Help Us Fight Prostate Cancer
Meet the Teams
The Prostate Project funds the Prostate Project Foundation, which gives financial support to the Oncology team in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences (FMHS) at the University of Surrey. In fact, the charity was pivotal in the creation of this group providing 50% of the start-up funding. The team has 24 members with an extensive range of experience, from laboratory-based projects involving basic cell and molecular biology to the delivery of clinical trials in human cancers. The group is supported by the infrastructure required to undertake complex, multi-disciplinary studies. A particular strength of the team, which other cancer research centres find difficult to access, is the acquisition of patient samples (after suitable ethical approval) and this is partly due to the strong links and close collaborative relationships between clinicians and scientists with the local Royal Surrey County Hospital, and the neighbouring St Luke’s Cancer Centre and the Surrey Clinical Research Centre (CRC).
The internationally acclaimed group is led by Professor Hardev Pandha who is also a Trustee of our charity. The group are conducting cutting edge research into targeted therapies for cancer, diagnostic biomarkers to detect prostate cancer from patient urine and also biomarkers which will aid diagnosis and prognosis of cancer.
Hardev Pandha is a clinician scientist and medical oncologist who graduated in medicine at the University of Birmingham. He trained in internal medicine and subsequently in medical oncology at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith Hospital, London. He completed his PhD (Imperial College) in the Imperial Cancer Research Fund labs at the Hammersmith. He was a visiting fellow at Stanford University prior to completing his medical oncology training at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London. He was a senior lecturer in tumour immunology and medical oncology at St Georges, University of London in 2000 before being appointed Prof of Urological Oncology at the University of Surrey in 2006.
Nicola is a senior scientist and is head of the Immunotherapy programme. She gained her Biological Sciences degree from the University of Southampton and went on to study for a PhD at the University of Birmingham under the supervision of Alan Rickinson working on CD8+T cell responses to Epstein Bar Virus antigens. Her postdoctoral research was carried out at the CRC Institute for Cancer studies in Birmingham and at the Leiden University Medical Centre in The Netherlands. She is currently working on developing novel cancer killing viruses which will help to ‘kick start’ the immune system to attack cancer cells. Nicola was awarded Dec 2019 a prestigious £397,809 grant from Prostate Cancer UK to investigate a multi-targeted immunotherapeutic approach encompassing the ability of oncolytic (‘cancer-killing’)viruses to inflame the prostate tumour microenvironment together with a novel immune stimulating agent (IL-15 superagonist) to achieve optimal responsiveness of prostate cancers to immune checkpoint inhibition and resulting in long-term tumour control. Three-quarters of men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer die within five years, and the hope is if it works, this treatment will help such men live significantly longer.
Guy is a senior scientist specialising in Oncolytic Viral Therapy, working on developing viruses for use as cancer therapeutics. His interest in viruses began when he worked for BioVex Ltd based at University College London. Whilst working at this company he completed his PhD on optimising therapeutic Herpes Simplex Vectors for Cancer and carried on working at Biovex Ltd until 2007 when he joined Prof. Pandha’s group at the University of Surrey. Guy is using his expertise in oncolytic (cancer- killing) viruses to develop a new virus specifically designed to treat prostate cancer. They are one of the few Groups in the UK conducting this type of research.
Dr Mohammad Asim, Head of Oncology and Lecturer in Molecular Cancer Biology at the University of Surrey, was awarded prestigious 2018 Young Investigator Award and Prostate Cancer Foundation Grant to develop new hormone blocking treatment to prevent development of Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer or effectively treat it.
Dr Asim is one of only four cancer specialists in Europe and one of 29 worldwide to receive this prestigious award. The prize is presented annually to early career scientists with ground breaking ideas in tackling prostate cancer. As a recipient of this award, Dr Asim will receive $225,000 grant over three years to develop a novel drug to treat aggressive prostate cancer, which has no long-term cure and is fatal in the majority of cases. He is a renowned expert in prostate cancer and has held a number of high-profile academic positions including as a senior scientist at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge, and he has also previously worked at the Cancer Cell Biology Center at the University of Wisconsin in the US and graduated with a PhD from the Justus Liebig University in Germany.
His research has focussed on understanding the role of AR in PCa and is potentially vital in finding novel treatment for aggressive PCa. Mohammad graduated with a PhD from the Justus Liebig University in Germany for his work uncovering the role of signal transduction pathways and transcriptional corepressors in the regulation of Androgen Receptor (AR) signalling in prostate cancer (PCa).
Kate currently works within the laboratory of Professor Hardev Pandha at the University of Surrey. Her role involves writing review articles and book chapters as well as helping the scientists to write and submit their original research papers. In addition to this she is responsible for administering the group’s grant applications.
Kate studied Biochemistry at the University of Bristol. Following this she went on to study for a PhD at the University of Oxford where part of her time was spent working in the biotechnology company Oxford BioMedica. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and having had her first child she decided she wanted to move away from the bench but stay in science and began working for Professor Pandha at St George’s, University of London as a science writer. When Professor Pandha gained his chair at the University of Surrey Kate moved with him to help set up his group.
Zoe is working with Dr Asim to find new and differnt ways to target the testosterone signalling system that is the main driver in castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). This cancer is the advanced form of the disease and is quite aggressive. Mohammad’s work is quite broad in this sense that he explores how drugs could exploit this signalling but also how proteins and other compounds in the body can interact and change the testosterone signalling.
Zoe’s work specifically focuses on testing novel drugs being made to treat CRPC. The new drugs she is testing aim to target the testosterone signalling in multiple ways as opposed to solely targeting one pathway whilst also targeting in a different way to what drugs in the clinic are doing. She looks at efficacy of the drugs in terms of how well they kill cancer cells or suppress their growth and then look at more in detail of the mechanism involved.
Chris is a second year PhD student at the University of Surrey. He is working with Professor Hardev Pandha to develop a simple blood test to diagnose a type of advanced prostate cancer, called Neuroendocrine Prostate Cancer (NEPC). NEPC is frequently under diagnosed resulting in the wrong treatment being given to men with the disease. The blood test will allow NEPC cells circulating in the blood stream to be detected. New approaches using immunotherapy to prime the patient’s immune system to target the NEPC cells are also being developed. Immunotherapy will ensure that any metastatic NEPC deposits will also be recognised and destroyed by the immune system. You can watch a video of Chris explaining his research here.
Chris’ PhD is being funded by our generous long term supporters, Univar
Michelle is a Biological Specimen Coordinator, Oncology R&D and is the bridge between the hospital and the cancer researchers at the University of Surrey.
However, as with every aspect of research, there is a great deal more to it than that. Michelle is a Registered Health Professional and a clinical scientist by training, with over 23 years ‘hands-on’ experience in Pathology Research. And she was also Head of Molecular Genetics at St Thomas’s.
One of Michelle’s primary functions is to identify suitable patients, and approach them for their help with the various research projects the team are working on. Once Michelle has explained the process of collecting samples, the necessary consents are obtained and Michelle retrieves the samples and delivers them to the research labs for analysis.
Right now, Michelle is working on a project with PP sponsored PhD student Christopher Smith on the Prevalence and detection of neuro-endocryne differentiated prostate cancer (NEPC). This work involves extensive use of the Vectra Polaris equipment, a piece of highly specialised equipment purchased by Prostate Project supporters and one of the very few 9 colour panel machines in the world, most feature just 6 colour panels.
Michelle needs help with this study, and is appealing for volunteers with prostate cancer who are currently treatment free or between treatments, and have been on Enzalutamide or Abiraterone. If you are able to attend hospital to donate 30mls of blood it’s likely you will be able to help with future diagnosis and treatment. Contact Michelle at: email@example.com.
Michelle’s role is funded by the Prostate Project.
Prostate Project Consultants Team
Chris is one of Europe’s leading laparoscopic surgeons specialising in removal of the prostate.
Robert is one of the UK’s leading Brachytherapy specialists (a minimally invasive technique of implanting radioactive seeds into the prostate gland to treat cancer) and expert in radiotherapy treatment of the prostate. Robert is a Trustee of the Prostate Project.
Stephen is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. He is the leader in the UK in the field of prostate Brachytherapy. Stephen is a Trustee of the Prostate Project.
Hardev heads the research team at the University of Surrey, and is an expert in prostate cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy and gene therapy. Hardev is a Trustee of the Prostate Project.
Consultant Physician in Medical Oncology and Senior Lecturer and the University of Surrey. Dr Michael is a clinician specialising in ovarian, prostate and breast cancer.
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