Northern Institute for Cancer Research

Staff Profile

Dr Gordon Strathdee

Lecturer in Genome Instability


Research Interests

The primary interest in my lab is examining the role of a key epigenetic change, altered DNA methylation, in the development, progression and drug sensitivity of leukaemia. This can be split into 3 areas:

  1. The role of DNA methylation in initiation of leukaemia – we are investigating whether alterations in DNA methylation are the initial development in some or all types of leukaemia and whether pre-leukaemic cells with altered DNA methylation are a first step in leukaemia development and whether survival of these pre-leukaemic cells during treatment can lead to relapses in patients.

  2. Identification of novel, leukaemia-cell specific, targets – The optimal type of treatment for cancer would be ones that can specifically target cancer cells, while having little or no impact on normal cells and consequently low toxicity for the patient. We are using a novel bioinformatic approach, combining genome wide DNA methylation and gene expression data to identify genes that are required for the survival of leukaemia cells, but which are not required by normal healthy cells. Targeting the proteins produced by these genes can then give us a way of specifically killing cancer cells that should have little or no impact on healthy cells

  3. Prognostic markers and predictors of drug sensitivity – Leukaemia typically exhibits very large numbers of DNA methylation changes at diagnosis. This gives us a potentially rich source of markers to allow us to predict patient prognosis or response to therapy. We are currently using genome wide DNA methylation data from diagnostic samples and als0o from samples after exposure to therapy to identify methylation based markers that can predict patient outcome and also to identify genes that are playing a direct role in resistance to chemotherapy



Selected Recent Grants


2010 – 2013      Tyneside Leukaemia Research Association, Project grant “Defining the opposing roles of HLXB9 in myeloid and lymphoid leukaemia” Gordon Strathdee, Christine Harrison, Value £85,443

2011 – 2012      Newcastle Healthcare Charity and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Charity, Project Grant “The role of cell type specific age-related DNA methylation in leukaemia development”, Value £9,614

2011 – 2012      Dunhill Medical Trust, Project grant “Investigation of the mechanism of DNA methylation instability and its role in age related disease”, Gordon Strathdee, David Oscier, Mays Jawad, John Mathers, Value £74,357

2011 – 2015      Iraqi Ministry of Education, PhD studentship “Identification and verification of methylation markers for the prediction of outcome in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia” Value £111,000

2014 - 2017       Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Project grant “Clinical exploitation of HOXA4 status for directing treatment in CLL patients”. Gordon Strathdee, Elaine Willmore, Value £185,239

2015 – 2016      JGW Patterson Foundation, Project Grant, “Identification of epigenetic regulators of chemosensitivity in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia”.Gordon Strathdee, Elaine Willmore, Value £48,041



Lecturer for BMS2014 Biology of Ageing

Member of steering group for BMS2014 Biology of Ageing

Supervision of undergraduate project students in Biomedical Sciences


Postgraduate Supervision

Supervision of PhD students

Supervision of Faculty of Medical Sciences MRes and MSci students