Isabel Pires

Isabel Pires, PhD


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Hypoxia is a key modulator of several signalling pathways in cancer, including those mediating tumour progression, therapy resistance, and metastatic spread. Although signalling pathways in tumour hypoxia, either regulated by or independent of HIF (hypoxia inducible factor) have been investigated, novel hypoxia regulated factors, either as biomarkers or therapeutic targets, remain uncharacterised.

Work in the Pires laboratory focuses on the continued evaluation of hypoxia biology both in the context of improved therapeutic outcomes and of novel biomarker value. We are particularly interested in exploring hypoxic biology therapeutically in the context of radiotherapy resistance, as well as novel radio sensitising strategies. Finally, we are looking at the impact of interstitial fluid flow (IFF) in tumour biology, particularly its interaction with hypoxic biology, using our ‘spheroid-on-chip’ microfluidic model.

Research interests

The Pires lab is interested in understanding and exploiting hypoxic biology for translational impact. The three key focus points in the group are:

Hypoxic Biology as Disease Outcome Biomarker, inclucing identifying novel hypoxia regulated factors and pathways (see Pires et al 2010, Pires et al 2014, Poujade et al 2018)
Hypoxia as a therapeutic context, focusing on targeting the therapy-resistant hypoxic tumour regions, exploiting hypoxic biology through targetted therapy as single agents or in combination with radiotherapy (see Pires et at 2012, Edge et al 2021, Li et al 2022)

The relationship the links between hypoxia and IFF (interstitial fluid flow) in the biophysical tumour micro environment, using 3D in vitro models of hypoxia and microfluidic platforms such as our ‘spheroid-on-chip’ model (Collins et al, 2021).



Professional Experience

2023 – present    Lecturer in Cancer Biology • Division of Cancer Sciences,   The University of Manchester, UK

2022 – 2023    Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science • Center for Biomedicine, HYMS, University of Hull, UK

2012 – 2021    Lecturer in Biomedical Science • University of Hull, UK

2007 – 2012    Postdoctoral Researcher • Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology, Department of Oncology, University of Oxford, UK

2002    Visiting Scientist • The University of Manchester, UK

2001 – 2002    Visiting Scientist • UMIST, Manchester, UK


2014 – 2016     Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and PCAP (Postgraduate Certificate for Academic Practice) • University of Hull, UK

2011 – 2012    Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) • University of Oxford, UK

2003 – 2007    Ph.D. Pharmacology • The University of Manchester, UK

1997 – 2002    Licenciatura (Portuguese degree) in Biology • Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

  • ARR Trustee, LH Gray Memorial Trust (2022 – present)
  • ARR (Association for Radiation Research) Executive committee (2020 - present)
  • Co-Lead for the Faculty of Health Sciences (University of Hull) Athena Swan award application (2020 - 2023)
  • Team leader of a University of Hull PhD studentship cluster (total associated funds £340k) (2019 – 2023)
  • Organising committee for the BACR 60th anniversary Conference (2019 – 2022)
  • Organising member for the Biochemical Society Lab on Chip training event (2019)
  • Biochemical Society Education, Training, & Public Engagement Committee (2018 - 2022)
  • Chair of the BACR Media subcommittee (2016 - 2021)
  • BACR (British Association for Cancer Research) Executive committee (2015 - 2021)

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

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Manchester

Jan 2003May 2007

Bachelor of Science, Licenciatura (Portuguese degree) in Biology , Universidade de Coimbra

Sept 1997Jul 2002

External positions

Exec Committee Member, Association for Radiation Research

2020 → …

Invited Lecturer (MSc Radiation Biology), Oxford University

2018 → …

External Examiner (MRes Cancer Science), University of Birmingham

2016 → …

Association for Radiation Research

Biochemical Society

British Association for Cancer Research (BACR)

European Association for Cancer Research (EACR)

Portuguese Association for Researchers in the UK (PARSUK)

Areas of expertise

  • RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre
  • Cancer


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