20202020

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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr. Jones is a post-doctoral research fellow working in Dr. Melanie S. Flint’s cancer stress lab. Having joined the lab in September 2018, Dr. Jones is working on a Cancer Research UK (CRUK)-funded multi-disciplinary project designed to tackle existing problems with new approaches. Dr. Jones and Dr. Flint, with expertise in cancer biology, are working alongside Prof. Bhavik A. Patel and post-doctoral research fellow Dr. Aya Abdalla, with expertise in electrochemical sensing, to develop a novel electrochemistry-based sensor for the detection of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS), to measure production of these species in living tumour tissue cultured in the lab and to better characterise their role in the progression of cancer.

 

Research Interests

My research interests involve the study of cellular biochemical processes and both how they are affected by, and how they themselves affect cancer progression and development. In particular, my current research involves applying exciting new techniques to study the role of highly reactive biochemical molecules known as reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS) in breast cancer.

Current research projects:

  • The development of a novel analytical probe to monitor reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS) in living tumour tissue to study their role in cancer and to help personalise cancer treatment.

Previous research projects:

  • The innate immune kinase IKKε as a novel regulator of PSAT1 and serine metabolism – PhD thesis, Barts Cancer Institute - Queen Mary, University of London (http://qmro.qmul.ac.uk/xmlui/handle/123456789/44685)
  • Investigation into the metabolism of anti-cancer prodrugs, SS04 & MM58, by recombinant Matrix Metalloproteinases 2, 3, 9, 10, 14 & 15. – BSc final year project, University of Bradford

Scholarly biography

I am a research fellow, working in the lab of Dr. Melanie S. Flint in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Science and the Centre for Stress and Age-Related Disease (STRAND) at the University of Brighton.

My interest in cancer research began during my undergraduate studies at the University of Bradford, between 2011 and 2014, where I studied for a BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Sciences. During the final year of my degree, I took a specialised module, learning the basics of cancer biology. As part of this I worked with Prof. Paul M. Loadman at the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics at the university, where I undertook a final year project investigating the selective activation of newly designed cancer drugs by enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which are present at high levels in tumours.

Following completion of my undergraduate degree in 2014, I began my PhD studies at Barts Cancer Institute, part of the School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary, University of London. Working in the lab of Dr. Katiuscia Bianchi, I studied how an important breast cancer oncogene, inhibitor of kappa-B kinase epsilon (IKKε) could regulate the metabolism of cells in which it is overexpressed. Through this work I developed an appreciation for how cancer cells can be genetically reprogrammed to promote biosynthetic metabolic processes that favour rapid cellular growth, focusing particularly on the serine biosynthesis pathway, which promotes cancer growth through various mechanisms, including the production of anti-oxidant molecules. I wrote my thesis in early 2018, before successfully defending my work in June that year.

I remained in London for a few months following the completion of my PhD studies, finishing a few outstanding projects in the Bianchi lab, before ultimately leaving in September 2018, when I moved to Brighton to join Dr. Flint’s lab to work on a CRUK-funded multidisciplinary project investigating reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in cancer, alongside Prof. Bhavik A. Patel and Dr Aya Abdalla.

Approach to teaching

I have lectured on the topic of cancer metabolism. This focused on a "ground-up" approach of teaching students the basic concepts of cellular metabolism, then detailing the specific ways that cancer cells differ from normal healthy cells and, finally, the biological reasons as to why cancers alter their metabolism and how these alterations facilitate growth and progression.

When teaching students in the laboratory, I focus on ensuring that the student understands the theory behind the techniques they are performing which, in the long term, allows them to understand more about why experiments succeed or fail, helping them learn to become independent researchers.

Supervisory Interests

Dr Flint's research focuses on examining the effects of different types of stress on cancer development and progression. Specifically, I have supervised undergraduate and masters students through projects that have investigated the effect of stress hormone hydrocortisone on DNA damage in immortalised epithelial cells as a way of studying stress and tumour initiation.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Queen Mary University of London

4 Nov 20146 Jun 2018

Award Date: 30 Sep 2018

Bachelor, University of Bradford

19 Sep 201123 May 2014

Award Date: 17 Jul 2014

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Research Output

The breast cancer oncogene IKKε coordinates mitochondrial function and serine metabolism

Xu, R., Jones, W., Wilcz-Villega, E., Costa, A. SH., Rajeeve, V., Bentham, R. B., Bryson, K., Nagano, A., Yaman, B., Barasa, S. O., Wang, Y., Chelala, C., Cutillas, P., Szabadkai, G., Frezza, C. & Bianchi, K., 11 Aug 2020, In : EMBO Reports. 21, 9, e48260.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
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