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Bob Rees

Robert Rees

Founding Director of JVG Cancer Research Centre

School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)


Professor Rees is a Professor of Tumour Biology and the Director of the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre.

Research areas

Biomedical science and Cancer Immunology/Immunotherapy

Cancer immunology / immunotherapy research is conducted in the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre at Nottingham Trent University. It focuses on the identification of new tumour associated proteins, pre-clinical and clinical studies on tumour vaccines and the identification of peptide epitopes associating with MHC class I and class II antigens. The team of 15 research staff collaborates with major European Research Institutes. They are engaged in research to develop and apply cancer vaccines. A number of MHC associated peptides of tumour antigens have been identified and in some instances this has resulted in clinical vaccine-based trials.

Research in cancer immunology is therefore focussed on developing vaccines to treat patients with cancer. For this research molecular (SEREX cloning) and protein (phenomic fingerprinting by MALDI mass spectrometry-based methodologies are used. In particular, the use of MALDI mass spectrometry analysis and computer based bioinformatics provides a powerful means of identifying protein biomarkers associating with disease stage and response to therapy. The research is multidisciplinary, involving cellular and serological assays to detect tumour immune responses, biochemistry, analytical mass spectrometry, molecular biology and the development and application of artificial neural networks to identify biomarkers.

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil / PhD or MSc by research exist in all the areas identified above. Further information may be obtained from the NTU Graduate School.

External activity

  • Fellow of the Institute of Biology (1985-present)
  • Member of the Royal College of Pathology (1982-present)
  • Editor for Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy
  • Member of CRUK sub-committee for Melanoma Research
  • Specialist Teaching in Cancer and Immunology

Sponsors and collaborators

Recent research funding includes:

  • Biomarkers in prostate cancer: defining 'pussycat versus tiger' phenotype by proteomic modelling, City Hospital Trust (2009 to 2010), £37,000
  • Cancer Biomarkers and Vaccine development, RC Rees, John and Lucille Van Geest Foundation (2006 to 2008), £200,000
  • European Commission, RC Rees Coordinator, ENACT (European Network for the Identification and validation of antigens and biomarkers in cancer) (2005 to 2008), £350,000 (of £3,000,000 award)
  • Accoustic Wave technique to assess MHC-peptide interactions, RC Rees, G McHale and A Dodi, EPSRC GR/T24524/01 (2005 to 2006), £77,174
  • Allostem: Immunotherapies for Haematological and Malignant. R C Rees Partner, European Commission (2004 to 2007), £120,000 (of £8,000,000 award)
  • Tumour antigens used in the development of cancer vaccines, RC Rees, John and Lucille Geest Foundation (2003 to 2006), £300,000
  • Strategies for developing "therapeutic" vaccines for the treatment of ocular melanomas, RC Rees and SEB McArdle, National Eye Research Centre (2002 to 2005), £48,915
  • Outcome and impact of specific treatment in European Research on Melanoma, RC Rees, European Commission (2002 to 2005), €1,600,000
  • Proteomic Research used to identify Breast Cancer Proteins important in chemical management of patients and as therapeutic target molecules, RC Rees, S Mian and J Carmichael, Dowager Countess Eleanor Peel Trust (2002 to 2005), £120,000
  • Identification of immunodominant peptide epitopes from bcr/able and abl/bcr and their use in monitoring immune responses in CML patients and investigating their use in clinical translational trials for Immunotherapy of CMS, RC Rees and A Dodi, Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund (2001 to 2004), £360,000
  • Medical Research Council: Joint Research Equipment Initiative, RC Rees and J Carmichael, Equipment Award (2001), £40,169


Identification of novel breast cancer-associated transcripts by UniGene database mining and gene expression analysis in normal and malignant cells Genes. Laversin SA, Phatak VM, Powe DG, Li G, Miles AK, Hughes DC, Ball GR, Ellis IO, Gritzapis AD, Missitzis I, McArdle SE, Rees RC.Chromosomes and Cancer, 2013, 52 (3), 316-29

Fabrication, characterisation and performance of hydrophilic and super-hydrophilic silica as cell culture surfaces. Hickman GJ, Rai A, Boocock DJ, Rees RC, Perry CC, Journal of Materials Chemistry, 2012, 22, 12141-12148

Artificial exosomes as tools for basic and clinical immunology. Rees RC, Bencsik M, Ali SA, Cave GW, Dodi IA, De la Pena H, Madrigal JA, Rusakiewicz S et al, Journal of Immunological Methods, 2009, 344 (2), 121-132

Quantitative RT-PCR analysis of estrogen receptor gene expression in laser microdissected prostate cancer tissue. Rees Rc, Li G, Walton T, Seth R, Mcculloch TA et al, 2009, 69 (8), 810-9

A validated gene expression profile for detecting clinical outcome in breast cancer using artificial neural networks. Rees RC, Lancashire LJ, Lemetre C, Pawe GD, Ball GR, Reis-Filho JS, Rakha E, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 2009, 120 (1), 83-93

DNA demethylation and histone deacetylation inhibition co-operate to re-express estrogen receptor beta and induce apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. Rees RC, Li G, Mcardle SE, Wlaton T, Seth R and Bishop MC, Prostate, 2008, 68 (2), 210-222

See all of Robert Rees's publications...

Press expertise

  • Cancer and immunology
  • Cancer biomarkers
  • Cancer vaccines
  • Immunotherapies
  • Diagnosis
  • Prognosis and clinical utility