Richard Houlston - Biography#

Richard Houlston graduated with distinction in Medicine from Imperial College London, gaining MD, PhD and DSc degrees in genetics from the University of London. Following various medical internships and Fellowships he joined the Institute of Cancer Research in 1994.

While his research has focused on cancer genetics he has also made significant contributions to our understanding of the genetics of other diseases (e.g. identifying PTF1A mutations as the cause of recessive cerebellar agenesis and neonatal diabetes). His detailed work on rare familial cancers led to the identification of gene mutations responsible for a subset of colorectal and renal cancer which has been translated into diagnostic tests. He has also been instrumental in demonstrating that much of the heritable risk of cancer is a consequence of common genetic variation, identifying this class of susceptibility for colorectal, lung, glioma, leukaemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Collectively his work has provided insight into the biological basis of many different types of cancer. Notably in showing mutations of fumarate hydratase as a cause of renal cancer, contributing evidence for the role of pseudo-hypoxic drive in tumour development. Furthermore, his work has emphasised the role of DNA sequence variation in regulatory regions as determinants of cancer risk by influencing gene expression through complex long-range interactions brought about by the 3D structure of the genome.

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