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Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


Oliver Cast

United Kingdom

Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, Clare Hall

PhD thesis: Computational Profiling of The Tumour Microenvironment in Response To Cancer Immunotherapy

Research interests
1. Immunology
2. Cancer Biology
3. Bioinformatics
4. The Tumour Microenvironment


My PhD focuses on developing and implementing novel computational approaches to characterise the immune system within the tumour microenvironment and model how it interacts with cancer. Recent developments in immunotherapies has provided a subset of patients with a strong and durable anti-tumoural response. Despite these promising observations a proportion of patients remain unresponsive to treatment or acquire resistance. The aim of this research is to examine the underlying mechanisms responsible for the immune system failing to respond to a tumour and how the tumour can develop mechanisms of immune escape and resistance to treatment. The initial avenue of research will be to examine the role of key immune signalling molecules named cytokines. Using network-based approaches I aim to identify how these molecules are regulated in a co-ordinated manner and examine how perturbations in this network following treatment can lead a variation in immune responses and subsequent patient outcome.


Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

Cancer Research UK estimates 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime. For this reason, there are very few people who haven’t been affected by cancer in a meaningful way. I feel incredibly fortunate to be in the position where I can contribute towards finding or developing treatments that can improve the lives of patients. It is a field where you are never short of motivation. My fascination with the role the immune system plays came from an inspiring immunology lecturer who showed me how important passion and enthusiasm for your research is.