MRC Centre for Reproductive Health
MRC Logo JAN 2019

Centre Director: Professor Jeffrey W Pollard

Introduction to Professor Jeffrey William Pollard.

Professor Jeff W Pollard

Director of the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, The University of Edinburgh

Contact details



The Queen's Medical Research Insitiute
Edinburgh BioQuarter
47 Little France Crescent

Post Code
EH16 4TJ


Professor Pollard graduated with a first class special honours in Zoology from Sheffield University and undertook his PhD at Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now CRUK) in London, followed by a post-doctoral period at Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto. He then took a Faculty position at King’s College University of London. Thereafter he joined the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York where he worked for 24 years prior to coming to Edinburgh in 2013. At the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Professor Pollard was the Louis Goldstein Swann Chair in Women’s Health, Deputy Director of the NCI funded Cancer Center, and Director of the NIH funded Center for the Study of Reproductive Biology and Women’s Health.

Professor Pollard is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and is a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator. He has published over 260 papers and edited several books/journal issues including “Metastasis: Mechanisms to Therapy” book published by Cold Spring Harbor Press in 2019. In the recent assessment of research impact he is in the top 0.01% of cited authors out of 7 million (PLOS detailed analysis on impact).  As well as being published in numerous prestigious journals, his research has been featured in the Emmy Award winning ABC documentary “Breast Cancer Now: New Options and New Promise” and has been reported in all types of media including television on three continents and press all over the world.

He has performed research in women’s reproductive health for his entire career with an emphasis on:

 i)  the mechanisms of action of female sex steroid hormones in controlling uterine cell proliferation.

In this he has sought to understand the mechanism of progesterone in negatively regulating oestrogen-induced epithelial cell proliferation and in the preparation of the uterus for blastocyst implantation particularly the role of downstream signaling from the reproductive hormones  through transcription factors.

ii)  Role of macrophages in homeostasis and tissue repair

Particular focus has been on the role of macrophages in developmental processes such as stem cell development and in their protection by macrophages following tissue damage.

iii)  The tumour microenvironment.

Prof Pollard pioneered studies on the role of macrophages in tumor progression and was the first to demonstrate that they promote tumour progression and malignancy. His work has focused upon mechanisms behind these pro-tumoral actions of macrophages with a particular emphasis on metastatic disease. Current studies are emphasizing translation of mouse studies to human cancers, particularly breast, ovarian, endometrial and brain.  Definition of regulatory signaling pathways in macrophages has led to clinical trials that target these cells.  

Current research projects

  • Modulation of the immune microenvironment in cancers to promote immunotherapy. 
  • Role of tumour associated macrophages in breast cancer progression and metastasis
  • Systemic influence of cancer on hematopoiesis
  • Predictive biomarkers for cancer
  • Role of mononuclear phagocytes in modulating immune rejection of tumours
  • Role of macrophage WNT’s in tissue regeneration, repair and cancer
  • Role of macrophages in development
  • Dynamic interactions between tumour cells, macrophages, and the extracellular matrix in metastatic sites
  • Mechanism of action of female sex steroid hormones in regulating uterine epithelial cell proliferation
  • Mechanism of action of selective progesterone receptor modulations in mouse and man

Current and recent positions of responsibility

  • Director, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, Edinburgh University (2012 to current time)
  • Professor of Resilience Biology, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (2012 to current time)
  • Wellcome Senior Investigator (2013 to 2020)
  • Visiting Professor at Kitasato University, Japan (2018-Present)
  • Director, Specialized Cooperative Center in Reproduction and Infertility Research (2009 – 2014)
  • Deputy Director Einstein Cancer Center (2003 -2013)
  • Science Council, Einstein (2009 – 2012)

Current Societies

  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biologists
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences

Current Staff Group members and PHD / MD students

  • Luca Cassetta (Postdoctoral Fellow)
  • Daniel Soong (Optical Imaging Manager)
  • Sheila Webb (Lab manager)
  • Esra Guc (Postdoctoral Fellow)
  • Marta Horcas Lopez (PhD Student)
  • Dr Martha Lopez Yrigoyen (Postdoctoral Fellow)

  • Nikki Graham (Postdoctoral Fellow)

  • Florent Petitprez (Postdoctoral Fellow)

  • Nikolas Giannakis (Postdoctoral Fellow)

  • Karen Witherspoon (PA)


  • Dyana Markose (PhD student / co-supervisor)
  • Amy Lloyd (PhD student / co-supervisor),
  • Chloe Hogg (PhD student / co-supervisor)  
  • Diana Binti Said (PhD student / co-supervisor)  
  • 2019-Present Alisha May (co-supervisor)

  • 2019-Present Varsha Jain (co-supervisor)

  • 2019-Present Olivia Hulse (co-supervisor)



Scientific Advisory Boards

Campbell Breast Cancer Center, Toronto (2006 to present); MIT Tumour Microenvironment Program (2008 to present); Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health & Science University (2013 to present); Institute of Science and Technology, Nankai University, Tianjin, China (2013 to present); Stony Brook University External Advisory Group (2016 to present); Sun Yat Sen University, Guangzhou, China (2016 to present); MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA (2017 to present), Baylor College of Medicine (present).


Professor Pollard has received several awards most notably the American Cancer Society “Medal of Honour for Basic Science Research” for his studies in tumour immunology (2010), the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2013 – 2018), and the Welcome Trust Senior Investigator Award (2013 – 2020), Rothschild Yvette–Meynet Curie award (2009).

Key Talks given by Professor Pollard

Key broadcast coverage

ABC Breast Cancer: New options and new promise

Live BBC broadcast, 04.03.16 – Professor Pollard commented on Dr. Sergio Quezada and Prof Charles Swanton and colleagues’ paper “Clonal neoantigens elicit T cell immunoreactivity and sensitivity to immune checkpoint blockade”, which was published in Science.