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Eileen Parkes

Eileen Parkes

RESEARCH THEMES

Radiation-Immune Interactions (Co-Investigator)

DPhil Supervisory Opportunities

Projects are available addressing the following topics:

(1) Regulation of 2'3'cGAMP channels in the tumour microenvironment:

Various channels have recently been identified regulating the uptake of 2'3' cGAMP (the stimulating molecule of the STING pathway) in to distinct cell types. In this project, the distribution of these channels and activity will be characterised.

(2) Crosstalk between STING and the inflammasome pathway in cancer:

The production of IL-1B is a crucial contributor to metastasis in cancer. However the role and relative contribution of the STING pathway is unclear. In this project, students will have the opportunity to clarify this relationship and determine its importance in cancer growth, progression and response to therapy.

(3) Characterisation of the immunomodulatory effects of therapy in oesophageal cancer:

Oesophageal cancer remains one of the deadliest cancers, and the incidence of this cancer is increasing in the UK. In this study, students will work with samples donated from people with cancer to understand how the immune response is modulated during the course of anti-cancer therapy, identifying potential resistance mechanisms for further exploration.


Each of these topics includes work in vitro, in vivo and/or using patient samples. Molecular biology techniques such as CRISPR are commonly employed in our group, generating novel models for study in vitro and in vivo. Potential students are invited to discuss these or related projects that align to their interests.

Eileen Parkes

MB BCh, Ba(O) (Hons), MRCP (Onc), PhD


Group leader, Innate tumour immunology

  • Consultant Medical Oncologist, Early Phase Trials

RESEARCH SUMMARY

Develop rational immuno-oncology combination approaches

Understand resistance mechanisms to immune-targeting treatments in cancer

Characterise the role of DNA repair deficiency and immune activation in tumour initiation, progression and response.


In the Parkes Lab we study intrinsic inflammatory pathways in cancer. These are important immune pathways, present in all cells, that act as emergency response pathways to viral infection. However, in cancer, these pathways can be rewired and hijacked by the tumour to promote growth, invasion and metastasis. 

Previously we have identified the importance of the STING pathway in DNA repair deficient cancer. We also know that the STING pathway can be used to drive metastatic spread in some cases.  As the STING pathway is crucial for response to standard anti-cancer therapy as well as newer immunotherapies, understanding how this pathway is rewired in cancer can help us develop new treatment approaches. 

We take a multi-pronged approach to answer the important question of immune activation in cancer - working in vitro, in vivo and with samples donated from people with cancer.

As part of the Parkes Lab, you will develop a clear understanding of the translational relevance of your work. Students and staff are encouraged to take full advantage of career development opportunities - improving not just the breadth and depth of scientific skills but also developing communication and leadership skills.

BIOGRAPHY

Dr Parkes trained at Queens University Belfast, completing her oncology fellowship training at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre. During her training she was awarded a CRUK clinical fellowship, and completed her DPhil in the Kennedy lab, studying the immune consequences of DNA repair deficiency. During this time she discovered constitutive STING signaling in DNA repair deficient cancers. She now focuses on understanding how to exploit the consequences of STING signaling for clinical benefit.

GROUP MEMBERS


Su Phyu, Post Doc

Emma Murphy, Postdoctoral Researcher

Becky Sipthorpe, Research Technician

Bruno Beernaert Dominguez, DPhil student

Jamie Kwon, DPhil student

SongLiang Du, DPhil student