Research Fellows Directory
Professor Gregory Hannon
University of Cambridge
Our work spans the spectrum from basic biology to translational research in cancer. Overall, we begin with high level phenomenological questions and drive these through innovative technical approaches to detailed mechanistic understanding. Our efforts are applied mainly in two areas. The first are the processes which protect our genomes from genetic parasites. These can be viewed as being analogous to viruses but instead of being foreign sequences, they have become parts of our own genomes. Roughly a decade ago, we uncovered the means by which all animals protect themselves from these genomic parasites, and we continue to strive to understand in detail how we recognize our own "good" DNA from the "bad" DNA that these elements contribute. Of course, its not that simple, as these parasites can provide us an evolutionary advantage. Understanding how protective systems are optimized to balance beneficial versus deleterious effects is a critical part of our work.
We also study cancer from a genomic perspective, with a particular focus on breast cancer. We have delved deeply into the obsevation that cancers are heterogeneous not only amongst patients but also within a single patient. We have developed functional models in which we could study the consequences of such heterogeneity, and this has led us to the discovery of key processes that drive metastasis. Working with colleagues at CRUK and with AstraZeneca, we are trying to translate some of those findings for clinical benefit.
Other efforts within the group are directed toward understanding the biology of early breast cancer, with the goal of predictiing which patients are at risk to progressing to lethal disease, based upon their genetics, and understanding the long periods of remission that some patients experience before relapse.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)