Recognition for Swansea nanotoxicology researcher
Dr. Shareen Doak of the Institute of Life Science (ILS) at Swansea University has been awarded the UK Environmental Mutagen Society (UKEMS) Young Scientist Award for 2008.
The UKEMS Young Scientist Award is a prestigious prize presented to individuals that have made an outstanding contribution to the field of toxicology, the study of the adverse effects of chemicals and materials on living organisms, and the resultant consequences to human health.
As the recipient of this award, Dr Doak also won the opportunity to present an award lecture at the European Environmental Mutagen Society conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Of this acclaimed opportunity, she said "I was delighted enough to have been awarded the Young Scientist Award but to be invited to present at this prestigious conference as well was a real honour. I thoroughly enjoy lecturing and knowing that my work was going to be heard by such a distinguished audience made all of the hard work worthwhile."
Having worked in the toxicology field for 8 years, Dr. Doak is currently supported by a Research Councils UK (RCUK) Fellowship in Nanomedicine, a key collaboration between the Schools of Engineering and Medicine at Swansea University. Her main interest is the DNA-damaging potential of engineered nanomaterials, those developed at a nano level and measuring as little as one millionth of a millimetre, and the implications for the safety of these newly developed products.
Nanomaterials are now being fabricated by the nanotechnology industry with potential for a wide range of applications from sporting goods, such as tennis rackets and skis, to personal care products, such as deodorants, cosmetics and clothing, and medicine, such as medical implants, drug delivery vehicles and biosensors. However, there has been concern that some nanomaterials may be harmful to human health and, as a result, their safety must be fully established before they can be used in consumer products. This is where Dr Doak's current work comes in.
Addressing the multidisciplinary nature of nanotechnology, she is working in collaboration with members of the Multi-disciplinary Nanotechnology Centre (MNC) as well as colleagues in the ILS to establish the hazards posed by a range of nanomaterials. She has also forged a collaboration with Professor Andrew Barron of the Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, at Rice University in Texas.
Dr Doak's work has attracted considerable funding recently. She has won a 3 year project grant worth almost half a million pounds from the Medical Research Council as well as a further £80,000 project grant from The Colt Foundation, a charity concerned with the occupational health of workforces exposed to nanomaterials. She is also involved in other DNA damage projects funded by consumer goods giant Unilever and international research-focused healthcare company Hoffman La Roche.
To further enhance Dr Doak's success this year, she has also been invited to chair a conference meeting in February 2009. Here a range of prominent experts in the nanotoxicology field will present their current work and discuss the safety issues associated with exposure to engineered nanomaterials.