Fundamentals Of Toxicology

This course will be of genuine benefit to anyone desiring a basic understanding of the adverse effects of “chemicals” (drugs and other xenobiotics) in humans.



The ultimate “safety” of any substance (drug, food additive or other consumer product), whether naturally occurring or “man made”, is based on prescribed toxicological investigations.

Given its importance to so many fields of endeavour – including environmental (indoor and outdoor) science, occupational health, food science and forensic science, in addition to drug development – it could be argued that all life science graduates should have an understanding of at least the basic tenets of toxicology. This, of course, is not the case; even recently graduated physicians, pharmacists and other health professionals have studied little, if any, toxicology per se. As the distinguished British toxicologist, Francis Roe, pointed out in a foreword to a book on toxicology: “It is a fact of life that the disciplines of greatest current importance are the least well represented in terms of university chairs and departments. Toxicology falls into this category.”

With the aim of instilling an appreciation for the simple, but key, concept that “the dose makes the poison” (first expounded by “Paracelsus” in the 1500s), course participants will receive sound instruction in the varied and interesting fundamentals of modern toxicological science with an emphasis on the importance of toxicokinetic concepts. The course will be taught in a didactic, but informal, manner with a short self-assessment ‘quiz’ upon completion of each learning block.




  • History and terminology
  • Routes of exposure
  • Physiochemical & biological determinants of toxicity
  • Dose-response concepts (e.g. LD50, benchmark dose, etc.)
  • Toxicity testing procedures and pitfalls in interpreting results
  • Acute, subchronic and chronic toxicity
  • Toxicological observations and differences across species
  • Maximum tolerated dose & “effect levels” (e.g. NOAEL)
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Teratology
  • Immunotoxicity
  • Toxicity to the “organs of elimination” (liver & kidney)
  • Xenobiotic metabolism (biotransformation)
  • Mutagenesis and carcinogenesis
  • Toxicokinetics (single & multiple doses; linear vs nonlinear kinetics)
  • Estimating safe human exposure (e.g. “ADI”, “RfD”)
  • Introduction to health risk assessment
  • Toxidromes in clinical toxicology
  • Problems in interpreting forensic toxicological findings
  • Pharmacovigilance
  • Literature and online sources of toxicological information





2017 presentation dates to be determined
Ottawa, Ontario