Prof. Andrew Collins ~ Treasurer
Professor of Nutrition Biology, University of Oslo
Research focus: From a background of research in DNA damage and repair in mammalian cells, I became interested in oxidative damage and antioxidant protection, in cells and in people, twenty years ago. We pioneered the application of the comet assay as a biomonitoring tool to measure endogenous DNA base oxidation in lymphocytes, and resistance of cells to oxidation in vitro (an index of antioxidant status). Numerous human intervention trials have shown the ability of antioxidant phytochemicals to protect against oxidation, but it is far from convincing that antioxidant supplementation per se is beneficial. Fruit and vegetable consumption are linked to lower cancer risk, but the antioxidant content of these foodstuffs is only one aspect of their biological activities. It is well known that micronutrients can affect phaseI/phase II metabolism, influence cell signalling pathways, etc., and it was exciting to find that they can also modulate DNA repair; how they do this remains a mystery.
The ESCODD project, which I chaired, investigated different methods of measuring DNA base oxidation in human cells, and concluded that the comet assay is less prone to artefacts compared with chromatographic techniques. I am currently helping to set up the ComNet project; members are researchers using the comet assay in human studies, and the main aim is to collate data on DNA damage in order to carry out a pooled analysis and establish some basic information about DNA damage in humans, influences of genotype, effects of smoking, changes with age, sex differences, etc.
UK Environmental Mutagen Society (past-president, and Jim Parry Award winner in 2011)
ComNet (founding committee member)
International Comet Assay Workshop
Society for Free Radical Research (Europe).