UK Health Security Agency
I am biologist who carried out my PhD in Radiobiology-Radiopathology at an cancer hospital, the Gustave Roussy institute in Villejuif near Paris which I obtained from the University of Paris XI - Orsay, France). Radiotherapy and many chemotherapeutics rely on DNA double-stranded break (DSB) formation to drive the killing of tumour cells over several cell division cycles but also damaging surrounding normal tissue cells. Using primary cultures of fibroblasts from patients, I worked on inter-individual radiation sensitivity and DSB repair. I identified the first radiotherapy patient whose radiation toxicity was due to a defect in DNA DSB repair which was thought to be almost incompatible with survival at the time; it was found later that the patient had a mutation in ligase IV. After several post-doctorate positions (one on p53 adenovirus and radiotherapy and one cell-cycle arrests following ionising radiation exposure), I became in 2005 the leader of the Cancer Mechanisms and Biomarkers group in the Radiation Effects department at the Centre for Radiation Chemical and Environmental Hazards, of Public Health England near Oxford.
More recently, I became interested in cancer genomics and have been associated with an important recent study on mutational signatures of ionizing radiation in second malignancies (Behjati S. et al. Nature communications 2016). I have developed a strong interest in the effects of radiation exposure on the immune system as demonstrated by our recent publications on aging of the T-cell receptor repertoire (Candéias SM. et al. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2017) and on inflammatory gene expression following genotoxic cancer therapy (Manning G. et al Front Immunol. 2017) and last but not least, detecting cancers early by tracking and monitoring the progression of initiated, 'pre-cancerous' cells (Verbiest T. et al. Leukemia 2018). I am also very interested in new technical developments to identify sub-populations of blood cells and extracellular vesicles as a source of new biomarkers of radiation exposure, susceptibility and toxicity and we have validated transciptional biomarkers of radiation exposure such as the gene FDXR (O'Brien G. et al. Sci Rep. 2018, CRadiat Res. 2020, Int J Mol Sci. 2020
I have an established reputation in the international radiation research field. I was a committee member of the Association for Radiation Research (ARR) and its treasurer. I am a member of the European Radiation Research Society, the Radiation Research Society and the Research Orientation of the French Institute of Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) Committee. I have significant involvement in radiation research in Europe MELODI (European Multidisciplinary European Low Dose Risk Research Initiative).
I give lectures at Oxford University for the MSc Radiation Biology of the Department of Oncology on carcinogenesis and individual sensitivity. I am passionate and actively involved in training of the new generation of biologists with expertise in radiation effects and there a currently several MSc and PhD students in the group. I also review for several relevant international journals as well as UK and international funding bodies.