Professor Sir Mike Stratton, FMedSci FRS

Senior Group Leader

Mike's primary research interests are the discovery of genes with inherited mutations in the germline that cause cancer susceptibility, the discovery of somatically mutated genes in cancer that may provide targets for new drug discovery, and understanding the mutational processes and mutational signatures present in normal and cancer cells.

Mike established the genomic location of the high risk breast cancer susceptibility gene BRCA2 on chromosome 13 in 1994 and then identified the gene itself in 1995, subsequently discovering multiple other inherited cancer susceptibility genes. In 2000 he established the Cancer Genome Project at the Sanger Institute to systematically sequence cancer genomes for somatic mutations in order to improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the disease. This identified cancer “driver” mutations in the BRAF gene in malignant melanoma, leading to the development of BRAF targeted therapies for melanoma, and several other somatically mutated cancer genes in a range of cancer types.

He sequenced the first complete cancer genome and developed the conceptual and computational framework for cataloguing and understanding the mutational processes and mutational signatures contributing to the mutations in cancer genomes.

Together with colleagues he currently explores the somatic mutation patterns of normal cell genomes across tissues of the human body and uses somatic mutations in normal cell and cancer genomes from countries around the world to explore the existence of currently uncharacterised population exposures that may lead to cancer.

Mike Stratton was Director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute from 2010-2023. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2013.

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