Dr Joseph Wragg PhD

Dr Joseph Wragg

Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Contact details

Institute of Biomedical Research West Extension
Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Joseph Wragg is a postdoctoral research fellow in the field of paediatric cancers and cancer epigenetics, with a particular interest in pre-clinical tumour modelling and vascular biology. Joseph’s research is focussed on interrogating tumour interactions with its microenvironment and the impact of therapeutics on this.


  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 2018
  • PhD in Cancer Research, University of Birmingham 2016
  • BSc (Hons) in Biology, University of York 2011


Joseph read Biology at the University of York, before studying for a doctorate in Cancer Research at the University of Birmingham with Professor Roy Bicknell (awarded 2016). In this post Joseph developed a fascination in tumour associated vascular as a critical component of tumour development and potentiation and as a target for therapy. Joseph identified several tumour vascular specific markers, which are currently in clinical development.

Joseph did his post-doctoral research with Professor Ferenc Mueller. In this role he developed a great interest in the role of promoter and enhancer elements in the regulation of gene behaviour, in particular during embryonic development associated epigenetic reprogramming as well as tumourgenesis and in response to therapeutics.

Joseph is currently developing techniques to model clinical tumour behaviour in paediatric Rhabdomyosarcoma in collaboration with clinicians.


Joseph is a small group tutor on First and Second Year BSc Biomedical Sciences  modules, the “Introduction to Human Genetics” MSc course and the “Developmental Genomics” PhD masterclass.

Postgraduate supervision

In his role as a doctoral and post-doctoral researcher Joseph has supervised lab-based projects for BSci  and MD students.


Research areas and interests: 

  • Pre-clinical tumour modelling
  • Developmental and Cancer epigenetics and transcriptomics
  • 4D imaging of tumour and embryonic developmental events
  • Tumour angiogenesis
  • Endothelial biology and vascular targeting of anti-cancer therapies

Research groups:


Wragg JW*,White Pl, Hadzhiev Y, Wanigasooriya K, Stodolna A, Tee L, Barros-Silva JD, Beggs AD*, Müller F*. Intra-promoter switch of transcription initiation sites in proliferation signaling-dependent RNA metabolism. Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 2023; 30: 1970-1984. * Co-corresponding author. 

Wragg JW, Müller F. Transcription start site choice diversifies mRNA isoforms and defines cancer cell behavior. Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 2023; 30: 1840-1841. (Contribution to research briefing). 

Baranasic D, Hörtenhuber M, Balwierz PJ, ZehnderT, Mukarram AK, Nepal C, Várnai C, Hadzhiev Y, Jimenez-Gonzalez A, LiN, Wragg JW, ….et al.,…Müller F. Multiomic atlas with functional stratification and developmental dynamics of zebrafish cis-regulatory elements. Nature Genetics. 2022; 54: 1037–1050. 

Wragg JW, Roos L, Vucenovic D, Cvetesic N, Lenhard B, Müller F. Embryonic tissue differentiation is characterized by transitions in cell cycle dynamic-associated core promoter regulation. Nucleic Acids Res. 2020; 3.

Nepal C, Hadzhiev Y, Balwierz P, Tarifeño-Saldivia E, Cardenas R, Wragg JW, Carninci P, Andersen JB, Peers B, Lenhard B, and Müller F. Dual-initiation promoters with intertwined canonical and TCT/TOP transcription start sites diversify transcript processing. Nat. Commun. 2020; 11(1):168. 

Hadzhiev Y, Qureshi H, Wheatley L, Cooper L, Jasiulewicz A, Wragg JW, Nguyen, H, Poovathumkadavil D, Conic S, Bajan S, Sik A, Hutvagner G,  Tora L, Gambus A, Fossey J, Müller F.A cell cycle-coordinated nuclear compartment for Polymerase II transcription encompasses the earliest gene expression before global genome activation Nat. Commun. 2019; 10(1):691. 

Kershaw RM, Roberts D, Wragg JW, Shaaban AM, Humphreys E, Halsall J, Price L, Bicknell R, Gaston K, Jayaraman PS. Proline-Rich Homeodomain protein (PRH/HHEX) is a suppressor of breast tumour growth. Oncogenesis. 2017; 6:e346.

Wragg JW, Heath V, Bicknell R. Sunitinib Treatment Enhances Metastasis of Innately Drug-Resistant Breast Tumors. Cancer Research. 2017; 77(4). 

Wragg JW, Müller F. Transcriptional regulation during zygotic genome activation in Zebrafish and other anamniote embryos. Genetics, Genomics and Phenomics of Fish.  Philadelphia, US:  Elsevier; 2016. 

Wragg JW, Finnity JP, Anderson JA, Ferguson HJM, Bhatt RI, Murray PG, Heath VL, Bicknell R. MCAM and LAMA4 are highly enriched in tumor blood vessels of renal cell carcinoma and predict patient outcome. Cancer Research. 2016; 76(8), 2314–2326

Ferguson HJM*, Wragg JW*, Ward S, Ismail T, Adams D, Heath VL, Bicknell R. Glutamate dependent NMDA receptor 2D is a novel angiogenic tumour endothelial marker in colorectal cancer.  Oncotarget. 2016; 7(15):20440-20454. *Joint first author.

Wragg JW, Bicknell R. Next generation transcriptomic analysis in cancer vascular research. European Pharmaceutical Review. 2015;4:10-13. 

Wragg JW, Durant S, McGettrick HM, Sample KM, Egginton S, Bicknell R. Shear stress regulated gene expression and angiogenesis in vascular endothelium. Microcirculation. 2014;21:290–300. 

Ferguson HJM, Wragg JW, Ismail T, Bicknell R. Vaccination against tumour blood vessels in colorectal cancer. Eur J Surg Oncol. 2014;40:133–6. 

Wragg JW, Bicknell R. Vascular targeting approaches to treat cancer. Cancer Targeted Drug Delivery. New York, NY: Springer New York; 2013: 59–95.

View all publications in research portal