Adams Group

Experimental Cancer Genetics

We are a team of cancer biologists, geneticists and computational biologists interested in understanding how cancers develop and the ways of controlling their growth. We work on a range of malignancies but are particularly interested in melanoma and other skin cancers. There are currently several areas of focus in the lab:


  • The FunctionScan Project – As part of these studies we are developing high-throughput methods to systematically and comprehensively identify all pathogenic alleles of cancer-associated genes. We are using techniques such as saturation genome editing at scale.
  • The Genomic Atlas of Dermatopathology – While the majority of cancer deaths are associated with melanoma, a malignancy of melanocytes, there are more than 300 other skin cancer types most of which have never undergone next-generation sequencing and thus we are unaware of the driver genes in these tumours or the exposures that might promote their development. The genomic atlas of dermatopathology brings together a group of world-leading pathologists to tackle this problem.
  • Combinatorial CRISPR Screening – We have a long interest in understanding cancer pathways. As part of these studies we have developed CRISPR libraries that target pairs of genes at the same time so as to identify synthetic lethal interactions and also gene redundancy. We are using these libraries to systematically screen cancer cell lines with a particular focus on metastatic melanoma, lung and pancreas as these are cancers of unmet clinical need. We are also performing a “deep dive” into the biology of several candidates to understand the basic mechanisms by which synthetic lethal gene pairs function.
  • Host Regulation of Tumour Growth – As part of this work we are using the extensive collection of genetically modified mouse lines generated at the Sanger to identify genes and biological processes that moderate metastasis and tumour growth.

We have a broad interest in many aspects of cancer biology. Cancer occurs when there is an accumulation of genetic damage that confers a selective advantage on a cell, allowing it to evade normal growth control processes. Uncontrolled growth of these damaged cells ultimately results in tumour formation. While some of the key events at the molecular level that are involved in cancer formation are known, there is still much work to be done to identify those genetic changes that are important for cancer and that represent new diagnostic markers or therapeutic targets.


Core team

Photo of Elizabeth Anderson

Elizabeth Anderson

Scientific Manager

Photo of Dr Jenny Pui Ying Chan

Dr Jenny Pui Ying Chan

Wellcome Trust Clinical PhD Fellow

Photo of Olivia Edwards

Olivia Edwards

PhD Student

Photo of Ingrid Ferreira

Ingrid Ferreira

Visiting Scientist

Photo of Dr Ashray Gunjur

Dr Ashray Gunjur

Clinical Research Training Fellow

Photo of Dr Andrea Manrique-Rincón

Dr Andrea Manrique-Rincón

Postdoctoral Fellow

Photo of Dr Andrew Waters

Dr Andrew Waters

Postdoctoral Fellow

Photo of Louise van der Weyden

Louise van der Weyden

Senior Staff Scientist

Previous team members

Photo of Miss Carmen Ballesteros Reviriego

Miss Carmen Ballesteros Reviriego

Advanced Research Assistant

Photo of Dr Gabriel Balmus

Dr Gabriel Balmus

Postdoctoral associate

Photo of Miss Ana Barros

Miss Ana Barros

Research assistant

Photo of Sofia Chen

Sofia Chen

PhD Student

Photo of Dr Anthony G Doran

Dr Anthony G Doran

Senior Bioinformatician

Photo of Ms Beiyuan Fu

Ms Beiyuan Fu

Senior Research Assistant

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Mr Richard Gunning

Former PhD Student at the Sanger Institute

Photo of Mareike Herzog

Mareike Herzog

PhD Student

Photo of Dr James Hewinson

Dr James Hewinson

Laboratory Manager

Photo of Dr Fabio Liberante

Dr Fabio Liberante

Work Stream Manager - GA4GH

Photo of Dr Jingtao Lilue

Dr Jingtao Lilue

Senior Bioinformatician

Photo of Dr Ultan McDermott

Dr Ultan McDermott

Honorary Faculty and Former Group Leader

Photo of Dr Gaurab Mukherjee

Dr Gaurab Mukherjee

Senior Computer Biologist

Photo of Dr Victoria Offord

Dr Victoria Offord

Principal Bioinformatician

Photo of Marco Ranzani

Marco Ranzani

Postdoctoral Fellow

Photo of Dr Anna Maria Ranzoni

Dr Anna Maria Ranzoni

Visiting Scientist - Postdoctoral Research Associate

Photo of Mamunur Rashid

Mamunur Rashid

Senior Computational Biologist

Photo of Dr Laura Riva

Dr Laura Riva

Principal Bioinformatician

Photo of Dr Daniela Robles Espinoza

Dr Daniela Robles Espinoza

Visiting Scientist

Photo of Dr Saskia Rudat

Dr Saskia Rudat

Postdoctoral Fellow

Photo of Aravind Sankar

Aravind Sankar

PhD Student

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Marcela Sjöberg

Postdoctoral Fellow

Photo of Dr Anneliese Speak

Dr Anneliese Speak

Senior Scientific Manager

Photo of Katharina Strege

Katharina Strege

PhD Student

Photo of Dr Dijue Sun

Dr Dijue Sun

Janet Thornton Fellow

Photo of Dr Chi Wong

Dr Chi Wong

Clinical Fellow

Photo of Fengtang Yang

Fengtang Yang

Senior Staff Scientist

The following were also members of this team:

Ian Sudbery (Postdoc)Lecturer (Bioinformatics), Univ. of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.
Daniela Robles (PhD student)Group Leader, UNAM Human Genetics, Queretaro, Mexico.
Thomas Keane (Postdoc)Group Leader, EBI-EMBL, UK & Prof at Univ. of Nottingham, UK.
Jessamy Tiffen (Postdoc)Group Leader, Centenary Institute, Sydney, Australia.
Catherine Wilson (Postdoc)Lecturer (Faculty), Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK.
Marcela Sjoberg (Postdoc)Assistant Professor, University of Santiago, Chile.
Daniele Perna (Postdoc)Senior Scientist, GSK, Stevenage, UK.
Nicola Thompson (PhD student)Oncologist, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, UK.
Rebecca McIntyre (Postdoc)Staff Scientist, Anderson Lab, Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK.
Ania Migdalska (PhD student)Lecturer, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.
Jun Kong (PhD student)Entrepreneur/Company CEO, London, UK.
Ruth Verstraten (RA)Postdoc, Bowcocok Lab, Mt Sinai, NY, USA.
Jenny Mattison (PhD student)Programmer, Cambridge, UK.
Robin van der Weide (M.Sc)PhD Student at Utrecht, Utrecht, NL.
Radek Lach (PhD Student)Postdoc at the Crick, Reddy Lab, London, UK.
Jorge Buendia (RA)Programmer at the Broad Institute, Boston, USA.
Martin Del Castillo (PhD student)Postdoc, Bejahti Lab, Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK.
Sendu Bala (Computer Biol.)Programmer, Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK.
Marco Ranzani (Postdoc)Senior Scientist, Artios Pharma, Cambridge, UK.
Ellie Dunstone (M.Sc student)PhD student, CASM, Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK.
Mamun Rashid (Computer Biologist)Senior Data Scientist, Cambridge Epigenetics, Cambridge, UK
Vivek Iyer (Principal BioInformatician)Head of Human Genetics Informatics, Sanger, Cambridge, UK.
Aravind Sankar (PhD student)Postdoc, EBI, Keane Group, Cambridge, UK.
Bushra Abu-Helil (RA)PhD student, Vet Medicine Group, UEA, Norwich, UK.
Agnes Swiatkowska (RA)Research Assistant, CellGen, Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK.
Richard Gunning (PhD student)Programmer, Helsinki, Finland.
Carmen Ballesteros (RA) Researcher at Abcam, Cambridge, UK. 
Clara Alsinet (Postdoc) Postdoc, Gaffney Lab, Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK. 
Marieke Herzog (PhD student) Management Consultant, McKinsey & Company, London, UK. 
Stefan Dentro (PhD student)  Postdoc, Gerstung Group, EBI, Cambridge, UK. 
Alistair Rust (Principal Bioinformatician) Senior Data Scientist, GSK, Stevenage, UK. 
Theodore Whipp (Lab Manager)Lab Manager, Cellular Genetics, Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK.
Geoff Wood (Visiting Scientist)Prof. and Co-Director, Institute for Comparative Cancer Investigation, Guelph, Canada.
David Wood (Visiting Scientist)Prof. of Surgery, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.
Liezel Tamon (Visiting Scientist) PhD student, University of Oxford, UK. 
Katharina Strege (PhD student) Postdoc, Griffiths Lab, Cambridge Univ, Cambridge, UK. 
Damla Durmaz (Visiting Scientist) Clinical Geneticist, Turkey. 
Emanuelle Supper (Postdoc) Product Specialist, Illumina, Cambridge, UK. 
Natasha Karp (Statistician) Senior Statistician, Astra Zeneca, Cambridge, UK. 
Erini Christodoulou (Visiting scientist) PhD student, van Dooren Lab, University of Leiden, Leiden, NL 
Sonia Leonardelli (Visiting scientist) PhD student, Melanoma Unit, University of Essen, Essen, Germany. 
Gemma Turner (PhD student) Medical writer, Glasgow, Scotland. 

Related groups


Our group works closely with a number of other institutions and programmes. Below you can find a list of these:


The Melanoma Genetics Consortium (GenoMEL)

We are one of the analysis groups within GenoMEL. We study the genome sequences of dozens of melanoma-prone families to search for genetic causes of their disease.


The Infection, Immunity and Immunophenotyping (3i) consortium

Collaborating with 3i, we generate and immunophenotype hundreds of mouse cell lines.


Deciphering the Mechanisms of Developmental Disorders (DMDD) Consortium

As part of DMDD, we study the effects of embryonic lethal mutations in mice to assign biological functions to genes.


The International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium

With IMPC, we study the phenotypes of mouse knockouts in order to discover gene function.


Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK is the main funder of our research.


Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is one of our main funders.


European Research Council (ERC)

The ERC funds us through one of their Synergy Grants.


European Commission Marie Curie Actions

Our lab is part of a wide European Training Network (ETN), MELGEN-ETN.



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