• Room 0G.005 - H.S.B

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Dr James is open to wide-ranging PhD applications from candidates with an interest in molecular pathology research.

Previous research experience is desirable although not essential. Areas of interest include application of digital pathology and tissue hybridisation technologies

1992 …2023

Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Statement

I am a Clinical Professor / Consultant Pathologist specialising in Molecular Diagnostics.  In 2010 I led the development of Northern Ireland's first cancer focused Biobank (www.nibiobank.org) to ensure easier access to high quality, clinically annotated samples for researchers which are essential for translational research.  As Director of the Northern Ireland Biobank (NIB) I have secured more than £3.5 million in direct funding to expand the biobank’s infrastructure across Northern Ireland.   Currently NIB supports not only cancer research but also research into other diseases such as neurodegenerative disease, respiratory disease, endocrinology and infectious diseases, including COVID-19.  NIB has rapidly become an internationally recognised biomedical resource which enables researchers worldwide to gain quicker, regulated access to quality assured collections of tissue, blood and other biological samples linked with reliable clinical and pathological data sets.  To date, NIB has helped researchers to leverage more than £20 million in competitive grant funding.

I am a co-Director of the new Precision Medicine Centre of Excellence (PMC), a clinically accredited laboratory established in the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research to deliver integrated high-throughput genomics, digital pathology and big data analytics (https://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/PMC).  I co-lead the tissue hybridisation and digital pathology division.  The PMC hosts the NHS Northern Ireland Regional Molecular Diagnostic Service for Solid Tumours in which I have key responsibilities for Breast and Head/Neck molecular testing. Currently, I co-lead Queen’s contribution to the Innovate UK funded PathLAKE consortium (https://www.pathlake.org), a Centre of Excellence in Digital Pathology established to drive forward innovation in cellular and molecular pathology across the UK.    Previously I co-led a Cancer Research UK Accelerator Programme in Molecular Digital Pathology which funded a collaborative network of academics from across the UK to implement novel digital pathology solutions to analyse the immune contexture of tumours. 

Research Interests

My current research is centred on using high quality human biosamples to identify and validate molecular targets as biomarkers for disease prediction, prognosis and response to therapy.   In particular, I use novel approaches in molecular digital pathology, including application of multiplex immunofluorescence, to identify and validate novel biomarkers in the tumour microenvironment.  One of my main interests is the development of new strategies to detect early development of disease and disease recurrence particularly for malignant tumours of the upper aero-digestive tract.  Many of the projects I’m involved with utilise the open source software image analysis tool 'QuPath' https://qupath.github.io/ , which is a global phenomenon in part developed at Queen's supported by our Cancer Research UK Accelerator programme.   

I make significant contributions to ongoing national and international research initiatives.  I am a member of the National Cancer Research Institute's (NCRI) Head and Neck Clinical Study Group (H&N CSG), the international EPIC-Oropharyngeal Cancer consortium and formerly the NCRI Cellular/Molecular Pathology initiative (CM-PATH).  I lead Northern Ireland's involvement in the UK-wide Cancer UK Stratified Medicines Programme 2 on behalf of Belfast's Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre. I also delivered the work package to establish the Belfast Tissue Collections for the Movember funded FASTMAN study.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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