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Simone Lanfredini is a postdoctoral researcher in Eric O’Neill’s lab.

Simone gives an overview of his research exploring the influence radiotherapy and immunotherapy may have on pancreatic tumour progression and talks about the collaborative aspects of his work.  


Tell us about your research…

 My work is focused on how radiotherapy and immunotherapy can modulate the tumour microenvironment and influence the pancreatic tumour progression. We are combining MRI-guided radiotherapy and immunotherapy, as for example immune checkpoint inhibitors, to "re-educate" the immune system against the tumour. We then study how the immune system react to the treatments with the final aim to translate our research in the clinic. I am working within the Precision Panc Platform that brings together researchers from the University of Glasgow, CRUK Beatson Institute, CRUK Cambridge Institute, CRUK Manchester Institute, the Institute of Cancer Research in London, and the University of Oxford.

 Are there any particular specialities used within your work?  

 I would not be able to carry on my research without the collaborations with the Imaging Core, the Radiation Biophysics Core, and the Flow Cytometry Facility in the Nuffield Department (JR).

Thanks to the collaboration with the Biophysics and Imaging Cores we deliver MR-Guided radiotherapy, and in collaboration with the Flow Cytometry Facility we developed a 17-antibody panel that allows us to study all the main cell population of the immune system in tumour and peripheral blood.

 Why is this research important?

 I am working in close contact with the clinicians and through them with the patients. This gives me the opportunity to remind myself why we are doing our research and hoping to see it being translated to the patient.

 Thinking about your career, is there any advice which has helped you along the way?

 Throughout my entire career, during University, my PhD in Italy and then here in the UK during my two postdocs, I was fortunate enough to come across very strong role models that have shaped my path and help me to reach the position where I am now.

Two pieces of advice I’ve been given which remain vivid even now. The first “Your job is to solve problems...” said by the head of the bachelor program as he was starting our first lecture. The second is from a friend and colleague who, before starting any experiment or pursuing any research, would always ask me “why?”, this is a great reminder for focusing on the scientific question.

Research can be tough, dealing with setbacks on a regular basis. What helps you to be resilient when faced with continual challenges?

No doubt, like everyone in the department or anyone who works in science, I’ve had setbacks. Isn’t science 99% failure and 1% success?!

Every time I have a challenge, I take a step back. I start looking in the literature and asking colleagues for a different point of view. I think that collaboration is at the basis of everything, especially in our work.

 Outside of work, what do you get up to?

 I simply love adventuring and outdoors sports. Mountains and rock are my favourite environments. I try to find any excuse to run away and organise rock-climbing trips. I also have a small running bug, as I’m participating to the Cardiff Half Marathon every year since 2015