Biography and research overview
Dr Anna Wilkins completed both her undergraduate and postgraduate medical studies at the University of Cambridge in 2001, before travelling to Myanmar to work on a large scale HIV/AIDS project.
On her return to London in 2008, she underwent specialist clinical oncology training and in 2013 was awarded a prestigious Cancer Research UK Clinical Research Training Fellowship at the ICR. For this she divided her time between the Clinical Trials and Statistical Unit and the Division of Radiotherapy and Imaging. In 2019, Anna was awarded a Crick Postdoctoral Clinical Fellowship to pursue her research in Dr Erik Sahai’s laboratory, and she continues to study the impact of radiotherapy on different aspects of the tumour microenvironment.
Currently Anna is investigating how different features of the tumour microenvironment, including non-cancerous cells, might help prostate and bladder tumours survive after radiotherapy. Bladder and prostate cancers both show ‘stromogenic’, or fibrous changes, where tumours are enriched for specific non-cancerous cells that can drive aggressive tumour behaviour. Anna’s research, using both pre-clinical models and human translational science, is focused on how these stromogenic changes contribute to radio resistance.
While studying for her PhD at the ICR, Anna led a number of projects, based on the CHHiP trial in prostate cancer, to develop predictive models for the efficacy and toxicity of hypofractionated radiotherapy. For her PhD work she was jointly awarded the Chairman’s Prize, an ESTRO Poster Award and the Royal College of Radiologists’ Ross Award. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Francis Crick Institute, she continues to evaluate the tumour microenvironment in CHHiP samples.