Mr Ryan K Mathew


Ryan Mathew is Associate Professor at the University of Leeds (UoL) and Honorary Consultant Neurosurgeon at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust ( He obtained an MBChB with Honours and an intercalated BSc with Honours, the latter in Clinical Sciences (Tissue Engineering) research. During his neurosurgical training/residency, he undertook further basic science research (funded by Cancer Research UK) into brain cancer and was awarded a PhD based on Glioma Modelling using induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) and Cerebral Organoids. He subsequently spent time as a Visiting Research Collaborator at the Brain Tumour Research Centre at Sickkids in Toronto.

His research interests include basic and translational research into brain cancer, preclinical model development, medical devices, surgical technologies and immersive. At the University of Leeds, he co-leads the Stem Cells and Brain Tumour Group with Dr Heiko Wurdak (, he is Academic Lead for Health and Wellbeing at the Centre for Immersive Technologies (, Neurosurgical Lead for the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Surgical MedTechCooperative (, Neurosurgical Lead and Steering Committee Member of the Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research and was recently part of the successful bid to become an NIHR Academy Advanced Surgical Technology Incubator (a joint initiative between Leeds and UCL). He is passionate about research public engagement and was awarded a Flame of Hope for Research Engagement by Cancer Research UK.

He has a clinical subspecialist interest in all types of brain tumours, with a special focus on glioma, meningiomas and awake surgery. He is Co-Lead for Medical Research Council (MRC) Brain Tissue Liaison for the Society of British Neurological Surgeons (SBNS) Academic Committee, and a member of the National Cancer Research Institute’s Glioma Subgroup.


  • Neurosurgical Lead, NIHR Surgical MedTechCooperative
  • Academic Lead for Health and Wellbeing, Centre for Immersive Technologies
  • Co-Lead, Stem Cells and Brain Tumour Group

Research interests

Basic and Translational Science

The research in the Stem Cell and Brain Tumour group, which I co-lead with Dr Heiko Wurdak focuses on brain cancer (glioma), which is currently incurable. The 5-year survival time for the highest grade of these tumours is below 5% and a better understanding of the cellular mechanisms that mediate brain tumour progression, recurrence and transformation from a lower-grade is urgently required. We are interested in the development of new therapeutic approaches (e.g. small molecules, nanomaterials, biotherapeutics), new models that better recapitulate the specific disease characteristics of individual patients, and how well we can monitor and visualise cellular behaviour at the single cell level and in real-time – partiuclarly the brain cancer cells that remain in the margin zone after debullking surgery as it is these cells that are responsible for recurrence and treatment resistance.

Accordingly, we employ a  2-pronged research strategy that aims to provide i) a better understanding of tumour-promoting mechanisms at a systems biology level, for example using small molecules, cellular phenotyping, and chemical biology, and ii) an improved spectrum of personalised cancer models via stem cell, induced pluripotency, organoid, and in vivo modelling approaches. Based on this overarching strategy, we aim to shed light on the molecular link between metabolism and chaperone function, in particular in the context of cancer cell metabolic rewiring. Furthermore, we are interested in elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying a malignant self-renewal capacity leading to 'differentiation blockage' in cancer stem-like cells and the role of cell-fate plasticity in brain tumour progression.  

Preclinical Research and Surgical Technologies

As part of the wider academic surgical community, which has internal and external collaborations with engineers, computer scientists and industry, I am interested in novel and emerging surgical technologies. Examples of this include high precision laser targeting of residual brain cancer cells, fluorescence-guided surgery, real-time histopathology, next-generation neuronavigation, surgical robotics and machine learning approaches for the early detection of brain tumours.

Clinical Trials

Principal Investigator for NIHR portfolio clinical trials. 

NIHR MedTech Co-operative in Surgical Technologies

National network funded through NIHR to facilitate pull through of new technologies into clinical practice. The underpinning research themes are: engineering and physical sciences, pathology, clinical trials & health economics, commercialisation.

Immersive Technologies

As Academic Lead for Health and Wellbeing at the Centre for Immersive Technologies, I have collaborations with the School of Psychology, industry and educationalists. The broad themes of my research in this area includes improving patient consultation and communication, enhancing surgical training and providing AI-driven feedback, smart immersive sensoring, generating immersive content for undergraduate and postgraduate education/training, mixed reality surgical navigation and remote learning.


  • MBChB (Hons.)
  • BSc (Hons.)
  • FRCS (SN)
  • PhD
  • PGDipClinEd (RCPSG)

Professional memberships

  • Society of British Neurological Surgeons
  • Royal College of Surgeons of England
  • Editorial Board, Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology

Student education

Primary and Co-Supervisor for Masters, MD and PhD students

ESREP Supervisor

Internal Examiner for MD & PhD theses, University of Leeds

Supervisor and mentoring for NIHR/HEE Internships for AHPs

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Medical Research at St James's
  • Brain Cancer Research Group
  • Surgical technology
  • Multidisciplinary Cardiovascular Research Centre
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