Beyond the battlefield – New Frontiers in Cancer Research

Darwin College Sciences Group
Jennifer Harris, MRC Cancer Unit
The Richard King Room, Darwin College
Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 13:10 to 14:00

For decades, our approach to curing cancer has been to define the precise molecular changes undergone by tumour cells. With an applied understanding of environmental and genetic factors and the availability of high-throughput sequencing technology and well-designed animal models, our knowledge within the field of tumour biology has grown in leaps and bounds. Therapeutically, this has translated to the design of some successful novel agents that target the tumour cell at a molecular level. However for a large percentage of cancer patients, these therapies are inadequate. Research has hence more recently started exploring cancer beyond the conventional tumour cell focus, acknowledging the many other factors at play within the tumour microenvironment (TME). It is being increasingly recognised that these factors play a key role in immune editing, metastasis and drug resistance. The specific question my PhD asks, is how a subset of vasculature within the TME, plays an active role in tumour progression and the establishment of metastatic niches in distal sites.

Bio: I attended the University of Plymouth from 2009 where in studied BSc in Biomedical Sciences (Hons) with placement. During my 18 months away from studies, I worked at the University of Oxford and the Human Genetics Foundation in Turin, Italy and developed a research interest in immune modulation and the tumour microenvironment. Upon graduating in 2013, I moved to the University of Cambridge to start a research MPhil with Dr. Jacqui Shields at the MRC Cancer Unit, looking at the role of stroma in the modulating anti-tumour immunity. Thankfully I was able to continue in the lab, staying on for my PhD, for which I am now in my 3 rd year. In addition to pipetting frantically in the lab, I have founded the Addenbrooke’s Graduate Forum, which helps bring employers to the life sciences graduate community, and engage in a range of science policy and communication events. I also love running, hiking, music and was a member of Darwin’s DarBar committee for 3yrs.

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