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Professor Harkin’s research is focused on understanding the impact of mutations within the BRCA1 gene in the development and treatment of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

We are using a number of complementary strategies to investigate the role played by BRCA1 in both DNA damage repair and transcriptional regulation. We were the first lab to identify a novel BRCA1-mRNA splicing complex required for efficient DNA repair and maintenance of genomic stability following DNA damage.

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Professor Harkin is open to PhD applications in the general area of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. DNA damage repair or transcriptional regulation.

His fields of interest include;

  • DNA damage repair
  • Transcriptional regulation
  • Mechanisms of sensitivity/resistance to DNA damage based therapeutics
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  • Cancer Discovery (journal) - editorial "BRCA1-MEDIATED mRNA SPLICING MAINTAINS GENOME STABILITY"
  • The Belfast Telegraph - feature story "Queen's University Belfast breakthrough in bid to combat a killer cancer gene"
  • The Mirror - feature story "Researchers in Northern Ireland make huge breakthrough in fight against breast and ovarian cancer"



Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences

School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biological Sciences

Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology

Institute for Health Sciences

Research students

Name: Dr. Colin McIlmunn (Clinical Fellow)


PhD title: The molecular and genetic characterisation of contralateral breast cancer

Years of Study:  2

Country: United Kingdom  


Alumni: where are they now?

Name: Professor Richard Kennedy


PhD title: Functional analysis of BRCA1

Years of Study: 3

Country: UK

Current position: McClay Professor of Experimental Medicine, QUB and Vice President of biomarker discovery at Almac Diagnostics

Name: Dr Jekaterina Vohhodina


PhD title: Role played by BRCA1 in mRNA splicing

Years of Study: 3

Country: Estonia

Current position: Research Fellow in Genetics at Livingston Lab, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School

Research at Queen's

Postgraduate research

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