Use of Circulating Extracellular Vesicles for the Early Detection of Oesophageal Cancer

Elizabeth Bird-Lieberman is a Gastroenterology Consultant in the Translational Gastroenterology Unit (Nuffield Department of Medicine) at the John Radcliffe Hospital (Oxford University NHS Foundation Hospital Trust), and an honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Oxford. She trained in medicine at the University of Cambridge and undertook her PhD there.


Elizabeth’s research focuses on the development of non-invasive tests to identify those patients at risk of gastrointestinal cancer, and on the development of advanced endoscopic tools to improve the early detection of pre-cancerous change in the gastrointestinal tract.


Early- and pre-cancerous changes, which are more easily treated than later stage cancer, are difficult to detect, so the development of better tools to detect those changes is essential to improving patient treatment. The work of Elizabeth and her team enables development of techniques that helps to monitor patients at high risk more intensively, and helps avoid unnecessary procedures for those at lower risk.

Within Oxford Elizabeth collaborates with the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (Prof Deborah Goberdhan), trying to develop a non-invasive way of detecting early and pre-cancer of the Oesophagus by looking at blood samples for circulating extracellular vesicles (EVs). EVs are tiny spheres surrounded by a membrane that are released by cells as a way of communicating with each other and we aim to develop a tool that can identify EVs from pre-cancerous cells in the Oesophagus.


Elizabeth’s work is funded by Cancer Research UK, NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Medical Research Council, Academy of Medical Sciences and National Institute for Health Research.