Ian C Shaw - People - Chemistry - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Professor Ian C Shaw


Professor of Toxicology

UC Site Leader, National Centre for Research in Growth & Development (Centre of Research Excellence, Auckland University)


BSc (Hons) [Bath, UK], PhD [Birmingam, UK], FNZIC, FIFST, CBiol, FIBiol, CChem, FRSC, FRCPath

Field of Study

Mechanisms of Toxicity, particularly the impact of environmental contaminants on humans.

Professional Awards

Royal College of Pathologists Fellowship 2010
NZ Association of Scientists Communicator Award 2009
UCSA Science Lecturer of the Year 2009
UCSA Science Lecturer of the Year 2013
UCSA Science Lecturer of the Year 2014
UCSA Science Lecturer of the Year 2016


Rutherford Room 762

Contact Details

Telephone: +64 3 369 4302 (Internal 94302)
Fax: +64 3 364 2110
Email: ian.shaw@canterbury.ac.nz


I have a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from the University of Bath and a PhD in Biochemistry (Toxicology) from the University of Birmingham. My jobs have included the first lectureship in Toxicology in the UK at University College London where I worked on the toxicity of anticancer drugs. Then I moved to Boehringer Ingelheim (a pharmaceuticals company) to continue my anticancer drug work, but in a more clinical setting, then to the UK's Central Veterinary Laboratory as Head of Toxicology Section where I was responsible for food analysis and research on toxic chemicals in food. Following this I was Chair in Toxicology at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) where I was also Head of the School of Biological Sciences and Head of the Centre for Toxicology. My work at UCLan focussed on pesticides, their measurement in food and their effects on consumers. During this time I chaired the UK government's Pesticide Residues Committee. I moved to New Zealand in 2000 to take up leadership of the Food Safety Group at the Institute of Environmental Science & Research (ESR). From there I moved to the University of Canterbury as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Science) and in February 2009 reverted to the academic life as Professor of Toxicology in the Department of Chemistry. My research interests remain the mechanisms and impact of environmental chemicals on human health, but with a particular interest in chemicals that mimic hormones (endocrine disrupting chemicals – EDCs). I am also passionate about science communication and have made TV programmes (e.g. Is it safe to eat? TVNZ, 2008), been on radio many times and write regularly for newspapers and magazines.

Research Interests

Mechanisms of toxicity of environmental pollutants:

  • Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
    I'm interested in the mechanisms of action of this diverse chemical group –their only commonality is that they mimic hormones and fit and activate hormone receptors. I am particularly interested in their effects on growth and development and to this end have close links with NZ's National Centre for Research in Growth & Development (NRCGD). At the moment we are focussing on bisphenol-A (used in plastics manufacture) and its effect in the developing child in utero.
  • Methyl Bromide and Motor Neurone Disease (MND)
    MND is thought to be caused in part by free radical induced changes in neurological systems. Methyl bromide is a free radical generator and is thought to be associated with a cluster of MND cases in NZ. We are investigating the chemical mechanisms of its cellular toxicity.
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals via food
    Health and diet are inextricably linked and it is well known that some dietary components can lead to diseases such as cancer following prolonged. I am interested in chemicals in food and their effects on health.

Research Group Members

Current Research Group:

  • Dr Sally Gaw (Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry)
  • Dr Barbara Thompson (Senior Scientist, ESR)
  • Lisa Graham (PhD Student)
  • Professor Murray Mitchell, (NRCGD)
  • Biju Balakrishnan (PhD Student)

Former PhD Students

  • Michael Graham (1986) Metabolism and toxicity of the oxazaphosphorine anti-cancer drugs
  • Peter Doyle (1994) Study of the chemical interaction between thyroxine and the sulphonamides
  • Paul Fitzmaurice (1996) The involvement of free radicals in the causal mechanism of motor neurone disease
  • Jenny Woodhouse (1997) Plutonium pharmacokinetics and blood biochemistry
  • Stephen Cookson (2002) Aluminium Toxicity (with reference to Copper) in the Aqueous Environment and the Mechanisms of its Glutathione-mediated Detoxification in the Brine Shrimp (Artemia franciscana)
  • Emma Barnes (2004) Studies on the excretion of pesticides in human milk as a means of investigating exposure and assessing the risk to infants in Indonesia
  • Barbara Thomson (2005) Human health implications of exposure to xenoestrogens
  • Anna McCarthy (2006) Biological activity of steroid analogues: synthesis and receptor/enzyme interactions

Representative Publications

  • Phone: +64 3 364 2100
    Fax: +64 3 364 2110
    Email: chemistry@canterbury.ac.nz
  • Department of Chemistry
    University of Canterbury
    Private Bag 4800, Christchurch
    New Zealand
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