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David O'Loughlin is a PhD student in the MacFarlane group at the MRC Toxicology Unit, University of Cambridge. His research will explore the potential health effects of non-exhaust (brake and tyre) wear particles and is a collaboration with the Department of Engineering and is supported by the Doctoral Training programme of the National Institute for Health Research-funded Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Environmental Exposures and Health.
He holds a BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Chemistry from Maynooth University, Ireland, graduating in 2020. As part of this degree, he spent six months working in forensic toxicology with the State Laboratory, the national scientific analysis laboratory for the Government of Ireland.
In 2021 he graduated from University College Dublin with a MSc in Toxicology and Regulatory Affairs. This included a three-month placement as a regulatory toxicologist for a start-up company founded by Prof. Wenxin Wang, developing non-viral polymer based CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing medicines for rare skin diseases. His master’s thesis focused on ways to evaluate and improve the EMA’s Orphan Designation process.

Research Interests:

As we transition from fossil fuel burning petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles, exhaust emissions are projected to decrease, and non-exhaust emissions from brake, tyre and resuspended road wear will become the dominant road associated pollutant. Non-exhaust emissions currently constitute about 20% of total airborne particulate matter (PM), and this figure is expected to increase as exhaust PM emissions are steadily reduced. Much of the research in recent times has focused on exhaust PM, while non-exhaust PM has received less attention. This project aims to address this by building on existing research to evaluate the in vitro toxicology of samples of brake and tyre wear particles. Non-exhaust emissions have a different size, morphology and chemical composition to exhaust emissions and may have a negative impact on human health. Previous studies have highlighted the importance of particle size for deposition of particles in the respiratory tract and the chemical composition of non-exhaust emissions can also be an important factor in their potential adverse effects on human health. In collaboration with the Department of Engineering, the elemental composition and morphology of samples will be evaluated, and size fractionated samples will be used in in vitro models to examine the effects of non-exhaust particles on lung cells using cellular models of the human respiratory tract.


PhD Student

Contact Details

MRC Toxicology Unit
Gleeson Building
Tennis Court Road