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Team leaders

The Centre for Evolution and Cancer brings together leading researchers to thwart the evolutionary resilience of cancer in order to reduce the burden of cancer on society.

Current researchers at the centre:


mel-greaves (square)

Professor Mel Greaves 

Founding Director

Professor Mel Greaves trained in evolutionary biology and zoology (BSc) and immunology (PhD) at University College London and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm before focusing his research on cancer and leukaemia in the mid-1970s at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London.

In 1984, he established the Centre for Cell and Molecular Biology of Leukaemia at The Institute of Cancer Research, London. In 2013, he founded the ICR's Centre for Evolution and Cancer. His laboratory has a longstanding interest in uncovering the natural history, evolutionary biology and causation of childhood leukaemia.

They have used twins with concordant leukaemia, archived neonatal blood spots and frozen cord blood to trace back the origins of leukaemia to its earliest stages and its initiating lesions. They also use single cell genetics and xeno-transplantation to determine clonal architecture, phylogeny and the genetic diversity of stem cells.

In collaboration with epidemiologists, they have pursued an evolutionary ‘mismatch’ hypothesis that explains the role of infections in triggering childhood leukaemia.

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Dr Andrea SottorivaProfessor Andrea Sottoriva 

Deputy Director and Faculty team leader

Professor Andrea Sottoriva has a BSc in computer science from the University of Bologna, Italy, and a MSc from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He trained in computational physics at the National Institute for Nuclear and High-Energy Physics (NIKHEF) in the Netherlands and at CERN in SwitzerlandDuring his masters, he became interested in computational and mathematical approaches to cancer and then completed his PhD in cancer genomics and modelling at the CR-UK Cancer Research Institute in Cambridge.

His team focuses on the integration of cancer genomic data with theoretical frameworks based on tumour evolution. We use a range of genomic techniques to generate patient-specific molecular profiles and use mathematical and computational models to perform measurements and quantitative predictions on human malignancies.

This rigorous characterisation of tumour evolutionary dynamics has the objective of understanding how tumours grow, disseminate and recur in a patient. We aim at using the dynamics we discover to make clinically relevant predictions that will aid the design of personalised treatments.

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Marco GerlingerDr Marco Gerlinger

Faculty team leader

Dr Marco Gerlinger trained in medicine and cancer biology in Munich, followed by clinical appointments in Zurich and London. He undertook postdoctoral training in cancer immunotherapy in Zurich and in biomarker and drug target discovery at the London Research Institute.

He leads Translational Oncogenomics Team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and is an honorary consultant in medical oncology at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, where he specialises in the treatment of urological and gastrointestinal cancers.

His research group investigates the relevance of genetic and non-genetic intratumour heterogeneity for cancer progression and the development of drug resistance. They interrogate cancer specimens with high-throughput genomic and functional assays to understand how therapy re-shapes cancer genomic landscapes and to understand the rules and molecular drivers of cancer evolution.

A further area of interest is the identification of therapeutic vulnerabilities of drug-resistant cancer clones through in vitro models. Their research should lead to novel genomic technologies to track cancer evolution minimally invasively and to therapeutic approaches to prevent the evolution of drug resistance. Integrating these therapeutic strategies with precision genomic tracking technologies should lead to the next generation of personalised cancer therapies and improve the outcomes of patients with metastatic cancers.

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Yinyin YuanDr Yinyin Yuan

Faculty team leader

Trained as a computer scientist, Dr Yinyin Yuan completed her BSc degree at the University of Science and Technology of China, before obtaining her MSc and PhD at the University of Warwick. At Warwick she became interested in studying genetic regulation in plant disease by adapting statistical analysis tools originally developed for other disciplines such as economics. Her postdoctoral research at the CRUK Cancer Institute in Cambridge involved characterisation of the molecular landscape of breast cancer.

She joined the The Institute of Cancer Research, London, in 2012 as the leader of the Computational Pathology and Integrative Genomics team. Her lab develops computational approaches to study the spatial variability of tumours and the synergistic interactions between cancer genetics and the tumour microenvironment.

Their approaches combine techniques from diverse disciplines including computer science image analysis, spatial statistics and molecular pathology. Their goals are to deliver scientific and clinical advances through integrative modelling of intra-tumour heterogeneity, to foster new developments of statistical applications in pathology, and to develop objective methodologies for directing cancer therapeutic strategies.

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Dr Stefano Lise

Bioinformatics Core Leader

Dr Stefano Lise trained in physics at the University of Padova (Italy) and obtained a PhD in condensed matter theory from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA/ISAS) in Trieste (Italy). After a first post-doc at Imperial College London, he moved into bioinformatics thanks to an MRC Special Training Fellowship.

He held the fellowship at University College London (UCL), working in protein and structural bioinformatics. He moved to the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG) in Oxford in 2010 where he developed expertise in human disease genomics and in the analysis of next generation sequencing data.

He joined the ICR in 2015 as Head Bioinformatician of the Centre for Evolution and CancerHis team works in collaboration with other research groups within the Centre and provide bioinformatics support to cancer research projects. Their expertise is in the analysis and interpretation of genomics data, in particular next-generation sequencing data (DNA-seq, RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, etc). They also conduct independent bioinformatics research, focused on the analysis of cancer evolution.

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