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07 May 2019

King's scientist wins prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry Award

Professor Frank Kelly has been named winner of the prestigious Toxicology Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

frank kelly
frank kelly at lecturn

Professor Kelly, Head of Department, Analytical, Environmental and Forensic Sciences, has won the award for outstanding research into free radical and antioxidant toxicological mechanisms relevant to pulmonary toxicity.

This award came as a complete surprise, so thank you for the nomination and subsequent support. Although I'm very happy to accept this award I recognise that it would not have arrived without the dedication and support of many colleagues, research fellows and PhD students over the last three decades. Although often challenging, the research has been rewarding and I hope has, in part, contributed to the recognition that there is an important need to improve air quality for our own health as well as that of our children. I look forward to sharing some highlights from my group’s research during the lecture tour.

Professor Kelly on receiving the award

Professor Kelly was born in Belfast and educated at the city's Queen's University though he now calls Kingston upon Thames home. In winning the award, Professor Kelly also receives £2,000 and a medal.

Over the years, our lives have been significantly improved by the chemical sciences, from medicines and food to the environment itself. We are proud of the contribution the chemical sciences make to our global community, which is why it is right for us to recognise important innovations and expertise such as these. --- “Our Prizes and Awards recognise people from a range of different specialisms, backgrounds and locations. Every winner is an inspiration to the chemistry community and will play an incredibly important role in enriching people’s lives for generations to come

Dr Robert Parker, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Although air quality has improved in some locations in recent years, the air pollution problem is unlikely to be eliminated, even in the medium term. Professor Kelly's work aimed to improve the understanding of air pollution's impact. The research identified oxidative stress as a unifying feature underlying the toxic actions of the air pollutants. Oxidative stress, resulting from either increased exposure to oxidants or the presence of decreased antioxidant defences, seems to trigger a number of redox-sensitive signalling pathways. There is now a strong body of evidence to indicate that pulmonary inflammation arises following exposure to pollution and is controlled through oxidant signalling pathways. Moreover, it appears likely that an individual’s sensitivity to pollution is related, in part, to their pulmonary antioxidant defences.

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Awards and Prizes are awarded in recognition of originality and impact of research, or for each winner’s contribution to the chemical sciences industry or education. They also acknowledge the importance of teamwork across the chemical sciences, as well as the abilities of individuals to develop successful collaborations.

Of those to have won a Royal Society of Chemistry Award, an illustrious list of 50 have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their pioneering work, including 2016 Nobel laureates Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Fraser Stoddart and Ben Feringa.