The new Oxford Lymphoid Disorder Study Group, chaired by Dr Graham Collins, will be launched this September in Blood Cancer Awareness Month
Yang Shi, who joins Ludwig from Harvard University, is a world leader in the field of epigenetics, which explores how chemical modifications to chromatin—the combination of DNA and histone proteins—control the organisation and expression of the human genome. Aberrations in those processes are vital drivers of cancer and underlie many other diseases and disorders.
“Yang has an outstanding track-record of innovative research into the identity and mechanisms of action of chromatin modifiers. We are delighted that Yang is bringing his wealth of experience, international standing and collaborative spirit to lead our cancer epigenetics theme at Ludwig Oxford.”
~ Xin Lu, Director of the Ludwig Oxford Branch.
Shi is widely known for his discoveries regarding a chemical modification, methylation, made to the histone proteins. In 2004, Shi and his colleagues identified and characterised an enzyme, LSD1, that erases methyl marks from histones. Their discovery upended a 40-year-old dogma that considered such modifications irreversible, altering longstanding models of genomic regulation. Shi’s laboratory went on to identify many other histone demethylating enzymes with roles in a diverse array of biological processes. More recently, his group discovered several enzymes that methylate RNA and possibly influence the translation of gene transcripts into proteins.
Shi is applying these fundamental discoveries to the benefit of patients. His group’s work on LSD1 led to the development of LSD1-inhibitors now in clinical trials for the treatment of cancer. More recently, Shi and his colleagues demonstrated that inhibiting LSD1 might also help make otherwise non-responsive tumours susceptible to the checkpoint blockade immunotherapy. His lab is additionally studying the role and therapeutic manipulation of epigenetic modifiers in pediatric high-grade gliomas and acute myeloid leukaemia.
“Yang’s science is of the highest calibre—as rigorous and collaborative as it is original—and we are very excited to have him in the Ludwig community. I’m sure many of our researchers will benefit from his expertise, and that they will be equally generous with their own expertise and support as he explores the implications of his discoveries for cancer biology and the design of new therapies.”
~ Chi Van Dang, Scientific Director of the Ludwig Institute.
Shi obtained his PhD from New York University, completed his postdoctoral training with Thomas Shenk of Princeton University and joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1991, where he was most recently C.H. Waddington Professor of Pediatrics. Shi has received many honours for his contributions to epigenetics and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Cancer imaging is an umbrella term that defines diagnostic procedures to identify cancer through imaging – such as scans via x-rays, CT scans and ultrasounds. There is no single imaging test that can accurately diagnose cancer, but a variety of imaging tests can be used in the monitoring of cancer and planning of its treatments.
What is NCITA?
NCITA – the UK National Cancer Imaging Translational Accelerator – is a new consortium that brings together world leading medical imaging experts to create an infrastructure for standardising the cancer imaging process, in order to improve its application in clinical cancer treatment.
Research and medical experts from the University of Oxford have come together with UCL, University of Manchester, the Institute of Cancer Research, Imperial, Cambridge University and many more to create this open access platform.
How will NCITA help cancer research?
On top of bringing together leading experts in cancer imaging to share their knowledge, the NCITA consortium will create a variety of systems, software and facilities to help localise and distribute new research and create a centralised location for cancer-image data to be analysed.
NCITA will in include a data repository for imaging, artificial intelligence (AI) tools and training opportunities – all of which will contributing to a revolution in the speed and accuracy of cancer diagnosis, tumour classification and patient response to treatment.
The NCITA network is led by Prof Shonit Punwani, Prof James O’Connor, Prof Eric Aboagye, Prof Geoff Higgins, Prof Evis Sala, Prof Dow Mu Koh, Prof Tony Ng, Prof Hing Leung and Prof Ruth Plummer with up to 49 co-investigators supporting the NCITA initiative. NCITA is keen to expand and bring in new academic and industrial partnerships as it develops.
Go to the NCITA website to stay up to date of news about cancer imaging research.
For more information on this exciting new initiative, see the media release about the NCITA launch here.
Cancer Researchers at the University of Oxford have launched a two-year, part-time, online course in Precision Cancer Medicine. The new course is an exciting opportunity for professionals from across the research, clinical and medical spheres to learn more about how to make precision medicine a reality.
About precision medicine
Precision medicine is a novel approach to patient care, which allows medical professionals to select specific treatments that are most likely to help with their cancer.
It considers the genetics of the cancer, the patient’s biology, environment and lifestyle, in order to guide disease diagnosis and treatment. It is also known as personalised or tailored treatment.
Most cancer treatments take a ‘one-size fits all’ approach, such as using chemotherapy drugs across the whole body to kill cancerous cells. Often these drugs do not differentiate between cancer and non-cancer cells in the body, which may cause unpleasant side effects that can have long-lasting implications.
By creating tailored treatments that target the specific cancer cells we can improve patient experiences of cancer treatment and reduce these side effects.
About the course
The new Masters course hopes to equip graduates with a multi-disciplinary understanding, beyond their own area of expertise, and prepare them for roles at the forefront of cancer medicine.
It will touch on areas such as cancer genomics, pathology, omics techniques, diagnostics, experimental therapeutics, onco-immunology, bioinformatics, ethics and health economics.
For more information about the course, see here.