Queen Mary University of London: Queen Mary researchers receive prestigious MRC grant for collaborative research project to better understand human disease

This funding is a result of MRC’s competitive multimodal research funding call, which awards £7 million over three years to seven new collaborative research projects that aim to gain a greater understanding of human disease. These research projects will use a collaborative approach which combines innovative techniques and technologies to look at human disease across different scales (from molecules and cells, through to tissues, organisms, and the environment).

The project will bring together researchers from Queen Mary University of London, the University of Birmingham, and the University of Cambridge who will investigate what happens at the cellular and genetic levels in the very earliest stages of HPV infection through to the cancerous transformation of the cell. Such insights would be a vital step forward in understanding what causes cells to become cancerous, and would help find ways to improve early detection and treatment of cancer.

The collaborating teams are led by Dr Sarah McClelland at Queen Mary’s Barts Cancer Institute, Professor Joanna Parish and Dr Eva Petermann at the University of Birmingham, and Dr Michael Boemo at the University of Cambridge.

Dr McClelland, Reader in Cancer Cell Biology at Queen Mary, said: “Model systems to study replication stress and genomic instability are limited. In this project, we will develop a biologically relevant 3D model that will allow us to not only define the specific genetic changes that occur during HPV infection, but that will also enable us to see the interplay between the different mechanisms that contribute to cancer development.

“The strength of this project is that it has brought together multiple teams with different expertise, who can use this model system to ask and investigate a variety of important questions relating to genomic instability in cancer.”