University team to play vital role in two global research projects

Swansea University’s reputation for top-level research has been given another major boost after it helped secure two major new grants from the European Commission.

The In Vitro Toxicology Group at the University’s Medical School is a partner in a pair of international projects which have been awarded grants totalling 11 million euros from the Horizon 2020 Fund, the EU’s research and innovation programme.

Shareen DoakBoth projects concentrate on supporting the development of engineered nanomaterials (ENM). Less than a millionth of a metre in size, these have unique physical and chemical features which give them improved properties such as greater reactivity, strength, electrical characteristics and functionality.

Professor of Genotoxicology & Cancer Shareen Doak, (pictured) who leads the group, said being involved with the projects would not only enhance the Medical School’s global research reputation in this field but also help it to foster new relationships bringing wider benefit to the University and its students.

Swansea is a partner in NanoInformaTIX, led by CSIC in Spain, which has been given 6 million euros towards its work to create a computerised framework for understanding exposure and toxicity of engineered nanomaterials to aid risk assessment, reduce reliance on animal testing and support the design of safer products.  

Professor Doak is also a work package lead for RiskGONE which is being led by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research and secured 5 million euros over four years. This project will be examining issues around governing and regulating nanosafety evaluation. 

She said: “The two new H2020 projects will enhance student experience as the state-of-the-art research undertaken through these initiatives will be showcased through undergraduate and master’s teaching scenarios, while both undergraduate and postgraduate research projects will be built upon the nanosafety subject area.”

The University’s involvement is set to attract 600,000 euros from both projects and Professor Doak will attend meetings in Madrid and Oslo next month to discuss her team’s roles.

Professor Keith Lloyd, Head of the Medical School, added: “We are thrilled to kick off 2019 with this important research funding. Professor Doak and her team have worked extremely hard to drive forward research into nanosafety.

Our students will also benefit from this work through their research projects – they will be able to link with international partners and be at the forefront of this important research.”

These projects continue the University’s success with Horizon2020.

Professor Doak heads up the Physiologically Anchored Tools for Realistic nanOmateriaL hazard aSsessment (PATROLS) project which was awarded an international collaborative grant in excess of €12.7 million 12 months ago.

The project aims to develop novel cutting-edge tests to minimise the use of animals when assessing safety concerns surrounding nanotechnology and involves 24 partners spread across 13 countries.

The Centre for NanoHealth at Swansea University Medical School is currently conducting research in areas including cell biology of cancer and reproduction, nanomedicine, informatics and modelling, regenerative medicine and medical devices.