Dr Steven Pollard



Location: MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine

Research Overview

Cancer Research Interests

Steve’s group focuses on the most common and malignant form of primary adult brain cancer, known as glioblastoma multiforme. These tumours are made up of several phenotypically distinct cell types, including an immature stem cell population which is thought to drive tumour growth. The long term goal of our research is to uncover the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control stem cell lineage choice, commitment and differentiation.

His specific focus is on mammalian neural stem cells and he is studying how these pathways operate in the context of the lethal human brain cancer, glioblastoma. The primary model system is a novel set of neural stem (NS) cell lines generated from rodent and human germinal tissues or from brain tumour biopsies. These in vitro studies are complemented by in vivo assays (stereotaxic injection) and analysis of the developing mouse forebrain and primary tumour samples.

There are currently three major areas of interest:

1. Lineage specific transcription factors - investigating the function and biochemistry of lineage specific transcriptional regulators, such as members of the SOX, FOX and bHLH family. These lie at the heart of cell fate decisions in neural stem and progenitor cells during development and within brain tumours.

2. High content chemical screening - carrying out image-based small molecule screens to search for new agents and pathways that can modulate self-renewal and differentiation in normal and glioblastoma-derived neural stem cells. (collaboration with Dr Neil Carragher and Dr Paul Brennan)

3. Epigenetic programming and reprogramming - investigating whether changes to the epigenome within glioblastoma-derived cancer stem cells enable suppression of malignant properties, using both direct differentiation as well as nuclear reprogramming strategies to test this.

Steve’s hope is that these studies will uncover new possibilities for targeted therapy for glioblastoma.

Research group webpage: