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 and Social Care
Sector: Health and Social Care
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.


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

Professor Gareth Jenkins has been appointed as chair of the Committee on Mutagenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment for 3 years from 1 May 2021.

The appointments will involve a time commitment of around 3 meetings or days per year. There is no remuneration for the role.

This appointment is made in accordance with the Cabinet Office Code of Governance for Public Appointments. The regulation of public appointments against the requirements of this Code is carried out by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

The appointments are made on merit and political activity played no part in the decision process. However, in accordance with the Code, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity (if any declared) to be made public. Professor Jenkins has not declared any political activity.

Date: 29/03/2021

View Announcement

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    07/12/2020 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement

    29/03/2021 at 12:00


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.”

How to Apply

Thank you for your interest in the appointment of the Chair to the COM.

To make an application please email your CV, a supporting letter and completed monitoring forms to: – please quote ref: VAC-1700 in the subject field.

If you are unable to apply by email, please contact the Appointments Team via the above email address to discuss alternative options.

Applications must be received by midday on 07 December 2020.

In making an application please note the following:

Supporting letter

The supporting letter is your opportunity to demonstrate how you meet each of the criteria set out in the person specification. It will benefit the Advisory Assessment Panel if you can be clear which specific evidence you provide relates to which criteria. Providing separate paragraphs in relation to each criterion is common practice. Please write all acronyms in full first.

Please ensure your full name, the role to which you are applying and the corresponding reference number for the post are clearly noted at the top of your letter.

Please limit your letter to two pages, and type or write clearly in black ink.

Conflicts of interest

If you have any business or personal interests that might be relevant to the work of COM, and which could lead to a real or perceived conflict of interest if you were to be appointed, please provide details in your Supporting letter.

If appointed, you will also be required to declare these interests on appointment and they will be entered on a register which is available to the public.

Standards in public life and ensuring public confidence

Given the nature of public appointments, it is important that those appointed as members of public bodies maintain the confidence of the public and Government. If there are any issues in your personal or professional history (including any convictions or bankruptcy) that could, if you were appointed, be misconstrued, cause embarrassment to Ministers or COM or cause public confidence in the appointment to be jeopardised, it is important that you bring them to the attention of the Advisory Assessment Panel and provide details of the issue/s in your Supporting letter. In considering whether you wish to declare any issues, you should also reflect on any public statements you have made, including through social media and blogs. Due Diligence may be carried out on any publicly available information and shared with the Advisory Assessment Panel.

The panel may explore any issues you declare with you before they make a recommendation on the appointment.

Failure to disclose such information could result in an appointment being terminated, as those who hold public appointments are expected to demonstrate the highest standards of corporate and personal conduct and are required to subscribe to the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies, as part of agreeing to the terms and conditions of appointment. You can access this document at:

There are also circumstances in which individuals may not be considered for appointment, due to them not meeting certain eligibility criteria for appointment. For further information, please refer to Section 2.3: Disqualification from Appointment

If you wish to discuss any queries on conflicts, please see the contacts section.


Please ensure your CV includes:

  • Your full name, title, home address, personal contact telephone numbers (land line and mobile), personal email address and details of any twitter accounts and LinkedIn accounts including your twitter handle/username.
  • Similar contact details for two referees who will support your application. One referee should be the person to whom you are/were accountable in your current/most recent appointment or position of employment. Please indicate the relationship of each referee to you. References will be requested for short-listed candidates prior to interview
  • Brief details of your current or most recent post and the dates you occupied this role. Please identify any past or present Ministerial appointments.

Monitoring form

Please complete the monitoring form. Diversity monitoring information will not be seen by the Advisory Assessment Panel assessing your application.

Political activity information is primarily for monitoring purposes only, however if you are shortlisted for interview, this information will be shared with the selection panel. The reason for this is that it is appreciated that such activities may have given you relevant skills, including experience gained from committee work, collective decision-making, resolving conflict and public speaking. If you have had such experience and you consider it relevant to your application for this post, you should also take the opportunity to include it separately in your supporting statement. If possible, you should not, however, identify the relevant political party in your statement.

If you are appointed to this role, please note that any political activity you declare will be published in accordance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments.

Guaranteed Interview Scheme

The Department of Health and Social Care operates a Guaranteed Interview Scheme (GIS) for disabled people. The Equality Act 2010 defines a person as disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities. Under the GIS a disabled candidate will be selected for interview if they meet the essential criteria for the post.

If you wish to apply under the GIS please complete the GIS form and return it with your application.

All applications will be acknowledged by email after the closing date.

For further information regarding the selection process, please contact

Ryan Lloyd

Appointments Team

Tel:  0113 2545929



For further information regarding the role of the COM and the role of the Chair please contact Dr Ovnair Sepai

Tel:  01235 825163


Please quote reference VAC-1700 on all correspondence.

If you choose to apply, we would like to thank you in advance for your time and effort in making an application.

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