Swansea academic wins prestigious Young Scientist Award

A Swansea University academic, research scientist and developer of new technologies in Genetic Toxicology has fought off tough competition to win the prestigious EEMS (European Environmental Mutagen Society) Young Scientist Award.

Dr George Johnson receives the EEMS awardAssociate Professor in Genetic Toxicology, Dr George Johnson was presented with the award which recognises scientists under 35 who have made an outstanding contribution to their field, at the 43rd Annual Meeting of EEMSat Lancaster University last night(9 July).

Swansea University is globally renowned for Genetic Toxicology and Dr Johnson, along with colleagues from the DNA Damage Research Group, investigates the mechanisms and detailed effects of carcinogens while tackling industrial issues and addressing and advising on government safety perspectives. It is Dr Johnson’s interest in cancer research and his work to reduce human exposure to carcinogens in food, pharmaceuticals, work and home environments which has led his extensive work with government agencies and pharmaceutical companies worldwide.

He is a steering member of the International Life Science Institute (ILSI) Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI) Genetic Toxicology Technical Committee (GTTC) which provides an international forum to advance the understanding of scientific issues related to human health, toxicology, risk assessment, and the environment. As a result of this work, Dr Johnson and many of the GTTC led an expert panel at the International Workshop of Genetic Toxicology in Brazil last year and through this and future international efforts, is set to make a major contribution to shaping human health risk assessment regulatory policy in the future.

Highlights amongst his current projects include working with the Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative (DNDi) and pharmaceutical company Janssen on the safety profile of a drug to treat River Blindness and Elephantiasis in Africa. He also works with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA and has overseen a student research placement at their National Center for Toxicological Research.  One major project has also begun with Health Canada to help improve human health risk assessment in collaboration with National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and he also has ongoing projects with Astra Zeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Hoffman-La-Roche and many other small and large global companies.

As well as his work leading numerous international collaborations, Dr Johnson also continues to co-lead the DNA damage group (in vitro Toxicology group) in the Institute of Life Science, teaches on the Genetics and Medical Genetics BSc degree schemes, Nanomedicine MSc, Graduate Entry Medicine degree scheme as well as having a role as Director of Employability and Entrepreneurship for the College of Medicine.

He was awarded the prestigious UKEMS Young Scientist Award in 2012, in 2013 he became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and in 2014 he became a British & European Registered Toxicologist.

Dr Johnson said: “It is an honour to receive this award, and I thank UKEMS, the DNA damage group and Genetics teaching board in Swansea University for their excellent work and ongoing support. The Institute of Life Science is a fantastic place to work, and I am very fortunate to have a long list of great collaborators and mentors from around the globe as well, so I would also like to thank them too. I am very pleased with my career to date, and living in Swansea has allowed me to enjoy my weekends down the Gower Peninsula, teaching my kids to surf and occasionally paragliding.”

Professor Keith Lloyd, head of the College or Medicine, said: “Congratulations to George who embodies the kind of ambition and drive we have here in Swansea University’s Medical School to make a difference”