Colorectal Cancer Team

Despite much research into colorectal cancer (CRC), there have been disappointingly few advances in the treatment of CRC in the past two decades.  It remains the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world and is the second highest cause of cancer-related death in Europe.  Population based bowel screening programmes have improved early detection, however, 50% of patients are still diagnosed with late stage and advanced metastatic disease leading to poor outcomes.  In Glasgow it is our goal to build on our strengths in clinical excellence, clinical trials, translational research and basic research in colorectal cancer to change outcomes for future patients.

Within Glasgow we have a number of specialist teams working on different aspects of colorectal cancer and together form The Glasgow Colorectal Collaborative Initiative (GCCI).

The Glasgow Colorectal Collaborative Initiative (GCCI)

The Glasgow Collaborative Colorectal Initiative (GCCI) brings together individual groupings from within Glasgow University, the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, all with a common interest in colorectal cancer.  The group is composed of oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, nutritionists, translational scientists and research scientists.  The team meet quarterly to present their research, give guidance on CRC grant opportunities and most importantly, provide a discussion forum to develop new ideas and collaborations.  By combining our strengths in discovery, translational and clinical research we have the foundations to develop personalised treatment strategies for colorectal cancer patients in a true bench to bedside manner.

Since the initial formation of this collaborative grouping, the team has strengthened its academic resources by developing large comprehensive patient cohorts of linked clinical data through the Glasgow Tissue Research Facility (GTRF) and TransSCOT .  Our oncologists and surgeons in collaboration with pathologists and translational scientists, are involved in many different clinical trials.  One of these, the INCISE project – INtegrated TeChnologies for Improved Polyp SurveillancE, aims to transform bowel cancer screening in the UK by developing a tool that can predict which patients with pre-cancerous polyps, will develop further polyps.  

In the laboratory, we have developed many model systems to study colorectal cancer.  These include genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs), tumour organoids and orthotopic xenografts, all of which are being used in the ACRCelerate Colorectal Cancer Stratified Medicine Network (ACRCelerate), to bridge the gap between molecular signatures and clinical trials.    In addition,  The Bacteria, Immunology, Nutrition, Gastroenterology and OMICS (BINGO) group provide expertise in the role of gut microbiota and its interaction with diet and the immune system. 

If you are interested in joining the colorectal team or have any questions about the Glasgow Colorectal Collaborative Initiative (GCCI) please contact the Project Co-ordinator, Dr Fiona Paulin-Ali at,


The focus of the GCCI is to better understand colorectal cancer to eventually establish a personalised medicine approach for patients.

We aim to do this by addressing the following questions;

  • Can we enhance the therapeutic response by stratifying tumours based on molecular subtype?
  • Can we understand how tumours behave and identify potential treatments by studying organoids (mini-tumours) in vitro?
  • Can we use Genetically Engineered models (GEM) and GEM organoid models to examine targeted and combination therapies, including immunotherapy and established chemotherapy?
  • How do different kinds of cells in the surrounding tumour microenvironment co-operate to drive tumour progression?
  • Does the immune system influence how colorectal tumours form, grow, or spread?
  • Can we develop new predictive markers for novel targeted therapy combination approaches?
  • Can we more precisely define the complex microenvironment and intercompartmental signalling pathways contributing to disease pathway activation e.g., Wnt, Notch, BMP, TGFβ, Hedgehog? 
  • Can we predict how the stroma drives resistance to form strategies that target dominant oncogenes and tumour suppressor pathways?

The Team

The team consists of:

Oncologists – Dr Janet Graham, Prof Richard Wilson, Dr Sean O’Cathail

Academic surgeons – Dr Campbell Roxburgh, Prof Paul Horgan, Dr David Mansouri, Dr Stephen McSorley, Dr James Park, Dr Colin Steele

Pathologists – Prof Karin Oien, Prof John LeQuesne, Dr Noori Maka

Glasgow Tissue Research Facility – Dr Jennifer Hay

Nutritionists – Prof Gerasimidis

Translational scientists– Prof Joanne Edwards, Prof Donald McMillan

Research scientists – Prof Owen Sansom, Dr Seth Coffelt, Dr Dave Bryant, Dr Joanna Birch, Prof Ross Cagan, Dr Julia Cordero

Project co-ordinator – Dr Fiona Paulin -Ali

All these individuals bring together different areas of expertise and provide resources, many of which are available to the wider research community.

Resources and Links

The ACRCelerate Colorectal Cancer Stratified Medicine Network (ACRCelerate), led by Prof Owen Sansom, is a European-wide consortium of basic and clinical scientists at the forefront of CRC research.  It is a new and exciting venture jointly funded by CRUK, the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC) and Spanish Association Against Cancer Scientific Foundation (FC AECC) for 5 years (awarded December 2018). The overarching aim of the ACRCelerate project is to de-risk future clinical trials by bridging the gap between tumour molecular signatures and targeted clinical trials.

The Glasgow Tissue Research Facility (GTRF) bridges the gap between NHS, University of Glasgow and Industry for tissue-based research.   It supports the process from tissue acquisition via NHS Biorepository through to analysis. Furthermore, it provides first-class digital pathology, TMA construction and histology services to University of Glasgow, NHS and external collaborators.

TransSCOT is the translational arm of the SCOT trial, an “international, randomised, phase 3, non-inferiority trial” involving adult patients with high-risk stage II or stage III colorectal cancer.   It provides a repository of matched tissue and tumour samples, blood samples, IHC data, clinical and pathological data (DNA, RNA, TMAs).

The INCISE project – INtegrated TeChnologies for Improved Polyp SurveillancE – is a project which aims to transform bowel cancer screening in the UK by developing a tool that can predict which patients with pre-cancerous polyps, will develop further polyps. 

The BINGO group -The Bacteria, Immunology, Nutrition, Gastroenterology and OMICS (BINGO) group is an interdisciplinary group of clinicians, immunologists, dietitians, nutritionists, microbiologists and experts in bioinformatics and statistical tools exploring the role of gut microbiota and its interaction with the diet and the immune system in health and disease.


Cancer Research UK

Medical Research Council

Innovate UK

Medical Research Scotland

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