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Shazia Irshad

Senior Scientist and Supervisor

I completed my PhD in the molecular biology of cancer at the Institute of Child Health, UCL, studying the role of POU domain transcription factors in childhood cancers, during which I discovered that Brn-3b and its target, Cyclin D1, were involved in the progression of neuroblastomas. Following this, I undertook my first postdoctoral training at Imperial College London where I identified ORCTL3, an organic cation transporter, induced apoptosis specifically in tumour cells by an endoplasmic reticulum stress-mediated mechanism. To work on tumour mouse models, I moved to the Herbert Irving Cancer Centre, Columbia University, where I used cross-species analyses to identify three ageing-associated genes that stratified Gleason score 6 and 7 prostate cancer patients into high and low-risk groups. This work led to a patent for the development of a diagnostic kit. 

I returned to the UK to work at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human genetics, University of Oxford, exploring the role of perturbed BMP/Notch signalling in colorectal cancer subtypes using mouse and human model systems. Currently my lab at NDCLS is working on deciphering molecular mechanisms underlying stem cell ageing in the intestine and how these relate to tumorigenesis. We have an exciting new addition to our model systems, that of the longest-lived rodent, the naked mole-rat, that maintains optimal physiological functions for most of its life and does not exhibit an age-related increase in diseases such as cancers. Unravelling novel healthy ageing mechanisms in naked mole-rats has great potential to ameliorate age-related pathologies, including cancers, in humans.