In my early career I worked as a Biomedical Scientist, specialising in Histopathology. I obtained a PhD in 1993 from Queen’s University Belfast whilst working within the Department of Surgery, based at the Royal Victoria Hospital. During this period, I established collaborative links with surgeons and pathologists.
Initially in my research, I contributed to both trauma and cancer projects. In 1998, my focus shifted to urology, especially bladder cancer, and I established the Uro-oncology Research Group. Early projects focussed on the role of apoptosis in the response to intravesical mitomycin c. We progressed to investigate the enhancing effects of antisense to clustering, antisense to Bcl2 and BclXL, and siRNA Ras in combination with chemotherapy. Recent projects have explored the role of methylation and Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition in the progression of bladder cancer.
I was Academic Lead of the QUB Tissue Core Technology Unit for 5 years (2004 to 2009). During this period we established quality control procedures within the unit and introduced tissue array technologies with their associated immunohistochemistry profiling. These technologies have continued to evolve within the unit and now have been integrated with the Northern Ireland Biobank and virtual imaging facilities. My expertise and established collaborators in this field will be crucial to the success of the immunohistochemistry and tissue microarray elements of this project.
I have supervised 7 MD, 4 PhD and 4 MSc projects. I have 43 peer-reviewed manuscripts, mainly in the field of urology and with a focus on bladder cancer detection and tumourigenesis.
There is huge enthusiasm amongst the urological community in Northern Ireland for our collaborative work with Randox Laboratories. I was the Chief Investigator of the case control study, which we undertook in collaboration with Randox between 2006 and 2008. This study established the feasibility of using combinations of biomarkers to detect bladder cancer in the urine from 157 haematuria patients. Extensive collaborative networks developed during this project. We have built on these to extend our collaboration into a comprehensive research programme. The main aim of this programme is to translate scientific findings into tools, i.e., biochips that will inform clinical decision-making for patients.
I have regular meetings with the urologists, pathologists, Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Centre nurses, service managers and Randox personnel. This ensures the clinical relevance of my research.