Dr Mark Harland

Senior Scientific Officer

+44(0)113 2066530

Summary: Molecular biologist in the melanoma research group

Location: Cancer Genetics Building

Overview

I undertook my PhD at Liverpool University where I used DNA fingerprinting techniques to assess the level of genetic variation in a very rare and inbred population of cattle: the Irish Moiled. During the course of my PhD I spent much time travelling around remote parts of England and Northern Ireland to collect blood samples from inbred and half-wild cattle. The cattle were never very happy to be stuck in the tail with a sharp needle, and I discovered that, contrary to popular belief, cattle are able to kick backwards. On moving to Leeds to work on melanoma in humans, I found blood samples much easier to come by and without many of the dangers inherent to bovine research.

I moved to the Cancer Research Institute, at St. James’s Hospital, as a research assistant in 1996. My main research interest has been the investigation of the genetic causes underlying predisposition in families with multiple cases of melanoma. Through careful investigation of CDKN2A and associated genes, the genetic cause of predisposition has now been identified in over 50% of UK melanoma pedigrees.

Now working as a Senior Scientific Officer in the Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, I continue to investigate the genetic causes of disease predisposition in the remaining 50% of melanoma families. The availability of Next Generation Sequencing technology makes this a very exciting time for melanoma research, with a number of interesting new predisposition genes potentially on the horizon.