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Early Cancer Institute

Group leaders from the Early Cancer Institute

The Blundell lab

Jamie Blundell's lab works on understanding how mutant clones arise, expand and compete in our tissues as we age. Focusing predominantly on blood, we use novel genetic lineage tracking tools and deep sequencing of longitudinal samples to identify mutant clones which are under strong positive selection. Such clones are implicated in early cancer and thus are candidates for improved cancer detection.

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The Dev lab

Harveer Dev’s lab explores mechanisms of genome instability in early stage prostate cancer, in order to improve the detection and treatment of patients with lethal disease. We use high-throughput genetic screening approaches and surgically-derived early disease models to explore DNA damage response pathways in prostate cancer. This allows us to identify critical genetic drivers, and hence biomarkers, of disease progression and therapeutic responsiveness, providing opportunities to deliver personalised therapies to patients.

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The Fitzgerald lab

The Fitzgerald Group is passionate about finding innovative ways to detect cancer at an early stage. We particularly focus on oesophageal and gastric cancer which together account for a substantial cancer burden worldwide. Oesophageal cancer is one of the most deadly cancers with a 5-year survival of under 20%. In order to develop new solutions for diagnosing individuals at high risk for oesophageal and gastric cancer we are a highly inter-disciplinary group spanning: epidemiology and public health; cell and molecular biology; computational biology; clinical trial expertise; and collaborative work in machine learning, physics and chemical engineering.  

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The Hoare lab

Matt Hoare’s lab investigates mechanisms of cancer predisposition in patients with chronic liver disease. Focussing on acquired somatic mutations in human liver we have identified recurrent mutations that potentially explain field cancerisation in the liver and systemic metabolic dysfunction. We are working to understand the diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic potential of these mutations.

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The Kar lab

Siddhartha Kar's lab studies naturally occurring inherited or germline genetic variation and uses this variation to investigate the causes, consequences, and correlates of key somatic or tumour genomic aberrations responsible for driving cancer development and progression. Somatic genomic aberrations are the changes to the genome that are acquired over the course of life. The ultimate aim is to use insights from this work to inform our understanding of susceptibility to, and the prevention, early detection and treatment of, common cancers.

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The Massie lab: Uro-oncology early detection lab

Using genetic and epigenetic alterations found in early prostate cancer Charlie Massie's uro-oncology early detection lab will create assays for sensitive detection and quantification of cell-free tumour DNA and develop molecular prognostic scores to help stratify early stage prostate tumours. More accurate risk stratification will spare men with indolent disease from the risks of unnecessary over treatment, and allow more targeted interventions in men with high-risk disease. 

Click here for the latest updates on ctDNA and liquid biopsy.

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The Muñoz-Espín lab

Daniel Muñoz-Espín’s lab works on the interface between cellular senescence, plasticity and the fundamental processes and mechanisms that lie at the origin of cancer. We are also developing novel tools and nano-devices for cancer diagnosis and therapy.



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The Nik-Zainal lab

Serena Nik-Zainal's lab studies the physiology of mutagenesis, combining computational approaches with experimental and cancer data. The insights gained through Big Data analysis and experiments in cell-based systems has led to the development of clinical algorithmic tools that should translate into clinical utility in the near future.

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