Northern Institute for Cancer Research

Staff Profile

Dr Rachel O'Donnell

Associate Clinical Lecturer



PhD, University of Newcastle, 2016

MRCOG, 2011

MBChB, University of Edinburgh, 2005

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


Research Interests

Rachel graduated from Edinburgh Medical School in 2005 and joined the South-East Scotland Obstetrics and Gynaecology training program in 2007.  In 2011 she transferred from Edinburgh to join the team at the Northern Gynaecological Oncology Centre (NGOC), one of the largest tertiary centres for gynaecological cancer in England. Rachel went on to complete her PhD in translational ovarian cancer research 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. Until recently it has been treated as a single disease entity with new challenges emerging as we enter the era of personalised genomic medicine. 

Rachel has 2 main streams of work. Her translational research aims to identify novel therapeutic targets for ovarian cancer and in particular the exploitation of targeting the DNA damage response. She is interested in the implications of intra-tumoural heterogeneity for biomarker sampling, response to therapy and ultimately the implications for clinical investigation and management strategies. Rachel's second stream of research explores the patient experience during their cancer journey, addressing opportunities and inequalities in patient contribution to research.  

Her principle area of clinical interest relates to ultra-radical surgery for advanced ovarian cancer. 

Rachel plays an active role in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching alongside sub-speciality surgical training at the Northern Gynaecological Oncology Centre in Gateshead. She has both wet-lab and clinical research studies in progress and welcomes motivated students to get in touch by email if interested in joining this work. 



MSc Genomic Medicine: Molecular Pathology of Cancer and Application in Cancer Diagnosis, Screening and Treatment (GNM8004). 

SSC Supervisor

MRes Supervisor

Examiner for Stage 3 MBBS OSCE