Cancer Research

The University of Dundee is highly regarded internationally for excellence in the biomedical and life sciences.  Over the past decade, the University has enjoyed a period of significant investment and growth, including the establishment of a number of world-class facilities and research laboratories that are largely unmatched in Scotland.

Cancer research at Dundee is among the best in the UK. This has been recognised by Cancer Research UK who approved Dundee as Scotland’s first Cancer Research UK Centre. This brings together Cancer Research UK funded researchers who are distributed across the College of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing (CMDN) and the College of Life Sciences (CLS). Successful ties to the College of Art, Science and Engineering (CASE) through the Institute for Medical Science and Technology (IMSaT) and the School of Computing and Division of Mathematics also exist.

In the clinical environment there are close links between clinicians and management in NHS Tayside and the University of Dundee integrates nursing, public health and palliative care services with clinical cancer services. Based on one-stop clinics for diagnosis and an eminent pathology department there are particular strengths in surgical oncology for breast and colon cancer, radiation biology and clinical oncology (including intra-operative radiotherapy), skin cancer research from the bench to the clinic and a Centre for Pharmacogenomics and Population Research.

The existing basic research in Dundee has strong expertise in a variety of fields including: 

  • the biology of tumour suppressors and oncogenes
  • many aspects of the cell cycle from DNA replication and chromosome segregation to mitotic checkpoints
  • structure and activity of nucleic acids
  • DNA damage responses
  • control of gene expression, chromatin structure and nuclear organisation
  • the role of the cytoskeleton in cell plasticity and migration
  • the role of hypoxia in tumour development
  • cell and tissue remodelling in early tumour formation
  • all aspects of cell signalling, with particular strengths in protein and lipid phosphorylation, ubiqunitation and related modifications that are used to transmit and integrate signals
  • an extensive program in Pharmacogenomics and drug metabolism, drug target validation and early stage drug discovery, informatics-driven drug target prediction and drug target combination (polypharmacology) prediction
  • mass spectrometry-based biomarker discovery

These research programs utilise a host of experimental systems and organisms that span a spectrum of complexity from Xenopus oocyte extracts, to cultured cells, unicellular yeast, Dictyostelium, worms (C. elegans), flies (Drosophila melanogaster), mice and human biopsy material. The breadth of model systems used ensures that discoveries of new pathways and molecules with implications for cancer are routinely made and can be validated by translating that information into lower and/or higher eukaryotes, as appropriate.

Many of the most important discoveries in biomedical research come from “bedside to bench”, as well as “bench to bedside”, interactions. These can inspire new thinking in the laboratory and the clinic and correlate disparate sets of information and knowledge. The goal of the Dundee Cancer Centre is to see the best science, wherever possible, translated towards potential applications for cancer diagnosis and therapy and the best clinical practice and knowledge inform the basic science agenda.