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Toxicology Rounds

Toxicology Rounds: The Future of Medical Toxicology? Twitter, Of Course

Gussow, Leon MD

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doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000455723.99878.7b

    Four years ago in this column I wrote that I had seen the future of medicine, and its name was Twitter. Nowhere is that truer than in medical toxicology, where the future has arrived with a vengeance.

    More and more of the best-known names in the field have joined the 140-character colloquy that is the Twittersphere. The members on my toxicology Twitter list have snowballed from 31 to 122 in the past year alone.

    The following are some of the newer additions to my list. Those interested in toxicology will want to consider adding them to their Twitter feed.

    Lewis Nelson (@LNelsonMD) is the director of the medical toxicology fellowship program at NYU/Bellevue and the current president of the American College of Medical Toxicology. He frequently tweets links to tox-related news stories.

    Jeanmarie Perrone (@JMPerroneMD) is the director of medical toxicology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her tweets focus on prescription drug abuse and the epidemic of prescription opioid overuse and addiction.

    Martin Caravati (@emcaravati), the editor-in-chief of Clinical Toxicology, tweets about the journal's content and developments from international toxicology conferences.

    Nadia Awad (@Nadia_EMPharmD), a prolific tweeter, is an emergency medicine pharmacist at the Robert Woods Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey and a contributor to the Emergency Medicine PharmD blog. She covers all aspects of emergency pharmacy and toxicology.

    Justin Brower (@NaturesPoisons) is a forensic toxicologist in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of North Carolina. His blog, Nature's Poisons, is an amazing compendium of toxicology history and science. A recent post: “The Exciting True Story of Blowing Smoke Up One's Arse.”

    The University of Massachusetts Toxicology Fellowship (@UMassTox) is a powerful presence on social media, producing the superb ToxTalk podcast. Their tweets provide links to important medical literature and pearls from their conferences.

    Kavita Babu (@kavitababu) is the captain of the UMass toxicology social media juggernaut and the director of the medical toxicology fellowship program. Her tweets are witty and informative.

    Michael Downes (@ToxTalks) is an emergency physician and clinical toxicologist in Newcastle, NSW, associated with the Hunter Area Toxicology Service.

    Doug Borys (@DougBorys) is a clinical toxicologist at the Wisconsin Poison Center who tweets about interesting clinical cases and conundrums.

    Medical journalism used to be a process by which press releases from medical researchers, drug companies, and big-name journals were transcribed into the pages of daily newspapers without critical analysis. Fortunately, superb reporters now work the medical and pharmaceutical beats at some newspapers, and following their work has become essential. Some of the best of this valuable breed write about issues of interest to toxicologists.

    John Fauber (@fauber_mjs) and his team have made the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the website MedPage Today ( absolutely crucial reading. Mr. Fauber specializes in analyzing conflicts of interest in medical research and pharmaceutical marketing. Among the stories he has covered recently is the FDA approval of the opiate ZohydroER, even though the agency's own advisory panel voted overwhelmingly against releasing it onto the market. His colleague at MedPage Today, Kristina Fiore (@KristinaMFiore), is also worth following.

    Barry Meier (@BarryMeier) covers business and medicine for the New York Times. He has recently written excellent pieces on the tendency of some metal-on-metal hips to deteriorate and cause cobalt and chromium toxicity and a series on the epidemic of chronic opioid analgesic addiction.

    Carl Zimmer (@carlzimmer), a science writer at the New York Times, recently wrote about microcystin, the bacterial toxin that closed down the water supply to Toledo, OH.

    When Ed Silverman (@pharmalot) announced in 2009 that he was folding his influential drug-industry blog Pharmalot, long-time followers were distraught. Fortunately, Pharmalot has been resurrected at the Wall Street Journal. A fascinating recent post, linked to a longer article in the Journal, discussed how the ability of research-study patients to contact one another using social media could become a major impediment to the integrity of large blinded clinical trials.

    This list just scratches the surface of Twitter accounts that toxicology aficionados should consider following. View all of the 122 accounts I follow on my Twitter profile (, click “More,” then “Lists,” and subscribe to the “Toxicology” list.

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