Biography and research overview
Dr Tony Ford is a senior staff scientist in the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at The Institute of Cancer Research, London. He specialises in the molecular biology of childhood leukaemia.
Originally from Plymouth, he obtained his PhD working on the ‘cell lineage-specific organisation and expression of the immunoglobulin genes’ at King’s College London. Supervised by Professor Hannah Gould, his work there helped establish a collaboration with Professor Mel Greaves to study the multi-step clonal evolution of leukaemia.
Dr Ford joined Professor Greaves’s team in 1984 to help set up the flagship Leukaemia Research Fund Centre for Cell and Molecular Biology at the ICR, where he was involved in seminal studies on identical twins that proved, for the first time, that the chromosomal fusions that initiate infant and childhood leukaemia occurred before birth. The retrospective detection of gene fusions in neonatal blood spots provided definitive evidence of an in utero origin of certain paediatric leukaemias.
Dr Ford is the module leader for the Paediatric and Adolescent Oncology module on the Cancer Therapeutics MSC course at the Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, and is also a reviewer for a number of international journals and grant funding bodies.
Dr Ford's current programme of research seeks to uncover the preclinical natural history, clonal evolution and aetiology of the major subtype of paediatric leukaemia: childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). It involves work on the t(12;21) translocation that creates the ETV6-RUNX1 fusion gene and his projects are designed to support developmental models for these leukaemias. They involve studies on prenatal initiation of leukaemia and defining a trigger for overt clinical disease by analysis of abnormal immune responses to infection. He uses a variety of techniques including single cell genetic profiling, quantitative PCR and lentiviral transduction of cord blood.