The UKEMS, as the UK branch of the European Environmental Muta-Genesis Society (EEMGS), exists to serve those scientists working in the UK in the area of DNA damage and mutations caused by environmental agents (i.e. chemicals and radiation). It encompasses academic research into the mechanisms and consequences of mutagenesis, and applications of this knowledge to the testing of novel pharmaceutical, industrial and agricultural chemicals for genotoxic effects. The specialist areas of molecular epidemiology (looking specifically at the implications of DNA damage and mutation for human health) and industrial genotoxicology have their own sections within the Society. A topic of growing interest is the impact of genotoxic agents on organisms other than man – a field known as ecogenotoxicology.
Academic input and new techniques are encouraged by the society. Young members of the society are given incentives to contribute to its meetings and to broaden their knowledge. Collaboration with regulatory bodies has helped regulation keep up with the science. Good communications within the society and a healthy financial state facilitate the promotion of the society’s objectives. We actively encourage members from all parts of UKEMS to stand for election to the committee when vacancies arise. Contested elections are a sure way of maintaining the quality of the officers serving the society.
- UKEMS runs an annual scientific meeting, about 3 days long, sometimes combined with a meeting of another related society such as the Genome Stability Network or the British Toxicology Society (BTS). In addition, there are several meetings for special interest groups within the UKEMS.
- There are a number of awards and grants for young UKEMS scientists designed to help and promote their career development by supporting travel and participation in UKEMS and other meetings.
- The UKEMS Newsletter is produced quarterly by the secretary. It contains items of UKEMS news, awards etc. and also a list of future scientific meetings that might be of interest to the membership.
- The international scientific journal Mutagenesis has a close association with UKEMS. The journal provides a natural home for many of the members’ scientific articles and supports the Society with a share of its profits. The Editor-in-chief of the journal sits on the UKEMS committee.
- UKEMS has a uniquely close relationship with UK regulatory authorities. It has provided guidelines for test methods and data analysis for Regulatory Mutagenicity testing. Also, a large proportion of the Department of Health Advisory Committee on Mutagenicity (COM) is derived from UKEMS members, thereby helping to ensure that regulation keeps up with the science.
- UKEMS represents the membership on national bodies, such as the Institute of Biology and the BioSciences Federation, and also on the European Environmental Muta-Genesis Society.
UKEMS has, at present, a good balance between academic, industrial and regulatory membership and serves all three areas well. While we have a very pleasing representation of young scientists, and a continuing entry of new young members, the committee is keen to make sure that the supply of young, well-trained genetic toxicologists is maintained and that they have access to sources of new ideas and techniques. We are therefore developing some new initiatives:
- Advertising careers in genetic toxicology in forums for student careers advice.
- Setting up, in collaboration with academic institutions, a scheme to provide academic qualifications in genetic toxicology for school leavers, graduates and post-graduates (eg. diplomas at different levels).
As a society, UKEMS is always open to new interactions with other groups that have overlapping scientific interests. Members with other affiliations that might be of relevance to our membership should contact us to explore the potential for establishing links.