UCL Division of Surgery and Interventional Science


Kidney Cancer Research

The Tran Kidney Cancer Research Group is made up of clinicians and scientists working together to improve our understanding of kidney cancer, and in turn improve the experience for patients with this disease.

Our work

Our current work focuses on improving the diagnosis and risk stratification of tumours for patients with early-stage disease. We are also exploring treatment options for small renal tumours and the role of the immune system in kidney cancer.

Nephron Sparing Treatment (NEST) for small renal masses
  • Chief Investigator: Maxine Tran
  • Funding: NIHR. 

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Investigating the facilitators and barriers to the Implementation of renal Tumour Biopsy (IFIT-B)
  • Chief Investigator: Maxine Tran
  • Funding: NIHR

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MIBI-for Kidney
  • Chief Investigator: Maxine Tran
  • Funding (Pilot study): Royal College of Surgeons, St Peter's Trust, the Royal Free Charity
  • Funding (Multi-centre feasibility study (multi-MIBI)): NIHR.

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Characterisation of the biological markers of progression in renal cancer
  • Chief Investigator: Maxine Tran
  • Funding: Kidney Cancer UK, Facing Up 2 Kidney Cancer, the Nick Maude Memorial Fund.
Immunological markers of early kidney cancer progression
  • MRC Clinical Training Fellowship for student: J Neves
  • PhD supervisor: M Tran
CRUK International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED)
  • Chief Investigator: Mark Emberton
  • Funding: CRUK
Renal Cancer Tumouroids: New generation 3D in vitro models created from individual patients for testing drug responses
  • Chief Investigator: Marilena Loizidou
  • Funding: St Peter's Trust
National Cancer Imaging Translational Accelerator (NCITA)
  • Chief Investigator: S Punwani
  • Funding: CRUK
'P' tentacle
  • Chief Investigator: D Stoyanov
  • Funding: ESPRC
PearBio optimising 'organ-on-a-chip' technology via patient samples in detection and effective treatment of kidney cancer
  • Chief Investigator: Maxine Tran
  • Funding: Greater London Authority, MedCity's Collaborate to Innovate

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The multidisciplinary research team are based across world-class facilities at the UCL Division of Surgery and Interventional Sciences and UCL Division of Infection and Immunity with links to NHS clinicians based at the Specialist Centre for Kidney Cancer, The Royal Free Hospital.

Tran Kidney Cancer Research Group

Maxine Tran

Prof. Maxine Tran (Group Lead)

Hannah Warren

Hannah Warren (Clinical PhD student)

Zara Baig

Zara Baig (PhD student)

Wendy Smith

Wendy Smith (Clinical PhD student)

Joseph Santiapillai

Joseph Santiapillai (Clinical PhD student)

Kelly Bokea

Kelly Bokea (PhD student)

Thunchanok Rirkkrai

Thunchanok Rirkkrai (PhD student)

Zehra Okus

Zehra Okus (PhD student)

Darryl Bernstein

Darryl Bernstein (Academic Clinical Fellow)

Georgia Raingold

Georgia Raingold (Clinical Trials Practitioner)


Selected publications

  1. Aquilina J, Neves J.B., El-Sheikh S., Tran-Dang M.A., ... Tran M.G.B. Epitheloid Angiomyolipomas of the Kidney: Rare Renal Tumors Associated With Poor Prognoses. Urology. 2023 Apr 6;S0090-4295(23)00265-0.

  2. Zecchini V., Paupe V., Herranz-Montoya I., ... Bokea K., Baig Z., Samarajiwa S., Tran M., Mitchell T., Johnson M., Prudent J., Frezza C. Fumarate induces vesicular release of mtDNA to drive innate immunity. Nature. 2023 Mar;615(7952):499-506.

  3. Warren, H., Kasivisvanathan V., Moore C.M., Gurusamy, K., Emberton, M., Tran, M.G.B., et al. Protocol for a MULTI-centre feasibility study to assess the use of 99mTc-sestaMIBI SPECT/CT in the diagnosis of kidney tumours (MULTI-MIBI study). BMJ Open. 2023 Jan 24;13(1):e067496. PMID: 36693694.

  4. Li, R., Ferdinand, J.R., Loudon, K.W., Bowyer, G.S., Laidlaw, S., Muyas, F., Mamanova, L., Tran, M.G.B., et al. Mapping single-cell transcriptomes in the intra-tumoral and associated territories of kidney cancer. Cancer Cell. 2022 Dec 12;40(12):1583-1599.e10. PMID: 36423636.

  5. Nyga A., Stamati K., Redondo P.A., Azimi T., ... Tran M.G.B., Emberton M., Loizidou M., Cheema U. Renal tumouroids: challenges of manufacturing 3D cultures from patient derived primary cells. J Cell Commun Signal 2022 Dec;16(4):637-648.

  6. Neves, J.B., Roberts, K., Nguyen, J.S., El Sheikh, S., Tran-Dang, M.A., Horsfield, C., Tran, M.G.B., et al. Defining the origin, evolution, and immune composition of SDH-deficient renal cell carcinoma. iScience. 2022 Oct 17;25(11):105389. PMID: 36345344.

  7. Valcarcel-Jimenez, L., Rogerson, C., Yong, C., Schmidt, C., Yang, M., Cremades-Rodelgo, M., Tran, M.G.B., et al. HIRA loss transforms FH-deficient cells. Sci Adv. 2022 Oct 21;8(42):eabq8297. PMID: 36269833.

  8. Warren, H., Boydell, A.R., Reza, A., Pencharz, D., Holman, B.F., El-Sheikh, S., Tran, M.G.B., et al. Use of 99m Tc-sestamibi SPECT/CT for indeterminate renal tumours: a pilot diagnostic accuracy study. BJU Int. 2022 Dec;130(6):748-750. PMID: 36053273.

  9. Miller, J., Campain, N., Boydell, A.R., Warren, H., Vito, I., Neves, J., Mumtaz, F., Bex, A., El-Shiekh, S., Wagner, T. and Tran, M.G.B. 'Case of the Month' from the Specialist Centre for Kidney Cancer, Royal Free London Hospital, UK: 99m Tc-sestamibi SPECT-CT to differentiate renal cell carcinoma from benign oncocytoma. BJU Int. 2022 Jan;129(1):28-31. PMID: 34967994 Clinical Trial.

  1. Neves, J.B., Varley, R., Agnesi ,S., Withington, J., Rodrigues, F.B., Warren, H., Yuminaga, Y., Tran, M.G.B., et al. Growth and renal function dynamics of renal oncocytomas in patients on active surveillance. BJU Int. 2021 Dec;128(6):722-727. PMID: 34046981

  2. Warren, H., Neves, J.B. and Tran, M.G.B. Renal oncocytoma: landscape of diagnosis and management. BJU Int. 2021 Dec;128(6):685-687. PMID: 34036709.

  3. Stauss H.J. and Tran, M.G.B. TCR Gene Therapy: Challenges, Opportunities, and Future Directions. Cells. 2020 Dec 1;9(12):2567.PMID: 33271744.

  4. Satish P., Kuusk T., Campain N., Abu-Ghanem Y., Neves J., Barod R., El-Sheikh S., Mumtaz F., Patki P., Tran M., et al. The European Association of Urology COVID Intermediate-priority Group is Poorly Predictive of Pathological High Risk Among Patients with Renal Tumours. Eur Urol 2021 Aug;80(2):265-267.

  5. D'Ettorre C., Stilli A., Dwyer G., Tran M., Stoyanov D. Autonomous pick-and-place using the dVRK. Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2021 Jul;16(7):1141-1149.

  6. Kuusk T., Cullen D., Neves J.B., Campain N., Barod R., Boleti E., El-Sheihk S., ... Tran M.G.B., Powles T., Bex A. Impact of the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic on a tertiary referral centre for kidney cancer. BJU Int 2021 Dec;128(6):752-758.

  7. Neves J.B., Vanaclocha Saiz L., Abu-Ghanem Y., Marchetti M., Tran-Dang M.A., ... Tran M.G.B., Bex A.; RECUR consortium. Pattern, timing and predictors of recurrence after surgical resection of chromophobe renal cell carcinoma. World J Urol 2021 Oct;39(10):3823-3831.

  8. Kuusk T., Neves J.B., Tran M., Bex A. Radiomics to better characterize small renal masses. World J Urol. 2021 Aug;39(8):2861-2868.

  9. Burrows, N., Bashford-Rogers, R.J.M., Bhute, V.J., Peñalver, A., Ferdinand, J.R., Stewart, B.J., Smith, J.E.G., Tran, M.G.B., et al. Dynamic regulation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α activity is essential for normal B cell development. Nat Immunol. 2020 Nov;21(11):1408-1420. PMID: 32868930.

Funding and Partnerships

Logo for the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)

Logo for the Royal College of Surgeons

Logo for the Greater London Authority

Logo for Cancer Research UK (CRUK)

Logo for Kidney Cancer UK

Logo for the UKRI Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Logo for the Royal Free Charity

Logo for the Urology Foundation, features a purple raindrop

Logo for Medcity's Collaborate to Innovate

Logo for St Peter's Trust, part of the Royal Free Charity

Bricks on a stone area, spelling out 'Facing up 2 K C' (implied: Kidney Cancer)

Nick Maude and friends in cricket whites
  1. NIHR
  2. Royal College of Surgeons
  3. Greater London Authority
  4. CRUK
  1. Kidney Cancer UK
  2. ESPRC
  3. Royal Free Charity
  4. The Urology Foundation
  1. MedCity Collaborate to Innovate
  2. St Peter's Trust
  3. Facing Up 2 Kidney Cancer
  4. Nick Maude Memorial

Related themes

Professor Maxine Tran working in a laboratory


NEST study wins Poster Award at the European Congress of Interventional Oncology, 2023

Slide poster with a gold medal. Title reads: "Nephron Sparing Treatment (NEST) for small renal masses: A feasibility cohort-embedded randomised controlled trial" together with author names, the conference logo (ECIO 2023) and funder logo (NIHR)

The NEST study is the first successfully completed trial comparing cryotherapy with partial nephrectomy for small renal masses. Using a novel cohort-embedded design, we found most patients agreed to participate, and a full trial would therefore be feasible.