Dr Brian Rooney


I am currently Course Director, Principal Investigator and Associate Professor in Forensic Science at Kingston University. My research and teaching interest are in toxicology, analytical method development, drug confirmations, molecular biology and pharmacology. Prior to joining Kingston University I also worked as a forensic toxicologist in the road traffic toxicology laboratory of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety. In 2013 I joined the forensic toxicology team at LGC Forensics Teddington, where I specialised in casework analysis and LC-MS method development and validation before transferring to reporting officer expert witness team.  I am a certified expert witness and I regularly attend magistrate and crown court to give expert toxicological evidence. I am currently the principal analyst of the forensic toxicology B-sample testing laboratory at Kingston Analytical Services Toxicology (KAST). I am also responsible for overseeing all laboratory analysis of casework samples and the composition of expert reports. 

In addition to my academic and casework duties I am also the principal investigator for two research laboratories in the field of molecular biology and analytical chemistry. These laboratories focus on elucidating the effects of cannabis and cocaine on the pathogenesis of fibrosis and the development of novel analytical techniques to detect drugs of abuse in biological matrices. In addition to my research interests at Kingston University, I also regularly collaborate with forensic practitioners throughout the UK, Ireland and New Zealand.

Academic responsibilities

Principal Investigator, Course Director and Associate Professor in Forensic Science


  • BSc Pharmacology, University College of Dublin
  • PhD in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University College of Dublin
  • Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy
  • Bond Solon Expert Witness

Teaching and learning

I am the Director for Forensic Science  and Module leader for Biological Evidence Advanced Techniques (LS6013) and Current Concepts in Forensic Toxicology (LS7030). I was awarded a fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2017. My teaching interests are in toxicology, molecular biology, analytical chemistry, expert witness training and DNA profiling. I currently teach on the following undergraduate modules

Introduction to Forensic Science (LS4005)

Counterfeits Fakes and Forgeries (LS5011)

Crime Scene Evidence and Law (CH5008)

Research Methods and Topics in Forensic Biology (LS5006)

Biological Evidence Advanced Techniques (LS6013)

Forensic Chemistry & Trace Analysis (CH6010)

Biosciences Research Dissertation (LS6014)

I also teach on the following postgraduate modules.

Current Concepts in Forensic Toxicology (LS7030)

Forensic Chemistry and Trace Analysis (CH7110)

Undergraduate courses taught

Postgraduate courses taught


My research focuses on the development of toxicological methods for the detection of drugs of abuse and investigating the role of recreational drugs in the parthenogenesis of cardiac fibrosis. I am experienced in LC-MS method development/validation and designing methods to comply with ISO 17025 specifications. At present, I am the principal investigator for two research laboratories in the areas of molecular biology and analytical chemistry. Currently my team is investigating the long term effects of cocaine and cannabis on cardiac morphology and what the long term risk factors are for the development of conditions such as angina, pro/inter-coronary thrombosis and myocardial infraction. My research projects are listed below.

Ayse Orme Merve (PhD)

Ayse's PhD is focused on delineating the morphological and functional alterations mediated by cannabis as a mechanism of inducing cardio-toxicity owing to cardiomyocyte oxidative stress and dis-regulated matrix protein disposition.

Luke Taylor (PhD)

Luke's research is based on the development of novel sampling sites for the detection of drugs of abuse. and investigating uncertainty calculations in the prediction of blood alcohol concentration using the Widmark and Forrest equations.

Tara Al-Khaffaf (MRes)

Tara is currently developing a GC-MS methods to detect mass CBD and THC in oils and biological samples.

Georgia Harrington (MRes)

Georgia is currently investigating the persistence of GSR residue and explosives on clothing and skin. She is also studying the rate of secondary/tertiary transfer of GSR using SEM.

Lili Saskoy (PhD)

Lili's research is focused on the development of GC-MS methodology's to detect cannabinoids in hair in line with the specifications of ISO 17025 and the SOHT. 

Previous completions as 1st Supervisor.

·         Avnish Verma (MRes)

·         Luke Taylor (MRes)

·         Vytautas Remeskivicius (MRes)

·         Jeshan Mahmud (MRes)

Areas of specialism

  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Cell Signalling and Alteration of Cytoskeletal Dynamics
  • Parthenogenesis of Fibrosis in Response to Drugs of Abuse

Research student supervision

Main supervision

Other supervision


Number of items: 12.


Rooney, Brian, Sobiecka, Pola, Rock, Kirsten and Copeland, Caroline (2023) From bumps to binges : overview of deaths associated with cocaine in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (2000–2019). Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 47(3), pp. 207-215. ISSN (print) 0146-4760

Banyard, Alana, Skobeeva, Svetlana, Thatti, Baljit, Rooney, Brian, Fletcher, John and Thatti, Ravtej (2022) Near-infrared spectroscopy combined with chemometrics to classify cosmetic foundations from a crime scene. Science & Justice, 62(3), pp. 327-335. ISSN (print) 1355-0306

Orme Merve, Ayse, Sobiecka, Pola, Remeškevičius, Vytautas, Taylor, Luke, Saskoy, Lili, Lawton, Scott, Jones, Ben P., Elwakeel, Ahmed, Mackenzie, Francesca E., Polycarpou, Elena, Bennett, Jason and Rooney, Brian (2022) Metabolites of cannabis induce cardiac toxicity and morphological alterations in cardiac myocytes. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 23(3), p. 1401. ISSN (print) 1661-6596

Taylor, Luke, Saskőy, Lili, Brodie, Tara, Remeškevičius, Vytautas, Moir, Hannah Jayne, Barker, James, Fletcher, John, Thatti, Baljit Kaur, Trotter, Gavin and Rooney, Brian (2022) Development of a gas-tight syringe headspace GC-FID method for the detection of ethanol, and a description of the legal and practical framework for its analysis, in samples of English and Welsh motorists' blood and urine. Molecules, 27(15), p. 4771. ISSN (online) 1420-3049

Taylor, Luke, Remeskevcius, Vytautas, Saskoy, Lili, Brodie, Tara, Mahmud, Jeshan, Moir, Hannah, Brouner, James, Howe, Christopher, Thatti, Baljit, O'Connell, Sein, Trotter, Gavin and Rooney, Brian (2021) Determination of ethanol in micro-volumes of blood by headspace gas chromatography : statistical comparison between capillary and venous sampling sites. Medicine Science and the Law, 61(2), pp. 86-96. ISSN (print) 0025-8024

Verma, Avnish, Orme Merve, Ayse, Remeskevicius, Vytautas, Sobiecka, Pola, Taylor, Luke, Lawton, Scott, Jones, Ben P., Polycarpou, Elena, Bennett, Jason and Rooney, Brian (2021) Cocaine induces cytoskeletal changes in cardiac myocytes : implications for cardiac morphology. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(5), p. 2263. ISSN (print) 1661-6596

Poulsen, Helen, McCarthy, Mary-Jane, Baker, Jessica, Verma, Avnish, Moir, Hannah J, Brodie, Tara, Thatti, Baljit, Trotter, Gavin and Rooney, Brian (2021) Toxicological assessment of the role of alcohol and drugs in drug-facilitated sexual assault cases in New Zealand. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 45(1), pp. 44-52. ISSN (print) 0146-4760

Trotter, Gavin, Skinner, Rhian and Rooney, Brian (2021) Are the Preliminary Impairment Tests used by UK police fit for purpose? Medicine, Science and the Law, 61(1), pp. 4-5. ISSN (print) 0025-8024

Verma, Avnish, Bennett, Jason, Orme, Ayse Merve, Polycarpou, Elena and Rooney, Brian (2019) Cocaine addicted to cytoskeletal change and a fibrosis high. Cytoskeleton, 76(2), pp. 177-185. ISSN (print) 1949-3584

Rooney, Brian, Gouveia, Goncalo Jorge, Isles, Neville, Lawrence, Lynda, Brodie, Tara, Grahovac, Zorana, Chamberlain, Mark and Trotter, Gavin (2017) Drugged drivers blood concentrations in England and Wales prior to the introduction of per se limits. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 41(2), pp. 140-145. ISSN (print) 0146-4760

Rooney, Brian, O'Donovan, Helen, Gaffney, Andrew, Browne, Marie, Faherty, Noel, Curran, Simon P., Sadlier, Denise, Godson, Catherine, Brazil, Derek P. and Crean, John (2011) CTGF/CCN2 activates canonical Wnt signalling in mesangial cells through LRP6 : implications for the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy. FEBS Letters, 585(3), pp. 531-538. ISSN (print) 0014-5793

Conference or Workshop Item

Ghatora, Baljit, Freestone, Nicholas and Rooney, Brian (2018) The use of co-curricular activities to increase student engagement on interdisciplinary degree courses and instil graduate outcomes. In: Horizons in STEM Higher Education Conference: Making Connections, Innovating and Sharing Pedagogy; 28-29 Jun 2018, Hull, U.K.. (Unpublished)

This list was generated on Wed Jun 19 07:30:12 2024 BST.

Business, knowledge transfer and international

Throughout my time in Kingston University I have collaborated with numerous forensic service providers on research projects in the area of forensic toxicology. In 2017 I published a large scale drug driving study on the most commonly detected drugs in English and Welsh motorists. This study was carried out in collaboration with my former colleagues at LGC Forensics and later published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology. This study is to date, one of the largest road traffic toxicology studies ever conducted in Europe. I have also collaborated with scientist from the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) in Ireland, this was a forensic toxicology study examining the effects of sampling blood using minimally invasive techniques for the purpose of quantifying blood alcohol concentration, this work was accepted for publication in the journal Medicine Science and the Law.

In 2019/20 I worked with UK based forensic service providers on the effectiveness of PEth as a marker of alcohol abstinence in forensic and civil cases. In addition, we are currently building a quantification method for the detection of cannabis metabolites in hair. In March 2020 I liaised with forensic toxicologist in the state laboratory of New Zealand (ESR), to publish the first ever countrywide study on drug facilitated sexual assault and the potential role of acetone as biomarker present in victims samples.

As Director of Kingston Analytical Services Toxicology (KAST) I also provide bespoke LC and GC-MS method development and validation protocols for the testing of drugs and alcohol to private and public laboratories. KAST has collaborated with numerous toxicology laboratories throughout the UK and Ireland to provide outsourced sample testing facilities. For more information on KAST's testing and research services please see our website below. 


Qualifications and PROFESSIONAL expertise

  • Bond Solon Expert Witness

Areas of interest

  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Road Traffic Toxicology
  • Analytical Toxicology Method Development and

Professional practice, knowledge exchange and impact

I am currently the Principal Analyst for Kingston Analytical Services Toxicology (KAST). Our laboratory provides B-sample testing of road traffic toxicology blood and urine samples. I am responsible for overseeing all of the laboratory testing and the composition of expert reports in relation to these tests. At present Kingston Analytical Services is rapidly expanding our testing capacity and capability to ensure that we can carry our more sample testing on greater range of drugs. For more information on KAST please visit our website.


I am regularly asked to provide expert opinion and testimony at both Crown and Magistrate Court. Since joining Kingston University in 2016, I have provided expert toxicological opinion in over 100 cases for prosecution and defence counsels. I have been involved as a forensic scientist in a multitude of cases throughout the UK, these include cases relating to drink and drug driving, drug overdoses, drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA), child neglect, manslaughter and attempted murder cases. I have also represented victims of scientific malpractice in cases relating to the forensic service providers who had conducted the toxicology testing.

In all of these cases I have fulfilled my duties to the court and I have subsequently incorporated elements of these case studies and others into the BSc and MSc course for forensic science students. This provides a real-world exercise that familiarises the students with the demands of an expert witness in the UK justice system. My role is these cases has also allowed me to forge closer links with forensic service providers, law firms and to develop Kingston University's first ever Forensic Toxicology MSc. In addition, my professional practice strongly influences my research with several of my publications focused on casework relevant topics such as trends drink/drug driving, cocaine overdose and DFSA cases.

Leadership and management

I have been the Course Director for Forensic Science since 2018. During this time my colleagues and I have overseen the accreditation of the forensic science degree by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS). I have also secured numerous capital grants to invest in state of the art forensic toxicology and DNA profiling laboratory equipment. At present Kingston University forensic science laboratories are equipped to provide analysis of biological samples for DNA-17 profiles alongside drug and alcohol testing to a casework standard.

As Course Director I am passionate about providing students with training in cutting edge laboratory techniques and exposing them to wide range of world renowned experts in the field of forensic science. To this end my team and I have recruited several experts in the field of Gunshot Residue Analysis (GSR), Questioned Documents, Blood Pattern Analysis, DNA profiling, Digital Forensics and Forensic Toxicology. The forensic science team routinely organise additional learning events such as attendances at conferences hosted by the British Academy of Sciences and the implementation of professionally recognised certificates in areas of BPA and forensic toxicology. I have also developed and validated a Forensic Toxicology MSc that has been fully accredited by the CSFS, this course is focuses on training students in both the practical techniques of drug analysis and the interpretation of toxicology results in a wide range of case work settings.

The efforts of the forensic team were recognised in the 2019/20 National Student Survey (NSS) where we received a 100% score in student satisfaction. Our course has also received three commendations from the CSFS for

  • The provision of state-of-the-art industry-related training schemes was considered both innovative and highly beneficial to students' employment prospects. The fact that these are free, assessed and provide competence certificates, in addition to the degree award, is commendable and was highly supported by the students.
  • Exposure to up-to-date working practice in forensic science, through the training schemes, workshops and employment seminars.
  • The course has also been commended for the wide range of analytical equipment available to the BSc students.

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