3818793408?profile=originalAfter she completed her studies in pharmacy in Austria and a term abroad in Germany to specialise in toxicology, Anna Holderbaum enrolled as a Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher at the Institute for Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast in collaboration with the Irish Equine Centre on the MET-A-FOR project (http://metafor-itn.eu/). Her PhD project focuses on the utilisation of in vitro strategies to rapidly predict metabolism and elimination kinetics of emerging anabolic drugs in sports and food producing animals. In vitro approaches represent a rapid and cost-effective method to draw initial conclusions about the metabolic fate of a drug and potential target analytes, which helps to strengthen and improve existing control methods.

Anna recently took part in the safefood Training & Mobility Funding Programme. In the report below, she tells us about her experience.

Visit Aims & Objectives

I participated in a three-day summer school on “In Silico Methods for Food Safety” at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma, 13- 15/06/2017. The aim of my visit was to explore in silico approaches that could complement current experimental work on the project in the analysis for forensic detection of drugs of abuse in food producing and sports animals.

Purpose & Relevance

In silico methods is an emerging field in food safety and there is a need for further research in the application of computational approaches in risk assessment to reduce animal testing and generate toxicological predictions of new food contaminants, e.g. emerging anabolic drugs and related metabolites in meat.


Presentations were given by leading experts in the field from academia and EFSA followed by Q&A sessions. On the first day, the three keynote speakers Thomas Hartung, Jean-Marie Membre, Kamel Mansouri presented on toxicology and computational approaches (QSAR, read across), predictive microbiology and computational approaches for endocrine disruptors. The second day commenced with presentations on computational methods mainly used in drug discovery and development processes with applications in risk assessments for food safety followed by talks on EFSA’s work in the afternoon (food consumption database, OpenFoodTox, in silico and read across approaches in the risk assessment of pesticides). The summer school concluded on the third day with a focus on demonstrations and applications of predictive modelling for toxicological and microbiological assessments.

Transfer of Knowledge

All presentations will be made available on the event homepage http://www.parmasummerschool.it/. The knowledge gained will help to use in silico techniques in addition to experimental work in the MET-A-FOR project.

Added Value & Realised/Anticipated Benefits of Visit

It was very helpful to learn about this topic from leading experts. I gained valuable knowledge on which softwares I could use for prediction of metabolites and toxicological properties of emerging anabolic drugs. This is in-line with the 3Rs helping to reduce, refine, replace animal testing and in future could facilitate timely responses to arising risks. Additionally, I have made valuable contacts with colleagues working in different areas, e.g. veterinary sciences, molecular modelling, physics and work places, e.g. academia, pharmaceutical industry, EU agencies. Also, I gained a better understanding about EFSA’s work and risk assessments.

Conclusions & any Recommendations

The take home message of the summer school was to tackle scientific challenges by mixing different expertise, dry and wet experiments, computational and traditional methods. I am very grateful for the support from safefood and the Institute for Global Food Security in enabling me to attend this course. The summer school takes place every year and I can highly recommend it to students and staff in academia or industry with an interest in utilising in silico methods for applications in their research and processes.

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of safefood Knowledge Network to add comments!

Join safefood Knowledge Network