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Dr Karen Reed

Dr Karen Reed

Wales Gene Park Operations Manager

School of Medicine

+44 (0)29 2074 8174
Sir Geraint Evans Building


Wales Gene Park

I joined Wales Gene Park as Operations Manager in April 2017. Wales Gene Park is an infrastructure support group, funded by the Welsh Government through Health and Care Research Wales. Wales Gene Park operates to provide collaborative access to genomic technologies for researchers and provides innovative initiatives to educate and engage health professionals and the public in Wales and beyond. 

Research Overview

My research interests encompass the use of pre-clinical models of disease to explore the critical molecular events which contribute to the initiation and progression of tumourigenesis (primarily within the intestine and liver).  I have a particular interest in the importance of the genes Cbx3 and Hmgb1 in intestinal homeostasis and tumourigenesis.


I have worked as a postdoctoral research associate within the group of Prof. Alan Clarke in Cardiff school of Biosciences since Oct 2002. My research utilises a number of clinically relevant, transgenic mouse models of cancer (principally intestinal and liver cancer) with the aim of clarifying or establishing some of the critical molecular events that contribute to the initiation, establishment and progression of cancer.

Prior to moving to Cardiff, I worked within the group of Prof Wolf Reik at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, under whose supervision I also completed a PhD (awarded in Sept 2000).  Here my research focused on understanding the epigenetic regulation of the imprinted locus on mouse distal chromosome 7 (a chromosome region involved in foetal overgrowth and cancer susceptibility) and I characterised the molecular basis of, and consequential imprinted phenotype of, the novel radiation-induced mouse mutation Minute (Mnt).

Preceding this I graduated from the University of Bath with a BSc honours degree in Applied Biology in 1996. During my degree course I completed a year's research in The Institute of Medical Genetics, Cardiff, where I characterised the inheritance of multiple genetic markers within families of Rett syndrome patients (a childhood neurodevelopmental disorder) and refined the genetic map of this disease.

My objective now is to develop my own research group using the expertise I have obtained from working at Cambridge and Cardiff.

Speaking engagements

  • NCRI (national cancer research Institute) cancer conference 2-5 Nov 2014, BT Convention Centre, Liverpool, UK "HMGB1: A Wnt target gene and potential regulator of intestinal stem cells" Karen R Reed, Fei Song, Daniel Antoine, Madeleine Young, Alan R Clarke, John Jenkins
  • ECSCRI 'Targeting Cancer Conference' 24-26 July 2013 "HMGB1: A Wnt target gene and potential regulator of intestinal stem cells" Karen R Reed, Fei Song, Daniel Antoine, Madeleine Young, Alan R Clarke, John Jenkins
  • 6th Mammalian Genetics, Development and Disease Meeting, University of Bath, Friday 6th July 2012 "Hunk/Mak-v is a negative regulator of intestinal cell proliferation"
  • NCRI (national cancer research Institute) cancer conference 6-9 Nov 2011, BT Convention Centre, Liverpool, UK "The impact of APC2 on somatic stem cells and tumourigenesis" Karen Reed, Carl Daly, Paul Shaw, Alan Clarke
  • Warwick 2008 Genes and Cancer Meeting, December 8-10, 2008 "Beta-catenin deficiency, but not Myc deletion, suppresses the immediate phenotypes of Apc loss in the liver" Karen R Reed*, Dimitris Athineos*, Valerie S Meniel*, Julie A Wilkins, Rachel A Ridgway, Zoé D. Burke, Vanesa Muncan, Alan R Clarke, Owen J  Sansom
  • NCRI (national cancer research Institute) cancer conference 8-11Oct 2006, The ICC, Birmingham, UK A BACR/Gordon Hamilton-fairly young investigator award "P53 status does not affect the early phenotype seen following the conditional loss of APC." Reed KR, Sansom OJ, Meniel V, Marsh V, Clarke AR
  • Warwick 2004 Genes and Cancer Meeting, December 13-15, 2004 "PPARd deficiency does not modify APC mediated tumourigenesis" Karen R. Reed, Anthony J. Hayes, Owen J. Sansom, Hannah Brinkman, Jeffrey Peters, Alan R. Clarke
  • Imprinting and growth congress 2002. 11-13 April 2002, London "The Minute mutation and a comparative genomics approach for the isolation of enhancers controlling Igf2 expression." Davies K, Smith P, dean, W, Bowden L, Sasaki H, Cattanach B, Reik W.
  • The International Genomic Imprinting Meeting 24-26 Aug 1999, Dublin ORAL Presentation: "The radiation-induced mouse mutation minute (Mnt) affects the mesoderm enhancer for IGF2 and methylation of H19." Davies K, Bowden L, Rasberry C, Cattanach B, Reik W.



















I have achieved the status of Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) in recognition of attainment against the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and learning support in hight education, 25/06/2019.

Pre-Clinical models of human diseases facilitate an understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to the initiation, establishment and progression of diseases such as cancer in human.
I am interested in transcriptional regulation, and my research aims to identify genes and pathways that are critical in the initiation and progression of cancer, utilising multiple clinically relevant, transgenic models of intestinal cancer to achieve this.

The Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) tumour suppressor protein is well characterised as a key regulator of Wnt signalling. Mutations in the APC gene are associated with both familial and sporadic colon cancer pathogenesis and links with other cancers including hepatocellular carcinoma and renal cancer are reported.

The conditional deletion of Apc in the adult intestine or liver using pre-clinical transgenic animal models quickly results in neoplasia. Transcriptome analysis using Affymetrix microarrays has identified a number of transcripts that are differentially regulated following the conditional loss of Apc and the data generated has been used to establish some of the critical molecular events that contribute to the initiation and progression of tumourigenesis (e.g. Sansom et al 2004+2007, Reed et al 2004, 2006+2008).

Through this work I have developed an interest in two potentially clinically relevant biomarkers and drug targets for colorectal cancer, Cbx3 and Hmgb1.  Cbx3 encodes the protein Hp1gamma which plays a critical role in chromatin organisation and gene expression, while Hmgb1 is a multi-functional protein, but can also bind chromatin and facilitate the binding of other proteins to DNA to regulate gene expression.

Awards and funding obtained

  • KESS2 East PhD studentship (co-applicant) 2019
  • School of Medicine PhD studentship (co-applicant) 2019
  • Wales Gene Park, Welsh Assembly Government (Health and Care Research Wales) (co-applicant) 2017
  • Cancer Research UK programme grant(C1295/ A15937) renewal awarded to Prof. T Dale (Named researcher on a co-written application) 2016
  • Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (co-applicant) 2016
  • Project development fund from the Cardiff CR-UK centre 2015
  • School of Biosciences seed corn funding 2015
  • Princes trust science engagement project (co-applicant) 2014
  • BACR non-student Travel Award 2014
  • CUROP summer studentship 2013
  • Cardiff Cancer Research UK Centre Development Fund 2013
  • Cardiff University Community Engagement Small Award 2012
  • Tenovus PhD studentship to support Charmmy Ka Ian Lio 2011
  • The Biochemical Society Scientific Outreach Grant, 2011
  • The Nuffield Foundation Science Bursary, 2011
  • The Royal Society Partnership grant, 2010
  • The Nuffield Foundation Science Bursary, 2010
  • The Nuffield Foundation Undergraduate Research Bursary, 2008
  • BACR meeting bursary, 2008
  • BACR Hamilton-Fairley Young Investigator Award, 2006


  • Dr Laura Thomas, School of Medicine, Cardiff University
  • Dr Prim Singh, Charite University, Berlin
  • Dr David Tosh and Dr Zoe Burke, Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath
  • Dr Ros John, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University
  • Dr Owen Sansom, Cancer Research UK Beatson Laboratories, Glasgow
  • Dr John Jenkins, Gastroenterology Research Unit, The University of Liverpool


PhD and MRes Students:

  • Co-supervisor for Angharad Walters, KESS2 East funded PhD, July 2019 - present
  • Principle Investigator for Charmmy Ka Ian Lio - PhD Tenovus Funded (graduated 2015)
  • Co-supervisor for Maddy Young PhD (graduated 2014)
  • Co-supervisor for Carl Daly PhD (graduated 2013)
  • Co-supervisor for Nurudeen Hassan MRes (graduated 2012)
  • Mentor to Dr Paul Shaw PhD (graduated 2010)

PTY students:

  • Zac Rossaye (Oxford Brooks University) 2015
  • Carys Johnson (Cardiff University) 2014/2015
  • Paul Williams (Cardiff University) 2013/2014

Summer placements:

  • Keziah Rose (CUROP student) 2013
  • Ben Hopkins (voluntary placement) 2012
  • Adam Lynch (voluntary placement) 2011
  • James Lamb (Nuffield Foundation Bursary A level student) 2011
  • James Moggridge (Nuffield Foundation Bursary A level student) 2011
  • Ben Hopkins (Nuffield Foundation Bursary A level student) 2010
  • James Platt (Nuffield Foundation Undergraduate Bursary student) 2008

Final year undergraduate project students:

  • Angharad Walters 2015/2016 ((Lab project)
  • Luke Barn 2014/2015 (Engagement project)
  • Sian Cleaver 2013/2014 (Engagement project)
  • Katherine Weetman 2013/2014 (Lab project - co-supervised with AR Clarke & K Lio)
  • Sarah Guildford 2013/2014 (Lab project - co-supervised with AR Clarke & M Young)
  • Rhys Donovan, 2012/2013 (Engagement project)
  • Rezwana Chowdhury, 2012/2013 (Engagement project)
  • Swawiza Gohobur, 2012/2013 (Engagement project)
  • Natalie Izod, 2012/2013 (Lab project - co-supervised with AR Clarke & M Young)
  • Scott Hart, 2011/2012 (Lab project - co-supervised with AR Clarke & P Shaw)
  • Nesibe-princess Gemici, 2010/2011 (Lab project - co-supervised with AR Clarke)
  • Adam Carrico, 2009/2010 (Lab project - co-supervised with AR Clarke)
  • Gokcen Ilktaci, 2008/2009 (Lab project - co-supervised with AR Clarke)
  • David Hunt, 2007/2008 (Lab project - co-supervised with AR Clarke)
  • Ryan Russell, 2006/2007 (Lab project - co-supervised with AR Clarke)
  • Bethan Medina, 2005/2006 (Lab project - co-supervised with AR Clarke)

Past projects


Outreach activities

My first involvement in public engagement was through the Beacons for Wales Researchers in Residence scheme 2009, but I have regularly undertaken a range of activities since.

I have really enjoyed participating in events organised by others, such as the Beacons for Wales $1000 genome project in Park Prison, Bridgend, the "Learn about Life" events in Cardiff School of Bioscience, Biology Rocks at Cardiff Museum, Cancer Research UK public events and Wales Gene Park Schools Genetics Roadshows.  However, I have also secured funding for activities I have initiated and organised myself e.g. school visits to Goytre Fawr Primary school, Archdeacon John Lewis Primary school, Pencoed Comprehensive, or the "Lab in an ice-cream Van - Cell-fi" activities in collaboration with Tenovus.

Through these experiences, I developed a highly successful interactive workshop demonstrating the power of the polymerase chain reaction and its application in cancer research.  This 3-hour workshop has been frequently used, including for visiting pre-GCSE pupils who were participating in a Hands-On Science Summer Residential course, and for teacher CPD training. It has since been developed into a "loan box" for schools to undertake PCR within the classroom, which is managed by the School of Biosciences.

The most current project I am supporting is working with Dr Giusy Tornillo, co-founder for "Suppress The Mess" (@CUSuppressTMess) which is a fun educational activity that demystifies the science of cancer. This activity arose from a Princes trust science engagement project with colleagues within the European Cancer Stem Cell Reseach Insitute.