Shivan Sivakumar awarded 3-year Celgene Fellowship

Shivan Sivakumar is a clinician-scientist with an interest in pancreatic cancer who has been awarded a 3 year Celgene Fellowship. Following medical training at QMUL, a PhD at Cambridge supervised by David Tuveson and Kathryn Lilley, and a short post-doc with Florian Markowetz, Shivan completed his core medical training during  post-doc and clinical lecturer positions at Oxford. He divides his time between the Churchill Hospital, Department of Oncology, and Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology undertaking clinical work, clinical trials (Mark Middleton) and fundamental immunology research (Mike Dustin).

Pancreatic cancer has the worst prognosis of any cancer, with a 0% 5-year survival rate for those with metastatic disease. A number of issues are associated with poor prognosis- late diagnosis, an undruggable KRAS oncogene, and the pancreas’ deep-seated position which means only a small percentage of the tumour is made up of tumour tissue (with the rest being stroma, immune cells, and a desmoplastic reaction). Shivan’s work aims to establish novel treatment strategies by:

  • Evaluating the efficacy of therapeutic strategies by studying the biology and the effect of the drug on the tumour. Treatment strategies will be evaluated in a small number of patients before moving on to a larger trial.
  • Carrying out fundamental research to understand the tumour microenvironment of pancreatic cancer through a combination of immune monitoring and single cell genetic analysis. Shivan’s work in the past 4 years has centred on establishing an immune signature in pancreatic cancer and identifying particular T cells implicated in the disease. The next phase is to look at all the immune cells in an unbiased way.

In Oxford, Shivan collaborates with Enas Abu Shah (immunology, KIR), Rachel Bashford-Rogers (single-cell sequencing, WTCHG), Constantin Coussios (drug delivery, IBME), Len Seymour and Kerry Fisher (virotherapy, Oncology) Chunxiao Song (Early detection, Ludwig), and David Wedge (cancer evolution, BDI). Shivan’s work will be supported by the Celgene Translational Fellowship for the next three years, looking at the immune compartment of pancreatic cancer in an unbiased way. Since 2015, Shivan has also been funded by LAP, John Fell Fund, NIHR and CRUK

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