Associate Professor Gemma Kelly

Associate Professor Gemma Kelly



Photo Associate Professor Gemma Kelly


Associate Professor

BSc(Hons) Durham PhD Birmingham

Laboratory Head

Lab focus: Manipulating cell death for cancer therapy

My laboratory aims to manipulate the normal cellular pathways to cell death in order to selectively kill cancer cells. 

Focusing on a controlled form of cell death called apoptosis, we seek to find genes or proteins that tumour cells depend upon for growth, thus identifying new therapeutic targets that can inform the design of novel anti-cancer drugs.

Our overarching aim is to facilitate the progression of new targeted drugs into the clinic for the treatment of patients with cancer, in particular blood cell derived cancers. 

Research interest

My laboratory uses cutting edge molecular and cellular biology techniques to identify vulnerabilities in leukaemia and lymphoma cells that could be exploited for cancer therapy.

Through our research projects we investigate the contribution of key cellular genes that control proliferation and cell death for the growth and chemosensitivity of both normal and malignant cells.

My laboratory also has a strong interest in virus-associated cancers, in particular in Epstein-Barr virus-associated lymphomas. We aim to understand how viral proteins can manipulate host cell proliferation and death to contribute to cancer development, growth and chemoresistance.

We have a wealth of accurate pre-clinical models of leukaemia and lymphoma that we utilise in our experiments, as well as expertise in the following techniques:

  • CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing
  • lentiviral production and transduction of cells
  • drug screening
  • efficacy and toxicity testing of drugs in culture and in preclinical models
  • analysis of preclinical models of cancer

Our researchers have discovered a promising strategy for treating cancers that are caused by one of the most common cancer-causing changes in cells.

Three researchers standing outside a building

Researchers have genetically engineered a laboratory model for testing the effectiveness of new anti-cancer drugs called MCL-1 inhibitors.