Kerr-Cai Group – Tumour microenvironment and colorectal cancer development
Our group has conducted a series of international adjuvant trials of chemotherapy for colorectal cancer (Kerr RS. et al, (2016), Lancet Oncol, 17, 1543 – 1557). In parallel, we have established a biorepository of tissue and constitutional DNA (n=3500) which has allowed us to generate a number of cancer susceptibility SNPs and commercial partners to characterise a prognostic mRNA signature which assists in selection of patients for chemotherapy and evaluation of drug resistance (Orlando G. et al, (2016), Hum Mol Genet, 25, 2349 – 2359).
About the research
Co-option of stromal cells and the tumour greatly influences tumour initiation, metastasis and particularly drug resistance. They altered profiling of gene expression and tumour metabolism in response to inflammatory infiltration and that is partially involved in cytokine networks.
The identification of cytokine signalling for gene expression and metabolisms across stromal cells and tumour will help us to understand the mechanisms of the tumour growth and potentially offer opportunities for biomarker discovery and hence therapeutic targets.
The student will acquire expertise in a wide range of state-of-the-art molecular and cell biological techniques, and bioinformatics analysis; consequently providing an excellent foundation for a research career. Formalised training and assessment of each technique by our members of the laboratory as appropriate. Our laboratory has clearly defined protocols to support training in specific experimental techniques. Standard operating procedures are regularly updated to ensure that methods are optimal.
Students are encouraged to attend the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine DPhil Course, which takes place in the autumn of their first year. Running over several days, this course helps students to develop basic research and presentation skills, as well as introducing them to a wide-range of scientific techniques and principles, ensuring that students have the opportunity to build a broad-based understanding of differing research methodologies.
Generic skills training is offered through the Medical Sciences Division's Skills Training Programme. This programme offers a comprehensive range of courses covering many important areas of researcher development: knowledge and intellectual abilities, personal effectiveness, research governance and organisation, and engagement, influence and impact. Students are actively encouraged to take advantage of the training opportunities available to them.
As well as the specific training detailed above, students will have access to a wide-range of seminars and training opportunities through the many research institutes and centres based in Oxford.
The Department has a successful mentoring scheme, open to graduate students, which provides an additional possible channel for personal and professional development outside the regular supervisory framework. We hold an Athena SWAN Silver Award in recognition of our efforts to build a happy and rewarding environment where all staff and students are supported to achieve their full potential.