Another year gives us another chance to welcome some of the brightest young researchers to Cancer Research UK.
We want to congratulate our new Fellows – who are taking new and early steps in their research career. We received many funding applications for our panel of experts to review. After much deliberation, the panel selected our 18 new Fellows.
These pioneering researchers are taking on some of the big scientific questions we need to answer to beat cancer sooner. And they’re doing this by tackling cancer from different angles – from fundamental biology, right through to the development of new drugs and more.
Here’s some information about our new Fellows and the work they’re doing to help more people survive cancer.
- At The Institute of Cancer Research in London, Dr Yinyin Yuan is looking at how lung cancer cells change in response to their surroundings, and how these changes can mean treatment is less likely to work. She hopes that her work will lead to the development of more effective targeted treatments for lung cancer in the future.
- Dr Andrew Blackford is focused on understanding how cells respond when their DNA gets damaged and why faults in how they repair this damage can lead to cancer. Based at the University of Oxford, his work aims to find and develop new cancer treatments and improve existing ones.
- The way cells control whether genes are ‘on’ or ‘off’ is called ‘epigenetics’. At the University of Dundee, Dr Constance Alabert is developing new technologies to study how cells copy their epigenetic information as they divide, and will use these techniques to investigate the role this copying process might play in the development of cancer.
- Autophagy is a recycling process that can help cells – including cancer cells – to survive. At the University of Edinburgh, Dr Noor Gammoh is trying to understand more about how autophagy plays a role in glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain tumour, with the aim of developing new treatments that target the process, and help more people survive the disease.
- Pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage. But Dr Inigo Martincorena, based at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, is hoping to change that by studying how healthy cells change and become cancer cells. By understanding more about this process, he hopes it will be possible to spot pancreatic cancer earlier and make it easier to treat successfully.
- At the University of Nottingham and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, Dr Ilze Bogdanovica is studying the impact of standardised tobacco packaging and other similar policies included in the new European Union Tobacco Products Directive. Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of cancer, and Dr Bogdanovica’s work will help refine UK policy, and guide other countries who want to implement similar measures to help stop people smoking.
- Our cells can edit their DNA to help make sure genes are switched on and off at the right time. At the University of Edinburgh, Dr Duncan Sproul is finding out if some breast cancers are caused by problems with this editing process, leading to genes involved in breast cancer being switched on or off at the wrong time. Research like this can help identify new targets for drugs, markers for early detection or information that could tell us more about cancer prevention.
- At UCL, Dr Marnix Jansen is investigating the role stem cells play in the development of oesophageal (food pipe) cancer. Stem cells can replicate and become any of the hundreds of different cells in the body. By increasing our understanding of how these cells can develop into cancer cells, he aims to develop new, better ways to diagnose the disease early when it’s easier to treat.
- Dr Indrani Bhattacharya at The Institute of Cancer Research in London is interested in how researchers leading clinical trials to improve radiotherapy for breast cancer collect and analyse their data, and how this process can be improved. Dr Bhattacharya hopes her work will give patients who are interested in taking part in clinical trials better information and will ultimately improve radiotherapy for all patients.
- At the University of Cambridge, Dr Marian Burr is looking at how acute myeloid leukaemia stem cells escape treatment and how they can trigger cancer to come back. Her research could be a vital new clue towards developing new targeted treatments that can kill leukaemia stem cells, but leave healthy stem cells alone.
- At Queen’s University Belfast, Dr Blánaid Hicks is studying what increases the risk of developing kidney cancer to find out what people can do to lower their chances of developing the disease. Her work also aims to find better ways to identify people at a higher risk of developing this type of cancer so that these people can be monitored and treated sooner.
- Dr Yasmina Okan, working at the University of Leeds, wants to help women from all backgrounds understand the pros and cons of cervical cancer screening. She wants to make information clear and easy to understand so that every woman can make an informed decision for themselves about whether or not they go for screening.
- At the University of Bristol, Dr Gemma Taylor is working with patients, doctors, nurses and researchers to develop a tailored programme to help people with depression stop smoking.
- Dr Juliet Usher-Smith will work with the University of Cambridge and healthcare professionals to develop ways to raise awareness of how smoking and drinking alcohol can lead to cancer and how people can change their habits to reduce their risk of developing cancer.
- At Barts Cancer Institute in London, Dr Jessica Okosun is studying follicular lymphoma, a type of non Hodgkin lymphoma. In particular, she is researching why the disease can come back more than once in some patients. She hopes her research will lead to new ways to treat the disease once it becomes resistant to treatment.
- Dr Sarita Depani, a doctor specialising in children’s cancer, will be working at the Children’s Cancer Clinical Trials Unit in Birmingham and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. With this support, she’ll become an expert in designing and leading clinical trials for children, which will help to ensure children, teenagers and young adults in the UK have access to pioneering new treatments.
- Based at the University of Oxford, Dr Richard Bryant is a specialist who treats men with prostate cancer. His research is looking at combining radiotherapy with a new type of surgery that uses light to target and destroy tumours, while limiting damage to healthy tissue. He aims to find out if this new combination is better than either treatment on its own.