Keynote lectures

Sunday 31st May Congress Hall during opening ceremony 
(18:30 – 19:00 hours)  

Christina Rudén (the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden):
Risk assessment for a sustainable chemical use -  Within REACH, and beyond

The implementation of the new European chemicals legislation, REACH, has advanced the prerequisites for an effective chemicals control. Test requirements have increased for a large number of industrial chemicals and this has contributed to putting intensified scientific focus on the development of efficient tests and test systems for the generation of (eco)toxicity data for risk assessment purposes. In this presentation I will discuss what REACH does, and does not achieve towards the aim of a sustainable chemicals control in terms of data generation; The REACH data requirements will be analysed in relation to what data are minimally needed for regulatory hazard identification (classification and warning labelling), and it is concluded that REACH does not ensure the generation of sufficient data for all substances for which this is needed. I will furthermore propose some general principles for designing tiered test systems, taking the reliability, validity, sensitivity, cost, and regulatory impact of the tests into account. This analysis includes the presentation of a tentative method to evaluate the usefulness of tests for regulatory hazard identification: the efficiency ratio. Finally I will introduce the concept of risk-neutral defaults as an approach to handling remaining scientific uncertainty in the risk assessment process.

Christina Rudén is associate professor at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden ( She received her PhD in toxicology at the Karolinska Institute in 2002. Rudén’s research has two main focus areas. One that concentrates on the evaluation of the workings of the regulatory system for chemicals control, and the overall purpose of this research is to contribute to developing scientifically well-motivated improvements of this system. The second focus area concerns the development of methods and principles to improve test systems for chemicals. The overall purpose of this research is to empirically determine the efficiency of different toxicity and ecotoxicity tests (or combination of tests) to identify chemicals of concern to human health or the environment. Rudén has published over 30 scientific papers on regulatory toxicology in international peer-reviewed journals. She is a member of the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s Supervisory Board, the President of the Swedish Society of Toxicology, and the Program Director of the Swedish national research program MistraPharma (

Monday 1st June  2009, Congress Hall (16:15 – 17:00 hours)

Tom Hutchinson (Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK):
Our seas, our health, our wealth – the human wildlife connection

Within the early years of the 21st century, global concern over climate change, energy security and food supplies is increasing our focus on the oceans.  Marine ecosystems also support >90% of the planet’s living biomass, representing essential food sources and also a repository of new medicines and other biotechnologies.  In terms of human health and the importance of coastal ecosystem quality, three quarters of the world’s megacities are located by the sea and the United Nations estimate that by 2010, over 80% of people on the planet will live within 100 km of the coast. 
Historically, the focus of research and concern has been on the impact of human activities on the oceans, particularly through anthropogenic contaminants and the exploitation of fish stocks and other bioresources.  In recent years, there has been greater recognition of the potential direct impact of the seas on human health, both detrimental and beneficial.  Key challenges include: global change and coastal flooding, eutrophication and harmful algal blooms (HABs), microbial and chemical contamination of seafood supplies.  From neurophysiology to Green Fluorescent Protein and beyond, there are also key opportunities based on marine organisms for biomedical research and other marine technologies.  The talk will discuss the global implications of these trends for environmental risk assessment, highlighting examples of natural and synthetic chemicals to emphasize the need to better understand the chemical-biological interactions underpinning systems toxicology and the human-wildlife health connection.

Tom Hutchinson is professor and Head of Science for Environment and Health at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), a collaborative centre of the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council.  He read ecotoxicology at King’s College London, completed his PhD in wildlife immunotoxicology at the University of Plymouth (UK) and holds honorary professorships at Brunel University (UK) and the University of Exeter (UK).  Tom also has 21 years of industrial R&D experience in the UK, mostly working on the environmental risk assessment of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and waste management issues for AstraZeneca, ZENECA and ICI.  He was also employed as a toxicologist at AstraZeneca’s R&D headquarters in Sweden, working on molecular biomarkers and the use of aquatic organisms as alternative models in drug discovery.   Tom has also contributed to a range of national and international environmental science and animal welfare activities, including ECETOC, ECVAM, the European Science Foundation and the OECD.  Today, his research interests are in strengthening risk assessment through an evolving systems toxicology approach, utilising an understanding of chemical – biological interactions across natural compounds, emerging contaminants and potentially novel marine biotechnologies.


Tuesday 2nd June, Congress Hall (16:15 - 17:00 hours) 

Dr. Mohiuddin Munawar (Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences, Fisheries & Oceans, Canada):
Probing Aquatic Ecosystem Health:  A journey through the Great Lakes

Throughout the globe, aquatic ecosystems have been adversely affected by multiple anthropogenic stressors including pollution, eutrophication, over-exploitation of fisheries, the establishment of exotic biota and climate change. As a result of rapid globalization and population growth, the impacts of such stressors have been compounded. The proliferating, cumulative challenges to aquatic ecosystems require integrated, adaptive, science-based approaches to management. A holistic approach to ecosystem management must balance both the maintenance of and benefits from healthy ecosystems. Aquatic resource management is changing from a species-based to a space-based approach. Identifying ecologically significant areas that require attention is a priority.  A journey through the Great Lakes provides a panorama of ecological perturbations due to human abuse and actions.  Since the 1800s, close to 200 exotic species have become established; with a wide range of impacts affecting all trophic levels.  The effects of climate change are already evident in the Great Lakes, affecting productivity and habitats by decimating existing biodiversity and allowing new invasive species to flourish.  A comprehensive understanding of the vulnerability and sensitivity of different habitats to stressors is a critical dimension of risk assessment which provides advice in the face of uncertainty. Given the complexity of ecosystem processes, a risk-based approach to aquatic ecosystem health and management may provide the most effective framework.  Models are being developed in the Great Lakes to synthesize knowledge helping to identify risks and evaluate hypotheses for an ecosystem approach to management.

Mohiuddin Munawar has a Ph.D. in Phycology (Physiological Ecology of phytoplankton). He joined the Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, for post-doctoral research under the National Science Program. In 1969, Dr. Munawar initiated his research of the North American Great Lakes as a Post-doctoral fellow of the National Research Council of Canada, in collaboration with Dr. R.A Vollenweider – an eminent limnologist. In 1972 he joined Fisheries & Oceans Canada as a Research Scientist. Since then he has been actively involved in Great Lakes plankton research and has published more than 200 papers and given over 300 presentations dealing with phycology, physiological ecology, food-web dynamics, ecotoxicology, and ecosystem health of the Great Lakes. Dr. Munawar is the founder-president of the Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management Society established in 1989. He was invited to launch the Society’s primary journal as the chief editor of Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management, published by Taylor & Francis, Philadelphia. The journal is now ranked by ISI and is covered by Thompson Scientific Products. Due to the need for holistic environmental books dealing with the “total ecosystem”, the Ecovision World Monograph Series was initiated by him, as its Series Editor, and already more than 20 peer-reviewed books have been published. Under the banner of the Society, he has been successful in organizing several conferences and symposia on diverse topics and issues around the world. He has received several awards and distinctions such as the Chandler-Misner Award for best scientific manuscript of the year, Canadian Public Service Commission Award, the prestigious Anderson-Everett Award for life time contribution to Great Lakes Science, an honorary doctorate (Doctor Honoris Causa) from the Faculty of Science, Göteborg University, Sweden, and recently he has been conferred the Fellowship of the Academy of Science, Engineering & Technology, from India. In 2008 he was also awarded the Assistant Deputy Minister Distinction Award by the Department of Fisheries & Oceans in recognition of his excellence, leadership and scientific contributions. 


Wednesday 3rd June, Congress Hall (16:15 – 17:00 hours)

Dr. Albertinka J. Murk (WIMEK-WU, The Netherlands):
Assessing ecotoxicological impacts in differing and changing environments

The seemingly simple question: To what degree do environmental contaminants induce an ecological effect is usually answered with: That is too hard to tell. After all, contaminants are present in unknown mixtures of variable composition, ecological and environmental conditions greatly influence the outcome but never are the same and even globally changing, and other stressors easily mask occurring ecotoxicological effects. The answer usually also includes that results of standardized (eco)toxicological experiments mainly indicate the hazard of the compounds because translation of laboratory results to field effects is hardly possible. Indeed, when exposure conditions are not realistic and internal effect levels are not determined, it is very tricky to relate the results to contaminant levels in the field. This answer, however, would be too pessimistic. With a more systematic, rational approach it is very well possible to design experiments that take key factors into account, providing better applicable results. And more importantly, these more rationally designed experiments will contribute to the theory development needed to improve ecotoxicological risk assessment. This will reduce the need to perform new experiments over and over again to assess the impact of compounds on the health of  differing or (globally) changing environments. This approach will be illustrated with results from chemical, toxicological and ecological studies.

Tinka Murk is professor in Environmental Toxicology at Wageningen University and associated scientist of the Dutch marine research institute Wageningen IMARES. Tinka Murk read Environmental and Molecular Biology at Leiden University, was research fellow at the Institute of Environmental Sciences in Leiden and scientific staff member of the National Health Council of the Netherlands. In 2002 she was appointed associate professor at the division of Toxicology of Wageningen University upon receiving a personal NWO-Aspasia grant. Since 2007 Tinka Murk is professor in Environmental Toxicology. In 2006 she also became scientifically involved in the Dutch Marine Institute IMARES. She has about 25 years of experience in the field of environmental toxicology, developmental toxicology, risk assessment, mechanism-based biomarkers and in vitro and in vivo bioassays. Her research focuses on sub-lethal effects of persistent thyroid- and steroid hormone disrupting chemicals on critical life stages and includes the application of transgenic cell and animal models. Tinka Murk is scientific member of several Dutch and International advisory boards and review panels and is member of the Ethical Committee of Wageningen University and Research Centre.


Closing Session, Thursday 4th June Congress Hall (12:50 – 13:20)
Concluding remarks and highlights of the meeting

The scientific programme of the Annual Meeting concludes with the key note addresses of four reputed scientists discussion the main themes of the meeting. Each of them will present the state of the science and will highlight the most important findings with regard that theme as presented at the SETAC Europe 19th Annual Meeting in Göteborg.

Kevin Thomas (Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Norway): Environmental Chemistry
Kevin Thomas is Research Manager for Ecotoxicology & Risk Assessment at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Oslo, Norway. He has particular interest in the identification, fate, behaviour and effects of environmental contaminants (biocides, nanoparticles, narcotics, pharmaceuticals and degradates) and co-ordinates a large number of research projects in this area.



Marco Vighi (University of Milano Bicocca, Italy): Ecotoxicology
Marco Vighi, born in 1945, is professor of Ecotoxicology and of Applied Ecology at the University of Milano Bicocca (Italy). He is the coordinator of the Ecotoxicology Research Group of the Department of Environmental Sciences. His scientific activity is addressed to several aspects of applied environmental sciences. The main fields of research are: applied hydrobiology and eutrophication of marine and fresh waters; environmental toxicology; environmental distribution and fate of contaminants; long range transport of persistent organic pollutants (POPs); ecotoxicological risk assessment. From 1991 to 2009 he was member of Scientific Advisory Committees on Toxicology and Ecotoxicology of the European Commission, DG SANCO (CSTE, CSTEE, SCHER). From 2002 to 2005 he was Senior Consultant of the Project “Phase-out of pesticidal POPs in China”, developed by the UNPD (United Nations Development Programme) and the Italian Ministry of the Environment, in collaboration with the Chinese government. TheProject lead to a strategy for the implemetation of the Stockholm Convention in China. He has published more than 180 scientific papers and books on applied ecology and on ecotoxicology.

Annette Köhler (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
Life Cycle Assessment and Sustainability
Dr. Annette Köhler is a senior researcher and lecturer at ETH Zurich. Her areas of expertise cover the development of environmental decision-support tools for various economic sectors (e.g. chemical industry, aluminium industry, consumer products industry, waste management sector) and the advancement of life cycle assessment schemes evaluating the ecological performance of products and processes. Her current research deals with the impact assessment of water resources and chemical mixtures, the environmental modelling of future energy supply and waste management scenarios. She has broad experience in leading projects. Under the auspices of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative she is currently chairing the project group on assessing water-use related impacts within the life cycle assessment framework. Within SETAC she is the chair of the SETAC Europe LCA Steering Committee.

Joke van Wensem (Soil Protection Technical Committee, The Netherlands) Risk Assessment
Joke van Wensem has 20 years expierence as secretary of the Dutch Soil Protection Technical Committee (TCB), a science-policy interface in the field of soil policies. She studied biology at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and received a Ph.D in ecotoxicology at the same university. She has been engaged in projects in the following fields: environmental criteria for pesticides, soil quality standards, site specific ecological risk assessment, large scale diffuse contamination in rural areas and ecologically sustainable land use, in general and specific for agriculture. At present she is involved in projects that aim at implementing the concept of ‘ecosystem services’ in environmental research, management and policies.

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