Biography and research overview
Dr Jessica Boult is a postdoctoral training fellow who specialises in the preclinical imaging of brain tumours. She is funded under the Cancer Research UK Cancer Imaging Centre and was awarded a Dean’s Pathways to Independence Award in 2013. Dr Boult was instrumental in securing ICR funding for a PhD studentship due to start in October 2014, for which she will be an associate supervisor. She was also a named co-investigator on a project funded by Millennium Pharmaceuticals, conducted between 2008 and 2013.
Dr Boult’s research primarily focuses on the development and application of non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods for the assessment of orthotopic brain tumours. In patients, brain tumours grow in a partially infiltrative manner. Co-option of local blood vessels leaves regions of the tumours with an intact blood-brain barrier, precluding detection by conventional contrast-enhanced MRI, which relies on vessel leakage. She is working to implement alternative imaging biomarkers of tumour growth, including infiltrative invasion, functional vascular phenotypes and response to molecularly and vascular-targeted agents. She has also developed and applied appropriate cellular, immunohistochemical and molecular techniques to validate MRI data, and is keen to use complementary imaging techniques, such as positron emission tomography (PET), to further assess tumour phenotype.
Dr Boult works in the Preclinical Imaging Team and in close collaboration with teams led by Dr Chris Jones and Professor Sue Eccles. She is aiming to establish and characterise clinically representative novel models of paediatric glioblastoma and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma in vivo (including patient-derived xenografts) for the assessment of novel molecularly targeted agents directed against the specific alterations found in paediatric disease. She also works with fellow researchers within the Division of Radiotherapy and Imaging to propagate other orthotopic and metastatic tumour models (of prostate and breast cancer), and to evaluate innovative imaging techniques for the assessment of cancer biology and treatment response.