Institute of Genetic Medicine

Staff Profile

Dr Annette Meeson



Previous positions:

2001- 2005      Instructor, Molecular Cardiology, UT Southwestern Medical Ctr, Dallas, TX

1997- 2001      Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular Cardiology, UT Southwestern, Medical Ctr, Dallas, TX

1994-1997       Postdoctoral Fellow, Skirball Institute, New York University Medical Ctr, New York, NY

1990-1994       PhD, Neurobiology, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London, UK  

1987-1990       Scientific Officer, National Institute of Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, UK

Honorary positions:

Research Fellow, Advanced Medical and Dental Institute, Universiti Sains, Malaysia, 1st January 2016 -Jan 2017
Research Fellow, Advanced Medical and Dental Institute, Universiti Sains, Malaysia, January 2017 - January 2018

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Research Focus                                        

Adult stem cells

Although many cells are fate committed before or shortly after birth some adult tissues retain stem cells that are capable of multilineage differentiation. Our research efforts focus on expanding our knowledge of the fundamental regulatory mechanisms that restrict differentiation of these cells during normal development and that regulate the cellular proliferation, differentiation and plasticity of these cells in response to injury or disease.

Stem cells and cardiac regeneration.

Recent studies suggest that the heart is capable of limited regeneration which may be due to the activation of a resident cardiac stem cell population or to the recruitment of stem cells from other tissues. We have identified and isolated stem cells known as side population (SP) cells from both human heart and bone marrow. SP cells from both these sources are capable of migration into the injured myocardium and are able to differentiation towards a cardiac lineage.

Stem cells, tumour formation and cancers.

There is an increasing body of evidence that suggests that recurrence of some cancers may be due in part to cancer stem cell like cells. Stem cells make ideal candidates for the progression of cancer as they are long lived, slow cycling and exhibit some level of drug resistance.

Breast cancer: In collaboration with surgical teams at the Royal Victoria Infirmary we have identified two putative breast cancer stem cell populations CD44 /CD24- breast cancer stem cells and breast cancer SP cells. We have been able to identify SP cells in solid breast tumours, from fluid obtained as fine needle aspirates (FNAs) associated with palpable breast tumours and in breast cancer cell lines.  More importantly, we have shown that these cells are more resistant than the bulk tumour cells to drugs currently used in the treatment of breast cancer patients. Our recent analysis of FNAs suggests that the presence of SP cells is more frequently associated with triple negative cancers (associated with patients whose prognostic outcome is generally poor) and that a statistically significant relationship exists between the presence of SP cells and ER- breast tumours.

Ovarian cancer: We have also been able to identify SP cells in ascitic fluid of ovarian cancer patients and again can shown that these cells are capable of drug resistance to currently used chemotherapeutic agents.

Parathyroid stem cells – Recent studies have suggested that benign tumour growth might also be in part due to proliferation of stem cells. In patients with hyperparathyroidism, a hyperplastic response leads to abnormal growth of one or more of the parathyroid glands. However, the mechanisms behind this remain unclear. We have begun to examine these glands for the presence of putative stem cells populations


Programme leader for Stem cells and regenerative medicine MRes 2007 to present day

Module leader for Stem cells and regenerative medicine MRes 2007 to present day

Deputy Degree Program Director Masters of Clinical Research 2016 -2017