Imperial College London

Emeritus ProfessorNigelGooderham

Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction

Emeritus Professor of Molecular Toxicology



n.gooderham Website




Burlington DanesHammersmith Campus





Nigel Gooderham is Emeritus Professor of Molecular Toxicology in the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction. Previously he held the position of Assistant Provost (Academic Promotions) at Imperial College London. Nigel's research interests include mechanisms of chemical carcinogenesis and toxicity, the role of MiRNAs in chemical carcinogenesis and toxicity and the genetic toxicity of food-derived chemicals and oligonucleotides. Nigel's  research contributions have been acknowledged through the 2018 Bo Holmstedt Memorial Award, by EUROTOX, the European Societies of Toxicology. Nigel has also been actively involved in toxicology education at Imperial College London and externally, contributing primarily to postgraduate programmes. He was the founding Director of the MRes in Biomedical Research at Imperial. He has trained more than ninety postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers at Imperial College. Nigel has served on the UK Government’s Advisory Committee on Mutagenicity, is a member of the MRC ITTP Steering Committee and funding panel and previously the NC3Rs Research Funding Assessment Panel.  He has been a member of the UK’s MHRA Panel of Assessors and has participated in a number of expert advisory panels on toxicology including breast implants, plastic pollution, hair dyes, agricultural chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Nigel is an Executive Member of the Flavour and Extract Manufacturer’s Association (USA) Expert Panel and a consultant for a number of commercial organisations involved in pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, food production and the legal profession. He was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Toxicology Research (published by the Royal Society of Chemistry) and has served on the Editorial Boards of Mutagenesis, Toxicology, the Journal of Applied Toxicology and the Cancer Handbook.  Nigel is a Gold Medal recipient and Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Fellow of the British Toxicology Society (BTS), a member of the Society of Toxicology (USA), the Biochemical Society and the United Kingdom Environmental Mutagenicity Society.  He has held several offices within the BTS including Chairman of the Scientific Committee and member of the BTS Executive. Nigel has also held the posts of Visiting Professor at the University of Malaysia, Terangganu, Malaysia and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. 

Research Interests:

Nigel’s current research interests include:

  • Mechanisms of chemical carcinogenesis
  • Mechanisms of genotoxicity and mutation
  • Molecular, cellular and genomic responses to toxicity
  • Role of miRNA in chemical carcinogenesis and toxicity
  • The genetic toxicology of food-derived chemicals and oligonucleotides

Our research programme attempts to understand and evaluate the hazard and risk to man of carcinogenic chemicals, especially food-borne molecules.  The consumption of cooked meat, particularly when well done, is associated with a high incidence of colon, prostate, mammary and other cancers.  One group of chemicals that have proved to be of particular interest are the food-derived heterocyclic amines that are formed during the cooking of food; these heterocyclic amines (Has) are metabolically activated to highly potent DNA damaging derivatives. Indeed, if these compounds were present in our environment as man-made contaminants, their toxicity would almost certainly have prompted regulatory legislation. Our programme explores exposure, bioavailablity, disposition, metabolism, activation and genotoxicity of the HAs in man using chemical, analytical and molecular technologies.  

PhIP metabolism

The metabolism of PhIP

About 20 genotoxic HAs have been shown to be formed at the parts per billion level during the normal cooking of food. Two of the most abundant HAs are 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx) and 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP). Both compounds are highly DNA damaging and carcinogenic in rodent bioassays inducing tumours in a variety of tissues, including, in the case of PhIP, the colon, prostate and mammary glands.  

Our interest in DNA damage and mutation is underpinned by mechanistic research in a variety of in vitro models, using cell culture, molecular biology and biochemistry as well as high end analytical approaches such as metabonomics.  Our programme explores not only small molecular weight chemicals but also oligonucleotide toxicity and genotoxicity and oligonucleotide mediated change in cell biology and phenotypic expression.

DNA damage and H2AX

DNA damage and H2AX foci

The consequence of toxicity is cell death and phenotypic change.  Understanding the mechanisms whereby these phenotypic responses occur is important for recognising the toxicity of the molecules involved and for understanding the cellular responses to toxicity and identifying biomarkers of toxicity.  A major focus is to investigate the role of miRNAs in toxicity.  These small (22 nucleotide length non coding RNAs) are post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression.  Numerous studies have shown that these miRNAs are strongly associated with important biological processes such as development, homeostasis and pathology, including cancer.  We believe that miRNAs are key mediators of both acute toxicity and more chronic events such as those associated with carcinogenesis.  As such we are investigating the potential of miRNAs as biomarkers of toxicity and disease and understanding gene expression changes and dysregulation of miRNAs also offers clues to the mechanisms operating in toxicity and pathology. 

  Chemicals and miRNA expression

Chemical induced miRNA differential expression

Active areas of research include the role of miRNAs in genotoxic and epigenetic chemical carcinogenesis, the role of miRNAs in hormonal disturbances, surgery-related pathology, metabolic surgery, obesity and nephropathy. Much of this work is translational, bridging in vitro based models with clinical research.

We also have active research in the area of inflammation and drug metabolism as it relates to toxicity and cancer. We have a focus on the colonic tumour microenvironment, which comprises epithelial and stromal cell populations that can manipulate the phenotypic expression of tumour tissue, compared to normal tissue, via cell to cell communication. We have found that important contributors to this crosstalk include inflammatory cytokines and more recently the role of microRNAs has emerged. These key players metabolically empower colon cancer cells, mediate intracellular communication and offer therapeutic opportunities to target the cancer microenvironment. 


















S M N Mydin RB, Azlan A, Okekpa SI, et al., 2024, Regulatory role of miRNAs in nasopharyngeal cancer involving PTEN/PI3K/AKT, TGFβ/SMAD, RAS/MAPK, Wnt/β-catenin and pRB-E2F signaling pathways: a review, Cell Biochemistry and Function, Vol:42, ISSN:0263-6484

Davidsen JM, Cohen SM, Eisenbrand G, et al., 2023, In response to the Letter to the Editor from Xiao regarding our article, "FEMA GRAS assessment of natural flavor complexes: Asafetida oil, garlic oil and onion oil", Food and Chemical Toxicology, Vol:182, ISSN:0278-6915

Nor Mahiran SNS, Abd Kadir NH, Maulidiani M, et al., 2023, Multivariate modelling analysis for prediction of glycidyl esters and 3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD) formation in periodically heated palm oil, Heliyon, Vol:9, ISSN:2405-8440

Gooderham NJ, Cohen SM, Eisenbrand G, et al., 2023, FEMA GRAS assessment of natural flavor complexes: Sage oil, Orris Root Extract and Tagetes Oil and related flavoring ingredients, Food and Chemical Toxicology, Vol:179, ISSN:0278-6915, Pages:1-31

Davidsen JM, Cohen SM, Eisenbrand G, et al., 2023, FEMA GRAS assessment of derivatives of basil, nutmeg, parsley, tarragon and related allylalkoxybenzene-containing natural flavor complexes, Food and Chemical Toxicology, Vol:175, ISSN:0278-6915, Pages:113646-113646

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