Fran Balkwill – Trained at Barts Medical Oncology Unit and ICRF Lincoln’s Inn Fields. During her postdoc she worked on interferons and their actions in cancer therapy. She has continued to work on cytokines both in terms of their involvement in anti-cancer functions but also, for others, their tumour-promoting roles. This work led to more wider studies of the cells and mediators that make up the complex and dynamic tumour microenvironment. Her current work focuses on ovarian cancer. Having recently published a multi-level profile of the human ovarian cancer microenvironment, her lab has developed a platform of new models in mice as well as human multi-cellular tissue culture models and they are now using these to research biological therapies that may prevent relapse and increase patient survival in this disease.
Fran is also involved in public engagement with biomedical science having written a number of books for children on cell and molecular biology. She is Director of the Centre of the Cell, www.centreofthecell.org, an informal biomedical science centre for children, educational website and outreach project in East London. There have been more than 180,000 participants in Centre of the Cell activities since opening in September 2009.