American Professor joins brain tumour research team
Wed, 09 May 2012 10:06:00 BST
A neuro-oncology scientist from the USA has been appointed to the University of Portsmouth.
Professor Helen Fillmore has joined the University’s Cellular and Molecular Neuro-Oncology Group as a Principal Research Fellow. The group which specialises in brain tumour research and is run by Professor Geoff Pilkington is the UK’s first dedicated laboratory-based brain tumour research centre.
Helen, whose background is at Virginia Commonwealth University and Old Dominion in the USA, has previously specialised in brain tumours and has considerable experience in writing grant proposals. She said it is a great opportunity to work with a dedicated and talented group of people.
“What really motivated me to come to Portsmouth was the obvious passion within the team to make a difference to people’s lives. Working with patients is what motivates us to invest the time to move our knowledge and understanding forward every single day.”
Brain tumours represent the most common form of cancer in people under 40 with more than 16,000 people diagnosed in the UK each year. Currently only 14 per cent survive beyond five years.
Helen has now been working in the field for over 25 years and is still passionate about finding answers to help fight cancer.
“A tumour is a normal cell that has gone haywire and our job is to work out how to fix or kill it. For example, we know there are proteins inside cells that can act like brakes on a car when the cell is damaged and if this brake is missing or mutated, the car, or in this case the cell, will have no brakes to stop or fix itself. Working out how to replace that protein may help us kill certain cancer cells.
“I don’t see a cure coming in the form of one silver bullet. Because brain tumours are very diverse and the number of genes and proteins that are involved in driving the tumour vary from one subset to another, targeting one molecule may not work as well as targeting multiple targets. And this may be different in patients and we may need to think more in terms of personalised medicine. It is very important for me to work with other scientists in a team approach and I cannot think of a better field or with a better group in which to work.”