Current research projects
Here you will find information about our current projects, partnering with leading clinicians, institutions and academics across the UK.
Improving how well radiotherapy works for patients with rectal cancer
Lead Researcher: Miss Rachael Clifford
Bowel Cancer UK/RCS Research Fellow, Miss Rachael Clifford, is looking at ways to improve how well radiotherapy works for patients with rectal cancer.
Using stem cells to reduce complications after bowel cancer surgery
Lead Researcher: Mr Joshua Burke
Bowel Cancer UK/RCS Research Fellow, Mr Joshua Burke, is looking at ways to reduce a serious complication of bowel cancer surgery. He hopes a special type of stem cell will help improve healing after surgery and reduce the chance of a complication known as ‘anastomotic leak’.
The first Bowel Cancer UK/Royal College of Surgeons of England Colorectal Research Chair
Lead Researcher: Professor David Jayne
Professor David Jayne is the first surgical research Chair to be appointed as part of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS Eng) Surgical Trials Initiative. His work will drive forward surgical clinical trial research for bowel cancer, both increasing the number of trials and helping to make sure more patients are able to take part.
Predicting what happens after surgery for patients with FAP, a rare genetic condition that increases risk of bowel cancer
Lead Researcher: Miss Roshani Patel
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is a rare genetic condition that greatly increases a person’s chance of developing bowel cancer. Roshani Patel, our Bowel Cancer UK/RCS Research Fellow, will explore why some people with FAP are still at risk of developing bowel cancer following surgery.
Improving surgery for rectal surgery
Lead Researcher: Miss Marta Penna
Surgery offers the best chance of cure for patients with rectal cancer. Our first Bowel Cancer UK/RCS Research Fellow, Marta Penna, hopes to improve training for surgeons who use a pioneering new technique for rectal cancer known as transanal total mesorectal excision (TaTME).
Understanding more about the genes involved in bowel cancer at a younger age
Lead Researcher: Dr Claire Palles
Bowel cancer is more common in people over 50, but some people develop the disease at an early age. Dr Claire Palles and team will look in detail at the genes of younger bowel cancer patients to help better identify people at higher risk of the disease in the future.
Detecting DNA from bowel cancer cells using the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)
Lead Researchers: Dr Evropi Theodoratou and Dr Alessandro Rufini
Bowel cancer screening is one of the best ways to diagnose bowel cancer at an early stage, when treatment is more likely to be successful. Drs Theodoratou and Rufini are investigating whether it’s possible to find DNA from cancer cells in poo samples. If successful, this technique could potentially be used to improve screening and diagnosis of bowel cancer.
A national Lynch syndrome registry
Lead Researchers: Professor Sir John Burn and Dr Jem Rashbass
Lynch syndrome is a genetic condition that increases the lifetime risk of bowel cancer to up to 80%. Professor Sir John Burn and Dr Jem Rashbass will create a national registry of people with Lynch syndrome to help inform surveillance, treatment and care of people with the condition.
The impact of using lifestyle or genetic information to decide at what age to start inviting people for bowel cancer screening in England
Lead Researcher: Dr Juliet Usher-Smith
Research has already shown that the national bowel cancer screening programme can save lives. In this project, Dr Usher-Smith and her colleagues will be looking at whether more information on lifestyle factors or changes in genes could help improve the screening programme further.
Are changes in gut bacteria contributing to bowel cancer in the under 50s?
Lead Researcher: Dr Caroline Young
Dr Caroline Young and her colleagues are investigating whether differences in the microbiome (the bacteria that live in the gut) could be playing a role in the increasing number of young people diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Improving uptake of bowel cancer screening in the South Asian community
Lead Researcher: Professor Lesley Smith
The number of people from the South Asian community that take part in bowel cancer screening in the UK is low, at around 30%. Professor Lesley Smith from the University of Hull along with colleagues at Oxford Brookes University and Liverpool John Moores will investigate reasons why uptake is low and begin to develop a new project that encourages more people to take part in screening.
Improving treatment for chemotherapy resistant bowel cancer
Lead Researcher: Miss Michelle Johnpulle
Chemotherapy is a common treatment for patients with advanced bowel cancer. Finding new ways to improve its effectiveness is crucial. Our Bowel Cancer UK/RCS Research Fellow, Michelle Johnpulle, is investigating ways to improve treatment for patients with bowel cancer that has become resistant to chemotherapy.
Investigating how the gut environment affects bowel cancer in younger people
Lead Researcher: Professor Mohammad Ilyas
Bowel cancers in younger people may grow more quickly than in people aged over 50. Professor Mohammad Ilyas from University of Nottingham, in collaboration with colleagues from the Universities of Leeds, Birmingham and Edinburgh, will compare samples of bowel cancer from younger people with samples from people aged over 50 to understand if there are differences that might affect how quickly a tumour grows.
Investigating ways to improve chemoradiotheraphy for rectal cancer patients
Lead researcher: Dr Alex Greenhough
Dr Alex Greenhough and his collaborators (Mr. Adam Chambers and Prof Ann Williams) are investigating ways to improve how well chemoradiotherapy treatment works for patients with rectal cancer. In the future, they hope this work will mean more tailored treatment decisions can be made for each individual bowel cancer patient.
Improving use of the faecal immunochemical test
Lead Researcher: Professor Robert Steele
The faecal immunochemical test (FIT) is a test used to look for blood in poo, which could be a sign of bowel cancer or pre-cancerous growths (polyps). Professor Robert Steele and his team are investigating ways to improve how FIT is used to improve early diagnosis of bowel cancer.