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Fighting substance misuse with advanced drug detection tools and techniques

The Challenge
Swansea University’s Dr Amira Guirguis is a pharmacist and an internationally renowned expert on substance misuse and drug detection.  She describes the prevalence of new psychoactive substances, or NPS as ‘an area of growing concern’.  NPS, previously referred to as “legal highs” (they have now become illegal) are different from traditional drugs of abuse and there are hundreds that have flooded the global market in the last decade.

The Method
Dr Guirguis joined Swansea University Medical School in March 2019, with a specific research focus on NPS.  Together with a new team at the Medical School, she is setting up a research unit to analyse the properties and effects of NPS and other substances of misuse, to increase understanding of them, and, crucially, to offer advice to the medical profession on how to treat people who have taken them. 

The Impact

  • Dr Guirguis has led the creation of the first Home Office-licensed, community-based drug-checking service within a substance misuse service in collaboration with Addaction, one of the UK's leading drug, alcohol and mental health charities.
  • Her research findings have been incorporated into renowned databases as well as essential textbooks for pharmacy undergraduates in the UK.
  • She is the Scheduled Drugs lead for the Science and Research Board of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), advising the Chief Scientist for the RPS and is consulted on anything related to new drugs, feeding into UK drug policy and supporting the General Pharmaceutical Council.
  • Dr Guirguis leads a research group of five PhD students whose research forms the basis of a holistic approach to dealing with NPS.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Swansea University Research Themes