Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre

Steven Pollard

Neural Stem Cells and Brain Cancer

Dr Steven Pollard - CRUK Senior Cancer Research Fellow

Research in a Nutshell

Cells that have molecular hallmarks of neural stem cells drive human brain cancers, such as glioblastoma. A full understanding of the molecular and cellular events that control neural stem cell fate may therefore reveal new therapeutic strategies to treat this devastating disease.

We are exploiting the latest experimental tools of molecular and cellular biology to address the following questions: How do neural stem cells make the decision to make more copies of themselves (self-renew), or become specialised (differentiate)? Why do brain tumour stem cells display unconstrained self-renewal? Are those genes and pathways that initiate and maintain neural stem cell identity useful therapeutic targets for glioblastoma? Can we identify new drugs that can specifically block self-renewal of brain tumour stem cells?


Research Programme


Steven Pollard

Principal Investigator, CRUK Senior Cancer Research Fellow and Reader

Raul Bressan PhD student
Vivien Grant Research assistant
Mantas Matjusaitis PhD student
Carla Blin Research assistant
Sabine Gogolok PhD student / Research Associate
Maria Angeles Marques Torrejon Postdoc
Ester Gangoso Rodríguez Postdoc
Pooran Dewari Postdoc
Maria Kalantzaki Postdoc
Paul Brennan Neurosurgeon/Clinical lecturer
Andrea Martella Postdoc
Faye Robertson Oncologist/Clinical research fellow
Kirsty Ferguson PhD Student
Dainius Tautvaisas PhD Student




  • Dr Paul Bertone, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Paul Brennan, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Patrick Cai, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Neil Carragher, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Peter Dirks, University of Toronto
  • Dr Noor Gammoh, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Kristian Helin, University of Copenhagen
  • Dr Kim Jensen, University of Copenhagen
  • Dr Jeroen Krijgsveld, DKFZ, Heidelberg
  • Dr Dirk Sieger, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Bill Skarnes, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Partners and Funders

  • Cancer Research UK
  • The Brain Tumour Charity
  • Children with Cancer
  • MRC
  • National Phenotypic Screening Centre

Scientific Themes

Stem cells, Cell differentiation, Transcription, Epigenetics, Glioblastoma, Genetics

Technology Expertise

Genome editing, stem cell culture, high content phenotypic screening, cancer stem cells, reprogramming