Dr Robert Graham

Honorary Reader

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Overview

I was recruited to the University of Manchester (Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences), in 2012, from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). I joined the University of Manchester under the Project Diamond recruitment scheme; set up to attract top academics worldwide, to help Manchester achieve its 2020 vision.

I am CO-I and Deputy Director of the MRC funded Stoller Biomarker Discovery Centre- Currently the funding for the facility set up is ~£25 million. I have responsibility to build on our excellence in proteomics and informatics to establish a world-leading clinical proteomics centre for stratified medicine to bring proteomics into every day clinical care.

Innovative mass spectrometry technologies (SWATH MS) can now serve stratified medicine and discovery of molecular mechanisms of disease. They can be integrated with genomic and clinical data for the identification of protein biomarkers to rapidly and accurately stratify patients, and translate these into clinical benefit. This has been built on our existing proteomics platforms to create a high throughput proteomics facility that: can address the requirements of cutting edge stratified medicine research; is complementary to and aligned with genomics; and is integrated with our advanced health informatics capacity, an area in which Manchester excels through the Farr Institute. Our clinical proteomics expertise means we are optimally positioned to exploit this technology (for the benefit of the UK clinical research community) to link SWATH maps with the heterogeneous phenotypes/endotypes of the samples. To ensure rapid “pull-through” to the clinic we are partnering with industry and together will develop methods and assays for use in clinical research and in vitro diagnostics.

My expertise is in the integration of basic science and clinical research in the context of translational medicine, particularly with regard to the development of Precision Medicine

The focus of my research is disease diagnostics and I have established collaborations with many clinical groups. I am directing research on improving the quality of life of ovarian cancer patients, through early detection of the disease. Within this context I lead the Manchester PROMISE project (Predicting Risk of Ovarian Malignancies, Improved Screening and Early Detection), a £3.1 million programme funded jointly by the Eve appeal and CRUK. I have built collaborative partnerships that allow me access to The UKCTOCS (United Kingdom Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening), a £26 million MRC and CRUK funded project. This is a biobank, which contains over 500,000 serum samples from 202,000 women from the general population all carefully followed up for over 10 years. The intention is to accelerate the translation of my research into clinical application to deliver improved outcomes for ovarian cancer patients.

Biography

During my Ph.D at the Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Research group my research focused on the isolation and characterisation of novel pharmacological agents from snake venom components. I made two novel discoveries. The first was the discovery of a new pharmacological agent, the first bradykinin inhibitory peptide identified from snake venoms. Secondly, work on small molecules and peptides involved in the activation of ion channels and cell signalling, led to the unequivocal identification and quantification of adenosine within these snake venoms, along with its secondary metabolite inosine and the elucidation of their pharmacological role as the causative agents of the extreme hypotension observed upon envenomation by these snakes.

In 2004 I took up a postdoctoral position in the newly established Northern Ireland Centre for Excellence in Functional Genomics. My research focused on nosocomial infections. My investigations utilised state of the art mass spectrometry and proteomics in the analysis of Ochrobactrum anthropi, Clostridium difficile and Helicobacter mustelae. I was able to publish numerous papers on the identification and reconstruction of a number of key metabolic pathways within these bacteria. This is a significant step towards a systems wide understanding of these clinically important microorganisms. In addition to my research I was given charge of the proteomics facility.

In 2008 I took up a post as a senior scientist in the division of Biology at Caltech. The Times Higher Education World University ranking system (2013-14) ranks Caltech as the number 1 University in the World. My research, in addition to utilising traditional biochemistry and molecular biology tools, applied advanced mass spectrometry, pharmacoproteomics, chemoproteomics and chemical biology technologies to elucidate signalling pathways within disease states or under different pharmacological interventions.

I joined the University in 2012 and am currently a Reader in Clinical Proteomics. At Manchester I am the lead in charge of the biomarker discovery arm of PROMISE 2016 (Predicting Risk of Ovarian Malignancies, Improved Screening and Early Detection) http://www.eveappeal.org.uk/about-us/funding-research/promise-2016/. A research programme aimed at halving the number of deaths from ovarian cancer.

I am also CO-I and Deputy Director of the MRC funded Stoller Biomarker Discovery Centre-

Currently the funding for the facility set up is ~£25 million. I have responsibility to build on our excellence in proteomics and informatics to establish a world-leading clinical proteomics centre for stratified medicine to bring proteomics into every day clinical care.

Innovative mass spectrometry technologies (SWATH MS) can now serve stratified medicine and discovery of molecular mechanisms of disease. They can be integrated with genomic and clinical data for the identification of protein biomarkers to rapidly and accurately stratify patients, and translate these into clinical benefit. This has been built on our existing proteomics platforms to create a high throughput proteomics facility that: can address the requirements of cutting edge stratified medicine research; is complementary to and aligned with genomics; and is integrated with our advanced health informatics capacity, an area in which Manchester excels through the Farr Institute. Our clinical proteomics expertise means we are optimally positioned to exploit this technology (for the benefit of the UK clinical research community) to link SWATH maps with the heterogeneous phenotypes/endotypes of the samples.

To ensure rapid “pull-through” to the clinic we are partnering with industry and together will develop methods and assays for use in clinical research and in vitro diagnostics.

Qualifications

Ph.D. Biomedical Science (2003) University of Ulster.

Masters of Medical Science (1998) The Queen’s University of Belfast

BSc (Hons) Biochemistry (1996) The Queen’s University of Belfast

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

American Chemical Society

The American Society for Mass Spectrometry

Biology, Medicine and Health (BMH) Domains

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