Professor Tavassoli completed her DPhil in Molecular Biology in 1987 at the University of Sussex. Shortly after the completion of her PhD she obtained a fellowship from the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) to spend a short postdoctoral training fellowship in the laboratory of Prof Robert Eisenman at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, USA.
When Professor Tavassoli returned to the UK, she was offered a postdoctoral Fellowship to work in the Medical Research Centre at the University of Sussex to study the role of the EGFR receptor family tyrosine kinases in breast and ovarian cancer. In 1990 she was awarded a Research Fellowship by the Cancer Research CRUK to establish her own group to continue to study the mechanism of c-erbB2 signalling activation.In 1993 she was awarded an EMBO fellowship to work in the laboratory of Professor Axel Ullrich at the Max Planck institute in Munich.
In April 1995 Professor Tavassoli was appointed as a lecturer in the Department of Oral Medicine and Pathology at King’s College London where she has been working since. In Sept 2000 she was promoted to senior lecturer and in 2006 to Reader in Molecular Pathology. In September 2007 she was appointed Professor of Molecular Oncology where she is currently leading a research team, within the Centre for Host Microbiome Interactions, Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences.
The focus of her research is the study of cell cycle regulation and apoptosis machinery with the aim of developing molecular strategies to improve the detection and treatment of head and neck cancers. This work has resulted in some important breakthroughs in the understanding of the molecular pathways involved in the development, progression and treatment of head and neck cancers.
Recently her focus has shifted towards the clinical translational application of our fundamental research. Her lab is currently involved in several multicentre international collaborative studies aiming to develop molecular signatures which allow us to accurately detect tumour hypoxia and to predict patient response to radio- chemotherapy as well as targeted therapies. These studies have been supported by grants from peer reviewed external sources including MRC, CRUK, BBSRC, DTI, The Royal Society, LLR, Breast Cancer Research Trust, Lady Tata Memorial Fund, Rosetrees Trust etc.