Colin Ratcliffe has now completed his first year of his EACR-AstraZeneca Postdoctoral Fellowship, funding that is awarded for a period of up to three years to support excellent postdoctoral researchers in laboratories throughout Europe and the world.

Colin is a postdoctoral fellow in Erik Sahai’s laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute in the UK. We recently caught up with him to hear about the progress he has made in his research during this first year.

Can you tell us about the topic of the research you are undertaking during your fellowship?

My overall research goal is to understand the role of intratumoural heterogeneity in response to targeted therapy in breast cancer. Despite successes in other subtypes of breast cancer, there are no approved targeted therapies that might help patients living with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). Capivasertib is a drug which targets the PI3K/Akt pathway and is currently being developed by AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca is testing Capivasertib in the Phase III clinical trial CAPItello290 where capivasertib is combined with paclitaxel for TNBC. Therefore, understanding response and resistance to capivasertib will allow me to accomplish my research aims using clinically relevant drug targets and models of the disease.

At this stage, how do you think the fellowship will be beneficial to your research and your career?

This fellowship has been vital in building a bridge with AstraZeneca scientists whose expertise in drug development and capivasertib has helped me frame biological inquiry in ways that might also inform patient care. AstraZeneca have provided not only insight, but also resources in the form of significant amounts of capivasertib, which supports in vivo studies at a scale that were not previously affordable. The fellowship has also given me a platform to showcase my work, and, as the project develops, will lead to new opportunities. These are connections that I will maintain as my career progresses.

What have been the highlights from the first year of your fellowship?

In addition to the ongoing discussions I’ve been having with AstraZeneca, a highlight has been speaking at and attending the EACR 2023 Congress in Torino, Italy. It was an invaluable experience to meet other EACR-funded fellows and get feedback on my work.

More about EACR-AstraZeneca Postdoctoral Fellowships

The aims of this funding are to support the career development of outstanding EACR members in the early stage of their careers, and to train the next generation of scientists engaged in innovative research in areas where AstraZeneca has demonstrated leadership through its pipeline and research programs. Learn more here.