Katarzyna B. Leszczynska, Postdoctoral Researcher

Tumour Hypoxia

Katarzyna's research focus is on the function of a tumour suppressor gene p53 in conditions of hypoxia.

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Katarzyna obtained her MSc in Biotechnology at the Wroclaw University of Technology in Poland in 2006 and subsequently moved to the UK with the EU Leonardo da Vinci Grant to work with biopolymers. After a year in industry, Katarzyna moved back to academia and started her PhD at the University of Birmingham with Dr Vicky Heath and Prof Roy Bicknell, where she investigated the signalling and function of small Rho GTPases in angiogenesis. Katarzyna obtained her PhD in 2011 and started her post-doctoral work, firstly in the field of developmental biology at the Dunn School of Pathology, and then moved on to the CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology to work on tumour hypoxia within the group of Prof Ester Hammond.

Katarzyna's main research interests are in studying a transcriptional response of p53 to hypoxia and investigating the function of hypoxia-induced p53-dependent target genes. Katarzyna's postdoctoral work described a mechanism of p53-dependent apoptosis in hypoxia, which involves trans-activation of genes targeting AKT (including PHLDA3 and INPP5D). In tumours which lost the function of p53 (more than 50% of all cancers), pharmacological inhibition of AKT increased apoptosis specifically in hypoxic regions, and therefore increased the sensitivity of these tumours to radiotherapy. 

Katarzyna's preclinical work on testing an ATR inhibitor in oesophagal cancer supported the current clinical trial, CHARIOT, on the dose escalation safety when combining the ATR inhibitor VX-970 with chemoradiotherapy in oesophagal cancer (EudraCT number: 2015-003965-27).

Katarzyna is also interested in modes of regulation of gene expression in hypoxia, particularly in hypoxia-repressed genes.

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