Alex graduated with a degree in Human Biology from Sheffield Hallam University in 2016, incorporating a 12 month placement at the University of Sheffield in the Bone Metabolism research group. Alex then went on to complete an MSc in Molecular Medicine at the University of Leeds in 2017. During this time she completed her masters’ project working with Dr Mihaela Lorger before joining the Infection and Immunity group undertaking a PhD supervised by Dr Stephen Griffin. The aim of her project is to investigate the link between chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and the development of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA), a cancer of the liver bile ducts. This will be conducted through the investigation of HIPPO pathway involvement in hepatic progenitor cell (HPC) fate following HCV infection and post treatment with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs).
Liver cancers such as iCCA and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are the third most prevalent cancer worldwide. HCV infection is a major risk factor. Although advancements in DAA HCV treatment has achieved over 90% ‘cure’ rates, liver cancers are increasingly contributing to cancer-related mortality. This suggests cellular behaviour is somehow transcriptionally or epigenetically altered, persisting beyond the clinical course of HCV infection. Previous work has shown that HCV perturbs hepatic differentiation programmes through modulation of the HIPPO signalling pathway, a known master regulator of multiple pathways associated with iCCA. The role of the HIPPO pathway together with HCV infection in iCCA hence represent an opportunity to understand the precancerous stages of the disease. This will be approached through the establishment of unique stem-cell based models of HPC biliary differentiation and incorporating HCV infection, which will be used to identify the mechanisms linking HCV with the HIPPO pathway in a pro-cancerous state.
- Human Biology BSc
- Molecular Medicine MSc