Professor Richard Houlston
Academic Title: Professor of Molecular and Population Genetics
Tel: 020 8722 4175
Location: Brookes Lawley Building, Sutton
The Molecular and Population Genetics Team works to understand how cancer develops by identifying cancer susceptibility genes.
Genetic factors that increase the risk of an individual developing cancer are relevant to most types of cancer. Some of these susceptibility genes confer a high-risk of cancer and can lead to familial clustering. However, these are rare in the population and make a small contribution to the overall incidence of cancer.
More recently, genetic factors that are associated with modest increases in the risk of an individual developing cancer have been discovered. Although the individual effect of these variants is small, they are often common in the population and hence can contribute significantly to the overall cancer burden.
Our research is directed at identifying both these types of cancer susceptibility gene. Using complementary analytical methods, we have identified cancer genes for colorectal, kidney, and lung cancers, brain tumours and leukaemia. This research has led to fresh insights into the biological basis of tumour development.
Professor Richard Houlston’s research is focussed on identifying and characterising susceptibility genes for cancer in order to understand the causes of tumour development. Furthermore, the ability to identify those at increased risk of developing cancer has direct clinical relevance, as it may assist preventative efforts as well as diagnosing and treating the disease in its early stage.
Richard Houlston graduated with distinction in Medicine from Imperial College, gaining MD and PhD degrees from the University of London. Following various medical internships and Fellowships he joined the ICR in 1994. Professor Houlston has been elected Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Pathologists, the Institute of Biology and the Academy of Medical Sciences. He is currently co-editor of the British Journal of Cancer.
“I hope to continue to contribute to our understanding of why cancer develops,” Professor Houlston says. “In particular, I want to keep investigating the genetics of cancer and use this knowledge to contribute to improving patient care.”
First Risk Genes Found for Bone Marrow Cancer
A team of scientists led by the ICR has shown for the first time that a person’s genes influences their risk of developing multiple myeloma.
Familial Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia Study
The aims of the study are to ascertain families with multiple cases of CLL in order to map and identify genes predisposing to CLL so that we may be able to develop new treatments for these diseases and/or detect them at an early stage.