Chris Marshall studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University followed by a D.Phil. in cell biology at Oxford. His graduate studies were followed by post-doctoral work at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK) Lincoln’s Inn Fields laboratories in London and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
In 1980, he moved to The Institute of Cancer Research in London and began studies to identify human cancer genes. This work, in collaboration with his colleague Alan Hall, resulted in the identification of NRAS, a new human oncogene. Subsequent work from his laboratory showed that NRAS has important roles in leukaemia and others demonstrated the role of NRAS in melanoma.
Following the identification of NRAS, Chris has concentrated on studying how NRAS and the two other RAS genes,HRAS and KRAS, act in cancer. His work in the field of cell signalling showed how RAS proteins are involved in transmitting signals from the outside of the cell all the way to the cell nucleus. This work laid the foundation for studies that showed the importance of the BRAF cancer gene in melanoma.
His laboratory is now studying the cell signalling mechanisms that allow cancer cells to disseminate in the body. These studies are revealing how RHO family GTPase signalling pathways determine different ways for tumour cells to migrate during invasion.
Chris Marshall was the Head of the Division of Cancer Biology at the ICR, Professor of Cell Biology and held a Cancer Research UK Gibb Life Fellowship. His contributions to science have been recognised by election to the European Molecular Biology Organisation, the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences. He was awarded the Sterling Medal of the University of Pennsylvania (1997), the Novartis medal of the Biochemical Society (1999) and the Buchanan medal of the Royal Society (2008). In 2003, he gave the 12th Chao Hao Li Memorial Lecture in Biochemical Endocrinology at the University of California, Berkeley.
He received the 2011 Cancer Research UK Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research and the 2015 Biochemical Society Centenary Award.