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Contact us

For any enquiries related to the Pharmacology and Toxicology research area, please contact

Fiona Pereira
CSM Research Manager

+44 (0)20 7594 3197

Exploring xenobiotic metabolism and action

Understanding both the beneficial and deleterious effects of environmental stressors of all kinds (therapeutics, pollutants, poisons, etc.) is a key focus of researchers in the Division of CSM. Drawing on the wealth of expertise and knowledge from across the Division and through close collaborations, CSM pioneered the use of metabolic phenotyping tools in understanding responses to chemical and other exposures, as well as characterising the metabolic fate of exogenous chemical compounds. 

The complementary, high-resolution analytical platforms of NMR spectroscopy and MS allow CSM to conduct high-throughput analysis of biological samples generated in toxicological and drug metabolism studies. These perform particularly well in the analysis of small molecule metabolites, and permit efficient characterisation of complex drug metabolism and endogenous responses using similar technological platforms. Small molecule studies are complemented with an extensive programme of molecular toxicology, integrating multiplexed cytokine assays, oligonucleotide analysis and next-generation sequencing.

Find out more about our key focus areas:

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Drug Metabolism

Imperial has a long history of making contributions to pharmaceutical development, including the discovery of penicillin at St Mary's Hospital Medical School in 1928. A major part of understanding the action of therapeutic agents and associated toxicity relies on the characterisation of their metabolic fate. Today, researchers in CSM engage in a range research activities with drug metabolism at the core. These include projects focused on evaluating emerging models for preclincal safety assessment, computational modeling for prediction of metabolism stability, and informatics approaches for mining publically available datasets. 

The performance of analytical assays for characterising drug metabolism has radically improved in recent years as a consequence of the step-change across the fields of liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, and NMR spectroscopy, permitting the fate of compounds to be studied in fine details. Coupled with advances in molecular biology techniques, there are now new ways to probe drug metabolism, and understand more subtle relationships with observed toxicological responses.

The Division has been instrumental in the reformation of the Drug Metabolism Group, aimed at bringing together researchers from across academic, industry, third sector and government, to share knowledge and develop collaborative ideas in the fields of toxicology, pharmacology, and drug metabolism. For more information, contact the DMG Committee:

Molecular Toxicology

Research activity in the area of molecular toxicology within CSM is led by Professor Nigel Gooderham. The group are exploring mechanisms of chemical toxicity, genetic toxicity and carcinogenesis and the role of non-coding RNA in toxicity.  The research is underpinned by mechanistic studies in a variety of in vitro models, using cell culture, molecular biology and biochemistry as well as high end spectroscopic analytical approaches.  The programme explores the toxicity and genotoxicity of both small molecular weight chemicals and oligonucleotides. Current projects include:

  • Chemical and miRNA mediated gene expression in cancer stem cells and gastric cancer
  • Understanding chemical-induced genotoxicity in 3D cell culture models
  • The role of inflammation and non-coding RNA in chemical-induced carcinogenesis
  • Genetic toxicology of low-dose chemical mixtures and therapeutic oligonucleotides

Environmental Toxicology and Exposome

The environment in which we live and work has a large impact on our health and influences our risk of disease. Exposure to chemicals, radiation, noise and other environmental factors are important to consider, and are now holistically combined into the concept of a human 'exposome', the environmental equivalent of the human genome. Establishing the linkage between exposures and disease outcomes forms an important part of epidemiological exposome research and informing science-based policy decisions. The establishment of omics technologies as tools for large-scale profiling of human biofluid samples has recently been achieved by researchers in CSM in collaboration with others at Imperial College and worldwide, and has opened up the possibilities for scientific discoveries and translation in several main areas:

  • Provide individual-level measurements to complement small-area and group measurements
  • Efficient discovery of biomarkers through metabolism-wide association studies
  • Mechanistic relevance to exposure and disease
  • Use of sentinel species for environmental monitoring
  • Potential for direct impact on environmental health policy


Key members within Pharmacology and Toxicology

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