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Division of Molecular Pathology

The Division of Molecular Pathology is focused on understanding the molecular alterations important in the development and progression of cancer, and in determining how the disease responds to treatment. The goal is to translate advances in the molecular characterisation of tumours into approaches to successfully implement personalised cancer treatment.

See Head of Division and Teams

Cells on glass slides

The division consists of teams investigating a number of tumour types, including breast prostate, paediatric, skin and blood cancers. Researchers are comprehensively characterising the molecular features of cancer, and through strong links with other colleagues elsewhere in The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, aim to establish new molecular diagnostics and novel molecular therapeutic targets in cancer.

Researchers in the division have successfully developed personalised medicine strategies for blood cancers – myeloma, leukaemia and lymphomas. They are now looking to do the same for breast and paediatric cancers, along with rarer cancers, such as soft-tissue sarcomas for which few treatments are available.

Researchers are also examining changes in the cancer epigenome to provide understanding of tumour development and response to treatment; and using deep sequencing technologies to identify specific molecular alterations that lead to drug resistance not only in individual tumours, but in specific metastatic sites.

The division houses the ICR’s new Tumour Profiling Unit, which is designed to accelerate moves towards individualised cancer treatment, by analysing tumours with the latest sequencing technologies and modelling their behaviour using mouse xenografts. The TPU houses state-of-the-art technology for genomic, proteomic and epigenetic analysis of tumours, allowing patient biopsies to be analysed at diagnosis and throughout treatment.

Head of Division

Professor Janet Shipley

Professor Janet Shipley

Head of Division

Professor Janet Shipley is investigating ways to improve the treatment of patients with sarcomas that have a poor outcome. She is the Head of the Division of Molecular Pathology.

ORCID 0000-0001-6748-8678

Deputy Head of Division

Professor Trevor Graham

Professor Trevor Graham

Director of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer

Trevor Graham is Professor of Genomics and Evolution and the incoming Director of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer. Trevor’s interdisciplinary expertise is at the intersection between evolutionary theory, mathematical modelling, genomics and molecular pathology.

+44 20 3437 6849

Research teams

Acute Leukaemia

Team leader: Dr David Taussig

The Acute Leukaemia Team aims to develop new therapeutic strategies for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a disease with a poor outcome for many patients. The team focuses on improving understanding of the disease through studies on leukaemia stem cells and their interactions with normal haematopoietic stem cells.

Biology of Childhood Leukaemia

Team leader: Sir Mel Greaves

Professor Mel Greaves’ Biology of Childhood Leukaemia Team is funded by The Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and seeks to uncover the causes of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

Cancer Genomics

Team leader: Professor Richard Houlston

Professor Richard Houlston’s Cancer Genomics Team works to identify cancer susceptibility genes and understand how these can cause cancer.

Chronic Lymphoid Malignancies: Clinical Trials and Translational Research (El-Sharkawi)

Team leader: Dr Dima El-Sharkawi

Dr El-Sharkawi's team researches chronic lymphocytic leukemia, rare leukaemias and lymphomas as well as early phase trials and drug development.

Computational Pathology and Integrative Genomics

Team leader: Professor Janet Shipley

The Computational Pathology and Integrative Genomics Team works to reconstruct two-dimensional or three-dimensional tumour models from images of tumour sections. Previously led by Professor Yinyin Yuan, it is now led Professor Janet Shipley as interim.

Development and Cancer

Team leader: Dr Amanda Swain

Dr Amanda Swain’s Development and Cancer Team is investigating how the molecular processes that form the prostate, gonad and adrenal glands can contribute to tumour formation and progression.

Evolutionary Genomics and Modelling

Team leader: Professor Andrea Sottoriva

Professor Andrea Sottoriva’s Evolutionary Genomics and Modelling Team uses biological, clinical and mathematical expertise, in order to decipher how cancer progresses, metastasises and develops treatment resistance.

Gastrointestinal Cancer Biology and Genomics

Team leader: Professor Nicola Valeri

Professor Nicola Valeri’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Biology and Genomics Team aims to discover new biomarkers and therapeutic targets in gastrointestinal cancers, particularly colorectal and gastro-oesophageal cancers.

Genomics and Evolutionary Dynamics

Team leader: Professor Trevor Graham

Professor Trevor Graham's team harnesses artificial intelligence and the principles of evolution with the aim of improving cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.


Team leader: Professor Chris Jones

Dr Chris Jones’ Glioma Team investigates ways to translate basic molecular pathology findings into improved clinical outcomes for children with cancer.

Integrated Pathology

Team leader: Professor Manuel Salto-Tellez

Professor Manuel Salto-Tellez' team aims to create new clinical research and diagnostic paradigms for morpho-molecular integration.

Molecular and Systems Oncology

Team leader: Dr Paul Huang

The Molecular and Systems Oncology uses systems biology approaches, in particular mass spectrometry-based proteomics, to characterise cancer signalling networks for biomarker and target identification. Their research focuses on investigating cancer drug resistance, the functional assessment of driver mutations in cancer genes and developing tools for the proteomic profiling of tumour specimens.

Paediatric Solid Tumour Biology and Therapeutics

Team leader: Professor Louis Chesler

Dr Louis Chesler’s Paediatric Tumour Biology Team is investigating the genetic causes for the childhood cancers, neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma.

Preclinical Modelling of Paediatric Cancer Evolution

Team leader: Dr Alejandra Bruna

The team is studying the phenotypic changes occurring through treatment to explore modulation of transcription dynamics as a therapeutic strategy in aggressive solid paediatric cancers.

Sarcoma Clinical Trials in Children and Young People

Team leader: Dr Julia Chisholm

Sarcoma Clinical Trials in Children and Young People is a clinically orientated team that delivers clinical trials in soft tissue sarcoma in collaboration with the Sarcoma Molecular Pathology Team and the Sarcoma Clinical Trials Team.

Sarcoma Molecular Pathology

Team leader: Professor Janet Shipley

Professor Janet Shipley’s Sarcoma Molecular Biology Team is investigating ways to improve the treatment of patients with soft tissue sarcomas associated with poor clinical outcome.

Systems and Precision Cancer Medicine

Team leader: Dr Anguraj Sadanandam

Dr Anguraj Sadanandam’s Systems and Precision Cancer Medicine Team is investigating methods to classify pancreatic-, colorectal-, breast- and multiple other cancer patients into clinically relevant subgroups.

Translational Oncogenomics

Team leader: Professor Janet Shipley

The Translational Oncogenomics team uses the latest genomic sequencing technologies to track the evolution of cancers in tumour and blood samples from clinical trials. By unravelling the exact mechanisms that allow tumours to evolve when they spread to other organs in the body or develop drug resistance, his team identifies the next generation of smarter and more effective cancer therapies.

Tumour Functional Heterogeneity

Team leader: Dr Marco Bezzi

Dr Marco Bezzi's team uses genome editing technologies, mouse models, organoid cultures and mass cytometry-based single cell approaches to experimentally model the cancer ecosystem and to investigate how tumour heterogeneity can be controlled and exploited in light of evolution.