Cancer Cell Biology Programme

Epithelial Carcinogenesis Group

Group Leader:  Francisco Real

We focus on the molecular pathophysiology of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and urothelial carcinoma (UC), adopting a disease-oriented approach. We use cultured cells, genetically modified mice, and patient samples, giving similar weight to the 3 model systems. Primary observations are made at either of these levels and are then extended through additional work. To translate the findings, we bring this knowledge to a ‘population’ level, harnessing information and samples from large patient cohorts.

In PDAC, we study cell differentiation as a potent tumour suppressor mechanism acting early during carcinogenesis. We use the excellent genetic mouse models available because these processes cannot be readily studied using human samples. PDAC can originate both in pancreatic progenitors and in acinar cells. Understanding the contribution of these cell types to PDAC is crucial to design better strategies for early tumour detection and prevention in subjects at risk.