Staff in the Bladder Cancer Research Centre

Hands in the middle together

Director and theme leads

Mr Richard T Bryan MBChB PhD MRCS FAcadTM

Director of the Bladder Cancer Research Centre

Rik Bryan is a former clinical urologist who became a full-time bladder cancer research academic at the University of Birmingham in 2009. He subsequently established a dedicated bladder cancer research laboratory group - initially focusing on urinary biomarkers and proteomics, the group expanded and worked with other University of Birmingham academics to incorporate genomics & bioinformatics, novel therapeutics, and bio-medical engineering, all within an ethos of translation and clinical research.

Rik is also the Chief Investigator of the Bladder Cancer Prognosis Programme (BCPP), the SELENIB clinical trial, and POUT-T, and his particular interests are biomarkers, and novel agents, technologies and pathways (both molecular pathways and patient pathways!). As a full-time academic, Rik teaches and supervises undergraduate and postgraduate students including clinical and non-clinical Masters and PhD students.

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Dr Douglas G Ward PhD

Theme Lead - Biomarkers & Proteomics

Doug Ward is a Senior Research Fellow leading the laboratory-based biomarker research at the BCRC. This research spans all aspects of urine, plasma, and tissue biomarkers - from initial candidate discovery though to validation and translation into clinical use.

Doug spent the early part of his career using biophysical techniques to investigate the structure and function of proteins. This led to an interest in mass spectrometry-based proteomics which evolved into utilising proteomic and genomic technologies to study bladder cancer, and the resultant identification of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers. 

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Dr Roland Arnold PhD

Theme Lead – Genomics & Bioinformatics

Roland Arnold is a specialist in the analysis of molecular alterations in cancer, and leads the Bioinformatics for Cancer and Disease Group in the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences. He is a bioinformatician (computational biologist) by training and expert in the analysis of the ‘big data’ generated by modern high-throughput biological studies, such as cancer genome sequencing to detect mutations and other aberrations in tumour DNA, and especially events at the RNA level.

His work spans a wide range of research questions, including changes in gene splicing, novel methods to interpret gene expression patterns, and tailor-made analyses that integrate different biological data-types. Since his move from Oxford to Birmingham in 2017, he has been collaborating with the Bladder Cancer Group to understand and analyse patient-derived genomic data from the Bladder Cancer Prognosis Programme in order to identify biomarker candidates for disease detection and stratification.

He regularly supervises students at the Masters and PhD level, working on exciting genomics and bioinformatic projects. He also collaborates with different biologists and medical scientists to develop new insights into different cancer types (with a focus on urothelial/bladder and colorectal cancers), and to understand the basic biology of gene splicing. 

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Dr Farhat Khanim PhD

Theme Lead – Novel Therapeutics

Farhat Khanim is a translational cancer biologist using drug repurposing to identify novel, low toxicity and affordable therapies for rare diseases and diseases of unmet need. Her major research areas are haematological cancers of the elderly, urological cancers and paediatric cancer in low-middle income countries (LMICs) in Africa. Farhat’s research encompasses the full spectrum of translational research from in vitro drug screening, preclinical mechanism of action studies using a range of molecular, cellular and biochemical approaches, through to clinical trials in the UK and Africa.

Farhat is also Director for Research for the School of Biomedical Sciences. As a full-time academic, Farhat teaches and supervises undergraduate and postgraduate students including clinical and non-clinical Masters and PhD students. 

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Farhat Khanim

Professor Duncan Shepherd BEng PhD CEng FIMechE SFHEA

Theme Lead – Bio-medical Engineering

Duncan Shepherd is Professor of Bio-medical Engineering and Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. His research is in the application of mechanical engineering to medicine.  He works closely with surgeons and clinicians to ensure that his research has the potential for translation, and also works in collaboration with the medical device industry.

Duncan’s research is split into two main areas: 
1) design of medical devices; 
2) mechanical testing of biomaterials and medical devices. 

His research on the design of medical devices has included: joint replacement implants for the fingers and wrist; closing the sternum; surgical instruments for bladder tumours; surgical instruments for minimally invasive hip surgery; surgical instruments for spinal surgery. 

His research on the mechanical testing of biomaterials and medical devices has included: mechanical properties of polymers; mechanical properties of articular cartilage; testing fracture fixation devices; testing a range of spinal implants.

Dr Duncan Shepherd

Mr Prashant Patel PhD FRCS(Urol)

Theme Lead – Clinical Research & Epidemiology

Prashant Patel qualified in Medicine in 1993 and in 2010 took up a joint appointment as a Senior Lecturer in Urology at the University of Birmingham and Consultant Urological Surgeon at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UHB NHSFT) to pursue a career in academic and clinical urology.

His academic interests include the exploration of molecular markers in bladder cancer, immunotherapeutic approaches in urological cancers, and clinical informatics. His clinical interests are in pelvic cancers (bladder and prostate) and retro-peritoneal lymph node surgery for metastatic testicular cancer, supporting complex pelvic surgery, developing a program in Robotic surgery at UHB NHSFT, and conducting clinical trials in urological cancers. He is the Deputy Lead for the Genomics and Tumour Advisory Board and Clinical Director of the Department of Urology at UHB NHSFT.

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Research staff and postgraduate students

Mr Ben Abbotts MSc – BCPP Study Co-ordinator

Ben Abbotts received undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from the University of Birmingham and University of Nottingham, respectively, before returning to Birmingham to work in Professor Paul Moss’s lab as part of the team investigating stem cell transplantation. As part of this work he was involved in a clinical trial aiming to elicit targeted T-cell responses in donors prior to transplantation, an experience that led him to join Mr Bryan’s team as the coordinator for the Bladder Cancer Prognosis Programme, the SELENIB clinical trial, and the POUT-T study. Ben is currently supporting both internal and external studies using the BCPP database of clinical information and samples collections, as well as maintaining the appropriate regulatory approvals for the studies.

Ms Naheema Gordon – Laboratory Technician (biomarkers and proteomics)

Naheema has provided 10 years of technical experience and expertise within the University, providing assistance to staff and students with multiple molecular biology techniques, from proteomics and mass spectrometry to genomics and deep sequencing. Her main work is sample library preparations for Illumina and Ion torrent next-generation sequencing, performing an integral role within the Centre.

Dr Anshita Goel PhD – Postdoctoral Research Assistant (genomics and bioinformatics)

After completing her PhD in the functional genomics of a non-model organism, Anshita has worked on interpreting genetic events in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and, more recently, has studied the bladder transcriptome for the presence of biomarkers in the form of novel transcripts such as gene fusions and circular RNAs. With her interest in deciphering the tumour genome by identifying recurrent genetic aberrations in next-generation sequencing datasets, Anshita uses clinical phenotype data to evaluate DNA- and RNA-based features that could stratify patients by risk of disease progression. 

Dr Yao Jiang PhD - Postdoctoral Research Fellow (novel therapeutics)

Dr Yao Jiang graduated from Peking University in 2009 with a degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences before moving to the Peking Union Medical College to undertake his PhD on targeting drug delivery construction for cancer therapy. He joined the University of Birmingham as a research fellow in 2016 and his research interests include: investigating redeployment drugs on different type of cancers, construction of drug delivery systems, and precision medicine. He is currently working on the development of novel therapeutics and screening platforms for bladder cancer.

Dr Naomi Green PhD - Postdoctoral Research Fellow (bio-medical engineering)

Dr Naomi Green is a Technical Officer for the AMTECAA (Advanced Manufacturing Technologies to Create, Activate & Automate) programme and supports SMEs in the design and manufacture of medical devices. Naomi graduated from the University of Birmingham with an MEng in Mechanical Engineering. Following time in industry Naomi return to Birmingham and completed a PhD in bio-medical engineering.

Ms Nada Humayun-Zakaria MRCS – Urology Trainee & PhD Student (biomarkers and bioinformatics)

Nada Humayun-Zakaria underwent urology-themed core surgical training in the East Midlands. Shortly after completion of a urology clinical fellow post, she joined the University of Birmingham in 2018 to pursue a PhD in exploring potential urinary biomarkers for early detection and surveillance of non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer. Her work involves using bioinformatics and proteomics for biomarker discovery. Her clinical interests include pelvic malignancy (specifically bladder cancer), cystoscopic examination of the bladder, and stone disease. Following completion of her PhD, she will continue her career as a clinical academic in urology.