Dr Simon Robinson
Anticancer drug discovery and development is being accelerated by the identification of cancer-causing genes and associated pathways. The use of functional imaging biomarkers is an essential component in both the identification of novel targets and evaluation of new therapeutics.
The research objectives of the Pre-clinical Imaging Team, part of the Cancer Research UK & Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Cancer Imaging Centre, are principally focussed on the further development and application of non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods to identify and evaluate imaging biomarkers of tumour pathophysiology and therapeutic response. Complementary imaging (e.g. ultrasound, micro-computed tomography[CT]), and histological techniques including fluorescence microscopy, are being used to validate, calibrate and characterise these biomarkers.
In addition to conventional anatomical MRI for monitoring tumour burden, established quantitative functional MRI biomarkers are being evaluated for the assessment of i) incipient tumour angiogenesis; ii) vascular targeting therapies; and iii) novel targeted agents whose mechanism of action is predicted to elicit anti-angiogenic activity. Imaging of tumour hypoxia, and associated features of the tumour microenvironment, is also a major focus of the research. Emerging MRI biomarkers to non-invasively interrogate viscoelastic properties of tumours and their invasive phenotype, and interstitial fluid pressure, are also being exploited.
Dr Simon Robinson graduated from City University, London, with a BSc (Hons) degree in Biological Chemistry. During his degree course, he spent an industrial placement year at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, and was introduced there to the biomedical applications of magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy. Subsequently, Dr Robinson successfully pursued a CRC/Zeneca CASE PhD studentship primarily based within the CRC Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Research Group at St George’s, University of London, under the direction of Professors John Griffiths and John Waterton, and secured his PhD in 1995. He continued his postdoctoral studies there, fully exploiting the application of Blood Oxygen Level Dependent (BOLD) MRI in oncology, and for which he gained international recognition.
In October 2001, Dr Robinson was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. In February 2006, he transferred his Fellowship to The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) to take up a Career Development Faculty post to lead a Pre-clinical Imaging Team within the Cancer Research UK Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research Section. This now forms part of the Cancer Research UK & EPSRC Cancer Imaging Centre awarded in 2008, of which Dr Robinson is a Co-Investigator.
Dr Robinson’s research is principally concerned with the application of non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy (MRI/S) techniques to assess tumours and their response to treatment. The ultimate aim is the identification and development of quantitative MRI/S measurements (biomarkers) of tumours and how they change in response to therapy to assist in the pre-clinical development of new cancer treatments.
Current projects and themes.