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Research Themes

Immunology (Collaborator)

Rachel Kerr

Medical Oncologist

  • Associate Professor of Gastrointestinal Oncology

Research Summary

Adjuvant therapy is given after surgery in order to decrease the risk of recurrence and improve overall long term survival. Adjuvant therapy can comprise cytotoxic and non-cytotoxic drugs as well as radiotherapy, the latter being of great interest for other Groups within the Department of Oncology.

Great progress has been made in the adjuvant colorectal cancer field over the last 25 years as we can now save a further 15-20 lives per 100 patients treated compared with surgery alone. However it is imperative that we not only improve the panoply (array) of drugs we can offer but also refine our ability to predict which patients will gain most benefit from which drugs. Additionally we need to predict which patients will suffer greatest toxicity, allowing us to dose reduce drugs a priori, or in some cases to avoid certain drugs altogether.

Throughout all of our large scale trials we collect blood and DNA for genetic profiling and also tumour tissue. This allows us to carry out highly powerful translational research and lends us the scope to define the biomarkers as outlined above. In addition to furnishing our own research, these huge biobanks with extremely clean and reliable clinical data can be mined by other researchers.


Rachel Kerr is a medical oncologist and Associate Professor of Gastrointestinal Oncology in the Department of Oncology and at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust within the colorectal cancer multidisciplinary team.

Rachel holds a UK Department of Health Fellowship, and is Clinical Director of the Phase 3 Trials at the Oncology Clinical Trials Office (OCTO) based within the Department. OCTO aims to drive the practical application of high-quality clinical research into innovative and effective cancer therapies and prevention strategies and has recruited almost 10,000 patients into clinical trials in the past 10 years.