Get to know Alex Bell, Associate Director in Chemical Safety and Regulatory Affairs. He has 20 years of experience in toxicology, a strong dedication to science and as well he enjoys to living his creativity by producing digital photography and films. Learn what brought him to Evalueserve and how he perceives today’s product safety industry.
“I am really happy to be back doing Toxicology in industry domains.”
What has changed in product safety compared to 20 years ago?
I think a very big change in product safety has been the growth in consumer awareness of what is safe and what might be harmful to you in a product or its packaging. People really do care about what they eat, what they put on their skin and what chemicals are changing their environment. This awareness along with consumer campaigning has pushed regulators to develop higher standards of human and environmental safety and in parallel define improved regulatory frameworks for product companies and food producers to follow. These frameworks are there to give the consumer confidence that products, their materials and their ingredients have been evaluated thoroughly and that the products are safe to use.
One of the biggest changes happening right now is the move by various governments and regulators to ban chemicals that are seen to be polluting our spaces and environment, for example the EU is looking at using existing laws to ban “toxic” chemicals linked to human illnesses and chemicals that are persistent in the environment, so called “forever chemicals”. Product safety and environmental sustainability must be considered together, and both need to be evaluated when reformulating existing products or when developing new ones.
How does Evalueserve’s Chemical Safety and Regulatory Affairs group differentiate itself from other safety consulting groups?
In today’s world of hazard summarisation and risk assessment of chemicals there are many pressures on product manufacturers to innovate, reformulate and develop new products. That means the quest to identify the best components and ingredients in products is competitive and complex. The ability to search, retrieve, analyse, summarise and risk assess data in time with R&D innovation pipeline production is critical to success. Evalueserve has not only hired diverse and talented toxicologists from all backgrounds but has married their analytical knowhow to the digital and analytical capabilities that Evalueserve has developed over 20 years in business. Our ability to comprehensively mine for hazard data is accelerated and extensive. We add value to our outputs for clients by spending higher quality time on analysis rather than on manual retrieval time. The innovation in our own methodology in Chemical Safety Profiling gives us our edge and differentiates us from our competitors.
What new innovations are coming from Evalueserve Chemical Safety and Regulatory Affairs group?
Feedback from our clients is telling us that keeping on top of critical science or regulatory frameworks is a challenge. They also tell us that staying abreast of what consumers think about the safety of products is important but difficult to do. There are hundreds of scientific journals, easily over 100 blogs, regulatory sites, chemical news sites, key opinion leader pages and literally 1000’s of social media posts all discussing topics of concern from a safety point of view. Both human and environmental safety concerns of chemicals are being discussed and updated at a fast pace. Individuals don’t have the time or access to all the information to stay well informed. At Evalueserve we have developed three forms of safety surveillance services which will allow a company to stay informed about what is being discussed about a chemical or safety topic. These are scientific journal surveillance, journalistic surveillance, and public sentiment analysis on social media. Some of these services employ the latest AI methods to sieve vast amounts of data to retrieve what are critical topics of concern from a safety or hazard perspective. Our toxicologists qualify these topics of concern to find the science and truth behind them. This level and depth of surveillance can keep Safety Groups, Product Stewards, and Risk Assessors ahead of the curve. It’s a new and exciting area which we believe will be critical for manufacturers of products to stay current with. Knowing what is being said about your products or chemicals in your products is essential.
What do you like about working in the Chemical Safety & Regulatory Affairs group in Evalueserve?
Foremost, I love working with the people and teams in our department and with teams and individuals in our line of business (IP R&D). I work with people at all levels in the business from the United States over to far Asia and the common thread that runs through everyone is the passion, the commitment to do more for clients and breath of technical knowledge that I can tap into. We are diverse in backgrounds and abilities but also culturally. Joining in to help celebrate festivals in another country is just brilliant to do and helps me connect across countries and time zones. In Chemical Safety and Regulatory Affairs as part of the leadership team I help drive the “One Team” ethos as we do not allow physical or cultural barriers hinder what we can achieve. Remote working has its challenges, but our company develops ways to connect, meet and train people wherever you are based. We do still get to meet in the “real” world as this does help cement the connections we make. In this sense I believe Evalueserve is one of the most modern companies embracing hybrid working and finding brilliant work-life balance solutions for its employees.
Tell me a little of your background and experiences
After my PhD in Molecular Toxicology from the University of Nottingham, I started out my Toxicology career Astra Pharmaceuticals in their labs working on Cytochrome P450 induction assays, supporting the evaluation of in vivo Toxicology studies. Post-merger of Astra with Zeneca to form AstraZeneca I moved into the Molecular toxicology arena doing investigative toxicology work and from there on into general toxicology where I helped develop the science of Discovery Toxicology and implement it successfully within drug discovery projects. This is where my passion for innovation really grew, there are several individuals from back then who help shaped my thinking and career as a new type of pharmaceutical toxicologist and I will always be grateful to them. As well as developing knowledge of how to influence chemical design within Toxicology I also developed my understanding of how you test and develop a single chemical for assessment in clinical trials. You must understand both the discovery and development frameworks to stand a chance of developing new methodologies to influence to design and selection of molecules for later and much more expensive development.
After many years in Science, I took a break from toxicology to explore my creative side, learning how to produce digital images, films, and special effects. It was fascinating to learn different thought processes to how you solve problems in a creative context rather than a scientific one, and I apply this different thinking to some of my science work today.
On my way to joining Evalueserve I did work as a consultant toxicologist and business manager adding to my portfolio of experience. I am really happy to be back doing Toxicology in industry domains. They are new to me and I’m trying to develop ways in which we can innovate and move toxicology consulting services into new areas.
How do you like to recharge or take a break?
In my home life I live with my partner at the edge of the North Yorkshire dales, one of the most beautiful areas of the UK to live in. We are connected to both rural and city life along the Aire Valley and so life in Yorkshire is very good. To recharge when I am away from work I like to walk in the surrounding countryside, visit our superb craft ale pubs in the area and I have taken to gardening where I have begun to develop my green fingers.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.
Read more about what we do:
- Blog: Toxicological Evaluation of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and E-Liquids
- IP and R&D Spotlight: Dr. Priyal Bisht (Global Head of Chemical Safety and Regulatory Affairs)
- Blog: Evalueserve provides support for new India REACH legislation
- Blog: Do you want to sell pesticides in Canada? Then here is what you need to know about the regulation process.