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Alex Thompson

Associate Professor Translational Stem Cell Technology, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences

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Biography

Present position: Associate Professor in Translational Stem Cell Technology (01-08-2016-present)

University of Nottingham, School of Medicine, Division of Cancer and Stem Cells, Wolfson Centre for Stem Cells, Tissue Engineering & Modelling (STEM). Room A59, Centre for Biomolecular Sciences, University Park, NG7 2RD, United Kingdom

T: +44 (0) 11582 31234 E: Alex.Thompson@nottingham.ac.uk

Previous employment:

1989-1990 Research Technician, Processing and Biochemistry Division, Naval Blood Research Laboratory, Boston University Medical Centre, Boston, MA

1991-1994 Research Assistant, Nephrology Department, Evans Memorial Medical Centre, Boston University Medical Center University Hospital, Boston, MA

1999-2004 Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Haematology, Laboratory of Professor Terry Lappin, Queen's University Belfast

2003-2004 Visiting Research Fellow in Haematopoietic Stem Cell Research, Laboratory of Dr Guy Sauvageau, Clinical Institute of Montréal (IRCM), Université de Montréal, QC, Canada

2004-2005 American Cancer Society Beginning Investigator, Stem Cell Biology Laboratory, Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), Université de Montréal, QC, Canada

2004-2016 Lecturer in Molecular Haematology, Principal Investigator, Blood Cancer Focus Group, CCRCB, Queen's University Belfast

Expertise Summary

Utilizing biochemical, molecular and cellular approaches to study normal and malignant haematopoiesis. Combining gene signatures with bioinformatics databases (connectivity mapping) and drug repurposing to target leukaemic whilst sparing normal blood stem cells. Interested in developing pre-clinical models of normal and leukaemic niches for complimentary studies.

Teaching Summary

Teaching experience of both large (250+) and small (<30) groups. Successfully completed a PGCHET qualification. Areas of previous teaching and undergraduate level were: Introductory Skills for… read more

Research Summary

The group are currently focused on the pivotal role that HOXA cluster genes play in the demarcation and possible emergence of haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and their role in cancer. Solid as well… read more

Recent Publications

Teaching experience of both large (250+) and small (<30) groups. Successfully completed a PGCHET qualification. Areas of previous teaching and undergraduate level were: Introductory Skills for Biosciences;Introduction to Genes, Mutation and Function;Genes, Molecules and Processes; Pathobiology: Cells and Genes;Cellular and Molecular Haematology. Postgraduate teaching included: Masters of Research in Translational Medicine; Masters of Research in Translational Cancer Medicine; Masters of Science in Computational and Statistical Biology; Masters of Science in Translational Bioinformatics. Portfolio Tutor and supervisor of over 30 projects including Honour's, Masters and Doctorates.

Current Research

The group are currently focused on the pivotal role that HOXA cluster genes play in the demarcation and possible emergence of haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and their role in cancer. Solid as well as blood cancers are associated with overexpression of HOX proteins in the nucleus, which is traditionally a difficult area of the cell to target with conventional drugs. Recently, using model-derived HOXA gene signatures and in collaboration with bioinformaticians, the group have used Connectivity Mapping to identify novel and repurposed drugs to treat leukaemia. Some drugs have shown efficacy as monotherapy in pre-clinical models whilst for others combination therapies are required. However, eradication of the leukaemia repopulating cell or stem cell whilst retaining normal HSCs remains a challenge with current experimental therapies.

Past Research

I became a Principal Investigator in 2004 directing research into the role of HOX in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). A major area was in the establishment of clinically and functionally relevant models of AML using overexpression of HOX. The model systems were developed in collaboration with Dr Guy Sauvageau (IRIC, Montreal) and funded in part by a Fellowship received from the American Cancer Society administered by the International Union Against Cancer (UICC). These models are now established in the UK. The HOX group are focused on exploiting these models for therapeutic benefit and maintain active collaborations with Montreal. In addition I was one of two UK representatives on the Management Committee within the European Co-operation in Science and Technology (COST) network. The Action (BM0805:HOX and TALE transcription factors in Development and Disease) has also been successful in attracting international leaders in the field into the network that is focused on the genetic regulation and function of HOX proteins. I have presented work at national and international conferences and recently had work accepted for presentation at the American Society for Hematology (2016). In addition the group has published research findings in high impact journals including Genes and Development, Blood and Nature Cell Biology.

Future Research

My future research will focus on developing advanced human or humanized models of haematopoiesis to track the role and function of HOXA genes in normal HSC development. In doing so, I believe that light will also be shone on the role of these master regulators in pathological conditions including cancers. Understanding the interplay between normal HSCs and LSCs in the context of their defined microenvironment (or 'Niche') will lead to the development of better targeted less toxic therapies for vulnerable patients. Currently HSC transplants are only a curative therapy for a subgroup of such patients due to a lack of optimal matched donor. The ability to engineer or generate HSCs from more immune naïve human induced pluripotent cells ( iPS) would provide a transplantation source to a wider group of patients whilst enabling many biomedical and medical applications potentially including unlimited blood supply.

School of Medicine

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Nottingham, NG7 2UH

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