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.

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

Welcome to the team Emilie! Let’s kick things off with one sentence about yourself.

Hello! I’m Emilie, a CRUK PhD student and lover of all things outdoors and baking!

Where does your enthusiasm for research come from?

My scientific journey started with a BSc in Biomedical Science at the University of Brighton, where I did a research project on inhibiting the migration of PDAC cells by targeting the S100P/RAGE interaction. This is really where my passion for studying pancreatic cancer started, which I am still following to this date!

But you have also brought a bunch of RNA skills to the table, how did you acquire those?

After my undergrad, I went on to study an MSc in Cancer Cell Biology at the University of Sussex where I gained skills in RNA biology during my MSc research project in Prof. Sarah Newbury’s lab.

This leads on to where I am now, doing my PhD in Faraz’s lab where I get to combine both my passions for Pancreatic cancer research and RNA biology, to investigate the mechanisms which upregulate ribosome biogenesis in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cells, in order to fuel tumour growth.

This is all nice and good, but what we are really her for today is some nice baking recipes!

OK! Here is my favorite and easiest thing to bake: A Victoria Sponge cake!

Equal weight measures of Beaten eggs, Caster sugar, unsalted butter and self-raising flour. 1 tsp baking powder. 2 tbsp milk. As much Raspberry Jam as you want, and 150ml double whipped cream.


1. Cream together the eggs and sugar.

2. Beat in the eggs.

3. Add the flour, baking powder and milk.

4. split into 2 round lined cake tins and cook in the oven at 160c Fan for around 20 mins or until the sponge bounces back when touching it. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

5. Plate one of the sponges and cover with jam, top with whipped double cream and then place the other sponge on top.

6. Top with a light dusting of icing sugar or decorate as you like and ENJOY!

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.