Professor Chris McCabe

Professor Chris McCabe

Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
Professor of Molecular Endocrinology

Contact details

Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Chris McCabe is Professor of Molecular Endocrinology at the University of Birmingham. He works on mechanisms of endocrine cancers, particularly via thyroid and breast tumour models. Specifically, the research of the McCabe group focuses on assessment of the role of the proto-oncogenes PTTG and PBF in thyroid, breast and colon tumours; in vitro and in vivo models exploring gene function; gene expression in multiple tumour models; mechanisms of aneuploidy and genetic instability; the action of the sodium iodide symporter NIS in thyroid tumours.

The McCabe group currently holds funding from the Medical Research Council, the Royal College of Surgeons, BBSRC, NIHR etc. Members of the group include a Consultant Clinician, a non-clinical Lecturer, an MRC Senior Research Fellow, a Surgical Fellow, 2 MRC funded PhD students, a Saudi Government PhD Student and an MRC technician.

Chris McCabe is Chair of the Wellcome Trust Basic Science Committee, and Chair of the Science Committee for the Society for Endocrinology. 

Outside of science, Chris McCabe has published 9 novels under 2 pseudonyms, has written for newspapers including the Guardian and the Independent, and is a script editor for numerous factual TV series.


  • PhD (Drosophila behavioural genetics) University of Birmingham 1995
  • BSc (First Class Special Honours in Genetics) University of Sheffield 1990


Chris McCabe qualified with a BSc in Genetics from the University of Sheffield in 1990, and pursued a PhD in the behavioural genetics of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster at the University of Birmingham, which was awarded in 1995.

Subsequently, Chris became interested in applying emerging molecular genetic techniques to the study of human disease, and was appointed as an MRC Post Doctoral Fellow in the Division of Medical Sciences at the University of Birmingham, under the mentorship of Professor Jayne Franklyn.

Following a brief stint at the UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, Chris achieved the Marjorie Robinson Fellowship in Endocrinology and a Lectureship at the University of Birmingham. He subsequently progressed to Senior Lecturer, Reader, and a Chair in 2010.

Chris has lectured widely across the world both within science, and as a writer with a specific interest in the communication of science.


  • B Med Sc 2nd and 3rd years
  • MBChB 1st and 2nd years
  • B Med Sc 3rd year projects
  • Supervisor of PhD students

Postgraduate supervision

Chris had supervised 25 PhD and MD students, and currently has 5 PhD students. He is interested in appointing future PhD students in the areas of:

  • Thyroid cancer therapy
  • Thyroid and breast cancer in vivo models 


  • Assessment of the role of the proto-oncogenes PTTG and PBF in thyroid, breast and colon tumours
  • Mechanisms of aneuploidy and genetic instability in thyroid and colon cancer
  • The action of the sodium iodide symporter NIS in radioiodine treatment of thyroid and other tumours.
  • Diverse mechanisms of endocrine cancer
  • Murine models of tumourigenesis

Other activities

  • Associate Editor, Endocrine Related Cancer
  • Chair, Science Committee of the Society for Endocrinology (2016-2020)
  • Script Editor (ITV, C4, BBC1, BBC2, Discovery Channel etc)
  • Chair, Wellcome Trust Basic Science Committee (2016-2019)


Read ML, Fong JCW, Imruetaicharoenchoke W, Modasia B, Nieto H, Bacon A, Mallick U, Hackshaw A, Watkinson JC, Boelaert K, Smith VE, Turnell AS and McCabe CJ. 2017. High tumoural expression of PBF and PTTG modulates the DNA damage response and is associated with poor survival in thyroid cancer. Oncogene [In Press]

Watkins RJ, Imruetaicharoenchoke W, Read ML, Sharma N, Poole VL, Gentillin E, Bansal S, Bosseboeuf E, Fletcher R, Nieto HR, Mallick U, Hackshaw A, Mehanna H, Boelaert K, Smith VE, McCabe CJ. 2016. Pro-invasive effect of proto-oncogene PBF is modulated by an interaction with cortactin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab [In Press]

Read ML, Seed RI, Modasia B, Kwan PP, Sharma N, Smith VE, Watkins RJ, Bansal S, Gagliano T, Stratford AL, Ismail T, Wakelam MJ, Kim DS, Ward ST, Boelaert K, Franklyn JA, Turnell AS, McCabe CJ. 2016. The proto-oncogene PBF binds p53 and is associated with prognostic features in colorectal cancer. Molecular Carcinogenesis 55(1):15-26

Smith JA, Read ML, Hoffman J, Brown R, Bradshaw B, Campbell C, Cole T, Dieguez-Navas J, Eatock F, GundaraJS, Lian E, McMullan DJ, Morgan NV, Mulligan L, Morrison PJ, Robledo M, Simpson MA, Smith VE, Stewart S, Trembath RC, Sidhu S, Togneri FS, Wake NC, Wallis Y, Watkinson JC, Maher ER, McCabe CJ, Woodward ER. Germline ESR2 Mutation Predisposes to Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma and Causes Up-Regulation of RET Expression. Human Molecular Genetics 25(9):1836-45

VE Smith, ML Read, AS Turnell, N Sharma, GD Lewy, JCW Fong, RI Seed, P Kwan, G Ryan, H Mehanna, SY Chan, VM Darras, K Boelaert, JA Franklyn and CJ McCabe. 2012. PTTG-binding factor (PBF) is a novel regulator of the thyroid hormone transporter MCT8. Endocrinology 153(7):3526-36

ML Read, GD Lewy, JCW Fong, N Sharma, VE Smith, E Gentilin, RI Seed, A Warfield, MC Eggo, J Knauf, WE Leadbeater,JC Watkinson, JA Franklyn, K Boelaert and CJ McCabe. 2011. The proto-oncogene PBF/PTTG1IP regulates thyroid cell growth and represses radioiodide treatment. Cancer Research 71(19):6153-64

RJ Watkins, ML Read, VE Smith, GM Reynolds, L Buckley, G Lewy, MC Eggo, LS Loubiere, JA Franklyn, K Boelaert, McCabe CJ. 2010. PTTG Binding Factor – a New Gene in Breast Cancer. Cancer Research 70(9); 3739-49