March 31, 2021
In March, the AACT celebrates Women’s History Month. Throughout the history of clinical toxicology, there are numerous examples of women who have led and continue to lead. These are just a few examples of the foundation and the strength of women in our profession.
First, I think about the contributions of Dr. Alice Hamilton, MD to occupational toxicology and women. In 1919, she was the first female professor at Harvard University in the entire university. She provided expertise in the toxicity of many chemicals and metals, but I associate her with advocating for the health of the “Radium Girls” suffering from radium toxicity.
Dr. Carol Angle, MD, FAACT was the Editor-in-Chief of Clinical Toxicology when I started my medical toxicology fellowship. Prior to that she was the Chief of Pediatric Nephrology and Director of the PICU, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. In 1957, she started the Nebraska Poison Center, and was a founding member and served as President of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
One year after Dr. Angle started the Nebraska Poison Center, Dr. Ruth Lawrence, MD, FAACT founded the first poison center in the state of New York. Dr. Lawrence was the first women accepted into the Pediatric Internship at Yale University in 1949. She became a practicing pediatrician who specialized in neonatology and lactation, at the University of Rochester. In an excerpt from an interview posted on the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning website, she remarked, “I worked a lot with nurses. I was always grateful for the nursing staff, because the men were off being men.” The Finger Lakes Poison Center she started, was eventually renamed the Ruth Lawrence Poison Center. She served on the AACT Board of Directors for three terms, and launched the first Children’s Environmental Health Network in New York. She has received Life Time Achievement Awards from the Susan B. Anthony Center and the University Of Rochester School Of Medicine and Dentistry, and the AACT Career Achievement Award.
Dr. Donna Seger, MD, FAACT, is the Medical Director of the Tennessee Poison Center and affiliated with Vanderbilt University where she is a Professor of Emergency Medicine and Medicine. She is a Deputy Editor of Clinical Toxicology, and is a Past-President of AACT.
Dr. Karen Simone, PharmD, DABAT, FAACT, the Director of the Northern New England Poison Center. Dr. Simone was the Secretary/Treasurer of American Board of Applied Toxicology (ABAT) for seven years. She followed this with four years as the Secretary of the AACT Board of Trustees and is a Past-President of the AACT. She continues to serve as a Senior Editorial Board Member of Clinical Toxicology.
The AACT awarded Dr. Mary Ann Howland, PharmD, DABAT, FAACT the Career Achievement Award in 2019, and she continues her work in clinical toxicology. You probably have read one of her 32 chapters in Goldrank’s Toxicologic Emergencies. She is the author with the most contributions. Dawn Sollee, PharmD, DABAT, FAACT had this to share about her mentor:
“During Women’s History Month, it is a wonderful time to acknowledge the impact of Dr. Mary Ann Howland on the world of clinical toxicology. She has set a wonderful example for future women toxicologists (as well as all future toxicologists) with her dedication to the field of toxicology demonstrated by her multiple publications, book chapters, courses as well as her interactions with students, fellows, and practitioners. Thanks Dr. Howland!”
When I reflect on the greatness of these clinical toxicologists, I am amazed at what an important role they have played in our past and present. I am truly grateful for their contributions to our collective knowledge of clinical toxicology, and the number of lives they influenced.
Kirk Cumpston, DO