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Research overview

Professor Richard Houlston, Molecular and Population Genetics team

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.


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