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Dr Andrew Povey - research

Research interests

Following the unravelling of the human genome, there is an understandable focus on the genetic causes of human disease. This focus, unfortunately, often moves the emphasis away from the large impact that environmental factors, whether occupational or not, have on human disease. My research interests focus then on the role that chemicals play in causing ill-health in human populations and chemicals of particular interest include carcinogens (such as the alkylating agents and reactive oxygen species), pesticides (such as organophosphates), reproductive toxicants and those agents inducing autoimmune diseases. To better characterise their role in the causation of human disease, my research spans the range from basic laboratory research to population studies. I currently have three programmes of research namely:

I. Biomarkers of exposure and susceptibility to chemical toxicants. The application of molecular techniques offers occupational and environmental epidemiological research a new set of tools that has the potential to address problems that cannot be approached without them. These techniques can better measure exposure (e.g. to carcinogens) or characterise outcome (e.g. molecular typing of cancer) or identify susceptibilty factors (genetic polymorphisms) if there is a detailed understanding of the mechanisms of chemically induced toxicity. Hence research in this theme includes (i) an examination of the mechanisms by which certain chemicals cause scleroderma , (ii) the development of new methods to measure biomarkers of exposure (DNA damage) and (iii) the application of RNAi approaches to better characterise the quantitative associations between specific DNA damage, gene mutations and cell death.

II. Gene-environmental interactions and the application of biomarkers to epidemiological studies. Studying the interaction between the environment and genes is increasingly seen as a fruitful way of identifying populations at increased risk, understanding disease mechanisms and potentially identifying new ways of preventing disease. Research in this theme includes the application of DNA damage measurement to case-control and cohort studies and case-control studies examining cancer risk in relation to DNA repair phenotype/genotype and metabolic genotype.

III. Epidemiological studies of the adverse health outcomes of chemical exposure. The risk associated with certain human exposures is poorly characterised and alternatively it is not clear whether the reported ill-health arises from a particular exposure or not. Classical epidemiological approaches can offer the best way of addressing these questions. Research in this theme then includes a cohort study investigating the neuropsychiatric consequences of occupational exposure to organophosphates and a longitudinal study that is examining the nature and causes of dipper's flu .

Membership: American Association for Cancer Research, British Association for Cancer Research, U.K. Environmental Mutagen Society. UK Molecular Epidemiology Group. Cancer Prevention Research Network. He is currently a member of the Appraisal Panel for Human Suspected Adverse Reactions to Veterinary Medicines.