News/Press Releases

Adriana Oller appointed Toxicologist Emeritus, Nickel Institute

Dr. Adriana Oller
Dr. Adriana Oller

Dr. Adriana Oller is stepping down as Executive Director, NiPERA Inc., the science division of the Nickel Institute, after 26 years with the organisation. 

We are pleased to announce that she is delaying her well-deserved retirement to take on the role of Toxicologist Emeritus on a part-time basis from January 2021, so the nickel industry can continue to benefit from her knowledge and advice.

Adriana’s successor as Executive Director will be NiPERA’s senior Environmental Toxicologist and Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Chris Schlekat. (Chris’ appointment will be the subject of a separate announcement in January.)

Over the past 26 years, Adriana has become a world-renowned authority on nickel human health toxicology. She joined NiPERA in 1994 following post-doctoral research at both the Lineberger Cancer Research Center and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in North Carolina.

Originally from Argentina, Adriana earned a Master’s degree in Biochemistry from Buenos Aires University and a Ph.D. in Genetic Toxicology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is a Diplomat of the American Board of Toxicology and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. She has authored or co-authored over 30 peer reviewed papers on nickel and has gained a reputation as a highly respected expert on nickel toxicology at a European, US and international level.

Dr. Adriana Oller and Dr. Hudson Bates, President, Nickel Institute
Dr. Adriana Oller and Dr. Hudson Bates, President, Nickel Institute

Dr. Hudson Bates, President, Nickel Institute, leading tributes to Adriana said, “It is fitting that we recognize Adriana’s remarkable career as she transitions from Executive Director to her new role as a senior advisor to NiPERA and the Nickel Institute.

She has forged an incredible career at NiPERA and I have had the fortune to have worked alongside her for much of that time observing her depth of knowledge and quick wit! Adriana is respected by everyone she has interacted with and I will rue the day that she retires from her service to the nickel industry.

Speaking on behalf of the members of the Nickel Institute, Dan Chandler, Nickel Institute Chairperson said, “When I think of Adriana it is her infectious smile that immediately springs to mind. The warmth of her personality and her genuine care for colleagues and members of the Institute, combined with her knowledge and expertise have made her a wonderful person to work with. She has the ability to distil complex scientific issues into lay terms that everyone can understand. In addition, she has always taken a balanced, non-biased approach to her subject which has earned her great respect. It is a source of genuine pride, to me, that I have had the good fortune to work with her.

Adriana, on behalf of all the members, past and present, I would like to thank you for everything you have done and everything you are.

Dan Chandler, Nickel Institute Chairperson
Dan Chandler, Nickel Institute Chairperson
Dmitry Ryschkov, Norilsk Nickel
Dmitry Ryschkov, Norilsk Nickel

Dmitry Ryshkov, Norilsk Nickel, added, “Everyone who is involved in production and use of nickel owes a huge debt of gratitude to Adriana. She is a brilliant scientist and fervent proponent of effective and efficient human health protection. She has established firm foundations of unbiased evidence-based scientific rigor towards health effects of nickel that are universally accepted now by the regulators, producers, and users of nickel. Without any exaggeration, Adriana is a true legend of toxicology and the science of nickel in particular.

Adriana’s leadership has also been appreciated by the people she has coached and mentored over the years, as explained by Dr. Samuel Buxton, who joined the team in 2017. “When I think of a leader who is trustworthy, empathetic, erudite and hardworking, I immediately think of Adriana Oller. On joining NiPERA Adriana guided me to become conversant with the toxicology of nickel. I owe a lot of my success as a toxicologist to her. Adriana encouraged me to work independently and endorsed my efforts for professional development. She is a brilliant toxicologist who does not attach mediocrity to anything she does. “How will Adriana approach this?” is what I often ask myself when approaching a difficult task. If there is one person I want to emulate in my professional career, it is Adriana R. Oller.”

Dr. Samuel Buxton, Human Health Toxicologist, NiPERA
Dr. Samuel Buxton, Human Health Toxicologist, NiPERA
Dr. Adriana Oller and Violaine Verougstraete, Chemicals Management Director, Eurometaux
Dr. Adriana Oller and Violaine Verougstraete, Chemicals Management Director, Eurometaux

Adriana’s wide network of colleagues outside the nickel sector have also appreciated working with her. Violaine Verougstraete, Chemicals Management Director at Eurometaux has collaborated with Adriana on complex dossiers over many years. “Adriana has a unique talent to transform what is complex into a logical suite of elements and evidence,” says Violaine. “She has the ability to translate the most off-putting concepts into reasonings that make sense, which she will then present with calm and kindness, therefore often making it possible for both regulators and industry to come to an acceptable consensus and benefit from increased knowledge on both sides.”

Since joining NiPERA, Adriana’s mission has been to develop the robust nickel science needed to help ensure the safe use and production of nickel while we continue to enjoy nickel’s benefits in a variety of applications. The many highlights of her career include:

Mode of action for carcinogenicity of nickel: Adriana has focused on understanding the mode of action for the carcinogenicity of nickel. Results from studies of gene expression in vivo were integrated into a nickel bioavailability model that provided a framework to explain the different carcinogenicity potentials and potencies of various nickel substances.  The research undertaken under her direction provided a solid basis for a threshold mode of action for cancer induction by nickel and this impacted the setting of health-based occupational air standards

Dosimetry: Very early on NiPERA understood that workplace aerosols are different from animal experimental aerosols and conducted studies aimed at developing models to calculate human equivalent concentrations to animal aerosols. Adriana’s efforts opened the possibility to compare and combine data from animal and human studies in a single dose-response assessment.  The work has had a direct impact on the derivation of workplace and ambient air standards.

Alloys: Alloys are materials with special properties that differ from those of simple mixtures of elements. Adriana has been instrumental in advancing the concept of using metal release data in surrogate biological fluids to refine the human health risk assessment of alloys, including hazard classification. It took 15 years for the metals industries to get the concept discussed in the EU regulatory arena and another few years to have a simple simulated gastric fluid protocol considered at the OECD for the development of a test guideline.  Adriana has a leading role in these efforts on behalf of the metals industry.

Looking back over her career, Adriana said, “It has been very rewarding to do the work that I love for so many years. I’ve worked with wonderful colleagues from all around the world. I’m grateful for that and I look forward to continuing to be associated with the industry as Toxicologist Emeritus.”

Ask the experts