Professor Karen Vousden

Understanding the tumour suppressor p53

Karen Vousden is Cancer Research UK's former Chief Scientist and a Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute, where her work focuses on tumour suppressors.

Tumour suppressors usually act to protect us from cancer. A protein called p53 was one of the first to be identified in our cells, and we now know it’s faulty or not working properly in the majority of cancers.

Following the discovery of p53 in the 1970s, Professor Karen Vousden helped uncover how p53 works and how it is controlled, including identifying the molecule that sends p53 to the cellular dustbin, called MDM2.

But there are still many unanswered questions about the role of p53 in cancer. Professor Vousden and her team at The Francis Crick Institute in London are studying how p53 normally works to stop tumours forming, and how these protective effects are lost in cancers.

She is also leading investigations looking into how different faulty versions of p53 help to drive cancer, and exploring whether losing this crucial molecule leaves weaknesses in cancer cells that could be exploited to destroy them.

Professor Vousden’s work on understanding this important tumour suppressor will be vital in helping develop new treatment approaches. As changes in p53 are found in almost all cancers, these treatments could improve survival in many different cancer types.

All cancer types
Cancer biology

The Francis Crick Institute in London 

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