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Early Cancer Institute

  • Research Group Leader, Early Cancer Institute, University of Cambridge
  • Visiting Scientist, Francis Crick Institute, London



Alex graduated in Cell Biology from the University of Durham in 2014. He then went on to complete his doctoral training in Rebecca Fitzgerald’s lab at the MRC Cancer Unit (now Early Cancer Institute).

From 2019 his postdoctoral research in Charles Swanton’s lab at the Francis Crick Institute saw him working on the TRACERx project, for instance, studying how DNA released by lung tumours into the bloodstream can be used for non-invasive tracking of cancer evolution.


Alex Frankell’s Somatic Evolution Monitoring (SEM) lab focuses on methods to detect and track evolution occurring in premalignant and neoplastic tissues using longitudinal, minimally-invasive samples, for example circulating tumour DNA in blood. We develop and apply novel molecular and computational methods to these samples working closely with several clinical collaborators, with a focus on lung and oesophageal cancer. The lab aims to leverage these technologies to understand the selection pressures driving tumour initiation and evolution as well as to form the basis of novel diagnostics for pre-invasive risk stratification, early cancer detection and drug response prediction.