Leading the future of cancer research

Vivian Li

Crick scientist Vivian Li has been awarded the 2018 Future Leaders in Cancer Research Prize by Cancer Research UK for her pioneering work on bowel cancer.

A research group leader at the Crick, Vivian leads a team of researchers who study how stem cells are programmed to maintain a healthy gut, and what goes wrong when cancer develops.

They are particularly interested in a molecule called Wnt, which sends signals to stem cells that keep them growing and multiplying properly. Overactive Wnt signals are associated with many bowel cancers, causing the stem cells to grow out of control and form a tumour.

In awarding Vivian with this prestigious research prize, Cancer Research UK wanted to recognise the novel contributions that she has made both to our understanding of Wnt signalling in the context of bowel cancer, but also her pioneering work using three-dimensional organoids (also known as ‘mini-guts’) to model the disease in a dish.

“I am delighted that our contribution to cancer research has been recognised, and I want to thank my lab for their hard work,” says Vivian.

“There is still a lot to do before we can cure cancer, and we will continue to work on improving our understanding of cancer development and finding new drug targets.”

The award was presented to Vivian at this year’s NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow on 5 November.

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