Edinburgh Cancer Research

Robb Hollis

Molecular defects in ovarian cancers

Robb Hollis Portrait
Dr Robert Hollis – Institute of Genetics and Cancer Langmuir Talent Fellow

Research in a Nutshell

Ovarian cancer is an umbrella term for a collection of distinct diseases. The majority of research has focussed on the most common type, high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSOC). This has led to major advances in our understanding of ovarian cancer and has led to new molecularly-targeted therapies. My research focusses on identifying and characterising molecular defects in ovarian cancers through genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and other molecular profiling technologies.

In HGSOC, these studies improve our understanding of the molecular makeup of the disease and identify groups of patients that derive the greatest benefit from specific treatments. These data allow us to determine which molecular events drive cancers that do not respond well to current treatments, highlighting biology that may be targetable with new therapies to improve patient outcomes. In rarer ovarian cancer types, which have received less research attention, these data provide the first picture of molecular events driving these diseases. In turn, this highlights new therapies that may be effective for these cancers.

We also use laboratory ovarian cancer models to characterize specific molecular defects in greater detail, and to identify drugs that may be of interest for treating different patient groups. As part of this work, we derive new models from patients treated here in Edinburgh. This helps expand the number of laboratory models available, improving representation of less common disease subtypes.

Nicola Murray Centre 

Robb Hollis Research Group (Left to right: Robb Hollis, Ailsa Oswald, Daniel Grant, Joanna Porter and Iona McFarlane).
Robb Hollis Research Group (Left to right: Robb Hollis, Ailsa Oswald, Daniel Grant, Joanna Porter and Iona McFarlane).


Robb Hollis Group Leader
Ailsa Oswald PhD student (associate supervisor)
Daniel Grant

Masters research student (co-supervised with Alex von Kriegsheim)

Joanna Porter Research project student
Iona McFarlane Research project student




  • Professor C Simon Herrington, The University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Charlie Gourley, The University of Edinburgh 

Partners and Funders

  • Tenovus Scotland
  • Target Ovarian Cancer
  • The Nicola Murray Centre for Ovarian Cancer Research


Scientific Themes

Ovarian cancer, transcriptomics, genomics, rare cancer types, targeted therapy, cancer subtyping, multiomic analysis

Technology Expertise

Genomic analyses, Transcriptomic analyses, FFPE material, Clinical data analysis, Molecular subgrouping, Rare tumour cohort studies