Click here to view a new video about the CANBUILD project

Professor Fran Balkwill

OBE, FMedSci
Centre: Cancer and Inflammation
Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences
Honorary Fellowship of the British Science Association
Job Title: Centre Lead, Centre for Cancer and Inflammation
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Research Interests

Professor Fran Balkwill's main research themes are in Cancer Immunology, Ovarian Cancer and Tumour Angiogenesis

My research is focused on the links between cancer and inflammation, being especially interested in translating knowledge of cancer biology into new biological treatments for cancer and in the role that inflammatory cytokines play in cancer promotion. 

My key areas of interest are:

  • The Tumour Microenvironment
  • Inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in the tumour microenvironment
  • 'Ovarian' cancer with a focus on high grade serous and clear cell subtypes
  • Public engagement with biomedical science and science policy


I am Professor of Cancer Biology at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, where I lead the Centre for Cancer and Inflammation and the Cytokine and Cancer group within that Centre. I study the links between cancer and inflammation and research ways of translating this to clinical trial.

In 2006, I was made a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, being elected a member of its Council later in the same year. I am a frequent plenary and keynote speaker at international meetings, such as Gordon and Keystone conferences and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

I am also actively involved in communication of science to non-specialist audiences, especially young people. I have written thirteen science books for children on cell and molecular biology, with titles such as Enjoy Your Cells and The Egg and Sperm Race.

I am the Director of the Centre of the Cell, a £4 million biomedical science centre for children, educational website and outreach in Whitechapel. The website was launched in March 2007 and the physical Centre opened in September 2009. As of January 2012 there have been over 42,000 participants in Centre of the Cell activities.

I am a non-parliamentary board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, POST, Chair of Understanding Animal Research (UAR) and a member of the Royal Society Faraday Award Committee. I am on the Scientific Advisory Committee of Breakthrough Breast Cancer and I was awarded an OBE in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours list.


2013 Commission of the European Community CANBUILD-Building a Human Tumour Microenvironment
Approx. £1.7m
2013 - 2017 Cancer Research UK Programme Grant Targeting the peritoneal tumour microenvironment of high grade serous ovarian cancer
Approx. £1m
2011 - 2013 Medical College of St Bartholomew's Hospital 3-Year Studentship
2011 Affitech Collaboration Grant Validation of CCR4 Antibody
2010 ArGEN -X BVBA Collaboration Grant Investigation of Argen-x anti-human IL-6 antibody in vitro and in mouse xenograft models of ovarian cancer
2009 - 2013 BBSRC Industrial CASE Studentship with AstraZeneca Role of Chemokine CXCL12 in Cell-Cell and Cell-Matrix Interactions in Normal and Pathological Processes
2009 Cancer Research UK Chemokine CXCL12 for Cancer Therapy
2009 University of Glasgow Sub-contracted research
2009 Medimmune Ltd. Collaboration Grant Anti-human CXCR4 antibodies
2009 Astrazeneca UK Limited Collaboration Grant The Role of the Chemokine CXCL12 in cellcell and cellmatrix
2008 - 2013 Cancer Research UK Programme Grant Targeting Cancer-Related Inflammation
Approx. £1m
2008 Cancer Research UK Project Grant Targeting chemokine receptor CCR4r
2008 Cancer Research UK Consumables Grant £63,561
2008 Centocor Inc. Collaboration Grant CCL2, CCR2 and Ovarian Cancer


Key Publications

  • Archibald KM, Kulbe H, Kwong J, Chakravarty P, Temple J, Chaplin T, Flak MB, McNeish IA, Deen S, Brenton JD, Young BD, Balkwill FR. Sequential genetic change at the TP53 and chemokine receptor CXCR4 locus during transformation of human ovarian surface epithelium. Oncogene 2012. PMID: 22266861
  • Kulbe H, Chakravarty P, Leinster DA, Charles KA, Kwong J, Thompson RG, Coward JI, Schioppa T, Robinson SC, Gallagher WM, Galletta L, Salako MA, Smyth JF, Hagemann T, Brennan DJ, Bowtell DD, Balkwill FR. A dynamic inflammatory cytokine network in the human ovarian cancer microenvironment. Cancer Res. 2011 Nov 7. 2011. PMID: 22065722
  • Schioppa T, Moore R, Thompson R, Rosser E, Kulbe H, Nedospasov S, Mauri C, Coussens LM, Balkwill FR. B regulatory cells and the tumor-promoting actions of TNF-α during squamous carcinogenesis. PNAS U S A. 2011 PMID: 21670304
  • Li NF, Kocher HM, Salako MA, Obermueller E, Sandle J, Balkwill FR. A novel function of colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor in hTERT immortalization of human epithelial cells. Oncogene 2009. PMID: 18997822

Further Publications

For additional publications, please click here.

Research Group

Lab Manager TBC
Centre Administrator

Ms Paula Broome

Cytokines and Cancer Group

Gemma Everitt
PhD Student
Ganga Gopinathan PhD Student
Laura King PhD Student
Zohra Gueroui Medical Laboratory Assistant
Dr Chiara Berlato Postdoctoral Research Assistant
Dr Hagen Kulbe Postdoctoral Research Assistant
Dr Carla Milagre Postdoctoral Research Assistant
Dr Anne Montfort Postdoctoral Research Assistant
Richard Thompson Research Technician

Tumour Microenvironment
Lily Keane
Research Technician
Jenny Cook PhD Student
Juliana Candido hPD Student
Nia Emami-Shahri PhD Student
Dr Fiona McCarthy Clinical research Fellow
Dr Cristina Ghirelli Postdoctoral Research Assistant
Dr Eleni Maniati Postdoctoral Research Assistant
Dr Raphael Zöllinger Postdoctoral Research Assistant
 Dr Thorsten Hagemann Clinical Senior Lecturer


B cell Differentiation


Dr Melania Capasso Lecturer

External Activities

  • Centre of the Cell
  • Barts and The London Charity
    Cancer Research Committee
  • Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry
    Charterhouse Square Working Group (Chair)
  • Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST)
    Non-Parliamentary Board Member
  • Royal Society
    Michael Faraday Medal Award Committee
  • Understanding Animal Research
    Committee Member (Chair)
  • Breakthrough Breast Cancer
    Scientific Advisory Commitee Member