Lab members

Andrew Beggs - Group Leader

Andrew is a dual qualified clinician scientist. He is a cancer geneticist, who undertook his PhD in the laboratory of Professor Ian Tomlinson at the University of Oxford, followed by a post-doctoral period as a Wellcome Trust Clinician Scientist at the University of Birmingham. He was awarded a Cancer Research UK / Royal College of Surgeons Advanced Clinician Scientist fellowship and promoted to Reader in 2016.

He is also a Consultant Colorectal and General Surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Twitter: @adbeggs

Joanne Stockton - Senior Postdoctoral Scientist

Jo works as post-doctoral researcher using next generation sequencing technologies. Jo gained her PhD in Virology and worked for Public Health England for several years before joining Birmingham University. Her areas of interest include developing new methods, assays and implementing new technologies to a wide range of research questions.

Research interests: Next generation sequencing, neurological genetics

Claire Bryer - CRUK Genomics scientist

Claire joined the lab in November 2017 to work on developing library prep methods and automation for high-throughput. After completing her undergraduate degree in Genetics at Birmingham in 2010 she moved to the lab of Professor Matthew Whitby at the University of Oxford. Here she worked as a Research Technician investigating DNA repair pathways in fission yeast. In April 2014 she moved to Oxford University’s core Genomics group where she gained experience of microarrays and library preparation. Her work also involved establishing automated workflows for single cell sequencing.

João Silva - Postdoctoral Scientist

João studied Applied Biology at University of Minho, Portugal (2004) and then joined the MSc in Molecular Oncology and Medicine at University of Porto (Portugal). During his MSc project (2006-2008), under the supervision of Prof. Manuel Teixiera, he identified a subset of gastric cancer patients that could benefit from targeted therapy (trastuzumab). He was awarded a PhD fellowship by the Foundation for Science and Technology, Portugal (2009) to pursue his doctoral studies on the clinical and biological impact of recurrent ETS rearrangements in prostate cancer. In 2014, João joined the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute (UK) as a postdoctoral scientist where he applied primary 3D cell culture techniques (murine and human) to study the cells of origin of aggressive prostate cancer. João joined the Beggs lab (2017) where he will be working on organoid model systems to understand neoadjuvant chemoradiosensitivity in rectal cancer.

Valerie Pestinger - Postdoctoral Scientist

Valerie is a molecular biologist who obtained her PhD in Biosciences at the University of Nottingham before joining the Beggs Lab. She oversees the Single Cell Service within the lab using Chromium 10X/Fluidigm technologies and validates cancer biomarkers using Next Generation Sequencing and Pyrosequencing Technologies.

Celina Whalley - Research Associate

Celina worked primarily in Genomic Service Laboratories before coming to Birmingham University in October 2015. Her main focus here is overseeing the Illumina Microarray platform processing methylation and genotyping BeadChips. Other roles in the lab include DNA/RNA quality assessment, automated RNA-seq library preparation and operating the Illumina MiSeq and NextSeq sequencing systems.

Louise Tee - Research Technician

Louise has 20 years laboratory experience with 14 of those years being at Birmingham University having previously worked at The Sanger Institute and Cambridge University. Having spent most of her time in Birmingham in the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, in 2015 Louise moved to Cancer Sciences. She is currently working as a Research Technician within the Beggs group, assisting our Professor of Oncology, Gary Middleton with his research programme. Working with Gary and Andrew has given her the great opportunity to learn and implement a range of NGS Illumina technologies and also gain extensive experience of cell culture techniques.

Rachel Wheat - Research Technician

Rachel has 11 years laboratory experience working in Cancer Research in Birmingham since 2006. Following her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences (also in Birmingham) she started her career working as a Research Technician for Professor David Blackbourn working on the biology of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). During this time she achieved a Distinction in her part-time MSc in Clinical Oncology. In 2013 she moved on to work with Dr Gavin Bendle working on the engineering of T cell immunity to cancer, continuing then in the laboratory of Dr Francis Mussai working on two Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research-funded clinical trials. In 2017 she joined the Beggs group to continue and extend her career in Cancer Research.

Agata StoDOLna - Doctoral Researcher

Agata joined the lab in 2016 funded by a University of Birmingham/MRC PhD studentship. She is currently undertaking research into colorectal organoids as part of the CRUK-funded MOL-RSRC project

Twitter: @ladysciencee

Sally Hallam - Clinical Research Fellow

Sally is a General surgery registrar in the West Midlands. She is currently out-of-programme for research. Her research is focussed on the genetics of colorectal peritoneal malignancy and aims to improve patient selection for treatment with cytoreductive surgery and heated intra-peritoneal chemotherapy. She is also supervised by Mr Haney Youssef

Tom Nieto - clinical research fellow

Tom is a General Surgery registrar who joined the lab in 2015. He is currently out-of-programme and is undertaking research into the epigenetics of oesophageal cancer and the Barretts-Adenocarcinoma transition. He is also supervised by Miss Olga Tucker.

Ollie Pickles - CRUK Clinical Research Fellow

Ollie is a medical oncology registrar, currently out of programme undertaking a PhD funded by a competitively awarded CRUK Clinical Research Fellow award. He is supervised by Gary Middleton, Ben Willcox and Andrew Beggs in examining the role of Class II MHC expression in determining the response to immunotherapy in KRAS mutant colorectal cancer.

Toju Sillo - Clinical Research Fellow

Toju is a Specialty Registrar in General Surgery who joined the lab in October 2017. She is currently investigating the effects of inherited differences on the expression of immune genes which alter the tumour microenvironment in colorectal cancer, and hence determine the response to targeted therapies and patient outcomes. This work will be closely allied with the 100k genomes project and supported by the West Midlands Genomic Medicine Centre.

Rob Tyler - Clinical Research Fellow

Rob is a General Surgery registrar who is currently out of programme undertaking a period of research in the lab. His research is examining the molecular genetics of retroperitoneal sarcomas, specifically well-differentiated liposarcoma. He is also supervised by Mr Anant Desai.

Kasun Wanigasooriya - Clinical Research Fellow

Kasun is a general surgery registrar who is taking time out of training to do research, joining the lab in 2017. He is currently working on the MOL-SRSC project which is working on developing organoid models of rectal cancers and studying the feasibility of using organoid models of rectal tumours to test treatments for colorectal cancer. He is also supervised by Mr Tariq Ismail.


Mark Dilworth - Clinical Research Fellow

Mark was a General Surgery registrar who undertook his MD in the lab in 2013-2015. His research centered around development of a biomarker for malignant progression in non-dysplastic Barretts oesophagus. Mark has recently been appointed Consultant Colorectal & Paediatric Surgeon at Heartlands Hospital.