Philip Wexler, National Library of Medicine
ToxLearn is a joint long-term project of the National Library of Medicine and the Society of Toxicology to teach, at roughly an undergraduate level, the basic principles of toxicology to the public. It is offered as a free online multi-module, flash-based tutorial. Module II will soon be available, and the ToxLearn developers are looking for beta testers before rolling out a full release.
Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemical, physical or biological agents on living organisms and the ecosystem, including the prevention and amelioration of such adverse effects.
Toxicity is the adverse end product of a series of events that is initiated by exposure to chemical, physical or biological agents. Toxicity can manifest itself in a wide array of forms, from mild biochemical malfunctions to serious organ damage and death. These events, any of which may be reversible or irreversible, include absorption, transport, metabolism to more or less toxic metabolites, excretion, interaction with cellular macromolecules and other modes of toxic action. Toxicology integrates the study of all of these events, at all levels of biological organization, from molecules to complex ecosystems. The broad scope of toxicology, from the study of fundamental mechanisms to the measurement of exposure, including toxicity testing and risk analysis, requires an extensively interdisciplinary approach. This approach utilizes the principles and methods of other disciplines, including molecular biology, chemistry (analytical, organic, inorganic and biochemistry), physiology, medicine (veterinary and human), computer science and informatics.
View the content of Module I at http://toxlearn.nlm.nih.gov and volunteer to help test Module II, Cells and Tissues: Injury and Repair, by e-mailing Phil Wexler at firstname.lastname@example.org. Phil will send a link to the Module II test site and to a brief questionnaire with a request for comments by August 2.
Toxicological issues are part and parcel of our everyday lives, from the safety of the food we eat and the pharmaceuticals we take, to the pollution of our air, water, and soil. The science of toxicology helps uncover the causes of various chemical and biological hazards, and seeks solutions. By better understanding toxicology and toxicity issues, we are better able to make healthy and safe choices in our daily lives. ToxLearn provides this kind of learning opportunity, and by helping to test this online tool, you can contribute to developing and improving a valuable resource for everyone!