Northern Institute for Cancer Research

Staff Profile

Dr Rachel O'Donnell

Training Fellow



Education / Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Newcastle

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB), University of Edinburgh

Professional Memberships

Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

British Gynaecologic Cancer Society

British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology

European Society of Gynaecology Oncology

European Network of Young Gynae Oncologists

British Association for Cancer Research

European Association for Cancer Research

Associate Member American Association for Cancer Research


Rachel graduated from Edinburgh Medical School in 2005 and joined the South-East Scotland Obstetrics and Gynaecology training program in 2007.  She transferred from Edinburgh to the Northern Gynaecological Oncology Centre in Gateshead in 2011 and completed her PhD in 2016 under the supervision of Professor Richard Edmondson and Professor Nicola Curtin.

Ovarian cancer is associated with the highest mortality rate of all the gynaecological cancers with a high rate of development of resistance to current chemotherapies. The majority of patients succumb to systemic disease. In 2 main streams of work her research aims to firstly identify novel therapeutic targets for ovarian cancer and in particular assess the impact of intra-tumoural heterogeneity on response to therapy and ultimately the implications for clinical investigation and management strategies. Secondly, she aims to explore the patient experience during their cancer journeys addressing opportunities for patients to contribute to research co-producing a programme of work with patients identifying their priorities and preferences. 

Rachel plays an active role in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching alongside sub-speciality surgical training at the Northern Gynaecological Oncology Centre in Gateshead.