Dr Sandra Margaret Bell


0113 343 8421

Summary: Group Leader, Microcephaly and Cancer

Location: Room 8.15a, Wellcome Trust Brenner Building

Teaching Commitments: MBChB 1st year “Research Evaluation and Special Studies” module, small group teaching on research skills and member of management team. MBChB 2nd year “Genetics in Medicine” module, small group teaching on clinical and medical genetics. MBChB 2nd year “Molecular Oncology” module, lecture on familial cancer. Postgraduate Tutor for PhD/MD students


I obtained my degree in biochemistry from Sussex University and my PhD on colon cancer genetics from Leeds University. Having developed an interest in cancer I then went onto work on positional cloning projects in breast and bladder cancer. I joined the genetics section of the Molecular Medicine Unit in 1996 and worked on a range of projects including the identification of two neurodevelopmental genes MCPH1 and CSMD1. I joined the newly formed section of Ophthalmology and Neuroscience in 2005 establishing my own group investigating the function of the two neurodevelopmental genes MCPH1 and CSMD1 in cancer.

Research Interest

Our group works on a range of projects including functional studies of two neurodevelopmental genes MCPH1 and CSMD1 in breast and ovarian cancer. We are also investigating drug resistance and cancer stem-like cells in ovarian cancer.

My interest in ovarian cancer has led to the establishment in collaboration with clinical colleagues of a tissue bank (now part of the Leeds Multidisciplinary Research Tissue Bank). Ovarian cancer is characterised by late diagnosis, high recurrence of disease and low survival rate. Consequently women who have undergone surgery for ovarian cancers often have additional chemotherapy to kill residual cancer cells and prevent recurrence. Around 80% of patients initially respond to chemotherapy. However, relapse often occurs, associated with the development of drug resistance. Ovarian cancer stem like cells (CSC’s) are thought to be one mechanism by which tumours become resistant to chemotherapy. Currently we are to trying to identify ovarian CSCs and to investigate how these cells may play a role in drug resistance allowing novel methods to be developed to both identify and treat CSCs, ultimately leading to improved outcome for ovarian cancer patients.