Life Science Bridging Fund supports Artificial Intelligence Project

A technology associated with the high throughput screening of compounds for genetic toxicity has recently been awarded £75,000 by the Life Science Bridging Fund.

George Johnson






The project is being led by Dr. George Johnson, Associate Professor at Swansea University Medical School, in conjunction with Professor Paul Rees at the College of Engineering. Both academics are key leaders in their field, namely genetic toxicology and the use of algorithms to detect different cell types using flow cytometry.

Genetic toxicology is crucial in assessing the safety of a drug during the discovery and development process. It is particularly important during the early drug discovery process and in vitro genetic toxicity tests are used during compound library screening, lead drug testing and preclinical safety testing. It is crucial to test potential drugs for their capacity to damage DNA at the earliest possible opportunity in order to minimise the risk of harmful drugs advancing to human trial stage and therefore reducing the cost and time of getting safe and effective drugs to market.

Current methods, using manual scoring of cells or semi-automated analysis, can lead to misleading positive or negative results. The technology being developed at Swansea uses flow cytometry combined with machine (deep) learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve the identification of cells that have been damaged by exposure to chemicals. The Bridging fund award is funding a post-doctoral researcher for a year to generate large volumes of data for analysis, and to support the validation of the software associated with the algorithms.

The technology has been supported by the Research, Engagement and Innovation Services (REIS) department. In particular, REIS commissioned a market analysis by Evolution Biosciences Scotland, led by Dr. Frank Rinaldi, which was highly favourable. This support, namely the identification of the intellectual property (IP) associated with the project, the identification of the relevant funding, the commissioning of an external market report and the authorisation of an external patent attorney to commence drafting a patent application, was processed within less than one month. REIS also provided substantive support in writing the bid for the Bridging Fund, which requires extensive input regarding the opportunity need, the commercialisation strategy and the IP. REIS have also commenced correspondence with a number of external parties who may wish to develop the technology and who have a particular interest in AI, including a US Venture Capital firm, an electronics company and big pharma company.

Open to any academic working within a Welsh university, the Life Sciences Bridging Fund is a three-year pilot programme of support funded by the Welsh Government and administered by the Life Sciences Hub based in Cardiff. The Fund is aimed at accelerating life science technologies on the path to commercialisation.

For support in applications to this fund please contact Dr. Stephen Donoghue at

To find out more on how REIS can support you, please contact