UCL Cancer Institute


Cell Signalling Research Group Members

Senior Research Fellow

Benoit Bilanges…

Benoit Bilanges, PhD - Class III PI3K biology & signalling

Following his PhD at Montpellier University, France, Benoit carried out postdoctoral studies in David Stokoe’s lab at the UCSF Cancer Institute, San Francisco, USA, where he studied the role of the PI3K/TSC/mTOR pathway and mRNA translation in cancer. In 2007, Benoit joined the Cell Signalling group as a senior postdoctoral fellow and is currently investigating the role of class III PI3K.

Research Fellows

Gala Classen…
Gala Classen, PhD - Function of the endocytic adaptor protein complex-2 (AP-2) in nerve cells and neurodegeneration

Gala completed her biology studies obtaining her Diploma in Berlin at the Freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany. During her PhD in the laboratory of Volker Haucke in Berlin, she investigated the function of the endocytic adaptor protein complex-2 (AP-2) in nerve cells and neurodegeneration. Gala joined the Cell Signalling group in May 2017 and will analyse the impact of a PTEN point mutation on neurons, brain development and cell signalling, in a collaboration with the groups of Prof. Kessaris’ (neuronal fate and circuit development group) and Prof. Sebastian Brandner (Neurodegenerative Diseases) at UCL.

Lizzie Foxall

Lizzie Foxall, PhD - PI3K alpha in cancer cell biology

Lizzie completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of York, and her MRes in Cell Biology at UCL. She then carried out her PhD in Prof. Gareth Jones's lab at King's College London, studying the role of p21-activated kinases in myeloid cell-matrix adhesions. In 2017, she joined Prof. Francesca Ciccarelli's lab at the Francis Crick Institute where she worked to validate novel cancer genes from computational predictions. She joined the Cell Signalling group in March 2019 to study the role of PI3K alpha in cancer cell biology.

Sarah Conduit

Sarah Conduit, PhD - Oncogenic PI3K alpha signalling

Sarah completed her Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (Hons) at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. She joined Prof. Christina Mitchell's lab at Monash University where she obtained her PhD working on an inositol polyphosphate 5-phosphatase. In 2019, she moved to the Cell Signalling lab to study the biology of oncogenic class I PI3K alpha and will be supported by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship.

Grace Gong

Grace Gong, PhD - PI3K modulators

Grace completed her BSc Hon degree majoring in Biomedical Science at the University of Auckland. She then worked with Dr. Jack Flanagan, Prof. Peter Shepherd and Dr. Christina Buchanan at the University of Auckland for her PhD majoring in PI3Kalpha drug discovery. Following her PhD in 2017 she worked with Prof. Ming-Wei Wang in the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences for six months on PI3K and SGK drug discovery before joining the cell signalling lab in 2018 to work on PI3K modulators.

Elena Lopez…
Elena Lopez Guadamillas, PhD - Oncogenic PI3K alpha in disease

Elena completed her undergraduate training in Biology and Molecular Biomedicine at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain. She then obtained her PhD at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), Madrid, in the lab of Dr Manuel Serrano. In 2016, she joined the Cell Signalling Group as a Postdoctoral Fellow where she is studying oncogenic PI3K alpha in disease.

York Posor…
York Posor, PhD - Class II PI3K biology & signalling

York completed his undergraduate training in biochemistry at the Freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany. For his PhD, he joined the lab of Volker Haucke at the Leibniz Institute of Molecular Pharmacology in Berlin, Germany, to study how phosphoinositide lipids regulate endocytosis. In the Cell Signalling group since 2014, York is now characterizing physiological roles of class II PI3Ks supported by EMBO and Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships.

Priyanka Tibarewal…
PriyankaTibarewal, PhD - Therapeutic intervention for PTEN Hamartoma Tumour Syndrome (PHTS)

Priyanka did her BSc in Biotechnology and MSc in Microbial Gene Technology in India, followed by a PhD with Prof Pete Downes and Dr Nick Leslie at the University of Dundee studying Akt-independent mechanisms of tumour suppression by PTEN. For her post-doctoral research, Priyanka worked with Nick Leslie at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, studying  tumourigenesis in transgenic PTEN mice models . She then joined the Lab of Prof Markus Muschen at the University of Cambridge where she worked on the role of PTEN and PI3K in acute leukemias. She then briefly worked with Dr Elisa Laurenti at the University of Cambridge studying the role of inflammatory cytokines in haematopoietic stem cell function. Priyanka joined the Cell Signalling group in January 2017 to work on therapeutic intervention for PTEN Hamartoma Tumour Syndrome (PHTS).

Clinical PhD student

Victoria Rathbone
Victoria Rathbone, MBChB – PTEN hamartoma syndrome

Victoria is a Histopathology Specialist Trainee who gained her medical degree from Leicester University and an intercalated BSc in Haematology from Imperial College London. After graduating from medical school she obtained an Academic Foundation Programme post and spent her research time at UCL in Professor Flanagan’s lab, working on the development of a diagnostic test for H3F3A p.Gly34Try mutations in Giant Cell Tumours of Bone. Following foundation training she spent a further year in the same lab investigating circulating tumour DNA in chondrosarcoma and other bone tumours. She currently holds an Academic Clinical Fellowship and has been with the cell signalling group since June 2018, to focus on characterising mouse models of PTEN hamartoma syndrome. Victoria started her Clinical PhD studentship in April 2019 funded by Jean Shanks and the Pathological Society on the histological and molecular characteristics of PTEN-driven tumours.

PhD students

Charis Kampyli…
Charis Kampyli, Mechanisms of action and biological functions of the Class II PI3K-C2β isoform

Charis completed her undergraduate training (MSc) at the University of Ioannina, School of Health Sciences, Department of Biological Applications and Technologies, in Greece. During this period, she was also granted a three-month research training placement at Dr Lazaros Foukas’s laboratory in the Institute of Healthy Ageing in UCL, as part of an Erasmus programme scholarship. Currently, as a PhD student in the Cell Signalling group, she is studying the mechanisms of action and biological functions of the Class II PI3K-C2β isoform supported by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship.

Evelyn Lau…
Evelyn Keet Wai Lau, Genomic impact of oncogenic PIK3CA mutation

Evelyn completed an MRes degree in Tissue Engineering for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Manchester. Prior to that, she worked as a Transplant Coordinator and Laboratory Officer in Singapore. After completing her Masters, she then joined Professor Julian Knight group as a Research Assistant at Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford and was involved in various projects, focusing on defining regulatory variants that are associated with susceptibility to autoimmune diseases using functional genomic approaches. She was awarded a Ong Sek Pek-UCL Cancer Institute Research Trust PhD studentship in 2016 and joined the Cell Signalling group to work towards her PhD, focusing on the genomic impact of oncogenic PIK3CA mutation.

Elena Rebollo…
Elena Rebollo, PI3K biology in health & disease, focusing on the class III PI3K enzyme

Elena holds a BSc in Biology from the Universidad de Alcalá, Spain and a MSc in Biotechnology at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, and a master thesis in Sylentis S.A. Since then, she has worked in different laboratories in Spain as a technician and research assistant, including in the laboratories of Dr. Pedro Bonay at the Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, Madrid, and the Proteomics Unit at Universidad Complutense de Madrid. In 2016, Elena was awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie scholarship in 2016 to study PI3K biology in health and disease, focusing on the class III PI3K enzyme.

Support Staff

Veronica Dominguez (PA/Centre Administrator)

Veronica finished her BSc Hons Degree in Biotechnology in 2001 at Complutense University, Spain, after completing an ERASMUS course at Birmingham University. She worked as Research Technician in different labs until 2009 when she left the bench for the desk and joined the Cell Signalling group as Centre Administrator/PA

Daniele Morelli…
Daniele Morelli (Technical Support)

Daniele worked at the Centre of Biotechnology of Cardarelli Hospital in Naples, Italy, first as Junior Researcher and later as Research Assistant, focusing mainly on the investigation of the role of HO-1 in the ischaemia/reperfusion process in liver transplantation. He moved to Queen Mary University of London to specialize in animal models and animal management, and joined the Cell Signalling group to work on projects involving class III PI3K signalling.

Georgia Constantinou
Georgia Constaninou, Research Technician

Georgia completed a BSc in Biomedical Sciences and later an MSc in Cancer at University College London. During that time she gained experience in a number of laboratories including the Vanhaesebroeck lab where she carried out her MSc research project which involved a screen of possible therapeutics for PTEN Harmatoma Tumour Syndrome (PHTS). After finishing her MSc, Georgia continued to, on a voluntary basis, work alongside Priyanka to work on a therapeutic intervention for PHTS. She officially joined the Cell Signalling group in January 2018, where she is currently investigating the effects of various drugs on the PI3K/Akt signalling pathway. 

Wayne Pearce…
Wayne Pearce (Biological Services Support Manager)

Wayne studied genetics at the University of Wales, College of Cardiff, doing a project investigating the antibiotic activity of silver ions on bacteria and their gene expression. He completed an MSc degree at the University of Central Lancashire investigating the tight control of gene expression in embryonic stem cells. Before coming to London to join the Cell Signalling lab, Wayne was involved in various projects at the University of Aberdeen studying cell trafficking to inflamed tissues and the use of gene therapy to alleviate nephritis. 

Alex Sullivan…
Alex Sullivan, PhD (Laboratory Manager)

Alex completed her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Southampton. She then joined Prof Clare Isacke’s group at Imperial College as a postdoctoral researcher, and moved to the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (at St. Mary’s, and subsequently at UCL) as a Research Assistant and Assistant Laboratory Manager. She joined the Cell Signalling group in 2007 as Laboratory Manager. Since the team’s relocation to UCL, Alex has continued in her role as Laboratory Manager, and was also Cancer Research UK – UCL Centre Manager from 2014 to 2017.