Dr Faraz Mardakheh Group Leader

So Faraz, how about a few sentences from you Biography?

I received my undergraduate degree in 2006 from University of Birmingham, before joining the laboratory of Professor John Heath to study feedback regulation of Receptor Tyrosine Kinase signalling. After completing my PhD, I moved to London in 2010 to study cancer cell migration and invasion as a postdoc in the laboratory of the late Professor Chris Marshall. Thanks to an unexpected discovery during my post-doc, I started working on RNA Binding Proteins (RBPs). Then in 2017, I received an MRC Career Development Award fellowship to start my own research group at the Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, and study RBPs in the context of cancer. By using various omics approaches, my research aim is to identify and characterise RBPs whose activities are altered in cancer, leading to disease development and progression.

Apart from leading the Mardakheh lab, what else do you do?

Although the majority of my time is focused on research, I also give lectures on different aspects of cancer biology to medical students at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, as well as undergraduate students at the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.  As of September 2020, I have also been acting as the co-lead for the Research Laboratory Skills module for MSc. programme in Cancer & Molecular and Cellular Biology at Barts Cancer Institute.

Muhammad Syahmi Bin Azman PhD Student

Syahmi, why don't you tell me where the focus of your research lies?

I am interested in understanding how gene expression is regulated at the level of protein translation. In particular, my research focuses on how KRAS oncogene is modulating this process in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC), via specific RBPs.

But where did it all start?

I began my journey in academia as an MSc student in the Mardakheh lab, and I’ve been a loyal servant ever since.

Queen Mary all the way?

I have been faithful to Queen Mary University of London since my undergraduate days, studying BSc Biomedical Science, MSc Cancer Biology, and now undertaking my PhD here thanks to a Barry Reed PhD studentship.

Any interests & hobbies worth mentioning?

I love lamp .

Before we end the interview, is there anything else you want to say?

In the elegant words of an amazing poet – “bippity boppity, gimme the zoppity”

Martin Dodel Research Technician
Martin, would you mind sharing with us where you have worked so far.

No problem.

since 2017:
Dr. Faraz Mardakheh, Molecular Oncology,
Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University, London

2012 - 2017:  
Dr. Felix Meissner, Experimental Systems Immunology  (independent research group, Department of Proteomics and Signal Transduction, Prof. Dr. Matthias Mann)   Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry (MPI-B), Martinsried,Germany


Prof. Dr. Johannes Graumann, Biochemistry and Proteomics Core Research Division, Weill Cornell College in Qatar (Doha, Qatar)


Prof. Dr. M. Mann, Department of Proteomics and Signal Transduction, MPI-B

Research Technician huh?

Well actually I am a Biology Laboratory Technician or "Biologielaborant''.

I received my degree at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Munich. But since this profession is unknown in many countries (...), sure call me Research Technician!

Lets talk Research Focus.

Starting my carrier in Prof Matthias Mann Lab enabled me to get insight into Proteomics from all different kinds of angles. I worked in Immunology, Neurodegeneration and now Molecular Biology. But always combined with Mass Spectrometry, so I guess this is where my focus lies in the end.

Cool Cool, I think we are coming to an end here, is there anything else you want to add.

Stay hungry!

Elliott Whittaker PhD Student

So Elliott, what are you all about?

I am a Barts Cancer Institute PhD student in the Mardakheh Lab. 

Yes, we already know that... a bit about your work then?

I investigate how antigen presentation by HLA I is shaped by the proteome.  I use a wide range of techniques to develop a comprehensive picture of antigen presentation in melanocytes and melanoma, and its modulation via post-transcriptional processes such as protein translation and turnover.

Also tell us about your background

I studied for my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Warwick, followed by a Master’s degree at UCL. It wasn’t until a stint as an Intern in Faraz’s team that I first started to work on proteomics, but I was then hooked!

Any final points?

In addition to doing lots of proteomics, I am also gaining a lot of experience in data analysis by machine learning, trying to develop new computational tools for better prediction of antigens by using priori information on proteome dynamics.

Federica Capraro PhD Student

Good to see you Fede, what have you been up to?

 I am a BBSRC LIDo PhD student in Faraz’s lab and Sasi Conte’s lab (King’s College London). I studied Biotechnologies for my BSc and specialised in Neurobiology for my MSc, both at the University of Trento, Italy.

But what brought you to the Big Smoke?

 I moved to London to join Jernej Ule’s lab at The Francis Crick Institute and UCL, first as an Erasmus+ student and then as a research assistant.

To do what?

 In Jernej’s lab I studied the interactions between RNA and RNA-binding proteins by performing and optimising iCLIP (individual-nucleotide resolution UV crosslinking and immunoprecipitation) and investigated RNA modifications with miCLIP (methylation iCLIP).

Feel like sharing a few details about your PhD project with us?

 For my PhD project I am focusing on LARP6, an RNA-binding protein involved in localised ribosome biogenesis in mesenchymal cancer cells. I am interested in unravelling the structural basis of LARP6-RNA interactions and the functional consequences on cell proliferation, migration and survival. I am combining structural biology experiments with proteomics to better understand the still poorly characterised cellular functions of LARP6 and its potential drug target ability.

Emilie Alard PhD student

Emilie is a new CRUK Barts PhD student in Mardakheh's lab, studying the mechanisms that regulate the RNA-binding activity of Nucleolin, a key RBP involved in ribosome biogenesis which is often deregulated in cancer. 

More information coming soon.....

Alina Chakraborty Post-doctoral fellow

Hi Alina! Why don’t you start with a one-liner pitch on who you are?

 Well, I am a mother and RNA scientist studying role of RNA in Cancer, who also loves exploring places, food and art.

RNA scientist studying Cancer! I like the sound of that. But let’s start at the beginning.

I did my bachelors and masters in Biochemistry from the University of Calcutta. During my master’s project I got intrigued with Molecular Biology and Cancer and decided to do a PhD on post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression in a cancer context from the same university.

In 2016, I moved to Institut Curie in Orsay (a city very close to Paris), France as a post-doc where I continued in the same direction, studying alternative polyadenylation and translation in cancer, in Stephan Vagner’s team.

Since early 2022, I am part of Faraz’s team with the objective to study mechanisms of cancer progression using RNA based approaches.

Excellent choice of labs! Would you mind also elaborating a bit on your research goal in Faraz’s team?

One major obstacle to eradicating ‘Cancer’- an age old disease ( in spite of all technological advancements we have made) is that, cancer cells are either intrinsically resistant to therapies or they quickly acquire it . This highlights the constant need for identifying new therapeutic targets and early prognostic markers. 

In Faraz's lab, I intend to use multi-omics based approaches to study altered RNA localization and RNA-protein interactions in a progression model of breast cancer, in hope of identifying new RNA prognostic markers as well as therapeutic targets associated with this disease.