UCL Cancer Institute


Leukaemia Biology Research Group

Lab members

Dr Joana Costa

Dr Joana Costa, Post Doctoral Research Fellow

I am a Molecular and Cellular Biologist (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) with a PhD in Life Sciences (FCT-Universidade Nova de Lisboa/Imperial College London), and now funded by a Junior Research Fellowship from the Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund (KKLF).

I have always been fascinated by the mechanisms of transcriptional regulation that orchestrate gene expression and the consequent impact on cell-type specification, particularly in haematopoiesis. This has been my main motivation in studying the contribution of the non-coding genome to aberrant gene activation in haematopoietic cells. In the Mansour Lab, I have a great opportunity to study the role of MYB-enhancer mutations in oncogene activation, using T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia as a cancer model. I am using a panel of molecular and biochemical techniques to address this question and also learning bioinformatic tools for novel mutation discovery. Outside of the lab my main passions are music J and photography. I enjoy a lot going to music concerts and also like theatre, cinema and practicing yoga.

Dr Victor Lombart
 Dr Victor Llombart, Post Doctoral Research Fellow

Funded by CRUK. I studied Biotechnology BsC at Universitat Rovira i Virgili (2010), Immunology MsC at Universitat de Barcelona (2011) and completed my PhD in Biomedicine from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (2016). During my PhD I was involved in the discovery of new biomarkers for stroke diagnosis through different proteomic approaches. My current research is focused on the generation of a functional map of the oncoprotein c-MYC aiming to discover novel protein-protein interactions that drive MYC oncogenicity in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) using a combination of proteomic and molecular techniques. The discovery of novel “druggable” pockets that are essential for these interactions might improve not only the treatment of T-ALL but also the treatment on many other cancer types. Outside the lab I love cycling and I enjoy playing and watching football, especially when Barça is on the pitch.

Dr Maciej Szukszto

Dr Maciej Szukszto, Post Doctoral Research Fellow

I am postdoctoral research fellow currently working on DECOD-Ag – a collaborative project between UCL (Mansour and Quezada groups), Achilles Therapeutics, Crick Institute, Weizmann Institute of Science and Denmark Technical University, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme. The aim of the project is to develop a revolutionary platform for profiling cancer immunogenic neoantigens, combining a diverse array of science-enabled technologies to decipher the therapeutic potential of neoantigens, in order to facilitate the development of innovative personalised cancer immunotherapies. You can follow the project on Twitter @agdecod and find out more on the project website – decod-ag.eu. In the past, I completed a BSc in Biomedical Science and an MSc in Human Molecular Genetics at Imperial College London. I then undertook a PhD in the MRC-Mitochondrial Biology Unit at the University of Cambridge, where I worked on developing a unique method to deliver, express and maintain exogenous DNA sequences in mammalian mitochondria using a gene gun, as well as on identification and characterisation of novel mitochondrial proteins involved in mammalian mitochondrial DNA nucleic acid metabolism. When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy travelling, hiking, climbing, cycling, triathlon, tennis, golf and scuba diving. I also have a keen interest in entrepreneurship, aviation and human spaceflight.

Kent Fung

Dr Kent Fung, Post Doctoral Research Fellow

Having studied BSc (double major in Microbiology and Biochemistry) and MPhil on oesophageal cancer at the University of Hong Kong, I did my PhD in Newcastle University on the molecular characterisation of B-cell precursor ALL with IGH rearrangement, using patient derived xenograft models and RNA sequencing. After my graduation, I joined the Mansour lab as a research fellow. Following my interest in paediatric acute leukaemia, I work on the drug response profiling of relapse/refractory ALL and AML under REVEALL, a clinical trial co-funded by CRUK and Children with Cancer UK. I make use of a co-culture system that mimics the microenvironment of bone marrow to achieve more accurate predictions of drug responses. I am also passionate about data science and bioinformatics, which I have used my skills for my own project and for others.
Outside of work, I enjoy football (a big Chelsea fan) and many other sports. I also like boardgames and listening to music.

Lingyi Wang

Dr Lingyi WANG, Post Doctoral Research Fellow

I'm a bioinformatician with a focus in computational genomics of Leukaemia. I started with a Bachelor's in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Toronto. I completed my PhD in Biomedical Science at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, where I transitioned from cell culture studies to genome assembly and comparative genomics of insects using third-generation sequencing technology.

I joined the Mansour lab in 2022 and currently focus on cancer genomics and epigenetics in Leukaemia. My primary role involves identifying novel mutations in T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (T-ALL) through advanced sequencing techniques. Additionally, I handle a variety of genomic analyses, including CHIP-Seq, ATAC-Seq, CUT&RUN, Hi-C, and RNA-Seq.

Outside of work, I love cats and dogs. I also enjoy competitive video gaming!

Dr David O'Connor
Dr David O'Connor, Clinical Research Training Fellow

I am a CRUK-funded Clinician Scientist Fellow and work as an honorary consultant in paediatric haematology at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. I completed my PhD at Imperial College exploring leukaemogenesis in Down syndrome under the supervision of Professor Irene Roberts.
My current research focuses on understanding the genetic mechanisms that drive resistance in childhood leukaemias, particularly T-acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. I utilise a range of techniques including next generation sequencing and CRISPR genome-wide screening to identify aberrant pathways that could be targeted with novel agents. In addition, I am involved in paediatric clinical trials and have published several papers on stratification in ALL that have led to changes in current treatment algorithms. 

Dr Rachael Pocock
 Dr Rachael Pocock, Clinical Research Training Fellow

I am a Kay Kendall-funded clinical PhD student and haematology trainee in North Central London. During my CRUK-funded pre-doctoral fellowship I explored a novel potential therapeutic target for T-acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and I continue to build upon that work for my PhD. I am interested in dissecting the biology of leukaemia and translating this into new treatment strategies. Throughout my PhD I look forward to acquiring some of the many scientific skill sets that the Mansour group members have to offer. Outside of work I enjoy exploring with my family, reading and playing several sports (badly!).

Ali Alhawaj

Dr Ali Alhawaj, PhD student

I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery from Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University in Saudi Arabia (2017) and joined College of Medicine as a teaching assistant. After that, I completed my master’s degree in Cell & Gene Therapy at UCL (2020), where I explored the role of cellular senescence as a potential mediator of chronic myeloid leukaemia treatment resistance.  
Currently, I’m a PhD student at Mansour group (funded by the Saudi Cultural Bureau). My research focuses on acute myeloid leukaemia resistance mechanisms. I’m utilizing clinical samples to examine the genomic and transcriptomic aberrations in coding & non-coding genome of patients with primary chemoresistant AML (induction failure), and further follow-up with functional studies. 
Other interests include Arabic poetry, theology, and practising MMA occasionally. You can find me on Twitter: @Ali_F_Alhawaj

Daisy Gresham

Daisy Gresham, PhD student

I completed my BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia in 2019 and my MSc in Biomedical Sciences at UCL in 2021 where I characterised a novel, multifunctional mechanism of glycolytic inhibitor 4-MU in Neuroblastoma metabolism as part of my research project at UCL GOSH-ICH. I then became a Research Technician at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, where I was researching the molecular mechanisms of senescence in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.
Pursuing my passion for research in cancer biology, I am now a PhD student in the Mansour lab working on a project surrounding the STIL-TAL1 fusion gene in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. I am exploring many exciting techniques such as CRISPR genome editing, molecular karyotyping and synthetic lethal drug screens with the hope to incorporate my work into stem cells in the future.
Outside of work I enjoy cycling, cooking and hanging out with friends and family.

Jamie Deyell

Jamie Deyell, MBPhD student

I am a MBPhD student funded by the CRUK City of London Centre. Before joining UCL, I studied Medicine in Dundee, interrupting my clinical training to undertake a Bacherlor’s of Medical Science in Cardiovascular and Diabetes Medicine, where I modelled the pro-inflammatory impacts of recurrent hypoglycaemia in bone-marrow derived macrophages.

In the Mansour lab, I am researching CCR9-directed targeted therapy for T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. I hope to utilise a variety of molecular and computational techniques including genome-wide CRISPR screening and RNA sequencing analyses to understand the regulation of this promising therapeutic target. I am also investigating the feasibility of alternative CCR9-directed therapies in tandem with ongoing work on CCR9-directed CAR-T cells.

In my spare time I enjoy reading, exploring, and hanging out with friends.

Katie Flight

Katie Flight, PhD student

I am a LIDo funded PhD student working on increasing access to CAR-T cell therapy, through the creation of a universal CAR-T cell product. I obtained my BSc Hons Immunology and Pharmacology from the University of Strathclyde, where I developed an interest in cancer immunotherapy before going on to Imperial College London for my MRes in Cancer Biology, completing independent research projects at The Institute of Cancer Research and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. Upon my return from Australia I went back to my immunology roots and worked as a research assistant at Imperial College, optimising RNA vaccine technology for equitable access to vaccines, then throughout the COVID pandemic, I worked between the academic and GCLP groups within the lab and was involved in a first in person clinical trial of a self-amplifying RNA COVID vaccine. Outside of my PhD, I play a lot of video games and sports: primarily long distance running, triathlon and skiing, and have represented Great Britain at Ultimate Frisbee since I was 11. 

Group alumni

  • Dr Nadine Farah, Clinician Scientist, Imperial College
  • Dr Sara Ahrabi, Principal Drug Discovery Scientist, CardiaTec Biosciences
  • Gianna Bloye, University of Oxford PhD programme, Weatherall Institute of Medicine
  • Dr Theresa Leon, Principle Scientist at BenevolentAI
  • Michael Magnussen, MSc, British Heart Foundation PhD programme, UCL
  • Dr Sunniyat Rahman, Senior Research Fellow, Professor Mark Dawson Lab, Peter Mac, Australia
  • Dr Simon Richardson, CRUK Clinician Scientist Career Development Fellowship, University of Cambridge