SEARCHBreast Team

SEARCHBreast Principal Investigator


Professor Valerie Speirs

Professor Valerie Speirs is the PI of the SEARCHBreast project. She is currently Professor of Experimental Pathology & Oncology within the Leeds Institute of Cancer Studies & Pathology, at the University of Leeds. Professor Speirs research portfolio focuses on oestrogen receptor biology, endocrine resistant breast cancer, male breast cancer, and developing improved in vitro models of breast cancer to explore the role of the stroma. She plays an active role in the Breast Cancer Campaign Tissue Bank, and is PI of the Leeds centre and was inaugural chair of the Breast Cancer Campaign Tissue Bank operations group, overseeing the successful launch of the Tissue Bank to the research community in 2012. She is a member of the Sloane Steering Group, the Translational subgroup of the NCRI Breast Clinical Studies Group, and the Confederation of Cancer Biobanks Biosample and Data Quality working group. She is an associate Editor of BMC Cancer (since 2012), and a corresponding editor of Hormone Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigation (since 2010).

SEARCHBreast Co-Investigator


Dr Karen Blyth

Dr Karen Blyth is head of the Transgenic Models laboratory, at the CRUK Beatson Institute in Glasgow. Her team aims to maximise the potential of in vivo models to recapitulate human cancer. The Blyth Lab is also interested in the role of RUNX1 and RUNX2 in epithelial lineages, in particular in breast and prostate cancer.

SEARCHBreast Co-Investigator


Dr Claude Chelala

Claude Chelala, is a senior lecturer in bioinformatrics Queen Mary Univerity of London. Claude's research interests are in the area of computational and integrative bioinformatics. An important aspect of her group's work involves designing and setting up a generic model for the organisation, integration and mining of complex omics data sets. She is also interested in the study of genetic variations. Her computational work also covers large-scale analysis of common/specific alteration signatures in human cancers, to identify cancer-causing genes, related molecular pathways, and new biomarkers for novel diagnostics and screening in cancer.

SEARCHBreast Co-Investigator


Professor Ingunn Holen

Ingunn Holen is a Professor of Bone Oncology in the Academic Unit of Clinical Oncology at the University of Sheffield. Research in the Holen team is focused on therapeutic approaches to advanced breast and prostate cancer, in particular how combining new and existing drugs can reduce tumour growth in bone. Professor Holen has established a range of in vitro and complex in vivo models for studies of tumour growth in bone, that have been utilised in numerous studies published in prestigious international journals. Other research areas include the anti-angiogenic effects of combination therapy, and determining the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in cancer-induced bone disease in breast cancer. She is deputy chair of the Scientific Advisory Board and leads the Commissioned Research Advisory Board of the Breast Cancer Campaign. She is a member of the Executive of the British Association of Cancer Research, and serves on a number of editorial boards of international scientific journals. The research led by Professor Holen is funded by a number of local and national funding bodies, including Cancer Research UK, Weston Park Hospital Research Charity, NC3R, Breast Cancer Campaign and the MRC, as well as by the pharmaceutical industry and the EU.

SEARCHBreast Co-Investigator


Professor Louise Jones

Louise Jones is Professor of Breast Pathology at Barts Health NHS Trust and runs a Breast Research Group at the Barts Cancer Institute. Research focuses on using in-vitro model systems to study mechanism of progression of DCIS, and uses primary breast cell populations to study the biology of Mammographic Density. She is part of the Breast Cancer Campaign Tissue Bank and leads the Cell Culture Programme which isolates breast cell populations from normal and malignant breast tissue, generates explant cultures and is currently undertaking an immortalization programme in order to create both normal and tumour cell lines to facilitate the breast research community.

Scientific Coordinator


Dr Bethny Morrissey

Bethny is the Scientific Coordinator for the SEARCHBreast project, and oversees the network's operation. She is the first point of contact for this initiative. Bethny's other roles in this position include stakeholder engagement; arranging and delivering workshops, symposiums and conferences; promoting SEARCHBreast; and assisting the bioinformatician in ensuring accurate database information. Bethny's scientific background includes a Ph.D. from the University of Sydney, where she studied the proteomic surveillance of the influenza virus using mass spectrometry. After this Bethny was a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Leeds, where she researched E. coli pilus formation, using mass spectrometry. Prior to joining SEARCHBreast, Bethny worked for the Australian Government in science and business sustainability policy, at the Department of Industry.



Dr Phil Carter

Phil Carter is the bioinformatician working for SEARCHBreast, at Barts/Queen Mary Univerity of London. He is developing this website, and the associated database that will be used to share SEARCHBreast models between researchers. He previously worked in stem cell genomics at the Sanger Institute. He has also worked for structural bioinformatics consortiums in the USA, and obtained his Ph.D. in protein docking bioinformatics.