James is a Lecturer in Cell Biology in the Department of Biological Science (Faculty of Science and Engineering). His Oncobiology & Targeted Treatments Group investigates acetylation dependent DNA damage responses, develops novel histone acetyltransferase inhibitors, and breast cancer biomarker identification.

Maintaining genome stability following DNA double strand breaks (DSB) involves a complex signalling cascade, regulated by key acetylation events. DSB are among the most damaging genotoxic stress, with sustained DNA damage leading to tumourigenesis. The family of Histone (or lysine) acetyltransferases (KAT) regulate acetylation, and within the KAT family Tip60 is an essential protein controlling the DSB response.

Worldwide, approximately 1/8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, with a >20% mortality rate. Treatments and survival rates are subtype specific, and new, targeted treatment options are needed. Our translational work focuses on validating our small molecule inhibitors (KATi) targeting Tip60. Investigating and validating new breast cancer biomarkers, allows improved patient stratification and enriched understanding of tumour (and subtype specific), molecular changes.

His fundamental research, using KATi, is revealing the molecular mechanisms (underpinning breast cancer) regulated by acetyltransferases (Tip60 centric) in genome protection and epigenetic modifications. Understanding the molecular roles of Tip60 will reveal fundamental molecular events regulating DSB responses.