Cancer, Ageing and Somatic Mutation


The Cancer, Ageing and Somatic Mutation Programme pioneers data aggregation and informatics innovation, develops high-throughput cellular models of cancer for genome-wide functional screens and drug testing, and explores basic scientific questions about the role somatic mutation plays in clonal evolution, ageing and development.

Our Work

Tribes of cells carrying mutations in the eyelid
Tribes of cells carrying mutations in the eyelid

For discovery of new cancer genes and mutational processes, aggregation of tens of thousands of cancer genomes is needed – we are establishing a virtual marketplace for exchange of genomes and informatics and develop increased functionality through the COSMIC portal.

For understanding the biology of gene-gene, gene-drug and gene-microenvironment interactions, a considerably broader range of in vitro and in vivo model systems is required – we are generating 1,000 organoid cultures from human cancers, characterising their genomes, functional dependencies and drug response, and we are expanding our in vivo models to study the interface between cancer and the immune system and microenvironment.

For setting cancer in the context of ageing tissue, study of normal adult homeostasis is important – we are studying mutational processes, clonal dynamics and cellular competition in thousands of non-cancerous cells and samples from a range of tissue types, in health and disease.

We are developing the concept of using somatic mutations present at adulthood to reconstruct the phylogeny of an individual’s development. The depth of insight is limited only by the numbers of cells sequenced and cheaper sequencing will enable us to see far back to the early stages of life, and study inter-individual variation in development. We also seek similar scaling up of the in vitro experiments, sampling deeper into the landscape of cancer genes, gene-gene interactions and combination drug responses.

We work closely with the Human Genetics and Cellular Genetics programmes.

Related groups