Professor Ray Waters
Professor Ray Waters is Head of the Cancer Studies Interdisciplinary Research Group at Cardiff School of Medicine. This is a group of more than 50 researchers working together on new cancer therapeutics and diagnostics which can be taken through to the clinic. He was deputy chair of the Commission on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment’s Committee and he drove its recent report on the health risks associated with sunbed usage. This was used to update Government policy in this area and it resulted in recent legislation going through Parliament.
Professor Waters’ own research looks at DNA damage and repair. Our DNA can be damaged in many different ways – through radiation, chemicals and events in the body itself. Genetic defects in DNA repair can lead to cancerprone conditions, immunity defects, premature ageing and other problems, In normal individuals there are many examples of DNA damage being linked to cancer (e.g. smoking, exposure to solar UV). Recently his team has developed technology to measure the incidence of DNA damage and the rate of repair at high resolution in the genetic information of entire organisms. This will help identify genes which play a part in the DNA repair of specific regions of our chromosomes, with implications for cancer risk. Each microscopic cell in our body contains 2 metres of DNA packaged to fit the cell and this has to be accessed to enable DNA repair. We know that how this is achieved varies throughout chromosomes, but we have no idea as to the number or the identity of the genes that regulate this access. The technology will enable these to be identified.
Professor Waters said: “We see our work as having a bearing on the very early stages of cancer. We aim to work with colleagues in the new European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute on how genetic damage may lead to the formation of cancer stem cells.”
Professor Waters is based in the University’s new Cancer and Genetics Building on the Heath Park Campus, where his colleagues include Dr Simon Reed.