Kim Wolff

Kim Wolff

Professor, MBE, Director King's Forensics , Laboratory Director Drug Control Centre

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Personal profile

Research interests

  • Kim has worked on biological markers of drug misuse for the last 20 years initially completing a PhD concerned with the pharmacokinetics of methadone in heroin dependent drug addicts.  Today, Kim is a member of the World Health Organisation Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) and retains her interest in drug addiction through her work on drug driving.  
  • Kim is currently a panel member of the UK Secretary of State for Transport Medical Advisory Panel on Alcohol, Drugs & Substance Misuse & Driving. She has worked closely with the Department for Transport (DfT) Drink and Drug Driving Policy Unit since 2006, playing a leading role in the use of biomarkers to assess fitness to drive. Her research enabled a sole biomarker (Carbohydrate Deficient Transferrin) for the mandatory reassessment of drink-drivers to be introduced in 2013.  
  • Kim chaired the Expert Panel on drug-driving for the Department for Transport (2012/13), and led a systematic review of the scientific evidence on drug-driving. This made a significant contribution to the development of new drug driving legislation in England and Wales in 2015.  The Panel report provided the evidence base for the new strict liability drug-driving offence (s5A Road Traffic Act), which significantly improved the safety of our roads. In the first 316 days after the legislation came into effect approximately 8599 convictions had taken place (Department for Transport, 2017): This trend has grown with >30,000 arrests for drug driving over the last 12 months.
  • Kim conducted a further systematic review of alternative biological matrices for use as an evidential sample for drug driving as chair of a second Expert Panel (2015-2017), in collaboration with Queen Mary University.  This review highlighted oral fluid (saliva) as a viable alternative to blood (the gold standard but often hampered by practical difficulties during collection).  This review was published by the DfT August 2017.
  • Funding from the Home Office Centre for Applied Science & Technology (CAST) was awarded with colleagues from the Drug Control Centre to explore whether oral fluid tests could be undertaken at the roadside (2016-2018). A synthetic oral fluid (SOF) was characterised for use in the type approval of roadside tests to confirm drug-driving offences. This followed work to demonstrate SOF drug solutions performed as well as blood samples for use at the roadside and could be protected from microbial contamination.
  • Most recently Kim chaired the DfT Panel (2019-2020) concerning the introduction of a High-Risk Offender (HRO) scheme for drug drivers to run in parallel with the High-Risk Drink-Drive Scheme. The Panel made recommendations to the UK Government on a framework for HRO, including setting criteria for determining which individuals should be entered onto the scheme.
  • Kim also carries out research into the utility of latent fingerprints for use as a drug screening matrix. She is currently working to develop non-invasive drug screening devices for recreational drugs such as MDMA and alcohol and has recently started to explore recreational drug use in competitive sport as part of her role as the Director of King’s Forensics and Head of the Drug Control Centre, the only WADA accredited laboratory in the UK.

Kim has several PhD students in her group working and is always looking to recruit enthusiastic research scientists particularly those interested in drug or drink driving research and anti-doping science. I have a PhD project on this call.   Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Driven Health site. Closing date for applications is 21st March 2021.

Research interests (short)

Kim became the Director of King’s Forensics in 2018 and the Laboratory Director of the Drug Control Centre in 2019.  King’s Forensics has a unique infrastructure provided by three laboratories accredited to UKAS Quality Standard (ISO/IEC 17025), as well as bespoke research and postgraduate education.

Our laboratories include the Drug Control Centre (DCC) providing a service for UKAD (United Kingdom Anti-Doping), the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and individual professional sports bodies and is the only WADA accredited laboratory in the United Kingdom; the Forensic Genetics (DNA analysis at King’s) laboratory, which  provides bespoke services for specialist forensic casework and the identification of disaster victims and; the City of London Police forensic laboratory specialising in finger mark analysis.

Together these provide an accredited laboratory footprint unmatched anywhere in Europe and beyond, combining world-leading research alongside essential core techniques applicable for use in criminal justice.

 Kim continues her interests in the detection of illicit drugs using different matrices and forensic toxicology within this grouping.   Kim is a member of the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. She is currently exploring the use of synthetic recreational drugs (New Psychoactive Substances) in competitive sport, as well as the use of dry blood spots and latent fingerprints for drug testing.   

Biographical details

Dr Kim Wolff is Professor in Analytical, Forensic & Addiction Science. Kim completed a PhD in ‘Methadone Pharmacokinetics’ from the University of Leeds in 1990 and was funded as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow by the MRC (Research School of Medicine, University of Leeds) to investigate the kinetics of methadone in drug addicts before taking up a Lectureship at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London, in 1997.

From 1997 - 2006 whilst based at the National Addiction Centre, IoPPN, Kim was responsible for the MSc Clinical & Public Health Aspects of Addiction.  Following this Kim established a distance learning programme: the online MSc (International Programme of Addiction Studies, IPAS) in a joint venture with colleagues from the University of Adelaide, Australia and Virginia Commonwealth University, USA.  Kim was Head of Education at the IoPPN between 2008 and 2010.

At this time Kim was invited to join the UK Secretary of State for Transport Medical Advisory Panel on Alcohol, Drugs & Substance Misuse & Driving working closely with the Drink and Drug Driving Policy Unit and the DVLA conducting research into biomarkers of alcohol use in drink-drivers and providing expert advice on drug-driving. In 2016 Kim was awarded an MBE for services to road-safety.

Between 2010-18 Kim became the College Lead for Postgraduate Education with responsibility for the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) and the Taught Postgraduate Programmes Committee (working with School PGT leads, circa 13,000 students: 300+ programmes). She led the introduction of a university-wide policy for master’s dissertations. In September 2014 Kim was seconded to the position of Academic Director of Higher Education Review to lead preparations for the QAA Institutional audit and as part of this role became the chair of the College Assessment & Standards Committee (CASC) where under her leadership the College marking framework was established.

In collaboration with the VP Education and the Director of the Graduate School Kim successfully bid for funds from HEFCE for the Postgraduate Support Scheme (PSS) to provide scholarships to under-represented masters students. This secured £1.3M of matched funding (2015-2016) for scholars across the College. 

Professional development has been key in Kim’s career and her pedagogic interest has identified and investigated the impact of the different learning experiences of students from different cultures. This was possible through studying for a Diploma in Medical Education and when completing an MA in Academic Practice, a qualification recognised by the Higher Education Academy (HEA). She became a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) in 2017.

In 2018, Kim was appointed as the Director of King’s Forensics, Department AEFS, School PHES, Faculty Life Science and Medicine) where she is responsible for the collective activities of the Drug Control Centre, DNA@King’s and Forensic Science.  In 2019, she became the first female Laboratory Director of the WADA accredited Drug Control Centre and joined the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD).

During 2020 Kim has sought to establish the King’s Forensics Institute

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Arts, King's College London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2009

Doctor of Philosophy, Pharmacokinetics of methadone in opioid addicts, University of Leeds

Award Date: 1 Jan 1990

External positions

Visiting Professor, University of Malaya

2014 → …

Adjunct Professor, University of Alberta

2012 → …

Keywords

  • Q Science (General)
  • Analytical Toxicology
  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Doping Control
  • RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
  • Drug use and abuse
  • Drug Addiction
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • LF Individual institutions (Europe)
  • King's College London
  • Postgraduate Education
  • Msc Forensic Science
  • MSc Analytical Toxicology

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