Edinburgh Cancer Research

Ian Kunkler

Clinical and Translational Studies of Breast Radiotherapy

Professor Ian Kunkler - Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Professor of Clinical Oncology

Research in a Nutshell 

I lead national and international clinical/translational trials assessing the impact of adjuvant radiotherapy (RT) on loco-regional recurrence, quality of life and health economics after mastectomy (BIG 2.04 MRC SUPREMO), and, in older patients, after breast conserving surgery (BCS) [PRIME 2] on local control in early breast cancer . I am CI for the UK arm of BIG 3-07 DCIS boost trial evaluating the role of additional radiation after BCS and breast RT for non low risk DCIS.

I am interested in drug-radiation combinations targeting pH regulatory mechanisms (eg CA1X, NHE1) of breast cancer cells  as PI in METOXIA, an EU (FP7)  project on translating the hypoxic microenvironment.

I am co-PI for a crossdisciplinary EPSRC programme grant (IMPACT- Implantable Microsystems for personalised anti-cancer treatment) led by Professor Alan Murray (Engineering) developing real time ‘lab-on-chip’ biosensors of tumour biology to identify areas of hypoxia in murine and veterinary animal models to enable selective delivery of  radiation dose to hypoxic subregions to improve local control (www.nutshell-videos.ed.ac.uk/alan-murray-sensors-in-tumours/) in partnership with ECRC, Chemistry, Roslin Institute, Innogen Institute and Heriot Watt University.

I am  interested in understanding outcomes of  rare cancers in Europe as co-PI for the EU funded RARECARE (FP6) and RARECARENet (FP7).


Research Programme



Ian Kunkler

Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Professor of Clinical Oncology and Group Leader

Simon Langdon Reader
Carol Ward Fellow
James Meehan PhD student
Mark Gray PhD student


Alexandra Gellert (PA to Professor Ian Kunkler): Alexandra.gellert@ed.ac.uk



  • EPSRC programme grant (IMPACT project): Professor Alan Murray (CI) and Professor Anthony Walton (Electronic Engineering). Partners are Chemistry [Prof Mark Bradley, Prof Andy Mount), Biology [Prof David Argyle, Roslin Institute, Dr Carol Ward, Dr Simon Langdon,Mr Mark Gray (ECRC)], Signal processing (Prof Steve McLaughlin, Heriot Watt University) and Value Systems (Prof Joyce Tait, Innogen Institute).
  • BIG 2.04 MRC/EORTC SUPREMO trial: Dr Nicola Russell (EORTC, Netherlands Cancer Institute);Dr Geertjan Van Tienhoven, EORTC, Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam; Prof John Bartlett (ECRC and Ontario Cancer Institute for Cancer Research); Dr Niall Anderson, Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh; Dr Jeremy Thomas (Western General Hospital, Edinburgh);Dr Martin Denvir (University of Edinburgh); Professor Mike Dixon (University of Edinburgh); Dr Angela Bowman (Western General Hospital, Edinburgh)Professor David Cameron (ECRC); Ms Kathleen Riddle (SCTRU, NHS Scotland); Professor Galina Velikova (University of Leeds); Professor John Cairns ( London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London); Dr Karen Venables (Northwood);Dr Kurn Hurkmans, EORTC, Brussels, Belgium; Associate Professor Boon Chua (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Australia); Professor Yexiong Li and Association Professor Shulian Wang (Cancer Hospital of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing.
  • BIG 3.07 DCIS boost trial: Associate Professor Boon Chua (Transtasman Radiation Oncology Group (TROG),Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne,Australia); EORTC (Dr Helen Westerberg, Arnhem, the Netherlands; Professor Jacek Jassem, Gdansk, Poland); National Cancer Institute of Canada (Professor Ivo Olivotto, Professor Tim Whelan); Professor John Bartlett (ECRC and Ontario Institute of Cancer Research); Dr Linda Williams (Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh); Professor Sarah Pinder (King’s College, University of London); Professor Fiona Gilbert (University of Cambridge); Dr Jeremy Thomas (Western General Hospital, Edinburgh).

Partners and Funders 

  • EPSRC/Programme Grant (IMPACT)/2013-2018/£5.2m
  • MRC/Clinical trial grant (BIG 2.04 SUPREMO)/2006-2023/£2.12m
  • NHMRC/Clinical trial grant (BIG 3.07 DCIS ‘boost trial/2016-2020/$ (aus) 658,418.75
  • Breast Cancer Now/project grant (BIG DCIS ‘boost’ trial/2009-2016/£197,750
  • £79,002 from Breast Cancer Now (2022-24) for longterm follow up of BIG 3.07 DCIS Boost trial. Kunkler IH (CI), Williams LJ, Velikova G, Dixon JM, Stillie A, Dhaliwal C.

Scientific Themes

Adjuvant radiotherapy for breast cancer, Sensing and targeting the hypoxic microenvironment, Rare cancers

Technology Expertise

Clinical and translational breast cancer radiotherapy