Joint EBTC and European Food Safety Authority Scientific Colloquium
Evidence-based assessment of health risks posed by chemical substances involves the application of formalized approaches locating, assessing and synthesizing evidence in a manner which minimizes bias and maximizes the transparency and utility of results.
While these approaches are well-established for healthcare intervention questions, their application to chemical risk assessment continues to be explored. A major challenge is that systematic review methods in medicine were designed for combining data from relatively similar, readily-comparable studies of randomized controlled trials of human participants.
In chemical risk assessment, we have no such luxury: evidence is extremely heterogeneous, requiring researchers to combine the results of experimental in vitro and animal studies, and observational human research. Aggregating these diverse data types is not simply a matter of synthesis as traditionally understood in evidence-based medicine; it is a matter of understanding how to "integrate" complex data.
81 participants attended the Colloquium from 15 European countries, Canada, Qatar, Tunisia and the USA. They included EFSA staff and external experts from EFSA panels and working groups, 2 EBTC Board members, 4 EBTC staff, and representatives from 16 national authorities and 23 universities/research institutes. Representatives of international organisations, NGOs and private sector organisations also took part.
EBTC Scientific Advisory Council Co-Chair Daniele Wikoff co-rapporteured the conference, while EBTC staff members Paul Whaley, Rob de Vries and Sebastian Hoffmann were members of the colloquium Organizing Committee and co-conveners of several of the Discussion Groups.
- Discussion Group 1 (DG1) explored qualitative methods for integrating evidence within- and across evidence streams for hazard identification.
- Discussion Group 2 (DG2) focused on bias-adjusted meta-analysis.
- Discussion Group 3 (DG3) looked at the possibility to apply, in the future, quantitative approaches to combine evidence across evidence streams for hazard identification.
- Discussion Group 4 (DG4) discussed the use of quantitative approaches for combining multiple end-points and multiple studies for dose–response modelling.