Dr Cristina Branco

BSc, MSc, PhD

Fellow and Director of Studies

Picture of Cristina Branco

College Jobs

  • Fellow D
  • Assistant Graduate Tutor

University Jobs

  • Principal Investigator (Breast Cancer Campaign Scientific Fellow), Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Contact

Telephone: +44 (0) 1223 335784

Email: cmm77@cam.ac.uk

Picture of Cristina Branco

Biography

I am trained and have studied the physiology of stress: how cells and organs respond to, adapt or circumvent environmental challenges. My main interest has been in responses to oxygen availability, as that determines energy metabolism and survival strategies in all eukaryotic cells. I completed my PhD in Biology in 2008, by Universidade Nova de Lisboa and University of California, Riverside.

After a break to establish my family, I started my postdoc career at the University of California, San Diego in 2009, in Professor Randall Johnson’s lab, where I applied my experience in oxygen-dependent physiology to cancer development and metastasis. In late 2011, I moved to Cambridge as a Research Associate in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, with the same laboratory. I am currently a Principal Investigator, funded by the Breast Cancer Campaign.

Research Interests

My research is on how cell-specific hypoxia responses, and the downstream effects of those responses, affect cancer dissemination, or metastases. Metastatic disease is the main cause of death in cancer patients. Patients with breast cancer are at risk of secondary disease from very early stages of malignancy, and often decades post initial diagnosis. This phenomenon is dependent on the aggressiveness of the tumour as much as on the compliance of the cells of the host organs. There is no reliable therapeutic strategy that targets either metastatic disease specifically, or that looks at that process from the point of view of non-cancer cells.

That is the focus of the research I do: what is the role of cells such as the vascular endothelium or the immune system in accommodating the invading tumour cells, in an otherwise healthy organ, and why is this compliance different depending on oxygen availability or hypoxia challenge.