University of Southampton
Professor Max Crispin
Professor of Glycobiology
Professor Max Crispin runs the Glycoprotein Therapeutics Laboratory at the University of Southampton. He read Biochemistry at the University of Oxford before completing a joint doctorate between the Oxford Glycobiology institute and The Scripps Research Institute in California, where he is now Professor Adjunct.
Before relocating to Southampton, he was the first Against Breast Cancer Fellow at Oriel College, Oxford and a Lecturer at the Oxford Glycobiology Institute. During that time, he initiated the research programme supported by Against Breast Cancer to develop improved antibody therapies against secondary breast cancer. Professor Crispin now runs this programme at the University of Southampton’s Centre for Biological Sciences and at the Centre for Cancer Immunology where he is an Associate Member.
Professor Stephen Beers
Professor of Immunology and Immunotherapy
Stephen Beers joined the University of Southampton, Faculty of Medicine in 2002. He leads a research group in the Centre for Cancer Immunology studying antibody immunotherapy drugs and their mechanisms of action. The Beers’ group focuses on understanding the role of host factors such as obesity, nutrition and the tumour microenvironment in helping cancers turn off the patients’ immune system so that the cancer can grow and avoid eradication with treatment. The group aims through uncovering host derived immune resistance mechanisms to improve existing immunotherapies and develop new strategies and drugs to enhance patient responses.
Professor Paul Skipp
Associate Professor in Proteomics
Professor Skipp is the Head of Proteomics at the Centre for Proteomic Research based at the University of Southampton. Paul leads the ABC Discover project. The research aims to use precision medicine technologies to generate molecular handprints of breast cancer to advance our understanding of metastatic breast cancer, its recurrence and the impact of diet and lifestyle on patient outcome. The research focuses on developing new biomarker tools to identify risk and provide early detection of Stage IV breast cancer.
Dr Charles Birts
Postdoctoral Researcher & Lecturer
Dr Charles Birts has been researching breast cancer biology for over 11 years. As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Southampton his research focused on the molecular mechanisms driving breast cancer. In 2014 he was awarded a Career Track Research Fellowship by the University allowing him to develop his own independent research in the area of cancer cell metabolism. This led to a European Society of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism fellowship investigating the effect of metabolic and immunologic targeting on breast cancer development. He is now an Against Breast Cancer funded lecturer at the University of Southampton. He aims to develop new antibody-based therapies and investigate the effect of diet and lifestyle on breast cancer development and therapy. Dr Birts started in August 2018.
Dr John Butler
Dr John Butler did his degree in Biochemistry followed by a PhD in Molecular Biology at Southampton University. This focussed mainly on cellular transport and targeting of membrane proteins. In 2018 he joined the Glycoprotein Therapeutics Laboratory at Southampton University under Professor Max Crispin’s guidance to aid in the production and engineering of glycoproteins such as antibodies. Dr Butler also provides day-to-day management of the laboratory.
ABC/Cisco Doctoral PhD student
Hannah studied Biomedical Science with Professional Placement at the University of Bath. She is studying for her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Max Crispin and Dr Steven Beers. Her project entails adapting the antibody effector function of therapeutic antibodies with the aim of improving therapy for the treatment of secondary breast cancer. Her post is funded by Against Breast Cancer following generous support from Cisco.
Anil completed his undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science followed by a Master’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of Manchester. He joined the University of Southampton as an Against Breast Cancer Research Technician in June 2019. He is working in the laboratories based within the Centre for Cancer immunology supporting several projects within the Against Breast Cancer programme including improving antibody effector function and the effect of diet and nutrition on immunotherapies targeting metastatic breast cancer.
University of Southampton PhD studentLydia is a final year PhD student at the University of Southampton, studying under the supervision of Dr Charlie Birts, Prof. Max Crispin, and Prof. Stephen Beers. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at Bournemouth University in 2019. Shortly after, she joined Prof. Max Crispin’s Lab as a Research Technician in glycoprotein therapeutics. Her PhD project aims to explore the role of glycosylation in breast cancer progression, and is fully funded by Against Breast Cancer.
University of Southampton PhD studentGrace completed her undergraduate Biochemistry degree and Master of Research degrees at the University of Southampton before working as a research technician with Professor Max Crispin. Grace started her PhD in 2022, under the supervision of Dr Charles Birts, Prof. Stephen Beers and Prof. Max Crispin. Her project is focused on studying metastasis in breast cancer and the effect of obesity on metastasis.
University of Southampton PhD student
Luis is studying for his PhD at the University of Southampton’s Centre for Proteomic Research under the supervision of Prof. Paul Skipp and Dr Andy Shapanis. He completed his undergraduate studies in Molecular Biology at the University of Sheffield with a master’s research project at Eli Lilly. Excited by the opportunity to tackle fundamental challenges in breast cancer therapeutic discovery, he joined Prof. Paul Skipp’s lab. Against Breast Cancer fully funds his research; investigating triple-negative breast cancer in ultra-low adherent culture using proteomic, transcriptomic and pharmacological assays to investigate the molecular phenotype of advanced cell culture systems.
University of Oxford
Dr Simon Lord
Senior Research Fellow
Dr Lord is a Senior Clinical Researcher in Experimental Cancer Therapeutics based in the Early Phase Cancer Trials Unit and also a consultant medical oncologist at the Oxford Cancer Centre. He undertook his clinical training in Southampton, Leeds and Oxford and in 2010 was awarded a CRUK Clinical Research Fellowship with Professor Adrian Harris at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford. He earned a DPhil for his work investigating therapeutic approaches to target mitochondria and defined two types of metabolic response to the diabetes drug, metformin, in breast cancer. The Against Breast Cancer Junior Research Fellowship will be instrumental in supporting this work with a view to identifying promising drug targets to assess in future clinical trials.
Junior Research Fellow
Lina is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Oncology, University of Oxford. She completed her PhD in Medical Sciences at the University of Cambridge, where she worked on the biological and technical validation of photoacoustic imaging biomarkers in breast cancer. She holds a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering (RWTH Aachen, Germany) and an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biomedicine (University of Bonn, Germany). The Against Breast Cancer Junior Research Fellowship supports her work on developing new imaging tools and strategies to detect and stratify hypoxia levels in breast cancer.
Dr Andrew Blackford
Junior Research Fellow
Dr Blackford’s research focuses on understanding how cells repair damaged DNA, because mutations caused by DNA damage enable a normal cell to become cancerous. Damage to our DNA happens all the time, but cells have repair mechanisms to fix this. One repair mechanism is called ‘DNA double-stranded break repair’. There are two proteins that play a critical role in this process, BRCA1 and BRCA2. Dr Blackford’s research Fellowship at Oriel College was awarded as the two major breast cancer susceptibility genes are BRCA1 and BRCA2.
University of Sheffield
Professor Ingunn Holen
Professor of Bone Oncology
Professor Ingunn Holen is Professor of Bone Oncology and team leader in the Department of Oncology and Metabolism, University of Sheffield, UK where she also is science lead of the Sheffield Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre. Prof Holen has more than 20 years experience in working in advanced breast cancer, in particular in the context of translational studies in metastatic bone disease. She has published 120+ scientific papers with more than 5,000 citations and is a frequently keynote speaker at international scientific conferences. Working in collaboration with colleagues across the world, her team has studied the effects of combining anti-cancer agents (targeting the tumour cells) with compounds that target the bone microenvironment. The Holen team has also established a range of complex model systems for studies of tumour growth in bone, including detection of single disseminated tumour cells in skeletal niches. Her Against Breast Cancer project is focussed on elucidating the biological mechanisms supporting tumour cell dormancy in bone, in order to identify novel therapeutic targets in metastatic breast cancer
Dr Lewis Quayle
Dr Quayle completed his B.Sc. in Biomedical Science with first class honours in 2013 for which he was awarded the IBMS President’s Prize and the Royal Society of Biology Award for academic excellence. Having completed his MRes in Medical and Biomedical Science the following year, he then went on to study for his Ph.D. in the Department of Oncology and Metabolism under the supervision of Professor Ingunn Holen and Dr Penelope Ottewell, which he was awarded in November 2017. Dr Quayle is undertaking an 8 month project studying dormant breast cancer cells using advanced genetic methods and identifying new strategies for their removal, thereby preventing breast cancer from returning.
Barts Cancer Institute, London
Dr Oliver Pearce
Dr Pearce has a multidisciplinary training in organic chemistry, immunology and cancer biology. After his degree he took a position with the pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD). Two years later he moved to Oxford University to pursue a PhD in organic chemistry where he specialized in carbohydrate chemistry with application to targeting viral gene vectors for cancer therapy. For his post-doctoral studies he moved to the University of California where he investigated the role of glycans in human immunity and in particular cancer immunity and ‘inflamm-aging’. After five years he returned to the UK for a second post-doc position at Barts Cancer Institute (BCI). In September 2017 he was promoted to lecturer at the BCI and started his own research program. The focus of his research is the tumour microenvironment (TME), including how it forms, supports tumour progression, and inhibits host immunity. He is particularly interested in understanding the composition and function of the tumour extracellular matrix in generating an immunosuppressed environment.
ABC/Barts Charity PhD student
Priyanka is completing her PhD at the Bart’s Cancer Institute, where she is studying the tumour microenvironment with the aim of understanding how to improve immunotherapy response for triple negative breast cancer patients. Her studies will be completed under the supervision of Dr Oliver Pearce. The project is in collaboration with Prof. Tom Wight and Dr Kim Alonge, who are based at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA. Priyanka has spent a few weeks during her PhD at Dr Kim Alonge’s lab to learn new analysis techniques for her project. Her project is part funded by Against Breast Cancer who are contributing towards the tuition fees, and by Bart’s Charity.
University of Oxford
Dr Weston Struwe
Dr Weston has worked in the Department of Chemistry in Oxford since 2012. His research exploits mass spectrometry, a technique capable of detailing the mass, size and shape of biomolecules, to understand the importance of protein glycosylation in human development, pathogenic diseases and in biotherapeutic drug design. Weston has published over 30 papers in the field of glycobiology and mass spectrometry and is a Research Scholar at University College, Oxford.
University of Westminster
Dr Miriam Dwek
Principal Investigator and Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry
Miriam is a cancer biologist and joined the University of Westminster in 2002, establishing the Cancer Glycobiology Laboratory. Prior to this Miriam read her PhD and undertook Post Doctoral Studies in the Medical School at UCL with the charity founder Dr Anthony Leathem. Miriam is responsible for bringing in and leading the Against Breast Cancer Unit.
Dr Claire Robertson
Senior Lecturer in Nutrition
Claire is a nutritionist and epidemiologist who has worked on the INTERMAP project – a worldwide study of heart disease and dietary intake. Claire offers support to the members of the Diet & Lifestyle team.
Dr Ruth Swann
Study Coordinator - Diet Group Leader
Ruth is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Diet & Lifestyle study, coordinating sample collection, sample movement, ensuring quality control assessment, integrity of data entry and outputs from the study.
Dr Babak Afrough
Babak is studying changes in the sugars attached to proteins (often found increased in cancer tissue samples) using naturally occurring carbohydrate binding proteins (lectins) and antibodies from cancer patients. The aim is to identify cancer proteins that might later be targeted in treatment strategies.
Simon’s work is focussed on human serum; this fraction of human blood contains thousands of different proteins. The aim of the work is to identify proteins in the serum which may serve as markers of the presence of breast cancer and may be useful for monitoring response to treatment.
Dr Hannah Lomax-Browne
Hannah’s work concentrates on immunoglobulin A and in particular on the sugars attached to this protein as this may serve as a marker for both breast cancer and breast cancer progression.
Clinical researcher and database programmer
Annie is involved with patient recruitment to the Diet & Lifestyle study and takes a lead in querying the databases for subsequent data analysis.
Dr Diluka Peiris
Diluka is studying proteins from breast cancer tissue samples of patients with secondary cancers in the axillary lymph nodes. The aim of the work is to identify proteins associated with the spread of cancer beyond the breast to secondary organs (metastasis).
Dr Anthony Leathem
Charity founder and principal adviser
Thirty years ago Anthony was a pathologist at Middlesex Hospital – later University College London (UCL). Disturbed by the number of post mortems he carried out on young women with breast cancer, he has since devoted his life to improving breast cancer survival. Anthony retired from his post as Head of the Breast Cancer Research Group at UCL in 2009 and currently holds an Honorary Senior Lecturership. He remains actively involved as an advisor to the group.