Dr. Edward J. Calabrese is a professor of toxicology in the department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has published more than 750 scholarly papers and 10 books. Here is a blurb from his bio page at the university.
Over the past 20 years Professor Calabrese has redirected his research to understanding the nature of the dose response in the low dose zone and underlying adaptive explanatory mechanisms. Of particular note is that this research has led to important discoveries which indicate that the most fundamental dose response in toxicology and pharmacology is the hormetic-biphasic dose response relationship. These observations are leading to a major transformation in improving drug discovery, development, and in the efficiency of the clinical trial, as well as the scientific foundations for risk assessment and environmental regulation for radiation and chemicals. –
See more at: http://www.umass.edu/sphhs/person/faculty/edward-j-calabrese#sthash.C6pWDD4u.dpuf
McMaster University recently recognized Dr. Calabrese for his work and asked him to give an inspirational talk at their November 22, 2013 Convocation. McMaster published a video of the entire convocation and graciously granted Atomic Insights permission to clip and publish Dr. Calabrese’s recognition ceremony and talk.
Update (added January 8, 2014)
Transcript of the above video:
Dr. Patrick Deane, President, Vice Chancellor, McMaster University
Edward Calabrese pioneered the field of hormesis which recognizes that harm from chemicals or radioactive substances does not increase linearly with the dosage. Instead, Dr. Calabrese has proved that doses can be identified which are beneficial. He has worked with great energy and scientific rigor to illustrate the importance of hormesis in regulations processes and approaches related to fields such as toxicology, pharmacology and radiation.
The work produced by Dr. Calabrese and his colleagues has sparked vigorous scientific debate and, famously, a special section in the journal Science. Working with longtime collaborator Linda Baldwin, Dr. Calabrese has also created a database of more than 21,000 papers related to the field.
Dr. Calabrese is a professor of toxicology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences. And during his nearly four decades there he has served the university as the graduate program director for the Environmental Health Sciences Department, as Division Chair for the Environmental Health Sciences Division and as the Director of the Northeast Regional Environmental Health Center, a position that he has held since 1985.
Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Dr. Calabrese was an Assistant Professor with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the University of Illinois, Environmental Research Director for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, an adjunct professor with Southwest Residents College at the University of Massachusetts and an assistant professor with North Adams State College.
Dr. Calabrese has published extensively on hormesis and factors affecting susceptibility to pollutants and is the author or co-author of more than 750 papers in scholarly journals as well as 26 books including Principles of Animal Extrapolation, Nutrition and Environmental Health, Ecogentics, Multiple Chemical Interaction and Air Toxics and Risk Assessment. He is the co-editor of Hormesis, a Revolution in Biology, Toxicology and Medicine.
He has also served as the editor in chief of a number of respected scholarly journals including Dose-Response, Non-Linearity in Biology, Toxicology in Medicine, and Human and Ecological Risk Assessment. His editorial board service includes the journals Inhalation Toxicology, Soil and Sediment Contamination an International Journal, Human and Experimental Toxicology, Environmental Toxicology and Safety, and Biomedical and Environmental Sciences.
Dr. Calabrese has been a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and NATO Countries Safe Drinking Water Committees and served on the board of Scientific Councilor for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registries (ATSDR). He is also Chairman of the Advisory Committee for BELLE the Biological Effects of Low Level Exposures and he is Director of the Northeast Regional Environmental Public Health Center at the University of Massachusetts.
He was awarded the 2009 Marie Curie Prize from the International Dose Response Society for the body of his work on hormesis and he was the recipient of the International Society for Cell Communications and Signaling Springer Award in 2010. In 2012, the International CCN Society named Dr. Calabrese an honorary member.
Johnson Lavarge, For Edward Calabrese’s decades of scientific study scholarly leadership and advocacy in the field of dose response and for his contributions to the transformation of drug discovery, drug development, risk assessment and environmental regulations, I ask that you confer upon Dr. Calabrese the degree of doctor of science honoris causa.
Dr. Edward Calabrese:
I’m greatly honored and humbled to accept the honorary doctoral degree from your university. It’s an honor that one never truly thinks about because it’s far beyond one’s normal reach. I’m here today because I’m helping to lead a revolution in the biological and biomedical sciences. It’s called the dose response revolution.
It’s my belief that the scientific and medical communities got the dose response concept wrong many years ago concerning how drugs, chemicals and radiation act in the low dose zone. It’s the zone in which most of us live most of our lives.
Throughout much of the twentieth century the belief was that the dose response was linear for agents causing cancer and a threshold for everything else. My research has seriously challenged these two views.
When one challenges the scientific and medical leadership on one of their basic scientific principles you better be on solid foundation or you many find yourself delivering pizzas to students at night rather than correcting their papers. While I am not here to proclaim that I have convinced the entire scientific and medical communities to my perspective, I can say that I am still correcting student papers at night while eating the pizza rather than doing the delivering.
My story is how do you discover and prove that these scientific and medial leaders made a profound error on a basic principle that has gravely affected our health and the economy.
Well, for me, it was really entirely serendipitous, much like the discovery of the potato chip or that Rogain can grow hair. My insights first came as an undergraduate student taking a plant physiology course of all things. In one experiment we were to demonstrate the standard dose response for synthetic plant growth retardant. However, instead of inhibiting the plant growth it stimulated it.
The professor asked if anyone was interested in following up on this anomalous finding. As it turns out, I was the only one. We figured out that the reason that the normal experiment did not work was that the wrong dose was used. An error that I made, essentially, in making up the stock solution, resulted in only 1/10th of the dose being administered to the plant and not following the actual instructions of the professor.
When I did the experiment over and did it essentially the way that he wanted it done in the first place and adding in the way that we actually did, making a larger experiment, we got exactly what he thought we would get at the high dose of inhibition, but at the low dose we saw the stimulation once again.
My professor inspired me to repeat this experiment in progressively stronger studies, in fact about 11 times, driving me a bit crazy. At which point we became convinced that the findings were very reliably reproducible. He then directed me to additional work, really another two dozen experiments that were closely related to the hypothesis, but attempting to prove with rather indirect ways but complimentary ways the accuracy of the conclusions that we had drawn. When all was said and done, I knew that I had discovered that a threshold or linear response was not operating, in this case, but a biphasic one, something I later learned was called hormesis.
We published this research in a British botanical journal, I graduated. Later obtained my PhD, became a professor and started professional life, almost forgetting this intense period of my first research experience.
Nearly two decades later, the issue of hormesis and biphasic dose responses became highly visible and provocative. With the scientific and regulatory powers proclaiming that it wrong, could not be reproduced, was very trivial at best and was a ploy to undercut environmental regulatory standards. My long, nearly forgotten undergraduate research experience emerged, telling me that I knew something that others didn’t, that such biphasic dose responses could be real and reproducible. I just didn’t know how general they were, what their dose response characteristics were, and what their basic mechanisms were, nor how broadly significant their reality could be.
The past twenty years have led me down this path, a path that reconnected me to my undergraduate days. I had taken a long marginalized biological concept, one that had never made it into the textbooks, one that was never the subject of a conference a symposium, a seminar or even a classroom lecture and breathed scientific life into it.
We are in the process of changing how the scientific, medical and regulatory communities think and act on this topic. Such changes in thinking are happening quickly and at multiple levels within society. We are now seeing numerous medical procedures that have incorporated this concept to save, improve and extend lives. It is also affecting how the general public acts as well as we see in new dietary recommendations such at intermittent fasting or the rapid adoption of the 5/2 diet based on this concept.
All in all the road has not been an easy one, as many colleagues and others in the scientific community thought that those challenging the standard protocols of linearity and threshold while proposing the hormetic alternative had somehow lost their scientific path. My message to you is that big things always start small, like a giant oak from a tiny acorn of from a professor’s observation that his peppermint plants were acting in an odd fashion.
So be curious, Try to figure out the exception to the rule. You may find something very important and transforming. However, exploring the exceptions rather than the rule can also be dangerous to your job health. So it helps to be correct if you go down that lonely path.
For in retrospect, I am now very grateful to my old and now diseased professor who made me replicate my experiments so many times and in so many different ways so that we could have very high confidence in our conclusion. It took me nearly a professional life to appreciate his wisdom and demanding scientific standards as it undoubtedly preserved my professional life and brought me to McMaster University today. Thank you very much.
After watching Dr. Calabrese’s talk and considering his stories about the repeatability of his results in a wide range of studies, please read this op-ed from Henry Miller titled The Trouble With ‘Scientific’ Research Today: A Lot That is Published is Junk.