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Dr Paul Whaley

Honorary Researcher

Paul Whaley

LEC Building

LA1 4YQ

Lancaster

Research overview

My work is about improving how we conduct and interpret scientific research in environmental health. This includes:

  • developing guidance documents and study evaluation tools for primary and secondary research (in particular, non-animal test methods and systematic reviews)
  • supporting the creation and use of open data standards, to make scientific evidence easier to find, evaluate, and reuse
  • designing evidence-to-decision frameworks, that help people not only "follow the science" but consistently and transparently account for all important factors when making a decision

Current Research

I have five areas of interest in the domain of human environmental health: 
  1. Improving primary research: I develop guidance on doing, reporting, and evaluating primary studies in an effort to improve the rigour of basic research. One collaboration is with VKM (Norwegian Food Standards Agency), developing instruments for assessing human-relevance and potential for bias in non-animal studies, to potentially improve their utility in chemical risk assessment.
  2. Conducting better evidence syntheses: I promote improvement in research practices around surveying, monitoring, and make sense of evidence. This includes evidence mapping and surveillance methods with the US National Toxicology Program, and work with the WHO on systematic reviews of the health impacts of occupational environmental exposures.
  3. Promoting open data standards: As a community, we could do much more around using computers to make research work better. I work on developing and promoting use of data standards, from ontologies through to exchange standards, supporting FAIR data provision, and so forth. I have applied for a 3 million USD grant from US NIH for creating semantic study planning and authoring tools for environmental health research. I have also been working with the European Food Safety Authority on data exchange standards for food systems and agriculture research.
  4. Improving the use of evidence in decision-making: Accounting consistently for all relevant factors when making decisions is a big challenge in policy-making. I have been working with collaborators including the US EPA to adapt the GRADE Evidence-to-Decision framework for environmental health contexts. And we have had 3-year VKM project on flow of information through chemical risk assessment and regulatory risk management just recently approved.
  5. Building a healthier research ecosystem: I am creator and Editor-in-Chief of Evidence-Based Toxicology, arguably the first full-blooded open science journal for environmental health research. The purpose of the journal is to promote publisher-side practices that incentivise and support a better, more rewarding, more sustainable research ecosystem.

External Roles

  • Research Fellow at the Evidence-Based Toxicology Collaboration
  • LEC representative to WHO Chemical Risk Assessment Network
  • Editor-in-Chief, Evidence-Based Toxicology
  • ONTOX Stakeholder Advisory Board
  • Advisory Board, JBI Evidence Synthesis Taxonomy Initiative

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