Institute of Cancer Research
Professor Bissan Al-Lazikani is formally trained in molecular biology and computing. She obtained a BSc (Hons) in molecular biology from University College London, followed by a Masters degree in Computer Science from Imperial College London.
She obtained her PhD in computational structural biology from University of Cambridge and the Medical Research Council Laboratories of Molecular Biology under the supervision of Dr Cyrus Chothia, where she worked on understanding the structural basis for immune recognition. Subsequently, she became a Howard Hughes postdoctoral fellow at the laboratories of Professor Barry Honig in Columbia University, New York, where she focused on structure analysis, prediction and modelling for the purpose of understanding the basis of ligand-receptor interactions.
Upon completion of her postdoctoral, Professor Al-Lazikani joined a London-based Biotechnology company, Inpharmatica, where she led a team to develop Chemogenomics databases and tools to aid target prioritisation and drug discovery. These are now available to the community via a Wellcome strategic award through the ChEMBL resources at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI).
She joined the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit (CRUK-CTU) in 2009 to establish and lead the Computational Biology and Chemogenomics Team in order to innovate and apply computational techniques to cancer drug discovery. Here, she the led the development of the world’s largest cancer knowledge-base, canSAR, and led the development of novel approaches for objective and systematic evaluation of therapeutic targets for cancer. She applies these approaches for target selection to support drug discovery efforts at the CRUK-CTU and to drive the Unit’s exploratory portfolio.
Passionate about the application of Big Data and machine learning to fight cancer, Professor Al-Lazikani is now leading the Knowledge Hub Big Data initiative to capture and analyse big clinical and preclinical data to enable data-driven adaptive therapy. She was appointed Head of Data Science at the ICR to help deliver the joint ICR and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust research strategy.
When not immersed in Big Data for cancer, she is training for her private pilot's licence and hopes to fly a seaplane one day. She also enjoys astrophotography and wildlife photography with her husband and son.