Cellular and molecular origins of cancer

The principal aim of my research is to improve the accuracy of brain tumour classification and treatment, avoiding long-term side effects for those who can be cured, whilst providing new therapeutic targets to guide future treatment. With a particular focus on children’s brain tumours. We are working to understand the cellular and molecular origins of cancers and the pathways that drive them. We hope to achieve this goal by:

  • Conducting extensive genomic analyses of brain tumours to identify cancer-causing genetic abnormalities.
  • Understanding the impact of signalling pathways on normal stem cell biology and tissue development
  • Integrating studies of genetic and cell signal alterations in cancers with studies of normal progenitor cells to determine the cellular and molecular origins of tumours
  • Translating knowledge of tumour biology into effective new cancer cures through pre-clinical and early clinical trials of molecular targeted therapies.

These findings are among the most important to have come out of my lab for three decades. Not only have we identified one of the elusive drivers of metastasis, but we have also turned a commonly held understanding of this on its head showing how cancer hijacks processes in healthy cells for its own gains.

Prof Richard Gilbertson, on Rahrmann et al, Nature Genetics 2022

Selected Publications

  1. Rahrmann EP, Shorthouse D, Jassim A, Hu LP, Ortiz M, Mahler-Araujo B, Vogel P, Paez-Ribes M, Fatemi A, Hannon GJ, Iyer R, Blundon JA, Lourenço FC, Kay J, Nazarian RM, Hall BA, Zakharenko SS, Winton DJ, Zhu L, Gilbertson RJ. The NALCN channel regulates metastasis and nonmalignant cell dissemination. Nat Genet. 2022 Sep 29
  2. Kupp R, Ruff L, Terranova S, Nathan E, Ballereau S, Stark R, Sekhar Reddy Chilamakuri C, Hoffmann N, Wickham-Rahrmann K, Widdess M, Arabzade A, Zhao Y, Varadharajan S, Zheng T, Murugesan M, Pfister SM, Kawauchi D, Pajtler KW, Deneen B, Mack SC, Masih KE, Gryder BE, Khan J, Gilbertson RJ. ZFTA Translocations Constitute Ependymoma Chromatin Remodeling and Transcription Factors. Cancer Discov. 2021 Sep
  3. Patmore DM, Jassim A, Nathan E, Gilbertson RJ, Tahan D, Hoffmann N, Tong Y, Smith KS, Kanneganti TD, Suzuki H, Taylor MD, Northcott P, Gilbertson RJ. DDX3X Suppresses the Susceptibility of Hindbrain Lineages to Medulloblastoma. Dev Cell. 2020 Aug
  4. Samir P, Kesavardhana S, Patmore DM, Gingras S, Malireddi RKS, Karki R, Guy CS, Briard B, Place DE, Bhattacharya A, Sharma BR, Nourse A, King SV, Pitre A, Burton AR, Pelletier S, Gilbertson RJ, Kanneganti TD. DDX3X acts as a live-or-die checkpoint in stressed cells by regulating NLRP3 inflammasome. Nature. 2019 Sep
  5. Nimmervoll BV, Boulos N, Bianski B, Dapper J, DeCuypere M, Shelat A, Terranova S, Terhune HE, Gajjar A, Patel YT, Freeman BB, Onar-Thomas A, Stewart CF, Roussel MF, Guy RK, Merchant TE, Calabrese C, Wright KD, Gilbertson RJ. Establishing a Preclinical Multidisciplinary Board for Brain Tumors. Clin Cancer Res. 2018 Apr

Other publications by the Gilbertson lab

Selected news 

https://www.cruk.cam.ac.uk/2022/09/29/breakthrough-in-understanding-of-how-cancer-spreads-could-lead-to-better-treatments

https://www.oncology.cam.ac.uk/news/professor-richard-gilbertson-elected-fellow-royal-society