylor University
Talk Title: Progress and Challenges in Developing Nano- and Microplastic Particle Reference Materials for Environmental Health Effects Testing

Dr. Christie Sayes is a practicing research scientist and consultant in the fields of toxicology, chemistry, material science, and environmental health. Currently, she holds the position of Associate Professor of Environmental Science & Toxicology at Baylor University (Waco, Texas). Sayes is a subject matter expert in advanced materials, exposure science, health effects, and risk. Her activities include working with partners, collaborators, and trainees in designing studies related to safety-by-design considerations of engineered materials and emerging contaminants used in pharmaceutical, agricultural, and consumer products. Sayes is also interested in occupational safety and environmental transformations of particle systems in complex matrices. She possesses a working knowledge of laboratory science and U.S. regulatory climates. Routine activities include validating alternatives to animal models, zebrafish and rat in vivo models, biological and chemical molecular mechanistic analyses, mass spectrometry, electron microscopy, and statistics. Data sets are always related back to the published literature, compared against appropriate controls, and verified using orthogonal methods.

Baoshan Xing, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Amherst
Talk Title: Microplastics Reduce Lipid Digestion in Simulated Human Gastrointestinal System

Dr. Xing is a Professor of Environmental & Soil Chemistry and the Director of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His current research includes agricultural application of engineered nanomaterials, analysis and environmental processes of micro(nano)plastics, sorption and fate of organic chemicals, characterization and use of biochar, and food safety. Along with students and colleagues, he has published over 500 refereed journal articles. His research work is ranked in the top 0.1% of cited authors for journals in environmental science and ecology with h-index currently at 130 and a total citation of over 69,000 (Google Scholar), and he is a “Most Cited Scientist” since 2014 when these analytics started, indicating the impact and significance of his research. Dr. Xing is currently an Editor of Environmental Pollution, Biochar, and Carbon Research. He received numerous national and international awards/honors. His research program is recognized nationally and internationally.


Session Three: Science Communication Panel Discussion 

Discussion Topic: Building Trust in Scientific Information in an Era of “Fake News”

It is challenging to share scientific information with consumers on important matters such as ingredient safety even in the best of times. But it’s even more of an issue at a time of “alternative facts”, frequent labels of “fake news,” and self-described experts who disseminate their views to audiences on a range of social media platforms.

This session will look at changing public perceptions about science and scientific information. What does the future look like? How is social media influencing this trend? How can companies, academic institutions and organizations effectively share trusted information about ingredient safety?


Helena Bottemiller Evich, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FoodFix.co

Helena Bottemiller Evich is an award-winning reporter who previously led food coverage at Politico, launched Food Fix to be the go-to source for food policy news and analysis, for insiders and consumers alike.

Elisabeth Anderson, Director of Science Communication, Center for Research on Ingredient Safety

Elisabeth Anderson focuses on demystifying dense subjects using a human-based storytelling approach that meets individuals where they are, not where experts assume they should be. She specializes in digital media and digital tools.

Roger Lowe, Principal, RKL Communications Strategies

Roger Lowe is a senior communications and public affairs leader with more than 40 years of experience at a leading trade association, one of America’s most recognized non-profit brands, top public affairs agencies and as a newspaper reporter. His multi-faceted experience enables him to effectively position initiatives, manage high-risk crises and enhance and protect an organization’s reputation.

He established RKL Communications Strategies in November 2018 to offer strategic communications, messaging, storytelling, crisis communications and public affairs support for clients that include non-profits, advocacy groups, trade associations and government agencies.