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The Gurdon Institute

Logo of the ASPIRE awards programme  from the Mark Foundation

Steve Jackson is among the awardees of the 2021 ASPIRE (Accelerating Scientific Platforms and Innovative Research) programme, funded by The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research. The awards are designed to enable innovative approaches to solving high-impact problems in cancer research that tend to fall outside the scope of other funding opportunities.


With a total of $9M split between 25 awardees from around the world, the Mark Foundation aims to support innovation in cancer research. Steve Jackson will use the funding to perform CRISPR screens for new cancer targets and therapeutic opportunities.

Steve said “It is wonderful to receive a Mark Foundation ASPIRE Award, which will allow us to explore some new and exciting high-risk, potentially high-reward, research by screening for synthetic lethal targets in two specific genetic backgrounds found in cancerous tissue”. 

His team will work on two projects. First is a screen for synthetic lethal targets of CDKN2A, a tumor suppressor that is frequently mutated in patients predisposed to familial melanoma, pancreatic cancer, and head and neck cancer. In parallel, the team will examine ways of overcoming tumour resistance to ATR inhibitors.

If either approach yields promising results then Steve may be selected to apply for additional funding in a second phase to further develop the work and increase the speed to impact for cancer patients.

Institute reopening

The Gurdon Institute reopened on Monday 15th June. Many staff will continue to work from home, and all staff may be contacted by email.

Studying development to understand disease

The Gurdon Institute is funded by Wellcome and Cancer Research UK to study the biology of development, and how normal growth and maintenance go wrong in cancer and other diseases.

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