Eoghan Mullholland awarded colorectal cancer fellowship

Dr Eoghan Mulholland, Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Cancer Genetics at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics and JRF at Somerville College has recently been awarded the Lee Placito Research Fellowship in Gastrointestinal Cancer.

As a University of Oxford LGBTQ+ Role Model, he also believes increasing visibility of LGBTQ+ staff and their work encourage inclusivity. As part of our pride month feature, we are excited to share his work as part of this fellowship, and increase the visibility of the diverse cancer researchers here the University of Oxford. Eoghan had the following to share:

‘June marks Pride month here in the UK, a time of great joy and reflection. I believe that increasing visibility of LBGTQ+ staff at the University of Oxford (and beyond) is very important, not only for our current staff and students but also all those wishing to come study/work here. As an LBGTQ+ Role Model for the University I wish to help in any way I can, I encourage those want to reach out to do so, my email/door is always open! Increasing visibility encourages inclusivity.’

About Eoghan’s Research

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is currently the 2nd most common cause of cancer death in the UK. To date, research tells us that it isn’t just the genetic defects in the cancer cells that influences how a cancer behaves, but also how the supporting (stromal) and immune cells interact with it. Currently we don’t fully understand how these ‘cell conversations’ initiate and develop but using cutting-edge research methodologies we can have the opportunity to ‘eavesdrop’.

Using the Lee Placito Fellowship, Dr Mulholland will focus in on these cellular exchanges to better understand how cancer cells, stromal cells and immune cells interact with each other across both human tissue and in Genetically Engineered Mouse Models. To date, Eoghan has worked up some fantastic multiplex imaging panels in partnership with the THL (Oxford cancer centre). These panels allow for the visualisation of a range of immune and stromal cells as well as epithelium, thus will be an invaluable tool in answering this research questions.

On receiving this Fellowship, Dr Mulholland commented:

‘Using the Lee Placito Fellowship, I will focus in on the ‘cell conversations’ between cancer cells, stromal cells and immune cells. Through better understanding of this we can then hope to influence how the cells communicate, change the colorectal cancer dynamics, and ultimately improve treatment.’

Image 1 – range of different immune cells within CRC tissue. Eoghan will be investigating the mutations in cancerous colorectal epithelial cells (purple), and how they influence the immune cells around them (for example attracting them, changing their function or repelling them away). This may help us to discover new therapeutic targets for immunotherapies.

Image 2 – a section of mouse colon. Epithelium cells (purple) surrounded by a supporting matrix of cells that communicate with these cells, influencing the epithelial cell growth and progression. Eoghan is investigating how these supporting cells change depending on the mutations expressed by epithelial cell mutations.

Find out more about the Lee Placito Research Fellowship

The Centre are supporting UK Pride Month this June and encourage LGBTQ+ researchers to reach out and tell us about their work so that we can increase visibility of them and their work – during this month or any other.

Eoghan can be contacted at : EoghanJM@well.ox.ac.uk