Beating bowel cancer together

Current research projects

Here you will find information about our current projects, partnering with leading clinicians, institutions and academics across the UK.

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.

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Improving surgery for rectal surgery


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).                                                  

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Your support helps save lives. Donate now and help us ensure a future where nobody dies of bowel cancer.
Your support helps save lives. Donate now and help us ensure a future where nobody dies of bowel cancer.

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