Dr Beth Psaila has been awarded an Advanced Clinician Scientist Fellowship from Cancer Research UK to study abnormal megakaryocytes and bone marrow fibrosis. She was also appointed as a Senior Fellow of New College, Oxford. This grant will enable Beth to establish an independent research group focusing on megakaryocyte biology in normal bone marrow and in patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms. Megakaryocytes are unique cells in the human body, responsible for generating all our circulating blood platelets and also producing growth factors that maintain and regulate the blood stem cell niches. Beth will use a combination of multi-omic single cell approaches, patient-derived xenograft models and highly-multiplexed in situ imaging to identify and validate new targets for therapy.
Dr Supat Thongjuea has been awarded a Oxford-Celgene Fellowship, which includes Celgene mentorship, to apply single-cell biology and computational methods to translational medicine challenges. The project aims to generate and validate new clinically-relevant biomarkers, therapies and targets. To do this Dr Thongjuea will work closely with Celgene to apply computational, statistical and machine learning algorithms to the development of new computational models. These will integrate multiple single-cell DNA, RNA and ATAC genomics datasets from patients undergoing clinical trials. This approach will be applied, for example, to address the issue of intratumoural heterogeneity, a major cause of therapy resistance. The work will be done in collaboration with the Vyas, Nerlov and Mead research groups and capitalises on the excellent single cell facilities at the MRC WIMM and the expertise of the MRC WIMM Centre for Computational Biology, where Dr Thongjuea is based.
Prof Anindita Roy, Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics, has been awarded a Wellcome Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship to study the developmentally-regulated changes in haematopoiesis that lead to treatment-resistant childhood leukaemias. The project will specifically focus on infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (iALL), a type of cancer with high relapse rates and poor survival. These types of cancer are characterised by a translocation in the MLL gene, which takes place in utero. Prof Roy will examine at the molecular level why human fetal cells are particularly susceptible to this type of leukaemic transformation and how it progresses, using both in vitro and in vivo models. The ultimate aim of the research is to develop new and effective treatments for this condition.