Briefly, tell me about your background and career up to this point
I conducted my DPhil at the University of Oxford, studying the glycosylation of immunoglobulins and their interaction with innate serum lectins. After a short one year Post Doc at Imperial College London, I went onto the University of Cambridge where I spent the next five years developing my understanding of tumour immunology and in vivo models of cancer with Professor Douglas Fearon.
I joined King’s in 2012 to establish my independent laboratory focusing on the tumour stroma as a therapeutic target in cancer.
What research are you currently working on?
My lab has dedicated a lot of time to studying the enzyme heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) as an immunotherapeutic target in cancer. A focus which is still ongoing. Myself and Professor James Spicer have been working towards translating the preclinical data into a first-in-human Phase I trial. My lab also has a broad interest in tumour associated macrophages, CAR T-cells and the immune-stimulating capabilities of chemotherapy, which from part of our ongoing investigations.
What is a typical day like for you?
My position at King’s is a balance between teaching and research. I run the MRes in Translational Cancer Medicine. I unfortunately have little time to conduct experiments myself these days and spend most of my time writing manuscripts and preparing grant applications.
As I am in my office for most of the day, I probably drink more coffee than is healthy. The highlights in my day are certainly the opportunities to discuss data and the next lines of investigation with my team. I work with bright individuals, and I enjoy seeing their projects develop. Days are generally very busy and long, but I like the continuum of research, there is always something more to do when you complete a task. As we are working towards developing new treatments for cancer, it is easy to stay motivated.
Where is your research area heading in the next five years?
I hope that in five years we will be immune phenotyping biopsy samples from patients with cancer that are receiving our HO-1 inhibitor. It would be amazing stage to be at, and we hope that the trial will be a success.
What would you like members of our School to most know about you and your research area?
I have yet to give a presentation at King’s without mentioning HO-1 at some point.. I guess I would like others to know that we do work on other things as well... No really, honestly we do… I guess just to say, watch this space!
What do you enjoy most/like best about your current role?
I like the fact that you never know if the next piece of data which your lab generates could open up a new strategy for targeting cancer. Cancer is such a terrible disease and being in a position to improve the available treatments is really exciting.
What do you do with your time outside of academia?
I enjoy long distance running. However recently, I spend most of my spare time running after my two-year-old daughter.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
- At each stage of your career always plan ahead
- Learn to multitask as early as possible
- Never ignore gut feelings when making decisions
- Never procrastinate as time goes too quickly
- Enjoy having a full head of hair... it won’t last forever.
Who do you look up to (inside or outside of academia)?
My PhD supervisor Dr Bob Sim has been a fantastic academic mentor and was a continual source of support and advice throughout my Post Doc years. Outside academia, would be my mother whom dealt with my first 21 years of pre-career development and taught me, amongst other things, to pursue a career that I feel passionate about.
Any leaving remarks that you would like other members of our School to know about you?
My office door is always open for advice, a chat or a collaboration.
Favourite Movie: Robin Hood Prince of Thieves
Favourite Book: Jamie’s Ministry of Food
Favourite TV Show: Alan Partridge
Favourite Scientist: Unfortunately, too many individuals that I admire to select one