Kate Makin

    PhD Student

    After completing a Big C summer studentship in 2015 studying the role of ADAMTSs in angiogenesis and breast cancer progression with Dr Sophia Elias, I came back for more to work on my dissertation project in the January of 2016, this time focusing entirely on ADAMTS1 and ADAMTS15 in breast cancer progression. After finishing my degree with Starred First Class Honours, I accepted my offer to come back again (can’t seem to keep away from the Edwards Lab!) to study for my PhD funded by Breast Cancer Now. Starting in October 2016, I will be investigating the link between MMP-8 and transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) in breast cancer with the hope to discover important findings in relation to immune checkpoint therapy.

      Jordi Lambert

      PhD student

      I got my first taste of research whilst completing my undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences at the University of Reading. My first lab experience came from an undergraduate research opportunities placement in in the summer of my second year, during which I worked in the lab of Dr. Phil Dash on a project focusing on in vitro modelling of cell migration in 3D environments, it was during this time that I fell in love with research, and realized it was what I wanted to do as a career.

      Following this, I began my final year research project in the lab of Dr. Andrew Bicknell, working on the expression, function and processing of hemokinin, a protein hormone of the tachykinin family. In the summer of 2015 I graduated top of my class with first class honours, I then moved to Norwich to begin my PhD, funded by the BBRSC supervised by Professor Dylan Edwards.

      My PhD started in October 2015, investigating the link between extracellular proteases such as the ADAMTS family members, ECM receptors such as syndecan 4 and integrins, and adhesion and migration.

        Hege Berg

        Masters by research student

        I completed my BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Bergen, Norway in 2013, and decided to undertake my Master’s abroad, partly to gain international research experience and partly due to my genuine interest in cancer research. The UK was a natural choice due to the reputation of research excellence and I completed my first MSc in Molecular Medicine at the University of Essex in October 2015. My research project was performed in the lab of Dr Metodi Metodiev, in which I utilised the novel CRISPR/dCas9 system to endogenously overexpress Stat1 in 4T1 mouse breast tumor cells. This incredibly exciting project, combined with my interest in cancer research, motivated me to further develop my research competence. In October 2015, I became a MSc by Research student in the Edwards lab at UEA to investigate the mechanism by which Matrix Metalloprotease 8 (MMP8) suppress tumour malignancy, in the context of a breast cancer mouse model.


          Dr Marc Lafleur

          PhD Student

          My career as a research scientist originated in the young and bustling Edwards lab at the University of Calgary (Canada) where I enrolled as a graduate student to study the role of MMPs in angiogenesis. Shortly after adapting to life in the Edwards lab, pandemonium broke loose as Dylan unexpectedly announced he was moving his lab to Norwich to lead the cancer research efforts at UEA. After numerous explanations to the entire department of Norwich’s location on a hand-drawn UK map outside his office, Dylan provided an exciting life-changing opportunity to his students by extending the invitation to join him in his new adventure at UEA.

          The collegial interactions amongst the talented scientists in BIO afforded me a genuinely positive PhD experience, and were incidentally responsible for my developing a love for afternoon tea and cider at the pub! After completing my studies at UEA, I pursued life as a postdoc, taking advantage of additional learning opportunities to cutting-edge science in two contrasting settings at St. Vincent’s institute (Melbourne, Australia) and Harvard Medical School/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston, USA).

          My academic training then enabled the fulfillment of my ultimate professional goal; to join a science-based research team focused on the discovery and development of novel human therapeutics to treat grievous illnesses. To this end, I joined the Discovery Toxicology group at Amgen (California USA), the world’s largest independent biotech company several years ago. I am now certified in general toxicology by the American Board of Toxicology and work on projects encompassing mechanistic investigations of drug toxicity, predictive toxicology and drug toxicity biomarkers. Given that toxicology stretches across scientific disciplines, I am constantly exposed to new areas of science, which is a good thing for someone who constantly asks, “Why”? Science is fun and you never know where a career in science may take you…

            Ben Kirkup

            Masters Student 2014

            Ben did a Masters project in the lab in 2014. Ben’s Masters project focused on elucidating the mechanisms by which ADAMTS-15 is capable of inhibiting angiogenesis. The project identified two potential mediator proteins that are currently being investigated by Sophie as part of the Big C project. He has since gone on to begin his PhD in Dr Stephen Robinson’s lab, studying the role of integrins in physiological angiogenesis.

            Dr Sophia Elias (was Akbareian)

            Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate

            I was put on the pathway to becoming a scientist even before I knew it, when I did my undergraduate degree at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in 2003. My first lab training was in the lab of Professor Andrea Munsterberg studying the expression of miRNA’s in limb development. I was hooked and couldn’t envisage doing a career that didn’t involve research in the lab. In 2006 I graduated with an upper second class honors in BSc Biomedicine from UEA.

            In September of 2006 I began a PhD at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, in the lab of Dr Imelda McGonnell and Professor Andrew Pitsillides studying cranial foramina development in the chick. I graduated with my PhD in January 2010.

            Two weeks later I moved to Boston in America in January 2010 to become a postdoctoral research scientist in the lab of a clinician; Dr Allan Goldstein at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School to study the development of the enteric nervous system in the chick. I completed my postdoctoral training at Harvard after 3 years in December 2012/January 2013.

            In October 2013 I became a Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate to Professor Dylan Edwards back at my old university at UEA and made the scary but surprisingly not-so-different transition from developmental biology to cancer biology to study pancreatic cancer for the EU funded FP7 SaveMe project.

            In March 2015 I began a new project in the lab funded by a local Norfolk charity, The Big C,  studying the role of ADAMTSs in angiogenesis and breast cancer progression.

            I’m a member of the BIO Athena SWAN Support and Equality Team (ASSET) and was a member of the contract research staff forum.

            I left the lab at the end of August 2016 after I got married and am now embarking on a year of teacher training to become a secondary school biology teacher.


            Dr Richard Kelwick

            PhD student

            Over five years of independent research experience, primarily in cancer biology and synthetic biology. Trained to a high professional standard with a track record of continual professional and personal development. Enhanced my working knowledge of Synthetic Biology techniques and their underpinning engineering principles as part of my roles as a scientific advisor to three successful iGEM teams. Collaborative research experience at local (university research groups), national (Flowers consortium, QMUL and University of Oxford) and international level (iGEM community and Technischen Universität München). Known for my innovative uses of industry connections, outreach activities, technology and social media to enhance the overall societal and/or economic impact of the projects I successfully complete.

              Julia Mundy

              Summer Student 2014

              Julia did a summer student project in our lab in 2014 studying the role of S100P in pancreatic cancer progression and returned in 2015 to do her final year dissertation project studying ADAMTSs in breast cancer.

                Dr Karen Yeow

                PhD student

                After completing her PhD in the Edwards lab, Karen spent 2 years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, France, studying cell signaling pathways in myogenesis. Following that, she was offered a job as a staff scientist with Serono, in Geneva, Switzerland. After 5 years of preclinical work in the corporate world, Karen decided to make a career change as a healthcare communications executive with Phocus Services, a medical communications agency in Basel, Switzerland. Her next move was as brand communications manager with Arpida, a biotech company in Reinach, Switzerland.

                Karen now runs her own company, Biomedicomm Ltd., offering medical writing and communications services to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry.  

                Harriet Avis

                Summer Student 2014

                Harriet did a summer student project in our lab in 2014 studying the role of MMP-7 in pancreatic cancer development.

                Briony Keir

                Summer Student 2014

                Briony did a summer student project in our lab in 2014 studying ADAMTSs in breast cancer progression.

                Dr Christian Roghi

                Senior Research Associate

                  Mr Simon Pilgrim

                  MD student

                  I studied pre-clinical medicine at University of Cambridge, graduating with a BA in Neuroscience in 1998. I then moved to the Royal Free Hospital, now part of University College London, for clinical medicine, obtaining an MB, BS in 2001. After developing an interest in breast cancer during my junior surgical jobs at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital and the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, I worked in Dylan Edwards’ lab at UEA on expression of Matrix Metalloprotease 8 (MMP-8) and other proteases in breast cancer, being awarded my MD in July 2008.

                  During my higher surgical training in the East of England, I was able to contribute to a variety of clinical research projects, and was the founding chairman of the East of England Surgical Research Group. I have published on a range of conditions including diverticular disease in the context of obesity; small bowel enteropathy due to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and appendicitis. But breast cancer remains my main interest, most recently publishing on the impact of next generation DNA sequencing for BRCA1 mutation carriers.

                  Having obtained my Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons, I’m now (2014) starting as a consultant breast cancer surgeon at the Glenfield Hospital, University Hospitals of Leicester, where I plan to develop further collaborations and continue my clinical research interests alongside my clinical work as an oncoplastic breast surgeon.

                    Dr Liz Shedden

                    PhD student

                    My life in research began when studying for my MSci in Biochemistry and Biological Chemistry at the University of Nottingham. My master’s project was performed in the lab of Professor Mark Searle on the A20 domain of Znf216 (a zinc finger motif protein linked to muscular atrophy) and the UBA domain of p62 (links to increased bone focal turnover in Paget’s Disease of Bone and has associations with Alzheimer’s) and their interactions with ubiquitin. I graduated in 2009 with an upper second class honours.

                    My masters project gave me a taste for scientific research and between 2009-2011, I went on to explore a career in research at the CRUK and MRC – Li Ka Shing Centre Cambridge Research Institute. Under the supervision of Prof Gillian Murphy, I was employed as a research assistant studying an antibody against MT1-MMP (a membrane associated matrix metalloproteinase also known as MMP-14) and ADAM10 (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase domain containing protein 10) in gastrointestinal tumors.

                    In 2011 I was accepted onto a PhD studentship, funded by The BigC cancer charity, to study the interactions of the ADAM15 intracellular domain splice variants with proteins that contain SH3 domains using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance in relation to breast cancer development. My PhD supervisors were Dr Tharin Blumenschein and Prof Dylan Edwards. I enjoyed performing research for my PhD which bridges the fields of structural biochemistry and cancer biology. I completed my PhD in March, 2015 and successfully defended my thesis in May 2015.

                    Liz is currently working for Eppendorf in Stevenage.

                    Drs Julie Decock & Wouter Hendrickx

                    Senior Research Associate & Research Associate

                    Julie joined the lab in January 2008 as a postdoctoral fellow. Her main research interest lies in the mechanisms directing a cancer cell’s potential to thrive in the tumour microenvironment and metastasize to distant organs. During her postdoc at the UEA, she has investigated the role of various proteases in prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and breast cancer as well as explored signalling pathways responsible for therapeutic resistance in melanoma. In a joined effort with her husband, Dr Wouter Hendrickx, who joined the team in 2012; she studied the effect of MMP-8 ablation on breast cancer development and progression in vivo, and contributed to the EU Framework Programme SaveMe project that aims to develop a novel degradome-based nano-platform for the diagnosis and treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer. Julie also supervised a PhD student, Sally Thirkettle, who investigated the functions of MMP-8 in breast cancer in more depth in vitro.

                    She was also involved in various committees on School, Faculty and University level including the BIO Athena SWAN Support & Equality Team (ASSET) who successfully achieved a Bronze award. She was also a seminar leader of the cancer biology module for several years.

                    Julie and Wouter left the UEA at the end of 2013 to join the Cancer Research Centre at the Qatar Biomedical Research Institute and the Sidra Medical and Research Center. In Julie’s current research, she will explore the importance of other microenvironmental players as key mediators of tumour progression and will assess their impact on the efficacy of novel breast cancer treatment modalities including adoptive cell immunotherapeutic approaches.


                    Dr Robert Nuttall

                    Senior Research Associate

                    I spent six years as a Senior Research Associate in the Edwards where I helped develop and optimize molecular profiling techniques to study cell, animal and human samples for both cancer and inflammatory disease. After UEA, I moved to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Initially, I continued doing cancer research, but over time I transitioned into doing research on science policy, examining how scientific knowledge is used and evaluated by government agencies when making decisions. I left Dalhousie to join the Canadian Cancer Society, one of Canada’s largest health charities, in Toronto as Health Policy Analyst. I am now the Acting Director of Cancer Control Policy with the Society. Our team works across the cancer control spectrum, from prevention to end-of-life issues. We review and interpret scientific information and develop evidence-informed policies and positions for the organization. We also support staff across the country by providing information and helping to interpret new research.

                    The knowledge I gained about cancer biology, the multidisciplinary collaborations I was part of, and the connections I made with the charitable sector while in the Edwards lab were instrumental in leading me to where I am now.