Breast and Ovarian

The Breast and Ovarian Focus Group is comprised of Oncologists, Gynaecological Oncology Surgeons, Pathologists, Geneticists and laboratory-based Scientists. 

Its role is to facilitate the transition of novel biomarkers or therapies from the laboratory into prospective clinical trials run in the Belfast Experimental Cancer Medical Centre (ECMC).


The major projects are:

  • Targeting of FKBPL in ovarian cancer. The ALM201 peptide based drug was originally discovered and developed in Professor Tracy Robson’s laboratory. In collaboration with Almac, the peptide will enter a Belfast ECMC supported clinical trial in advanced ovarian cancer in 2014. The focus group has been active in developing biomarker strategies to allow stratification of patients for this study.
  • Identification of Biomarkers for Ovarian Cancer Progression. The group has successfully profiled a series of clinical samples that represent the progression from normal tissue to malignant disease. This study has identified important molecular changes that may be detectable in blood as an early biomarker for ovarian cancer. These findings are being validated in a prospective tumour and blood collection study from high-risk patients which started in October 2013.
  • Generation and Validation of Ovarian Cell line models. The group has developed a transcriptional-based methodology for the validation of tumour of origin and histological classification of ovarian cancer cell lines. Using this approach we have discovered that some ovarian cell lines commonly used for research are of non-gynaecological origin.  We are in the process of developing new cell lines that more accurately reflect ovarian cancer biology.

Other areas of focus include:

  • Development of biomarkers for SRC inhibitors
  • Molecular subtyping of ovarian cancer.

Group Membership

Richard Kennedy  
Chairperson: Professor Richard Kennedy   
Dr James Beirne Professor Patrick Morrison
Dr Fiona Furlong Dr Paul Mullan
Professor Paul Harkin           Dr Niamh O'Brien 
Dr Ian Harley Dr Eileen Parkes
Professor Tim Harrison Dr John Price
Dr Nuala McCabe Professor Tracy Robson
Professor Glenn McCluggage Professor Manuel Salto-Tellez