Cellular and Molecular Biology

A major research focus across the Cambridge Cancer Centre is furthering our understanding of the molecular and cellular structure of pre-cancerous cells so that patients at risk of developing cancer are identified earlier. Researchers and clinicians work together to apply scientific discoveries to the clinic, through finding new ways of detecting cancer as early as possible and developing treatments to stop tumours growing and spreading.

Molecular and cellular biology research by Cambridge Cancer Centre partners

Programme Contacts

University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Publications

Babraham Institute

Research focuses on the methods of communication in cells and how genes regulate cell processes. A key research area is the study of cell signalling pathways, where proteins have been identified that trigger functions both within andbetween cells. Research into different signalling pathways (e.g. PI3kinase, mTOR, ERK and LPA) and lipidomics represents significant collaborations within the Centre andexternal partners. Work in epigenomics, in collaboration with other Centre researchers, will have significant impacton our understanding of cancer stem cells, pre-neoplasia and tumour heterogeneity. Babraham scientists have been collaborating with AstraZeneca Oncology for just over nine years and the relocation of AstraZeneca to Cambridge has helped to stimulate future collaborations between scientists at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, AstraZeneca and the Babraham Institute.

Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute

A major theme at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute is genomics and gene regulation. We seek to understand how genetic alterations accumulate and which cell populations are targeted by these alterations. We aim to generate better classifications of cancers, validate prognosticpredictive markers and identify novel therapeutic targets. These research efforts are supported by a comprehensive strength in molecular imaging, computational approaches, and bioinformatics. We translate discoveries on the genetic causes of cancer and on the clonal evolution of cancer cells into practical patient benefits in the clinic, especially in breast,lung, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancers, with future programmes in brain tumours and renal cancer. We are establishing a ‘translational conveyor belt’, which will allow us to fast-track the application of laboratory bench discoveries to the patient bedside, and to use patient samples in our laboratories for our fundamental research into the cellular and molecular pathogenesis of cancer.

MRC Cancer Unit at the University of Cambridge

The MRC Cancer Unit focuses on understanding the molecular events underlying the transformation of pre-neoplasia to advanced cancer, and applying this information to cancer diagnosis and therapy through the development of innovative new technologies. The Unit’s research programmes study the clonal organization and fate of tumour-initiating cells in the oesophagus, pancreas and lung; DNA repair and mitotic defects in pre-neoplasia, and their exploitation for cancer therapy; genomic evolution of oesophageal, pancreatic and lung cancers using model organisms and human samples; and the impact of metabolic alterations and stromal/epithelial interactions on early steps in carcinogenesis. A major clinical programme in the Unit has established methods for early detection and marking progression of oesophageal cancer applicable in the clinic. Technology platforms that pioneer new approaches to functional genomics and phenotypic screening, to the discovery of chemical tools that modulate protein-protein interactions, to hyper-dimensional cellular imaging and optogenetics using light microscopy, and to clinical imaging of preneoplasia by endoscopy, facilitate the efficient translation of laboratory research to clinical application.

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Scientists at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) have pioneered many techniques in molecular biology including DNA sequencing, methods for determining the three-dimensional structure of proteins, and the development of monoclonal antibodies. Research is focused on understanding biological processes at a molecular level, including how the genetic code is translated into proteins, how cells are modified for diferent roles, how nerve cells function and behave, and how biological processes can result in immunity or cancer. Current cancer-related research within the LMB aims to understand the abnormal signal transduction pathways that are de-regulated in cancer and the mechanisms that promote somatic mutations through endogenous DNA damage and mutagenic repair. The ultimate aim is to harness such knowledge to understand better the factors that drive carcinogenesis and to develop new treatments. Specific cancer related programmes arerelated to haematological malignancies and colorectal cancer.

University of Cambridge Schools of Biological Sciences and Clinical Medicine

Within the Schools there is a significant focus on how DNA replicates and repairs itself. Researchers are also studying how drug molecules affect and modify the DNA in cells. Some of this work has led to successful spin-out companies, for example in high throughput anti-cancer drug screening. Other key topics include how cells divide, what regulates cell death and how tumours grow without restraint. Haematological cancers are the focus of programmes within the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, the Cambridge Institute of Medical Research and the Departments of Haematology and Pathology. Historic research strengths in haematology include studying normal transcriptional regulation and cellular development in blood stem cells and how these can be aberrantly regulated. These programmes will continue, and diversify into studies of lymphoid malignancy and disordered translational control. Analysis of the molecular consequences of JAK2 mutations in blood cancers has also provided unexpected insights into fundamental biological mechanisms, including chromatin biology, cytokine signalling and cellular responses to DNA damage, and these will be pursued in collaborations within the Centre. Cancer genetic epidemiology is a major focus within the University Department of Public Health and Primary Care, based in the Strangeways Research Laboratory, a world leader in cancer genome-wide association studies. This expertise in public health and epidemiology is a significant contributor to the developing Centre programmes in early detection of oesophageal, prostate, breast and lung cancers.

Wellome Trust Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute

One research focus within the Institute is on the mechanisms and rules that organise embryonic development. One way to think about cancer is as a breakdown of these key mechanisms as they apply to cells in adult tissues. Researchers are studying which genes are involved in regulating the growth and division of cells, and how these processes are disrupted when cancer develops. Another focus within the Institute is on research that includes the nature of mutagen damage to DNA and its repair, and the proteins and other mechanisms that act on DNA to regulate the expression of genes through time and in different tissues. The research groups working on miRNA, chromatin remodelling and DNA repair have long-standing active collaborations throughout Cambridge.

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

The Institute has several activities in cancer genomics and large-scale cancer biology including cancer genome sequencing and analysis (notably the International Cancer Genome Consortium projects in breast, bone, prostate and myeloid cancers), engineered mouse cancer models, large scale genomics and drug screens of cancer cell lines, single-cell genomics technologies, bioinformatics pipelines, and provision of cancer mutational databases including COSMIC (catalogue of somatic mutations in cancer). There is close collaboration on these with many researchers in the Cambridge area and beyond. Three senior clinical investigators at the Institute have joint appointments in oncology/haematological oncology at Cambridge with expertise in colorectal cancer and haematological malignancies. Translational collaborations will be expanded in the coming years in the areas of drug discovery and personalised cancer medicine.

Principal investigators and consultants

  • All members
  • Group leaders
  • Clinical consultants
University of Cambridge
Department of Genetics
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
We investigate the functions chromatin regulatory complexes implicated in human disease using the C. elegans model system. These include...
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Regulation of Mammary gland development
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RNA methyltransferases
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Stem cells, Cell Signalling, Transcriptional control, Cancer
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Babraham Institute
Role of MAPK in cancer cell survival signalling
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
Histone N-terminal tails protrude from their own nucleosome and, in some cases, make contact with adjacent nucleosomes. This observation...
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I work on a novel organotypic in vitro model for squamous cell lung cancer. It models common early genetic lesions in an inducible system...
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Functional Genomics of Breast Cancer. Development and utilisation of Patient derived tumour models in therapeutic research.
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Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
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University of Cambridge
Department of Oncology
I study the role of microRNAs in squamous cell carcinoma and metastasis.
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University of Cambridge
Department of Chemistry
Unilever Centre for Molecular Science Informatics
Previously affiliated with the Lead Discovery Informatics (LDI) group of Novartis in Cambridge/MA, I am now developing and applying...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Chemistry
Our research is focused on the development and application of computational methods to the study of biomolecular systems. In particular,...
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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience
Breast cancer mortality is directly correlated with metastatic disease, and we study mechanisms of breast cancer dissemination: migrating...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience
In many cancers unchecked proliferation is driven by inappropriate activity of signalling pathways, such as the Notch pathway. Activation...
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University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
I work on the development of new technologies for the spatial and temporal control of biological events in vivo. Specifically, I am using...
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Our aim is to obtain nanobodies that recognize specifically the natively folded and functional conformation of p16 and thereby restore the...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Medicine
Research in my laboratory focuses on the development and application of technologies to probe the dynamics of disease. My postdoctoral work...
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Primary research interests include ChIP-seq and integrative ChIP-seq/expression analysis.
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University of Cambridge
Department of Physics
My research lies at the connection between biotechnology and cellular biophysics. I have developed techniques in quantitative microscopy,...
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Spyridon Champeris Tsaniras obtained his BSc from the department of Biomedical Sciences at King's College London, University of London. He...
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Biology of Ras-induced senescence
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Babraham Institute
Epigenetic rejuvenation is an emerging concept proposing that age-related diseases could be treated by reversing cellular ageing....
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University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, School of Clinical Medicine, Department of Oncology
CRUK Cambridge Institute
Quantifying intestinal stem cell dynamics using high throughput microsatellite sequencing.
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University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
I'm interested in a particular class of small RNAs called piRNAs.
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
Defects in cell division often cause abnormal distribution of the genetic material between the two daughter cells. These abnormalities...
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University of Cambridge
MRC Cancer Unit
Hutchison MRC Research Centre
DNA damage signalling pathways
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University of Cambridge
Department of Medicine
While stromal cells are well known to control local tissue structure and form an important support network, their roles in maintaining...
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Cancer, DNA Damage, signaling network, mathematics and synergy: what is the connection? Paradoxically, defective cell response to DNA...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Genetics
Our lab is interested in understanding the molecular basis for aneuploidy found in tumours. We use a combination of cell biology, molecular...
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University of Cambridge
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
DNA repair and DNA damage signalling The main focus of research in our lab is to better understand how cells detect DNA damage and signal...
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Babraham Institute
Signalling
I study entosis, a recently described process of live epithelial cell engulfment which occurs in human tumours. My work aims to identify...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Cancers are lethal diseases in desperate need of new therapeutic approaches: despite dramatic advances in the use of conventional chemo and...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Genetics
I am interested in chromosome biology and the relationship between the structural organisation of vertebrate chromosomes and their function...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Clinical Biochemistry
Cambridge Institute for Medical Research
The reversible phosphorylation of tyrosine residues on proteins serves as a critical switch in the regulation of fundamental cellular...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Chemistry
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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry (PNAC)
Structural and functional analysis of Wnt pathway components
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Our group has been pioneering the use of program analysis techniques for the construction and analysis of executable models describing cell...
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Working in the field of DNA damage response, target discovery and validation.
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
Mechanisms of DNA damage in mammalian cells
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University of Cambridge
Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience
Wellcome Trust MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute
Stem cells are established during development and remain present in adulthood allowing the body to replace, restore and regenerate dead,...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
We are interested in understanding the mechanisms underlying remodelling of the actin cytoskeleton. Force generation by actin...
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University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
The goal of our laboratory is to understand the molecular networks that control cell division during development and adult tissue...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Genetics
Our laboratory studies the regulation of progression through mitosis and meiosis in animal cells. The high degree of evolutionary...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Astronomy
My group focuses on nonequilibrium phenomena in the natural world, with particular emphasis on biological physics. We strive for a holistic...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Chemistry
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Cambridge Systems Biology Institute
The Griffin group specialises in the use of NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry approaches to high throughput metabolomics. In the area...
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I am interested in how inflammation contributes to the onset and progression of pregnancy-associated breast cancer. I use mouse models to...
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Department of Veterinary Medicine
I study the mammary gland and tumours developing in this tissue. My particular field of interest encompasses the interactions between...
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University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
Cancer development and epigenetic change, especially related to imprinting.
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pharmacology
Our research focuses on a class of proteins known as tandem-repeat proteins such as ankyrin, tetratricopeptide and leucine-rich repeats....
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University of Cambridge, MISSION Therapeutics Ltd, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Department of Biochemistry
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
The main focus of research in our lab is to better understand how cells detect DNA damage and signal its presence to the DNA repair,...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Proteomic approaches to plasma-membrane assemblies: Membrane proteins cluster together selectively as spatially-restricted, functionally...
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Babraham Institute
Signalling
Molecular aspects of the emerging non-canonical autophagy pathway underlying cellular eating processes.
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, School of Clinical Medicine, Department of Surgery
Wellcome Trust MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute
Embryonic stem cells are of immense clinical significance because they have the potential to generate any cell type in the human body and...
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We work on how the body responds to hypoxia, or low levels of tissue oxygen.  This is relevant to a number of diseases, including cancer,...
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Babraham Institute
Signalling
To overcome the well-known problem of resistance to targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors it is crucial to understand the remodelled pathways...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Physics
Imaging and sensing instrumentation research for oncology applications
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Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Cancer Genome Project
Sequencing of cancer genomes
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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Conserved mechanisms in chemotaxis. How cells sense and move in chemical gradients; how they make projections - pseudopodia and blebs -...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
We are interested in understanding of the links between deficiencies in the DNA damage response and the molecular nature of disease....
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University of Cambridge
Department of Genetics
The cell cycle is the process of reproduction of the cell, which involves duplication and partitioning of the genome DNA. We are studying...
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Papworth Hospital
Sponsor CRUK - to do research into Lung Cancer. Work with different research groups, mainly providing Immunohistochemistry support,...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Zoology
For a cell to proliferate in cancer, and during normal development or tissue maintenance, it must replicate its chromosomal DNA. We are...
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University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
I am interested in the transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation of non-coding RNA species genome wide across mammalian and non-...
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University of Cambridge
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
Characterisation of hydroxylase enzymes in chromatin biology
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
University of Cambridge
The study of the structure and function of protein complexes, mainly using either NMR spectroscopy or X-ray crystallography, but also...
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My overall career ambition is to develop novel insights into breast cancer pathology to help improve clinical outcomes for sufferers. I...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Medicine
Cambridge Institute for Medical Research
We study MHC I molecules and other critical cell surface receptors. We showed that the cancer-causing herpesviruses (KSHV) pirated...
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Babraham Institute
Laboratory of Lymphocyte Signalling and Development
My work investigates the effects of PI3K inhibition on the anti-tumour T cell response.
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pharmacology
My lab studies cell division in human cells, with particular focus on regulation by ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis. We use time-lapse...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
The use of classical, germ-line genetics to define gene function in vertebrates is severely limited by embryonic lethality, developmental...
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Babraham Institute
Laboratory of Molecular Signalling
The role and molecular regulation of protein kinases in cancer.
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
I study the processes involved in DNA replication in eukaryotes, including the mechanism of priming by the replicative primase and the...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
I work on the protein c-Myc and it's role in tumourigenesis. Our lab has developed a dominant negative form of Myc, termed Omomyc which has...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Physics
Working on instrument development for optical imaging methods for the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal cancers.
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Babraham Institute
Class I PI3K signalling is one of the most important signalling networks in mammalian cells and is under intense investigation by the...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Zoology
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
I am interested in the role played by two S/T protein kinases in mitosis (Aurora A and Cdk1). Both of them have several key roles at...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
Cambridge Cancer Centre
Investigating the cellular and molecular role of cytokinetic protein, Citron kinase, in relation to cancer. I am currently investigating...
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My initial grounding in human molecular genetics at Edinburgh and London led to extensive training in cancer genetics and positional...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
Our main goal is to understand how cells interpret genetic and epigenetic information as well as environmental cues to determine their...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Physics
We are a small, highly interactive and international research team whose passion is using new technological innovations to improve our...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Small G proteins are molecular switches in cellular signal transduction. Many small G proteins that we are studying, such as Ras and Ral,...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Veterinary Medicine
Elizabeth Murchison studies the genetics and evolution of clonally transmissible cancers. Transmissible cancers are unusual cancers that...
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University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
CRUK Cambridge Institute
cellular senescence
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University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
To understand mechanisms of cellular response to the stresses, such as cellular senescence and apoptosis.
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University of Cambridge
Department of Medicine
Cambridge Institute for Medical Research
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University of Cambridge
Department of Genetics
I am trying to understand how the complex network of spindle checkpoint proteins ensure accurate segregation of chromosomes. Specifically,...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
Study of the F-box protein, Fbxo7 and it's roles in cancer and neurodegeneration.
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
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University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
Our goal is to understand the systems-level transcriptional mechanisms underlying mammalian cell specification, which are often perturbed...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Our work focuses on the relationship between structure and function in small G proteins and their effectors and regulators. These proteins...
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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Structural Studies
We use a hybrid approach to study the structure and function of multi-protein complexes. We focus on complexes involved in the regulation...
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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
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University of Cambridge
Department of Surgery
Cambridge Institute for Medical Research
Our principal objective is to define the molecular and genetic basis for the maintenance of the pluripotent status of human embryonic stem...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Luca's research focuses on the relationship between cancers and physiological but not homeostatic processes like tissue regeneration and...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
The faithful inheritance of genetic information is essential to cellular life. Successful transmission of the genetic material requires the...
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My main interest is understanding what is behind the heterogeneity of breast cancer. Through the identification of cell fate regulators in...
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My research tackles basic aspects of cell cycle control (particularly during mitosis) and genome stability in the context of tumour...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Zoology
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
we study how cell-cell interactions modulate survival and cell fate decisions during physiological conditions, as well as during cancer...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Zoology
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
The control of mitosis by protein kinases and proteolysis
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MISSION Therapeutics Ltd
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Department of Haematology
Cambridge Institute for Medical Research
Transcription factor networks relating to the pathogenesis of acute myeloid leukaemia. This involves cloning a specific mutation into an...
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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Structural Studies
Genome stability mechanisms central to human health.
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University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
My research has previously focused on mechanisms involved in tamoxifen resistant breast cancer.  Recently I have moved groups and my...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
Cambridge Institute for Medical Research
The intracellular signalling events that regulate T-cell function of the immune system. My lab was the first to identify an normal...
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School of Clinical Medicine
CRUK Cambridge Institute
Alasdair heads up a specialised team that provide a centralised ‘Hub’ for the innovation and application of state-of-the-art Genome Editing...
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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
My lab is interested in the mechanisms that alleviate arrested DNA replication and the impact their loss has on mutagenesis and on the...
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Babraham Institute
Laboratory of Molecular Signalling
The RAS-RAF-MEK1/2-ERK1/2 pathway plays a crucial role in regulating cell proliferation and is also frequently deregulated in cancers. This...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
Identifying and characterizing novel chromatin modulators of the DNA damage response in mammalian cells.
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University of Cambridge
MRC Cancer Unit
Hutchison MRC Research Centre
I am studying the mechanisms that lead to mitochondrial dysfunction in fumarate hydratase (FH) deficient cells and the role of this enzyme...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Genetics
Spindle morphogenesis is regulated by cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) and monitored by checkpoints to enforce accurate chromosomal...
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Our aim is to understand the function and regulation of receptor tyrosine phosphatases in vivo using proteomics, cell biology and mouse...
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Drug discovery: targeting of the DNA Damage Response Drug discovery: immunotherapeutics Drug Discovery: tumour drivers and resistance...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Genetics
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
Most tumours arise from epithelial tissues composed of polarised cells that stick together to form sheets, and a loss of polarity is a...
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in vitro and in vivo preclinical cancer drug development
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pharmacology
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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Nuclear trafficking and structural cell biology
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
Cambridge Institute for Medical Research
Immunogenetics and functions of the MHC Immunogenetics of NK receptors and related molecules
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TGFb signalling has dual roles in the regulation of breast tumour initiating cells (BTICs), acting both in the BTIC-stimulating and BTIC-...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Department of Engineering
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University of Cambridge
Department of Pharmacology
Our research focusses on molecular mechanisms of multidrug transport proteins that efflux cytotoxic drugs away from their intracellular...
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University of Cambridge
Department of Veterinary Medicine
prostate cancer
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The discover of novel therapeutic targets to triple negative breast cancer, with a particular interest in targeting STAT3. A transcription...
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N
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University of Cambridge
Department of Zoology
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
My research has focused on understanding the mechanism of function of cyclins, essential proteins that regulate cell cycle progression and...
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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology
We work on the aggregation mechanism of the tumor suppressor protein, p53, and developing novel anti-cancer drugs that function by...
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I'm interested in host-parasite interactions. My current project is on communications of a carcinogenic liver fluke with its host via the...
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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Many signal transduction pathways cells involve enzymes that generate either soluble or membrane-resident second messengers by modifying...
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Use of functional genomics to investigate mechanisms of cancer drug resistance.
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University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
Interested in the metabolic transformation of cancer cells. Specifically mitochondrial dysfunction with appears to be widespread through...
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University of Cambridge
Wellcome Trust CRUK Gurdon Institute
The Regulation of Replication Initiation in Eukaryotes Faithful inheritance of the genome from mother to daughter cell requires that it is...
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