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Dr Helen Pearson

Dr Helen Pearson

Senior Research Fellow

School of Biosciences

Email
pearsonh2@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2068 8517
Campuses
Hadyn Ellis Building, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

Prostate Cancer Translational Research Laboratory

European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, Cardiff University, Department of Biomedicine, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

Prostate cancer arises from multiple complex cellular processes that remain to be fully understood. Dr Pearson’s research into prostate cancer integrates basic molecular and cellular biology with preclinical trials to advance our understanding of prostate cancer biology, and to translate laboratory studies into improvements in patient care and outcome. To address this, the research undertaken incorporates the development and application of innovative preclinical model systems in collaboration with researchers, clinicians and industry.

Biography

I am a Cancer Research UK Research Fellow at the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Centre, Cardiff University. I graduated from the University of East Anglia in 2004 with a BSc in Biochemistry, following an exchange year at Colorado University (Boulder, USA). In 2004, I undertook my PhD at Cardiff University, where I developed several new models of prostate cancer, and moved to Australia to commence my post-doctoral training at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Australia. In 2012, I became an honorary fellow of Melbourne University and the inaugural Richard Pratt Foundation Fellow for prostate cancer research. In 2016, I returned to Cardiff University as a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions COFUND research fellow and was awarded a Cancer Research Career Development Fellowship in 2019, enabling me to build my research group investigating the molecular mechanisms that underpin prostate cancer growth and therapeutic resistance. This knowledge is applied to the development of novel and more effective biomarkers and therapeutic approaches for prostate cancer.

Honours and awards

  • 2020 - NCRI Bursary Prize
  • 2016 – 2020: Marie Slodowska Curie Actions/Horizon2020/Ser Cymru II Fellowship
  • 2013 – 2014: Richard Pratt Foundation Prostate Cancer Research Fellowship/Victorian Cancer Agency

Professional memberships

2015  The Australian Society for Stem Cell Research (ASSCR)
2014  Australian and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate (ANZUP) clinical trials group
2010  Australian and Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Alliance (AC-PCRA)
2005  European Association for Cancer Research (EACR)
2005  British Association for Cancer Research (BACR)
2004  Royal Society of Biology (RSB)

Academic positions

2016 – present: Research Fellow, European Cancer Stem Cell Research Centre, Cardiff University, Wales, UK
2012 – 2016:     Senior Research Officer, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Australia
2012 – 2016:     Honorary Fellow, University of Melbourne, The Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology, Melbourne, Australia
2008 – 2012:     Junior Research Officer, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne,  Australia

Speaking engagements

  • Prostate Cancer UK, Spotlight webinar - PDX models - invited speaker (Chair)
  • Cardiff Prostate Cancer Patient Support group - invited speaker
  • NCRI Cancer Conference - invited speaker

Committees and reviewing

  • Journal Guest Editor, Biomolecules
  • Journal Editor, British Journal of Cancer
  • Journal Reviewer, Cancer Discovery
  • Journal Reviewer, Nature Communications
  • Journal Reviewer, Disease Models and Mechanisms
  • Journal Reviewer, Cell Death and Disease
  • Journal Reviewer, Oncogene
  • Journal Reviewer, Molecular Cancer

Publications

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2011

2009

2008

Teaching

Undergraduate teaching

  • BI3352: Cancer: Molecular mechanisms, diagnostics and therapeutics (module coordinator/examiner for assessed coursework 1/small group teaching sessions)

  • Module co-coordinator/lecturer: Cancer research: from concepts to experimental models to translational research (Year 2, week long practical).

  • BI2233: Developmental and stem cell biology, Lecturer (workshops)

  • Principle supervisor for final year honours project students

Focus

My research into prostate cancer integrates basic cancer biology, biomarker discovery and the preclinical assessment of novel therapeutic approaches with the ultimate goal to improve upon the current standard of patient care. The research undertaken employs novel model systems to investigate genetic drivers of prostate cancer initiation and progression, and the preclinical development of innovative therapeutic strategies for prostate cancer.

Current projects and/or themes

  • Determining how the non-canonical WNT pathway contributes to prostate cancer
  • Delineating molecular mechanisms of resistance to androgen-deprivation therapy
  • Enhancing the therapeutic efficacy of PARP inhibition for the treatment of prostate cancer
  • Development of ex-vivo models for prostate cancer
  • Development of PDX models of prostate cancer
  • Prostate cancer stem cells and the tumor microenvironment
  • Exploring how PI3K signaling contributes to prostate cancer
  • Targeting Wnt signaling to treat metastatic prostate cancer

Current grant support

  • Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS2)/Tenovus Cancer Care (2017 - 2021)
  • The Urology Foundation (2018 - 2021)
  • Cancer Research UK (2020 - 2026)

Collaborators

  • Prof Wayne Phillips (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Prof Owen Sansom (CRUK Beatson Institute, Glasgow, UK)
  • Prof Howard Kynaston (University Hospital Wales, Cardiff University, UK)
  • Prof John Staffurth (Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales, UK)
  • Prof Gail Risbridger (Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Prof Johann de Bono (ICR, London, UK)
  • Prof Norman Maitland (York University, York, UK)

Research Staff

  • Dr Daniel Turnham
  • Miss Sarah Martin
  • Miss Kate Mason

Postgraduate Students

  • Miss Manisha Dass – KESS2/Tenovus Cancer Care PhD student
  • Mr Nicholas Bullock – Wales Clinical Academic Track (WCAT) fellow (PhD Student)

Vacancies

Please enquire about our current posts:

  • PhD studentship available
  • Clinical PhD student positions available

Supervision

Current supervision

Manisha Dass

Research student

Engagement

Public Engagement

  • STEM ambassador since 2018
  • Prostate Cancer Multidisciplinary Research Group (co-chair)
  • Cardiff Prostate Cancer Volunteer Support Group (invited speaker)