The Belgian Society of Toxicology and Ecotoxicology, abbreviated as BelTox, was founded in 1988 and its statutes published in the Official Journal of Belgium in June 1989. The Steering Committee of the Society is comprised of professionals active as toxicologists in different sectors of society such as academia, authorities, scientific institutions, contract organizations, consulting and industry. The main objective of BelTox is to establish contacts between scientists in all fields of toxicology and ecotoxicology in Belgium, facilitate the exchange of knowledge and encourage research initiatives and collaboration. BelTox is a member of the European Society of Toxicology (EUROTOX), an umbrella organization for national toxicology societies. In 2001, the scope of the Society was broadened to include ecotoxicology.
Since its foundation in 1988, BelTox has organized annual scientific meetings as well as workshops on various scientific and regulatory themes such as biotransformation, acute toxicology, skin toxicology, skin sensitization, classification of dangerous substances, risk assessment, good laboratory practices, laboratory animal care, endocrine disruption, environmental bio-availability, juvenile toxicology, experimental models in toxicology, nanotoxicology, combination toxicology (in collaboration with BLT), liver toxicology (in collaboration with Invitrom), ecotoxicology and toxicology of environmental contaminants, metals toxicology and ecotoxicology, reproductive toxicology (in collaboration with Invitrom), non-testing approaches in toxicology and ecotoxicology and food toxicology. The theme of the annual scientific meeting of 2015 is nanomaterials toxicology and ecotoxicology (in collaboration with Invitrom).
In 2003, BelTox offered for the first time a platform for young scientists to present their work, as an oral presentation or as a poster, to an audience of fellow scientists and experienced professionals from all sectors. The two best presentations and posters receive an award. The Young Scientist Forum (YSF) is now organized every year as part of the annual scientific meeting. This forum proved very successful in terms of the number of abstracts submitted as well as the quality of the oral presentations and posters. In 2009, travel grants for IUTOX and SETAC meetings were issued for PhD students with the best scientific communication intended to be presented at these international meetings.
Since 2007, BelTox regularly organizes a one-day introductory course on toxicology and ecotoxicology for audiences who received no training in this area of expertise but who are confronted with issues of health and environmental hazard and risk through their professional activities (e.g. regulators, lawyers, journalists, teachers, health workers, members of trade associations). After an introduction to toxicology and epidemiology, the basic principles of toxicology, ecotoxicology and exposure to chemicals are presented, followed by an explanation of the process of risk assessment of chemicals, pesticides and drugs. The course is closed after presentations on classification and labelling of dangerous chemicals and risk communication. The lecturers of the seminars are experienced professionals in the area of health and environmental risk assessment from authorities, academia, industry and consulting. At the request of CEFIC (European Council of the Chemical Industry), in 2012 an introductory course in toxicology and ecotoxicology was given at the CEFIC premises for their members. This was followed by a risk assessment workshop focused on reproductive toxicology in 2013 and a workshop on endocrine disruption in 2015. .
In 2009, BelTox organized its first advanced toxicology course which was focused on repeated dose toxicology with presentations on pharmacokinetics, clinical signs of toxicity, clinical pathology, histopathology and integrated risk assessment. In the afternoon the audience was split into working groups for an exercise on the interpretation of repeated dose toxicology studies using real experimental data. The conclusions of the groups were compared and then discussed in a plenary session. A second edition of this course was organized in 2010. The theme of the advanced toxicology course in 2011 was embryo-fetal development toxicology. Participants from Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Switzerland and Finland attended the course. The speakers were all of very high quality and the practical exercise in the afternoon was greatly appreciated by the audience. In 2012, an advanced toxicology course on pitfalls and regulatory issues in genotoxicity testing was organized. This course was a joint initiative of BelTox and BEMS and was designed to go from theory to practice, starting with background and mechanisms, testing guidelines to more regulatory aspects and false positives and testing strategies. In the afternoon the attendants were split into small groups for a practical exercise based on real data from industry. The day was concluded with an interactive discussion on the interpretation of the data. In view of its success, the same course was repeated in 2013. In 2014 an advanced course on skin and pulmonary sensitization was organized. Due to its success, this course was repeated in 2015 but only with the emphasis of skin sensitization. The presentations and the practical exercise with real examples were greatly appreciated.
Since 2011, BelTox organized 4 workshops on various aspects of nonclinical safety assessment of biopharmaceuticals (monoclonal antibodies,vaccines, oligonucleotides, bispecific antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates) attracting participants from across Europe. In the morning, excellent high level scientific presentations are given by experts from industry, contract organizations and regulatory bodies. In the afternoon the audience is split into working groups to analyse different cases of realistic issues in the development of biologicals. The outcome of each working group is then presented to the entire audience which triggers interesting, very interactive discussions on the best strategies to resolve the issues raised.
The Belgian Register of Toxicologists was launched in 2010, organized jointly by BelTox, The Belgian Mutagenesis Society (BEMS) and the Toxicological Society of Belgium and Luxembourg (BLT). The Belgian Register is part of the European Register of Toxicologists (EUROTOX) which identifies professionals based on a peer recognition process. Applications are reviewed on a yearly basis by a jury comprising delegates from the 3 constitutive societies (BelTox, BEMS and BLT). A detailed description of the selection criteria and application procedure is available on this website. The Belgian Register currently includes 70 professionals in (eco)toxicology.