Who Are We?
Nottingham Breast Cancer Research Centre brings together a multi-disciplinary team of breast cancer researchers and professionals.
Management Committee Members
Professor Cameron Alexander
Polymer synthesis, drug delivery, smart materials. School of Pharmacy.
Our work focuses on developing carriers for cancer drug molecules to increase their efficacy and reduce side effects. Many cancer drugs are not targeted to the correct cells and this can lead to dose-limiting toxicities and the build-up of resistance. We develop polymers with chemistries designed to deliver the appropriate drugs to the right cells, in the right dose and at the right time. Our research relies on teams of scientists working together – chemists, biologists, pharmacists and clinicians - and we believe that this approach is essential to develop better treatments for breast cancers.
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Dr Cinzia Allegrucci
Stopping the cells that initiate and fuel breast cancer
My research team focusses on discovering how stem cells in the breast tissue became cancerous. Normal stem cells have the unique properties of proliferation and regeneration within a tissue but these features become critical when dysregulated and stem cells transform into “cancer stem cells”. Cancer stem cells can proliferate indefinitely and are inherently resistant to standard cancer treatments, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy. So finding a way to target these cells will allow hitting cancer where most hurts. Our laboratory has discovered important genes that control cancer stem cell proliferation and we hope that our research will lead to new treatments that can specifically target these tumour-initiating cells. My hope is that our strategy will allow a more effective therapy for breast cancer treatment or at least one that can halt cancer progression so that cancer one day would be treated as a stable and manageable condition.
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Professor Kwok-Leung Cheung
I am a clinical academic working at the University of Nottingham. My job has two components: (i) clinical – I am a consultant breast surgeon, based at the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton, having previously worked in the same capacity at Nottingham University Hospitals since 2001; (ii) academic – I conduct research and have significant teaching leadership and management roles in the Medical School.
My research on breast cancer covers primary disease in older women, advanced disease and the use of anti-hormone treatment. I lead a programme on ‘primary breast cancer in older women’, which aims to develop optimal and personalised treatments. As part of a global mission to improve the care of older adults with cancer, I am heavily involved in the work of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology. I am also a member of the Executive Committee of the European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists (EUSOMA). Furthermore, I pioneered the Symposium on Primary Breast Cancer in Older Women, the only meeting of its kind in the UK.
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Dr Andrew Green (NBCRC Deputy Director)
The majority of patients (40-70%) have a type of breast cancer which responds well to treatment and patients have longer overall survival. However, within this group of patients, there are a small number (6-20%) who develop an aggressive form of the disease that doesn’t respond as well to current treatments and/or patients develop a resistance to these treatments, preventing them from working. Some of these cancers are heavily reliant on the nutrient glutamine and without it they are unable to grow as quickly. My current research is looking at the production of glutamine and its transport into cancer cells and how we can target these proteins to restrict the amount entering the cancer cell and hence prevent growth and survival of the tumour.
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Professor Stewart Martin (NBCRC Director)
Stop the spread
My team focusses on stopping breast cancer spreading around the body (a process called metastasis) and on improving treatments. By working with patient samples we discovered proteins (called calpains) that help breast cancer cells travel through lymphatic vessels, and are now working on ways to halt this process. We aim to inhibit the calpain proteins and see how this affects the cancer cells’ ability to migrate elsewhere. We’ve also found that calpains influence how breast cancer cells respond to conventional treatments, so by targeting them we can get a real ‘double whammy’ that has the potential to help thousands of women around the world.
We are also working with chemists and pharmacists, locally and from around the UK, who have developed new/novel drugs. We are testing these, growing breast cancer cells in the lab, in combination with radiotherapy to make the treatment more efficient whilst minimising any side-effects. Such drugs, and combinations, will offer hope to patients with cancers that are currently difficult to treat and that may be resistant to conventional therapies.
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Miss Georgette Oni
I am one of a handful of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons whose practice is largely devoted to breast surgical oncology. My focus is primarily on integrated patient care and the patient experience particularly in relation to partial and total breast reconstruction. Clinically translatable research is important in bridging basic science/laboratory based findings with tangible patient outcomes. The aim being to draw in patient populations that have traditionally not engaged or represented in research so that we start to have comprehensive answers to many of the outstanding questions around breast cancer management and disparity in outcomes. My research is clinically based and my passion is for that research to reflect the population that we serve, ultimately improving their experience during their cancer journey.
I am your point of contact for NBCRC enquiries and you can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am responsible for the NBCRC website, produce our regular newsletter, co-ordinate NBCRC events and activities and handle membership requests. I am a former breast cancer patient and currently combine this role with working as a professional artist.
Associate member representative (non-voting)
I am a PhD student working under the supervision of Dr Andrew Green. The aim of the research is to find the association between glutamine metabolism and DNA repair in breast cancer.
Dr Sarah Storr
My research focuses on what makes one breast tumour behave differently to another, trying to understand what makes some individuals have a worse prognosis than others, and in particular understand how some tumours are able to spread around the body.
I’m currently performing research to understand how a protein called DARPP-32 can affect patient survival which will hopefully allow new approaches to treatment of certain breast tumours.
Professor Steve Chan
I am the lead investigator for the majority of breast cancer clinical trials based at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. Over the last 20 years, I have been the local lead in trials for new drugs such as Herceptin and Taxane, among many others, which ultimately provided the evidence for their clinical benefit.
I also lead a research team whose goal is to produce an inexpensive clinical test to accurately predict how breast cancer patients will respond to the standard treatments. Response to treatment varies between patients. This test aims to identify the patients who would not respond and save them from the physical, emotional and financial side effects of an ineffective treatment.
Professor Ian Ellis
Breast tumour biomarkers; Nottingham Prognostic Index
Dr Somaia Elsheikh
Consultant Histopathologist, Department of Cellular Pathology, Nottingham University Hospital and Honorary Assistant Professor, University of Nottingham.
Professor Anna Grabowska
Anna Grabowska leads a group which aims to develop better models of cancer that incorporate important aspects of the tumour microenvironment. Whilst most cells used in cancer research have been grown on plastic for many years, she has established close-to-patient cancer cells and grows them in 3D, which is more reflective of real patient tumours. In addition, the models used in her group incorporate a variety of supporting cells and molecules, frequently found in patient tumours, that are known to influence the way that the cancer cells behave. They can make the cancer cells grow faster, become more invasive and able travel to other sites in the body, or affect how cancer cells respond to drugs. The more patient-relevant models her group has developed are being used to understand the factors that influence cancer development and progression, and find ways to overcome this, hopefully leading to more effective drugs to treat cancer.
Professor S. Madhusudan
Tackling triple negative breast cancer
My research is about finding a treatment for all those with Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC), the only type of the disease which currently has no targeted treatment available. If chemotherapy doesn’t work for a patient, their treatment options are very limited. Even if it does work, the side-effects can be distressing.
We've discovered that breast cancer cells are ineffective at repairing themselves when damaged, and are developing new drugs which will disable their single-strand DNA repair mechanisms. My hope is that we'll prove that this treatment approach can work – giving women who currently have few options a life-saving new treatment with minimal toxic side effects.
Dr Alan McIntyre
Assistant Professor and Hypoxia and Tumour Microenvironment group leader
As tumours grow they need blood vessels to transport oxygen and nutrients into the tumour. However tumours often outgrow their blood supply and contain regions that do not have enough oxygen or nutrients. These regions are frequently found in aggressive forms of breast cancer including HER2+ and triple negative breast cancer. The breast tumour cells in these areas change at a molecular level so that they can survive in these “starving” conditions. The changes that occur make the cells resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy and make it more likely the tumour will spread. It is therefore important to find new alternative ways of killing cells in these regions with not enough oxygen that can be used in combination with current approaches that are effective at killing the other regions. We are investigating the changes that occur in tumour cells in regions of low oxygen to understand these tumours better and to identify new ways of killing these tumour cells and of stopping them from spreading.
Dr Ola Negm
My current research interests focuses mainly on developing a blood test for early detection of Breast Cancer. The research relies on detection of in vivo generated human auto immune responses to cancer tumour associated antigens (TAA's). In this work, I am employing high throughput microarray technologies, which we have already developed, to screen large number of TAA’s and select the core panel of antigens which enables cancer/control discrimination.
This blood test will allow individuals at increased risk of breast cancer (BC) to be effectively screened in order to detect this disease at an earlier stage.
Miss Susanna Polotto
Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon at Nottingham Breast Institute
I have a very pragmatic approach in my research, aiming to offer our breast cancer patients a full range of up-to-date treatments. Moreover, Oncoplastic breast surgery is one of the most evolving fields in medicine and I feel that our duty as clinicians and researchers is to stay connected throughout the countries and the specialties. By exchanging our experiences and collaborating strictly together we will be able to offer the best quality of care to our patients.
Throughout the years, my research has analysed patient reported outcomes (PROMs) in breast surgery, pre-pectoral breast reconstruction, early and late radiotherapy effects in implant-based reconstruction, medical devices applied to oncoplastic breast surgery, stem cells and fat grafting.
Professor Emad Rakha
My research focusses on improving the outcome of breast cancer patients by personalising treatment. We try to achieve this by stopping the spread of breast cancer cells into the body by targeting a process called lymphovascular invasion; the earliest stage of metastasis. We received money from the Life Cycle 6 fund that allowed us to set up a breast cancer lymphovascular invasion group comprising a technician, post-doctoral researcher and a PhD student and to start collaboration with prestigious groups from UK and Europe with similar interests. The aim of this collaborative high profile group is to decipher the complex mechanisms underlying lymphovascular invasion in breast cancer and identify novel therapeutic targets to prevent spreading of the early-stage screen-detected cancers with the final aim of preventing breast cancer mortality.
Dr Judith Ramage
Associate Professor Cancer Immunology
Professor John Robertson
Detecting it early
I was part of the Nottingham Life Cycle 6 team who cycled 1,400 miles. My 22-year-old daughter gave me 15 cards to open along the way, one of which said: “You can help yourself today by thinking about the people who will benefit from the money raised” – and that’s what kept me going.
I'm working on developing the world’s first blood test to detect breast cancer – picking up signs of the disease three or four years before patients present with symptoms. I know it is possible – we have already developed a test to detect early lung cancer which is undergoing a clinical trial in Scotland. This research could dramatically change how we treat women with breast cancer, potentially helping prevent the disease from developing in the future.
Dr Emma Wilson
Associate Professor in Public Health at the University of Nottingham.
My research work is focussed on reducing health inequalities in breast cancer, particularly around barriers to screening, health promotion and self-examination.
I work in close collaboration with the Nottingham Breast Institute delivering patient-centred research. Current projects include BAME inequalities in breast cancer and genetic risk-reduction.
- Mohammed Aleskandarany. Research Fellow
- Daniel Booth. Nottingham Research Fellow
- Dr Tracey Bradshaw. Assistant Professor, School of Pharmacy - New therapies and breast cancer pharmacology
- Dr Lodewijk Dekker. School of Pharmacy
- Dr James Dixon. School of Pharmacy, Stem Cell & Gene Therapy Technologies
- Professor Kevin Gaston. Professor of Cancer Sciences - How cancer spreads
- Dr Victoria James. Assistant Professor in Cancer Biology and Gene Expression
- Dr Ketan Jethwa. Breast Cancer Imaging
- Kirstie Johnson. Clinical Oncologist - biomarkers for response to radiotherapy /predictors of radiotherapy toxicity
- Professor Denise Kendrick. Professor of Primary Care Research
- Hazem Khout. Consultant Breast Oncoplastic surgeon
- Amanda Koh. Clinical Teaching Fellow in Surgery, NUH
- Pat Lawton. Consultant Clinical Oncologist, NUH
- Andrew Lee. Histopathology
- Dr Nigel Mongan. Associate Professor of Cancer Biology & Translational Research
- Professor Ioan Notingher. Professor of Physics
- Paloma Ordonez Moran. Assistant Professor, UoN
- Alison Ritchie. Senior Research Manager
- Lisa Sawers. Breast Nurse Practitioner, Nottingham Breast Institute
- Dr Graham Sheridan. Assistant professor of Neuroscience; Cancer-related cognitive impairment
- Sarah L Tennant. Consultant Radiologist, NUH
- Professor Neil Thomas. Protein-based therapeutics, imaging and drug delivery agents; anti-cancer agents from traditional Chinese medicines
- Mireille Vankemmelbeke. Breast cancer immunotherapy antibodies/vaccines
- Lisa Whisker. Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon
- Sebastiaan Winkler. Associate Professor in Gene Regulation. Course Director MSci Pharmaceutical Sciences