Cancer Diagnostics and Therapy

According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and it was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer, and the incidence of neoplastic diseases is predicted to rise sharply in the next decades. The development of new techniques for early detection of cancer and the emergence of personalized cancer treatments are revolutionizing this field, while posing ethical and economical challenges. Our SIG at the Open University undertakes a comprehensive investigation of cancer diagnostics, from its genomic foundations to its sociological implications.

Current research: covers a wide range of cancer diagnostics and therapy topics, including: breast and prostate cancer genetics; identification of new prognostic algorithms; new methods for cancer screening; development of personalized therapies to prevent metastatic spreading; use of photodynamic therapy for cancer treatment.

Francesco Crea: prostate cancer genetics (featured in The Conversation )

Sushila Rigas: breast cancer genetics (featured in BBC Tomorrow’s World, see article here)
Claire Turner: use of VOC for cancer diagnosis
Jon Golding: radiotherapy and photodynamic therapy
Nacho Romero: cancer metastasis
Martin Bootman: mechanisms of calcium-dependent cancer
Geraint (Taff) Morgan: use of mass spectrometry for cancer detection and prevention
Yao Xu: DNA chemistry for Cancer Studies
Jan Draper: exploring the experiences of patients diagnosed with terminal cancer.

If you are interested in being a part of the Cancer Diagnostics Special Interest Group please email where further details will be provided.

Previous activities:

1) Dr. Luca Quagliata (Principal Investigator, University of Basel): “Precision Medicine in Oncology”.

The Cancer Diagnostics and Therapy SIG have recently hosted a lecture delivered by Dr Luca Quagliata, Principal Investigator at the University of Basel, Switzerland. Dr Quagliata is responsible for the University’s cancer biobank, which is one of the most accurate and comprehensive biobanks in Europe. He is also an expert in the discovery and clinical application of biomarkers for liver diseases. Dr Quagliata’s group deals with the ethical and data management issues arising from the collection of large amounts of clinical samples and personal data. In his lecture, Dr. Qugliata will cover all these aspects, and hopefully attract the attention of a diverse range of academics. After the talk, Dr Quagliata will be available to meet OU researchers interested in collaborating with his team.

  • Dr Quagliata is an ongoing collaborator of Dr Francesco Crea and Professor Nacho Romero. They have recently received a Cancer Research UK grant to study the molecular basis of aggressive prostate cancer.

2) Prof. Yuzhuo Wang (Professor of Urology, University of British Columbia): “Translational Cancer Research: Challenges and Opportunities”.

Over the past 50 years, despite the enormous commitment of resources to research on cancer, and the dedication of thousands of researchers focused on this problem, deaths from cancer have changed relatively little. Clearly the obstacles are substantial. This presentation enabled us to share a few lessons learned from the laboratory and also discuss some of the promising hypotheses and new research approaches that should or will be explored.

Molecular and Bioinformatics Oncology (MBO) journal club
The MBO journal club provides students with the opportunity to give a presentation and develop key skills in evaluating and assessing scientific journals in a friendly and supportive environment. Members of the club can nominate themselves to present a research paper of their choice that’s fits with the subject area. Each month the paper will be sent out to the group to bring along to the meeting. After a brief introduction of the paper by the speaker, the group will have a chance to discuss the paper, facilitated by supervisors and academics. We hope that the discussion will also stimulate research ideas and new networks.

The discussions are quite specialised, but anyone is welcome to join the mailing list to see if at any time we discuss a subject of their interest. If anyone is interested in presenting, they are also welcome to join us.

The club meet once a month and is chaired by Dr Francesco Crea and Dr Sushila Rigas, and is organised by Stephen Chandler. If you would like to join the club, please email who will put you on the mailing list.

Video Series

Walter Perry the founding Vice Chancellor of the Open University had a vision for the university to be at the cutting edge of both education and research and was instrumental in ensuring that the OU engaged in research in Health and Wellbeing. 50 years on we take a look at some of the exciting work taking place today. ‘Walter was adamant that the university was committed to high-quality...

MK Innovates Festival

The festival showcased Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics excellence in Milton Keynes on 11th October 2019. Open University's Health and Wellbeing Strategic Research Area hosted a stand to showcase the breadth and depth of our research. A few pictures posted here from the...

Early Career Research Grant awarded by the AHRC

Dr Victoria Newton, Senior Research Fellow, has been awarded an Early Career Research Grant by the AHRC for a project titled Reproductive Bodylore: the role of vernacular knowledge in women's contraceptive decision-making. The project draws together folklore studies and health research. An approach which is uniquely innovative and novel. The study of vernacular knowledge can tell us much about...

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