Profile of Prof Owen Sansom
In a research career spanning more than 20 years, Professor Sansom has published over 300 papers and made major contributions to understanding some of the key molecular drivers of epithelial cancer.
Professor Sansom received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2001 before continuing his postdoctoral research using in vivo models of cancer at the University of Cardiff. In 2005, he established his own laboratory at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow. Since then, Professor Sansom has been instrumental in determining the molecular hallmarks of colorectal cancer. This has included defining the roles of the tumour suppressor protein APC and the WNT signalling pathway as well as the involvement of intestinal stem cells in tumourigenesis. His laboratory uses both in vivo and 3D in vitro models to recapitulate colorectal and pancreatic cancers to investigate the molecular mechanisms underpinning tumourigenesis and to identify novel drug targets. Professor Sansom's work in pancreatic cancer has focused on using in vivo models to stratify patient therapy and to understand how combinatorial therapies targeting both the tumour and surrounding tissues may lead to better therapies.
Professor Sansom has also played an important leadership and management role at the CRUK Beatson Institute, particularly in ensuring its researchers are able to access the most sophisticated genetically engineered models of cancer. In 2011, he was appointed Deputy Director of the Institute and has been its Director since August 2017. Professor Sansom is also more broadly involved in driving cancer research strategy in Glasgow – up until April 2021, he was Director of the Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow and until April 2022, lead of the CRUK Glasgow Centre. He was instrumental in the formation of the CRUK Scotland Centre, a joint initiative between Glasgow and Edinburgh, which aims to translate findings from the laboratory into the clinic for the benefit of cancer patients, and in April 2022, was appointed its co-director. In September 2021, Professor Sansom was appointed Director of the National Mouse Genetics Network, an investment of more than £20 million by the Medical Research Council to accelerate our understanding of human disease, including cancer, and improve diagnosis and treatments.
In 2007, Professor Sansom won the BACR/AstraZeneca Young Scientist Frank Rose Award in recognition of his contributions to translational cancer research and in 2012 he was awarded the CRUK Future Leaders in Cancer Research Prize for his outstanding achievements. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2012, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2017 and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 2019.