How did you get into drug testing?
After completing a BSc in Applied Biology at Kingston University, my first job was at LGC Teddington where I was part of the team testing urine samples for drugs of abuse. At this time, gas chromatography with mass spectrometry was the primary method used to confirm the presence of drugs and drug metabolites in urine samples.
Did you have any other jobs before moving to TrichoTech?
I moved to The Horseracing Forensic Laboratory (HFL) in Fordham near Newmarket in Cambridgeshire in 1998. At that time, HFL was a laboratory operation owned by the Horserace Betting Levy Board that primarily provided drugs testing for doping control in the equine and canine sports sectors. I was initially involved in the routine testing of competition animals. During my employment I was also involved in a two year development project that looked at increasing the sensitivity of drugs testing and prohibited substances detection in humans resulting in the company achieving accreditation to WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) standards. At that time there was only one other laboratory accredited to this standard in the UK and fewer than thirty five in the world.
When and how did you first start working for Alere Toxicology?
In 2005 I joined TrichoTech to take up a positon testing and reporting drugs in hair. Prior to this time I had worked primarily in the field of urine and blood testing and so I saw hair testing as a new challenge. Since the inception of TrichoTech in 1993, hair testing had grown significantly and the company was looking for experienced personnel in drugs testing.
How long have you been working with this company?
I joined TrichoTech over 11 years ago. TrichoTech was acquired by Concateno in 2007, Concateno then became a subsidiary of Alere Inc and was then rebranded to Alere Toxicology in 2013. I am currently the Reporting Manager and I am responsible for a team of Toxicologists based in Cardiff.
What does a Toxicologist do at Alere Toxicology?
A Toxicologist is responsible for interpreting the analytical results of drugs and alcohol markers testing and reporting the findings in a way that can be understood by a court. We take into account any medication or previously known drug usage or declared history of the donor. In some cases we are required to attend court to provide further information as expert evidence. We are not restricted geographically as court cases can be anywhere in the country. However in most cases, our detailed reports are sufficient to answer any questions that the court may have. When in court the questions asked by solicitors, barristers or the Judge are to assist in the outcome. Besides family law cases, we can also be required to give evidence at civil hearings, criminal hearings and employment tribunals.
What do you like about your job?
The philosophy of our company is ‘Behind every test is a life’. I really appreciate that with each result that we issue, we are assisting courts in the decision making process, which can have significant outcomes for the individuals involved.