Dr Vladimir Kirkin obtained his BSc in Biology from the State University of Moldova in 1996 and his MSc in Molecular Biology from the University of Warwick in 1997. He completed his PhD in Cancer Biology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Southern Germany in 2001. He pursued his research project at the Institute of Toxicology and Genetics (ITG) focusing on understanding the process underlying growth of new lymphatic vessels (lymphangiogenesis) and its role in tumour progression. In collaboration with KIT chemists, he discovered inhibitors of VEGFR-3 and studied their effect on endothelial and tumour cell biology.
Between 2001 and 2006, Dr Kirkin worked in The Institute for Tumor Biology and Experimental Therapy Georg Speyer Haus in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, where he investigated molecular properties of the prominent cell death factor Fas Ligand (FasL). Dr Kirkin moved to the Institute for Biochemistry II (IBCII) at the Goethe University Frankfurt in 2006 to work on ubiquitin signalling pathways. Together with Professors Ivan Dikic (IBCII) and Terje Johansen (University of Tromso), he pioneered the concept of selective autophagy by discovering factors that interact with the autophagic cargo and the components of the autophagic machinery. He continued his work on autophagy further on at Merck KGaA, which he joined in 2008 as a lab head in preclinical pharmacology.
Following a career in the pharmaceutical industry, during which he contributed to the discovery and early clinical development of several molecularly targeted anti-cancer agents, Dr Kirkin joined the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit (CRUK CTU) at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, in 2017 to continue his work on cancer pharmacology and stress response. The objectives of his team are to provide key pharmacological and translational data for novel anti-cancer drugs pursued at the CRUK CTU, as well as to improve understanding of cancer cell response to different forms of stress. His expertise in stress pathways, such as autophagy, is instrumental in guiding the design of anti-cancer drugs of the future.
In his spare time, Dr Vladimir Kirkin enjoys activities with his family. He composes music, produces songs and tries his hand at writing novels.
Dr Kirkin left the ICR in June 2020.