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Panel to oversee transition of toxicology department

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Gov. Mitch Daniels has appointed a three-member panel to oversee the transition of the department of toxicology to the State of Indiana from Indiana University School of Medicine. The panel will begin work immediately, Daniels’ office reported June 21.

The transition is a result of Senate Enrolled Act 431, authored by Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, which became Public Law 158. The new law creates the State Department of Toxicology, which will bring the lab under the umbrella of the state government’s executive branch.

Judge Linda Chezem, Dr. James Klaunig, and Michael Medler were appointed to the panel.

Chezem retired from the Indiana Court of Appeals in 1998. Since then, she has worked to improve adjudication and has focused on the impact of alcohol abuse on public health and the judicial system. She is nationally recognized for her work regarding impaired driving for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is a part-time professor at Purdue University.

Klaunig is a professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Health at Indiana University. He was the state toxicologist from 1991 until retiring in 2003. He is a fellow in the Academy of Toxicological Sciences and has received numerous awards honoring his scientific contributions and service to the field of toxicology. Klaunig serves on many national-level committees.

Medler was a trooper for the Indiana State Police from 1976 to 2005, retiring as a lieutenant colonel and the leader of the Bureau of Criminal Investigations’ criminal investigations, gaming and laboratory division. While assigned to the Fort Wayne regional crime lab, Medler managed the field support section of the forensic laboratory and was in charge of the Indiana State Police satellite regional labs.

Toxicology department operations will continue as currently organized at the start of the transition. A memorandum of understanding between the state and IU School of Medicine is being developed to govern the department's activities. The panel will guide the transition, establish qualifications for a permanent director, develop a program for the deployment of breath test equipment and the certification of public safety officials for the operation of that equipment, and set the course for the accreditation of the toxicology laboratory. The panel will deliver its report to the governor and legislative council by Sept. 1, 2012, and will sunset in December of 2012.

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