"Breaking Bad" my life in cancer genomics

IBCS seminar - Prof Chrissie Thirlwell

An Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science seminar
Date5 February 2020
Time15:00 to 16:30

"Breaking Bad" my life in cancer genomics - IBCS Seminar

Chrissie has worked in the field of cancer genomics for 15 years. Most recently her research group has focused on integrated genomic and circulating free DNA analysis in neuroendocrine (NET) and other solid tumours. NETs have a very low background mutation rate and commonly harbor mutations in epigenetic machinery, her group has therefore focused on epigenetic analyses integrated with sequencing and transcriptome data.  This work has led to a number of collaborations within the UK, the BROAD Institute and at Harvard, UCSF, Bern, Verona, Madrid and Uppsala Universities.

To date, her group has successfully identified molecularly distinct sub-groups of NETs which have poorer clinical outcome, enabling stratification and personalized treatment. Alongside this, her group has also successfully isolated and sequenced DNA from NET circulating tumour cells. Chrissie’s group has also collaboratively been developing a mouse model of pancreatic NETs through knocking out DAXX in pancreatic islets.
Through collaborative research bringing epigenetic expertise from her group to lung cancer research she has identified DNA methylation signatures associated with smoking in lung and buccal mucosa samples and also a discriminative signature which informs whether a pre-invasive lung lesion progresses to invasive cancer.

Chrissie’s move to Exeter has enabled the opportunity to bring together her experience of cancer genomics and epigenetics with the wealth of experience in diabetes research. It is known that there is an increased risk of developing certain cancers including bowel and uterine in individuals with type 2 diabetes and obesity. Through forming collaborations between type 2 diabetes, obesity and colorectal cancer researchers and utilizing existing data and new data created through the 100,000 genomes project she plans to investigate the biological processes linking these conditions, ultimately leading to cancer prevention, earlier diagnosis, novel treatment strategies and improved outcomes.

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