Dr Anjali Kusumbe has been awarded €1.5M over five years as part of a highly competitive Starting Grant from the European Research Council. The award will support Anjali as she investigates how different types of blood vessels in the bone marrow influence the spread of cancer to bones – a common site of secondary tumours.
Cancer spreads as cells break away from the growing tumour and move to new body sites. However, these dangerous cells often lurk in tissues for many years, before becoming reactivated to promote new tumour growth. Anjali’s research will examine how different types of blood vessels control the fate of cancer cells arriving in the bone marrow, and how this changes with age.
Speaking of the award, Anjali said “I am really excited. This award will enable me to increase the size of my group to interrogate how ageing and the bone marrow microenvironment impacts the fate of cancer cells in bone metastasis. The strength of our project is the unique combination of cell and mouse models, advanced imaging, state-of-the-art technologies, and its interdisciplinary nature.”
Anjali joined the Kennedy Institute in July 2016 as a Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Senior Research Fellow; she was subsequently awarded a MRC Career Development Award that supports her salary and her research into the role blood vessels during bone growth and repair and recently a John Goldman Fellowship from the Leuka Foundation that supports her research on acute myeloid leukaemia.
“Anjali has generated a lot of excitement with her innovative approaches to bone imaging. The ERC Starting Grant will give her additional resources to rapidly implement her vision and advance the Institute’s strategy. Outstanding research output depends on a supportive environment and state-of-the-art technology platforms - a condition more than met here” says Prof Michael Dustin, Director of Research, Kennedy Institute.
“Anjali’s research reflects the Institute’s growing interest in tissue biology” says Kennedy Institute Director, Professor Fiona Powrie. “Deciphering the interaction between immune cells and the tissue microenvironment including stem cells will be key to tackle disease-causing inflammation, fibrosis and tumorigenesis in tissues”.
The ERC Starting Grants are designed to support early-career scientists, who show outstanding potential as research leaders. The scheme is open to researchers of all nationalities across Physical Sciences and Engineering, Life Sciences, and Social Sciences and Humanities who will complete work in one of the EU Member States of Associated Countries. This grant will start in 2019.