Dr Powis is investigating proteins that are released by breast cancer cells, to determine how they might be affecting the ways in which the immune system recognises and kills cancer, and how we could use this knowledge to improve treatment for breast cancer patients.

Professor Emad Rakha is developing an innovative new method of detecting the presence of cancer cells in the lymph nodes that surround the breast. This new method could be a more accurate and faster way to determine whether patients could benefit from the removal of these lymph nodes at the same time as initial breast tumour surgery.

Breast cancer that has spread to the brain can be particularly hard to treat and severely affects people’s quality of life. Walk the Walk Fellow Dr Damir Varešlija is looking at how gene switches in breast cancer cells might make them more likely to spread to the brain and hopes to find ways to stop this from happening.

Dr Stephen Robinson would like to test if manipulating friendly gut bacteria can influence the immune system and in turn make it harder for breast cancer to spread around the body and become incurable.

Mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 can drastically increase a person’s risk of developing breast cancer. Professor Xiaodong Zhang will study how changes in the shape of BRCA proteins can alter their function. This could help us tailor therapies to people with breast cancer.

We need to develop our understanding of how breast cancer spreads around the body if we want to prevent deaths from the disease. Dr Iain Macpherson is studying the role of glutamate in breast cancer and will see if blocking it could prevent secondary breast cancer.