It seemed like yesterday when I cracked open the Third Edition of A Textbook of Modern Toxicology authored by Ernest Hodgson, PhD. That yesterday was more than six years ago. My first reaction when I became aware that there was a new edition of this established toxicology text was to question why a new edition was necessary since the Third Edition wasn’t broke and it has been serving me well. However, I’ve come to learn, sometimes joyfully and at other times sadly, that much can happen in six years. Consequently, I shouldn’t be surprised, and neither should you, that it is time to greet the Fourth Edition as a new and helpful friend.
There has been growth in both the world of toxicology and in the classroom where the expansion of toxicological information is offered to the thirsty minds of the next generation of toxicologists. Practitioners and students alike deserve and need an updated version of a familiar resource. If the clouds of concern are beginning to form in your mind, fear not! There are no radical changes in the Fourth Edition that could possibly turn your world upside down; just the right amount of adjustment that takes something that was good and makes it better.
The Fourth Edition has approximately 15% more pages than the Third Edition and there is an increase of approximately 50% in the total number of chapter author contributors, 12 of which are new to the Fourth Edition. The Fourth Edition retained the basic eight-part organization that was effective in the Third Edition: Introduction, Classes of Toxicants, Toxicant Processing In Vivo, Toxic Action, Organ Toxicity, Applied Toxicology, Environmental Toxicology and what was titled as Summary in the Third Edition is now called New Approaches in Toxicology. This overall structure worked well in the Third Edition and continues to do so in the Fourth Edition.
While the changes in the overall structure of the Fourth Edition were minor when compared to the Third Edition, some important changes are evident at the chapter level even though the number of chapters, 29, remained the same for both editions. The content of the third chapter of the Third Edition, Toxicant Analysis and Quality Assurance Principles, was incorporated into Part VII Environmental Toxicology in the Fourth Edition.
From the student’s perspective, the most important change in the Fourth Edition is the Sample Questions at the end of each chapter immediately following the reference list for the chapter. While some of the questions are simple, requiring the student to locate the answer in the material that was presented. Other, more teachable questions require the student to use the concepts presented in the chapter and go beyond the presented material and engage issues that a practicing toxicologist might reasonable face.
The most important change, which adds value to the Fourth Edition, is a new chapter entitled “Perspectives on Informatics in Toxicology” which is in Part VIII, New Approaches in Toxicology. In the time that has passed since the Third Edition appeared, important advances have been made in bioinformatics, genomics and for the toxicologist collectively referred to as toxicogenomics. While this is a still-evolving area of biology, the chapter authors present a competent signal to the toxicology student that toxicogenomics is going to be an important arena in which toxicologists will engage in the future.
The chapter on informatics addresses –omics and the explosion of data impacting the field of toxicology. The chapter introduces the student to the advances that are taking place in biology by first defining and describing the important knowledge expansion of bioinformatics in a broad and general way. Secondly, the chapter concludes by identifying the various tools and resources that are available to the toxicologist so that he or she can incorporate bioinformatics and genomics into the practice of toxicology.
The editor has struck a perfect balance in presenting the Fourth Edition of A Textbook of Modern Toxicology. The Fourth Edition retained what made this established text a cornerstone in toxicology education and the editor along with the chapter authors added updated material to make the text current. In so doing, the latest edition of A Textbook of Modern Toxicology is relevant to the new student of toxicology and at the same time a viable reference and resource to the practicing toxicologist as well as other established life scientists wishing to obtain a toxicological perspective for their field of practice.
This article discusses issues of general interest and does not give any specific legal or business advice pertaining to any specific circumstances. Before acting upon any of its information, you should obtain appropriate advice from a lawyer or other qualified professional.