Toxicologic Pathology in the 21st Century

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Toxicology is and will be heavily influenced by advances in many scientific disciplines. For toxicologic pathology, particularly relevant are the increasing array of molecular methods providing deeper insights into toxicity pathways, in vivo imaging techniques visualizing toxicodynamics and more powerful computers anticipated to allow (partly) automated morphological diagnoses. It appears unlikely that, in a foreseeable future, animal studies can be replaced by in silico and in vitro studies or longer term in vivo studies by investigations of biomarkers including toxicogenomics of shorter term studies, though the importance of such approaches will continue to increase. In addition to changes based on scientific progress, the work of toxicopathologists is and will be affected by social and financial factors, among them stagnating budgets, globalization, and outsourcing. The number of toxicopathologists in North America, Europe, and the Far East is not expected to grow. Many toxicopathologists will likely spend less time at the microscope but will be more heavily involved in early research activities, imaging, and as generalists with a broad biological understanding in evaluation and management of toxicity. Toxicologic pathology will remain important and is indispensable for validation of new methods, quality assurance of established methods, and for areas without good alternative methods.

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