NIHR Research Professors - Round 7
Dr Udai Banerji - The Institute of Cancer Research
Understanding and overcoming resistance to targeted anticancer drugs
Targeted anticancer drugs act upon specific parts of cancer cells to stop the flow of information through signalling pathways within the cells. However, cancer cells often find alternative ways to transmit information, becoming resistant and continuing to grow. The purpose of this research is to study the re-wiring or re-routing of information within cancer cells that causes drug resistance. This critical information will allow researchers to predict mechanisms of resistance and overcome these by using rational combination therapies of existing and future targeted anticancer drugs.
Professor Diana Baralle - University of Southampton
Translational genomics - maximising potential for NHS patient care
Genomic sequencing technologies have the acknowledged potential to improve diagnostic accuracy, stratify disease and personalise treatment for immediate patient benefit. Before this can happen, physicians must assess the relevance of the sequence change to disease. Professor Baralle will develop pathways for the interpretation of genetic variation in human disease using RNA technologies, transforming clinical care.
Professor Sally Barrington - King's College London
Using PET Imaging to improve survival and reduce side-effects of treatment for patients with cancer
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is an imaging technique that shows metabolic changes in cancer at the molecular level and allows earlier and more accurate monitoring of treatment than CT and MRI scans. Professor Barrington's research will focus on the use of PET-guided therapy to improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment with fewer side-effects.
Clinical trials will test how chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be tailored, using PET to evaluate an individual patient's risk and response, in haematological and head and neck cancers. Ways to maximise the benefits of modern radiotherapy techniques, using advanced imaging, will be developed and translated. Methods to improve the reliability of PET reading and inform how PET can monitor new drugs that target the immune system will be assessed.
Dr Graham Cooke - Imperial College London
Accelerating the elimination of Hepatitis C in the UK
Viral hepatitis is a leading cause of death worldwide. New advances in hepatitis C treatment have the potential to cure all those infected. Once unrestricted access to new treatments can be achieved it will open up the possibility of elimination of hepatitis C in the UK and beyond.
Dr Cooke's programme will bring new methods of viral sequencing into the clinic and, by combining with detailed clinical study of recent infections, seek to improve our understanding of where transmission of hepatitis C is still happening. Such data will help inform policies for elimination of infection. Alongside this, he will continue to develop new diagnostics suitable for use outside of routine clinical settings to improve linkage to care for hard to reach populations.
Dr Manju Kurian - University College London
Understanding genetic causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is one of the commonest neurological disorders of childhood, associated with significant disability. It can cause problems with movement and co-ordination, as well as with learning and behaviour. Although traditionally associated with birth injury, it is increasingly recognised that a significant number of children labelled as "cerebral palsy" have an underlying faulty gene causing their problems. Over the course of this NIHR Professorship, I plan to identify these disease-causing genes and develop practical guidelines to aid patient diagnosis and management. Furthermore, I will generate stem cell laboratory models to better understand disease mechanisms and develop new therapies.