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Research Associate: Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge

Academic Background

  • 2007-2016 - Brunel University London, College of Health and Life Sciences, Uxbridge
  • 2012-2016 - Ph.D - Involvement of the matrix proteins SPARC and Osteopontin in the dynamic interaction between tumour and host cells: PI: Dr Gudrun Stenbeck
  • 2010-2011 - MSc - Awarded Master of Science in Molecular Medicine and Cancer Research Biomedical Sciences with Biochemistry:
  • 2007-2010 - BSc - Awarded Second Class (Upper Division, Honours, 2.1)

Research Interest

Research in the Gilbertson lab has shown that neonatal stem cells are intrinsically resistant to malignant transformation compared to adult stem cell populations suggesting that neonates are intrinsically resistant to cancer when they are rapidly developing. I am currently investigating the intrinsic biology of stem cell populations in various organs of ageing mice using state of the art sequencing methods and analysis by deep learning. By understanding how neonates are protected from cancer, we will be able to revert adult stem cells to a more neonatal state which could in turn reduce cancer risk and incidence in adults.

Overview of Current Research

  • Stem cells play an essential role in producing mature cell types in every organ
  • Work recently published in our lab investigated stem cell characteristics such as regenerative, proliferative capacity and stem cell number in various organs under homeostatic conditions as well as in cancer
  • In the presence of oncogenic mutations, neonatal stem cell populations were more resistant to getting cancer compared to adults, an effect observed amongst all organs susceptible to cancer
  • It is likely that the intrinsic property in stem cells of neonates is protective against cancer and is lost during adulthood, possibly as a result of the ageing process
  • Using epigenetic, transcriptomic and proteomic sequencing approaches, we aim to characterise these changes and identify common factors in all organs that make neonatal stem cells resistant to cancer
  • If we can identify the mechanism/s protecting neonatal stem cells from tumourigenesis, then reverting adult stem cells to a more neonatal state could reduce cancer risk and tumour incidence in adults significantly

Publications in Preparation

  • Jassim A. & Stenbeck G. ERK 2 kinase regulates the trafficking of the matricellular proteins SPARC and osteopontin.
  • Jassim A. & Gilbertson R. Nature Reviews cancer, Reviewing the role of extrinsic and intrinsic factors in determining cancer risk and addressing the ‘bad luck’ hypothesis.
  • Deanna M Patmore, Erica Nathan, Reuben Gilbertson, Daniel Tahan, Amir Jassim, Manav Pathania, Paul Northcott and Richard Gilbertson. DDX3X controls fate specification of medulloblastoma subtypes