September saw the appointment of two new Research Fellowships at Oriel College. The Against Breast Cancer Fellowships provide research support for some of the country’s leading scientists and clinicians performing breast cancer research at the University of Oxford.
The announcement was made by the Provost of Oriel, Neil Mendoza at a special event held at the college which marked the end of a highly competitive selection process. The evening was attended by supporters of the charity, scientists from both Oxford and Southampton universities, alumni of the college and local dignitaries who were all there to offer their congratulations to Dr Andrew Blackford and Dr Simon Lord.
Oriel College aims to be at the forefront of medical research and we are delighted to welcome the new Against Breast Cancer Research Fellows into our academic community
Neil Mendoza, The Provost of Oriel College
Dr Andrew Blackford is a molecular biologist who started his laboratory at the University of Oxford’s Department of Oncology in the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine two years ago, with funding from Cancer Research UK. He moved to Oxford after completing a successful postdoctoral career working for Professor Steve Jackson at the University of Cambridge’s Gurdon Institute, where one of the most exciting new anti-breast cancer drugs, Olaparib, was first developed.
It was there that Andrew became interested in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, because women who inherit a faulty copy of either gene are very heavily predisposed to breast cancer. The project Against Breast Cancer is supporting in his lab aims to shed light on why this is, in order to develop new anti-breast cancer therapies and to find ways of targeting cancers that have become resistant to treatment with some existing drugs.
Dr Simon Lord is a Senior Clinical Researcher in Experimental Cancer Therapeutics based in the Early Phase Cancer Trials Unit and consultant in medical oncology at the Oxford Cancer Centre. He undertook 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, subsequently earning a DPhil for his work investigating therapeutic approaches to target mitochondria in breast cancer.
His clinical interests focus on development of new drugs to treat breast cancer and he is principal and chief investigator on a number of clinical trials of novel therapies. He has an active ‘laboratory to clinic’ research programme which uses genetic and metabolic approaches using tumour cells grown directly from patient samples to characterise the behaviour of breast cancers that arise in patients with obesity and diabetes. The Against Breast Cancer Research Fellowship will be instrumental in supporting this work with a view to identifying promising drug targets to assess in future clinical trials.
The Fellowships are each awarded on a 3-year basis and are planned to continue until 2027. This commitment recognises that major research advances require long term vision, a tradition that Against Breast Cancer are proud to continue and we look forward to sharing news of their work in the near future.