Pallavi Bhuyan McElroy, PhD President
Pallavi Bhuyan McElroy, PhD is currently a Senior Scientist within Global Toxicology, Preclinical Sciences and Translational Safety (PSTS) at Janssen R&D. In this role, she serves as the Study Toxicologist for assigned studies (General Toxicology and Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology) for various modalities which includes design of in vivo toxicology studies, integrated scientific data interpretation and report generation, engagement in multi-disciplinary teams to provide scientific and technical expertise, and participation on issue-resolution teams through active engagement in scientific discussions. She is also a part of the Global DART-Pediatric team within PSTS, involved in discussions related to DART and juvenile tox strategies and designs for various projects. Pallavi received her PhD in Toxicology from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in 2016. Following her PhD, she worked as a DART Study Director at Charles River Ashland. She has been an active member of SOT since 2012, of BDRP where she served as a member of the Education Committee from 2018-2021, and currently is a member of the Membership and 2021-2022 Program Committee, and is currently serving as the VP of the Middle Atlantic Reproduction and Teratology Association.
Caitlin Murphy, PhD Past President
Caitlin Murphy is the Sr. Dr. Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology at Inotiv. Caitlin has experience as a Study Director in developmental and reproductive toxicology specializing in rodent and rabbit reproductive toxicology including fertility (male and female), endocrine screening, and multigenerational studies. Dr. Murphy received her doctorate degree in reproductive biology from the University of Wyoming in 2011 with an emphasis on toxicology. She has previously served as the councilor and chair of the Society of Toxicology Postdoctoral Assembly Board, is currently an elected committee member of the American College of Toxicology Education Committee and currently serves as president for Mid-Atlantic Reproductive and Teratology Association. She is also a member of the Society of Toxicology, American College of Toxicology, and the Birth Defects Research and Prevention. Dr. Murphy has over 20 publications/presentations in scientific journals and/or conferences.
Nicole Botteri Principato, PhD President Elect
Dr. Principato is an Associate Director of Preclinical Development at Organon where she works as a project toxicologist and currently supports a preclinical asset in development for the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome. Prior to this role, she worked as a study director and monitor in the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology Groups at both Syngenta and Bristol Myers Squibb.
Dr. Principato received a doctorate in reproductive biology from the University of Florida in 2014 and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Toxicity Assessment Division in the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory at the US Environmental Protection Agency from 2015-2019. She has been a member of Birth Defects Research and Prevention since 2019, and currently serves as the Chair of the Student Affairs Committee and is a member of the Communication Coordination Committee and 2023 BDRP Program Committee. Dr. Principato has also been a member of MARTA since 2019 and the Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology specialty section of SOT since 2017. She is currently participating on a HESI DART working group, the DARTable Genome.
Kristin Bircsak, PhD Treasurer
Kristin Bircsak, PhD is a Principal Scientist at Mimetas in Gaithersburg, Maryland. In 2016, she received her Ph.D. in Toxicology from Rutgers University following which she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania in the laboratory of Dr. George Gerton. In her training, Kristin utilized various model systems to characterize the negative impact of drugs and environmental chemicals on reproduction and development. In her role at Mimetas, Kristin drives the development of innovative 3D in vitro organotypic models and assays to aid in the accurate prediction of safe and effective therapies.
Lei Wang, PhD Secretary
Lei Wang earned her MS and PhD degrees in Reproductive Physiology from West Virginia University Morgantown, West Virginia in 2009 and 2014, respectively. Subsequently in 2015, Dr. Wang joined the Pathology department at University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC), Kansas City, Kansas as a postdoctoral fellow, where she worked on epigenetic regulation of trophoblast stem cell differentiation in human placenta and testicular tumor tissues. Dr. Wang’s early career and interest in animal sciences and reproductive physiology started in China where she obtained her BS in Animal Sciences at China Agricultural University, Beijing. Dr. Wang has authored over 20 of scientific papers published in national and international peer-reviewed journals and/or conference abstracts.
In 2016, Dr. Wang joined Charles River Laboratories, Ashland Ohio, where she has been engaged fulltime as a toxicologist and serves as the single point of control (Study Director) for developmental, reproductive, and juvenile toxicity studies for a variety of clients in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and chemical industries. She is responsible for the study design, planning, conduct, toxicity date interpretation and reporting of each study, according to FDA, ICH, OECD, and EPA OPPTS guidelines. Dr. Wang is an active member of Teratology Society and Society for the Study of Reproduction. Some of her work will be presented in the form of posters and abstracts in the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Teratology Society.
Angela R. Stermer, PhD Councilor
Angela Stermer, PhD is currently an Associate Principal Scientist in Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology (DART) at Merck & Co in West Point, PA. Prior to her work at Merck she received her PhD form the Univeristy of Texas at Austin (2016), and was a post-doctoral researcher at Brown University (2016-2019). Both of these academic pursuits focused on male reproductive toxicity; determining immune cell responses to toxicity within the testis, and evaluating changes in sperm RNAs as novel biomarkers of testicular toxicity. As a scientist at Merck she primarily acts as a study director on DART toxicology studies, but also as a subject matter expert on reproductive findings across drug candidate programs, and is working towards historical data integration and mining for in vitro DART test systems. She is currently a member of a testicular toxicity specialty group within the IQ consortium’s DruSafe community, and a working group for alternatives to non-human primate DART studies the HESI DART community.
Thea Golden, PharmD, PhD Councilor
Thea Golden is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Doctorate of Pharmacy (2011) and PhD in Toxicology (2016) from Rutgers University. As a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Rebecca Simmons, her research focuses on fetal development and pregnancy complications. She is particularly interested in the effect of environmental chemicals on placenta function and fetal development. She joined MARTA as a Councilor in 2021.
Lauren Walker, PhD Councilor
Lauren Walker, PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Rutgers University where she studies how environmental chemicals negatively affect the ability of type of immune cells to defend the placenta from infections. She received her doctorate in Environmental Toxicology from the University of California, Riverside in 2019. Outside of MARTA, Dr. Walker is the Vice-Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), Postdoctoral Representative of the Women in Toxicology Special Interest Group for the Society of Toxicology, and is an Early Career Representative of the Student Affairs Committee for the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention (BDRP).
Rashin Ghaffari, Ph.D Councilor
I am a Senior Research Scientist at Corteva Agriscience. I serve as a Study Director in Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology (DART) and provide internal consulting for endocrine related mechanistic studies both in vitro and in vivo. Prior to my current role, I received my postdoctoral training at Corteva Agriscience (2020-2021), investigating the effects of chemical induced maternal hypothyroidism on fetal and offspring development. I received my BS in Biochemistry and Genetics from the University of Georgia in Athens (2010) and PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Texas at Austin (2019) focusing on male reproductive toxicology and oncofertility.
I am an active member of the HESI DART community where I currently co-chair the Dystocia Project, and part of the working group for the MicroCT project. I’ve also been an active member of the Crop Life Europe ED- Thyroid Subgroup focusing on industry alignment on the study design and interpretation of thyroid related in vitro assays for regulatory acceptance. Moreover, I am part of the European Center for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals (ECETOC) Thyroid Task Force, working towards producing series of publications that can contribute to establishing a reliable guidance for evaluating chemicals that have potential for thyroid hormone disruption in humans. In addition, I’ve been a member of SOT since 2015 and of Birth Defects Research and Prevention (BDRP) since 2020. To date, I have authored and co-authored 6 peer-reviewed publications in the areas of toxicology, reproduction, genetics, and biochemistry and delivered podium and poster presentations at national scientific conferences including SOT, SSR, American society of Andrology (ASA), and Gordon Research Conference (GRC). I am excited for the opportunity to be a part of MARTA where I can contribute my ideas for future meetings, and to act in subcommittees as necessary so that MARTA can continue to be a successful organization serving the local community of likeminded reproductive and developmental scientist.