Professor Nandita deSouza
Academic Title: Professor of Translational Imaging
Tel: 0208 661 3289/3119
Location: The Royal Marsden, Sutton
My research aims are to characterise functional imaging features and heterogeneity within primary and metastatic lesions and link them to histological, genomic and proteomic features and clinical outcomes. The potential of functional imaging biomarkers derived from multimodality imaging techniques are explored not only for response assessment but also as surrogate prognostic markers and for optimising treatment delivery.
Close collaboration between the CR-UK/EPSRC Imaging Centre and the Drug Development Unit on-site enables investigation of biomarkers of therapeutic action for novel agents in cell systems and appropriate models prior to clinical trials in adults and children. Integration of diagnostic techniques with minimally invasive treatments for cancer is a long-term goal.
I have a particular interest in gynaecological, prostate and breast cancers, and the novel imaging methods we develop are extended into wider multicentre trials through my active participation in the National Cancer Research Network (NCRN) and European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) networks.
Endovaginal magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of cervical cancer both at 1.5T and 3.0T produces very high spatial resolution images; the markedly improved signal to noise ratio also allows data acquisition from MR sequences otherwise limited by low signal return such as diffusion-weighted imaging and spectroscopy. Implementation of similar techniques for prostate imaging identifies high-risk cancers and predicts histological progression in patients managed by active surveillance. In ovarian cancer, diffusion-weighted methodologies have been exploited for visualizing the whole peritoneum and quantifying disease burden.
Imaging apoptosis forms a large part of my pre-clinical interest and includes characterisation of changes in lipid profiles in cell and tissue systems as well as exploring multimodality targeted agents that have future clinical potential.
Professor Nandita deSouza is the lead academic radiologist at The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.
She is a Professor in Translational Imaging, co-director of the Cancer Research UK Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research Group at the ICR. In this role Professor deSouza co-ordinates multi-disciplinary research projects involving clinical medicine, physics, biochemistry and engineering that are aimed at improving patient care.
Her research has primarily focused on using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify biological indicators of a patient’s prognosis and likely response to treatment and to improve techniques for diagnosing cancer, including using robotic devices to better target biopsies.
Professor deSouza has pioneered the use of endocavitary probes in MRI. These imaging devices can be inserted into the body to provide high-quality pictures of cancer tissue and track chemical changes within tumours. This not only provides a more accurate picture of the tumour – to help, for example, in planning surgery for cervical cancer that preserves fertility – but also gives clues on how the tumour will behave. This can be used to assess, for example, whether early-stage prostate cancer will progress and cause symptoms.
“The diagnostic information obtained with these techniques is unrivalled by other imaging methods,” she says.
Professor deSouza’s impressive results to date have been instrumental in securing current grants of more than £13 million, which are being used to establish an imaging research centre with state-of-the-art imaging equipment. The C R-UK/EPSRC Cancer Imaging Centre at the ICR was officially opened in July 2009 and will ensure the organisation stays at the forefront of such research.
Professor deSouza completed her medical training in 1983 at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and a Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists. She cemented her interest in research through a Doctor of Medicine, which she completed in 1996 while a Senior Research Fellow at Hammersmith Hospital’s Robert Steiner Magnetic Resonance Unit. In 1995, Professor deSouza took up the post of Senior Lecturer at the Imperial College School of Medicine and Royal Postgraduate Medical School, while continuing her work at the hospital. In 2000 she was appointed a Reader in Imaging at Imperial College, and moved to the ICR in this position in 2004.
Professor deSouza has a major interest in mentorship for women in academic medicine and has worked through the Women in Academic Medicine Committee to develop a code for part-time and flexible training for academics. In addition, she supervises a number of PhD and MD students. She also lectures widely to national and international audiences and is involved in developing guidelines for gynaecological cancer care.
Professor deSouza is married with one daughter. She lists her hobbies as walking and enjoying her daughter’s performances in classical music.
Scan predicts chemotherapy benefit after just one cycle