Head of Department
Tracy Robson obtained her PhD in Cancer Biology from Imperial College, London. Her first academic post was as Lecturer in Radiation Science at Ulster University in 1997; she was promoted to Reader in 2001. She then moved to the School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University of Belfast in 2004 to take up the post of Reader in Molecular Pharmacology; she was promoted to Professor in 2010. In 2016, she took up position as Professor and Head of Department of Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics at RCSI. Her major focus has been in the tumour biology field. She led a major programme of research aimed at the identification and functional characterisation of genes that alter tumour biology. In particular, she cloned and characterized a novel human gene, FKBPL. Her group has demonstrated that FKBPL was a naturally secreted, anti-angiogenic protein. Together with Almac Discovery, she led the development of therapeutic peptide derivatives (AD-01 and ALM201) based on FKBPL’s active anti-angiogenic domain. Based on the robust efficacy and excellent safety profile, ALM201, a ‘first-in-class’ FKBPL-based anti-angiogenic therapeutic peptide has successfully completed a phase I cancer clinical trial (EudraCT number: 2014-001175-31). ALM201 was granted Orphan Drug Designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the treatment of ovarian cancer in 2017. More recently, through the development of genetically modified mouse models, she demonstrated a role for FKBPL in protection against obesity, with FKBPL deficient mice becoming severely obese. Her research is now focussing on unravelling the associated mechanisms driving FKBPL’s protective activity in obesity (as well as cancer) so that the clear translational potential of FKBPL-based therapeutics can be fully harnessed and FKBPL’s diagnostic potential in these disease settings can be utililized.