Centre for Reproductive Health

Dr Binzhi Qian

Research interests and biography.

Dr Binzhi Qian

Reader, Principal Investigator, Chancellor’s Fellow & CRUK Career Development Fellow

Contact details



The Centre for Reproductive Health
Institute for Regeneration and Repair (IRR)
4-5 Little France Drive
Edinburgh BioQuarter

Post Code
EH16 4UU

Research Interest

The role of macrophages in breat cancer distal metastasis

Metastatic disease, spread of tumour cells from the primary tumour into other organs of the body, remains the number one threat of patients of breast and prostate cancer despite great improvement in early diagnosis and surgical removal. Thus, our long term research goal is to understand the mechanism of cancer metastasis and develop effective therapeutic approaches. Our specific focus is on interactions between metastatic tumour cells and associated host cell types which has been largely overlooked in the past. To this end, we have developed a series of new in vivo models, novel imaging technologies and in vitro and in vivo function assays.

There are currently three major areas of research:

  1. Further understand the mechanism of host cells promotion of cancer metastasis with a focus on myeloid cells and mesenchymal stem cells.
  2. Develop novel therapeutic strategies against metastatic disease by targeting host-derived factors.
  3. Further understand the role of tumour microenvironment in drug resistance.
  4. Translate our findings into humanized models and patient derived samples in collaboration with clinicians.

Our objective is to provide novel insights into the disease mechanism and develop novel therapeutic approaches for effective treatment of metastatic disease.

Bin-Zhi Qian Biography

The role of tumour microenvironment in cancer metastasis

Bin-Zhi Qian received his bachelor degree in biochemistry from Fudan University at Shanghai, China. He then joined Chinese Human Genome Centre at Shanghai (CHGCS) as a research fellow working on gene expression profiling of gastric cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma using patient samples (PNAS 2001, World J Gastroenterol. 2004). In 2002, Bin-Zhi joined the Ph.D. program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York under the mentorship of Professor Jeffrey Pollard. His research was focusing on the role of macrophages in breast cancer distal metastasis (PLoS One 2009, Cell 2010, Nature 2011). He received his PhD in biomedical sciences in 2009 and stayed for a short postdoctoral training with a prestigious Susan G. Komen for the Cure Postdoctoral Fellowship. He then joined Dr. Charles Sawyers’ group at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York to continue his training to investigate the role of tumour microenvironment in prostate cancer metastasis and drug resistance. In 2014, he was awarded with a prestigious Cancer Research UK Career Development Fellowship and University of Edinburgh Chancellor’s Fellowship to establish his independent research group with a joint appointment at Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre & MRC University of Edinburgh Centre for Reproductive Health at University of Edinburgh. His long-term research goal is to understand the mechanism of cancer metastasis and develop effective therapeutic approaches by focusing on the interactions among metastatic tumour cells and associated host cell types.


  • Bin-Zhi Qian, Reader, Principal Investigator, CRUK Career Development Fellow and UoE Chancellor’s Fellow

  • Xue-Feng Li, Postdotoral Research Fellow

  • Carmen Huesa, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

  • Cigdem Selli Karakaya, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

  • Anu Fernando Laboratory Manager

  • Ruoyu Ma, PhD student

  • Nikki Graham, PhD student

  • Alyson Lam, PhD student

  • Runze Gong, Visiting Scientist


  • Ashley Dorning , Laboratory Manager

  • Alex Williamson, Master student

  • Shuiqing Wu, Visiting Scientist

  • Heyuan Li, Master student

  • Jian Cao , Visiting Scientist

  • Meghan Maslen, Master student

  • Jiali Zhang , Visiting Scientist

  • Jingang Huang, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Representative Publications:

Qian BZ, Li J, Zhang H, Kitamura T, Campion LR, Kaiser EA, Zhang J, Snyder LA and Pollard JW CCL2 recruits inflammatory monocytes to facilitate breast tumour metastasis. Nature 2011 475: 222-25.

Qian BZ, Pollard JW Macrophage Diversity Enhances Tumour Progression and Metastasis. Cell 2010 141, 39-51.

Hughes R, Qian BZ Muthana M, Keklikoglou I, Olson OC, Tazzyman S, Danson S, Addison C, Clemons M, Gonzalez-Angulo AM, Joyce JA, De Palma M, Pollard JW and Lewis CE. Perivascular M2 macrophages Stimulate Tumour Relapse After Chemotherapy. Cancer Research 2015; 75:3479-91.  (Co-first author)

Qian BZ*, Zhang H, Li J, He AT, Yeo EJ, Soong DYH, Carragher N, Munro A, Chang A, Bresnick AR, Lang RA and Pollard JW* FLT1 signalling in metastasis-associated macrophages activates an inflammatory signature that promotes breast cancer metastasis. J Exp Med 2015 212:1433-48. (*Co-corresponding author)

Qian BZ, Deng Y, Im JH, Muschel RJ, Zou Y, et al. 2009 A Distinct Macrophage Population Mediates Metastatic Breast Cancer Cell Extravasation, Establishment and Growth. PLoS ONE 4(8): e6562.

Partners and Funders 

  • Cancer Research UK/Career Development Fellowship/2015-2021/£1.5million

  • European Research Council Starting Grant/2017-2022/€1.5million

  • CRUK Immunology Innovation Award/2019-2020/ £45K


We welcome enthusiastic and talented researchers and students to join us. We are also happy to sponsor anyone with a strong track record who would rather apply for his/her own fellowship/scholarship (see below list). We always like to hear from good people.

External Postdoc Fellowships: Newton International Fellowships (open Jan-Mar); Marie Curie Individual Fellowships (Open Apr-Sep); EMBO Fellowships etc.

PhD studentships are available for both UK/EU and overseas students. The application to these scholarships generally opens between Oct - Dec. 

You are welcome to contact me if you would like to undertake a PhD in our group.