Matthew Ellis (2017-2020)
Project: Investigating the role of the IGF-1R in prostate cancer
Supervisor: Dr Valentine Macaulay
I graduated from King’s College London (KCL) with a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry, where I became interested in cancer research during my research project. I was subsequently awarded funding to undertake summer research studentships at the University of Cambridge and the National Institute of Medical Research. I received a national scholarship to study an MRes in cancer biology at Imperial College London, working in the Gene Targeting laboratory of Dr Andrew Porter and at the Francis Crick Institute in the Apoptosis and Proliferation Control laboratory with Dr Nic Tapon. I was awarded the Dean’s Prize in Cancer Biology for achieving the highest overall distinction in my year.
I spent the following year as a research assistant in the Marciniak laboratory at the Cambridge Institute of Medical Research before moving to Oxford to commence my DPhil studies. My project uses novel gene editing techniques to study the mechanism of radio-sensitisation in prostate cancer cells, focusing on the type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-1R). This work incorporates CRISPR/Cas9 technology, radiation and DNA damage assays, coupled with both hypothesis-led and unbiased approaches to uncover signalling intermediates involved in the IGF-1R-DNA damage axis.
Before my DPhil, I trained as a domestic violence support worker and volunteered in a local hospital. The clinical focus of the Department of Oncology coupled with the large number of clinician scientists has allowed me to maintain this connection to medicine, through various shadowing opportunities at the nearby Churchill Hospital and Sobell House hospice. Advancing research on a drug experimentally in vitro while seeing its therapeutic benefit in the clinic has been such a rewarding experience.
My interest in medicine has grown during my DPhil and I have been successful in my application to study medicine at University College London (UCL) starting in September 2020. My DPhil funding generously provided by the MRC and a scholarship from Exeter College, Oxford has given me the opportunity to pursue previous lab interests in genetic engineering and cancer biology, whilst giving me the platform to obtain a place at medical school. Without this funding, I would not have the framework in place to pursue a career as a clinical scientist.