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Professor Serena Nik Zainal

Theme lead: Professor Serena Nik-Zainal

Professor Nik-Zainal is NIHR Research Professor of Genomic Medicine and Bioinformatics at the University of Cambridge and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Genetics at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Serena’s research expertise is in whole cancer genomics. One of the first groups to develop holistic whole cancer genome profiling approaches, her team combines computational and experimental approaches to uncover how and why mutation patterns called ‘mutational signatures’ arise in cancer.

By understanding these signatures, her team uses machine-learning to create algorithms for clinical cancer genome interpretation.

Beyond cancer, Serena’s team also explores progressive neurodegenerative phenotypes in rare genetic disorders, using functional multi-omic approaches. Through her links with NIHR and NHS England, Serena is working with industry partners to develop future-proofed computational infrastructure that is permissive of federated or swarm learning.

Serena’s team are recognised through the Dr Josef Steiner Cancer Research Award 2019, Foulkes Foundation Medal 2021 and the Sir Francis Crick Award and Medal 2021.



Name Area of research Email
Professor Eamonn Maher Cancer genetics, human developmental genetics, epigenetics and genomic imprinting
Professor Serena Nik-Zainal Mutational signatures in large cancer datasets using computational approaches and physiological mechanisms underpinning mutagenesis. Clinical applications
Professor Marc Tischkowitz Cancer genetics and clinical studies for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Rare cancer predisposition syndromes. Cancer risk prediction