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We study the signalling mechanisms cells use to respond to DNA damage and why defects in these pathways cause human diseases such as cancer.

Blackford lab

Mutations caused by DNA damage enable a normal cell to become cancerous. This is highlighted by the fact that individuals with mutations in many genes involved in DNA damage recognition, signalling and repair are predisposed to cancer, and that somatically acquired defects in such genes can drive tumour formation. Furthermore, some of the most effective cancer treatments work in tumour cells by inducing DNA damage, particularly DNA double-strand breaks, which are especially toxic and difficult to repair accurately without introducing mutations. Exploiting knowledge of DNA double-strand break repair is therefore likely to lead to more effective and personalised cancer therapies and treatments for patients with DNA repair disorders in future.

The aim of our research is to gain a greater understanding of the signalling mechanisms cells use to coordinate DNA double-strand break recognition and repair with cell cycle checkpoint activation and apoptosis. To achieve this, we are using cutting-edge bioinformatics, proteomics, microscopy and CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing techniques to answer specific questions related to DNA damage signalling. In doing so, we hope to provide novel insights into carcinogenesis and how it is held at bay by the cell’s DNA damage response system. We also aim to translate our research to develop novel potential cancer treatments. In particular, we are interested in the potential utility of signalling events for use as biomarkers and to identify novel targets in the DNA damage response for anti-cancer drugs.

 

Our team

Key publications

ALUMNI

Johanna left the lab to complete her undergraduate studies at Yale University.

Kaima returned to Japan to complete his PhD in the lab of Yoshihisa Matsumoto at Tokyo Tech.

Roos returned to the Netherlands to complete her Masters degree at Radboud University.

Sofiya returned to Italy to complete her Masters degree at the University of l’Aquila. She has since started a PhD in the lab of Frank Rösl at the DKFZ in Heidelberg.

Emily left to complete her final undergraduate year at the University of Birmingham. She has since started a PhD in the lab of Dragana Ahel at the Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford. 

VACANCIES

A postdoctoral research position is available to start in my lab in late 2019/early 2020. It is fully-funded for up to three years. We are particularly interested in expanding the lab's experience in areas including bioinformatics, biochemistry, animal models and super-resolution imaging.

We also have projects for DPhil and MSc students to start in October 2020.

Informal enquiries for all positions welcome so please get in touch with your CV if you would like to join our team!

Funding

Cancer Research UK

Medical Research Council

Fight Back Against Cancer - UK

Against Breast Cancer