Prof. Karen Vousden
Professor. Vousden is the director of the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow. She gained a Bachelor of Science degree in genetics and microbiology and a PhD from Queen Mary College, University of London on the use of suppressor gene mutations to study transfer RNA redundancy in the fungus Coprinus. She led the Human Papillomavirus Group at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, London. In 1995, she joined the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, USA, as head of the Molecular Carcinogenesis section of the ABL-Basic Research Program, then director of the Molecular Virology and Carcinogenesis Laboratory and finally chief of the Regulation of Cell Growth Laboratory, Division of Basic Sciences. In 2003 Prof Vousden became the director of the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, where she has overseen a £15M expansion. She also leads the institute's Tumour Suppression research group. Her early work focused on the molecular biology of human papillomaviruses (HPVs), which are associated with cervical cancer. With Douglas Lowy and others, she pinpointed the specific viral oncoproteins required by HPV-16 to immortalise epithelial cells. One of these HPV-16 oncoproteins, E6, was shown to bind to the human tumour suppressor protein p53, resulting in its degradation. p53 plays a critical role in preventing the development of tumours by inducing cells subject to stress, such as DNA damage. Prof Vousden’s more recent research has centred on a more general analysis of the function and regulation of p53 in normal and cancer cells.