Chair of the Committee on Mutagenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COM)

Body: The Committee on Mutagenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COM)
Appointing Department: Department of Health
Sector: Health
Location: London
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: No
Time Requirements: There are usually three meetings per year plus members are on occasion asked to comment on papers between meetings.

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    07/12/2020 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

Ministers are seeking to make an appointment to the board of COM.

Role and Responsibilities of the Chair

As a specialist in toxicology or a related area, the Chair will:

  • Attend all meetings of COM and liaise with the secretariat regarding the agenda and completion of COM discussion papers prior to the meeting.
  • Lead the Committee’s discussions through a full understanding of all aspects of COM work, papers and presentations made to COM.
  • Chair discussions effectively ensuring that there is adequate expertise available to consider topics put to COM and that all aspects of papers and questions put to COM are fully discussed.
  • In conjunction with advice from the secretariat, make decisions on any declarations of interest that may be made in respect of items of business.
  • Summarise COM discussions at the meeting and liaise with the secretariat regarding the completion of Committee statement and guidance statements.
  • Lead the Committee for any items of business that are handled by post.
  • Where necessary, report COM statements and conclusions to the Chief Medical Officer for England and Chair of the Food Standards Agency.
  • Where necessary, take the lead in disseminating COM conclusions and statements to wider audiences such as Stakeholder groups, the media and the general public.
  • Act as an ex officio member of the Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COC) which provides advice to the government and government agencies on whether substances are likely to cause cancer.

Person Specification

The Department of Health and Social Care values and promotes diversity and encourages applications from all sections of the community. The boards of public bodies should reflect the population they are there to serve. Boards also benefit from fresh perspectives, and we are always keen to encourage candidates with private sector experience to consider applying for our roles.

To be considered, you must be able to demonstrate that you have the qualities, skills and experience to meet all of the essential criteria for appointment.

Essential Criteria

To be considered, you must be able to demonstrate that you have the qualities, skills and experience to meet all the essential criteria for appointment.

  • track record of effective leadership, and providing advice, independent of government or industry at a national and/or international level
  • understanding of committee membership and the role of COM, with the ability to ensure independent scrutiny of the issues that fall within COM’s remit
  • sound judgement and an ability to guide COM’s strategic direction
  • excellent communication skills; able to secure the confidence of experts in the field and develop constructive relationships with a range of stakeholders
  • sound understanding of genotoxicity, with a track record of achievement in one or more of the following areas of expertise:
  • Development of in vitro (non-animal) methods for the assessment of genotoxic risks from exposure to environmental chemicals.
  • Regulatory expertise – an understanding of the advances in genotoxicity tests and testing strategies used in regulatory settings.
  • Genetic toxicology: experience in the conduct and interpretation of in silico methods, and in vitro, and in vivo tests. An interest in molecular epidemiology would also be of value.
  • Carcinogenesis: able to demonstrate expertise in cancer risk assessment and in the mechanisms of carcinogenesis both genotoxic and non–genotoxic mechanisms.
  • Toxicokinetics and metabolism: expertise in interpretation of data on the disposition, metabolism and toxicokinetics of chemicals and low dose effects especially in relation to genotoxicity testing.
  • Computational toxicology and Quantitative Structure Activity Relationships (QSARs): expertise in the application of computational toxicology and QSARs and their application to genotoxicity.
  • Epigenetics and trans-generational effects: expertise in epigenetics with relevance to genotoxicity endpoints.
  • Reproductive or developmental toxicology: expertise in developmental toxicology and adverse reproductive effects of mutagenic and genotoxic chemicals.

Additional Information

The Committee on Mutagenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COM) advises government on the mutagenicity of chemicals used in pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other products.

COM provides independent advice to government departments and agencies on the potential mutagenicity and genotoxicity of chemicals (whether they are likely to cause mutation in cells), from natural products to new synthetic chemicals used in pesticides or pharmaceuticals. It also advises on strategies and research for genotoxicity testing.

The committee also advises on important general hazards (the inherent property of the substance) or risk (the likelihood of mutagenetic or genotoxic effects occurring after a given exposure) and gives recommendations for genotoxicity testing.

COM is an advisory body and has no regulatory status. However, it may provide advice to agencies that have a regulatory role


Quote from the current Chair of COM – David Lovell

“Chairing an expert committee such as the COM is both a great honour and a rewarding experience. It provides the opportunity to ensure that specialist scientific advice is provided to aid Government Departments and Agencies. The Committee is also influential in developing the future international regulatory environment and in shaping how innovative approaches arising from the rapid advances in genetics and molecular sciences are incorporated into protecting public health.”

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