The Group and Contributors

Dr. Carlos Rogerio de Figueiredo, PhD (Group Leader)

Dr. Figueiredo is a biological scientist with a Ph.D. in Immunology and Microbiology. He has extensive training in cancer research with emphasis on drug discovery, including isolation and mechanistic characterization of small molecules, peptides, and Ig-based CDRs fragments with immunomodulatory and antitumor activities.

His areas of expertise include immunobiology and immunotherapy of cancer, with metastatic melanoma as the main model of research. Immunotherapy has been considered a new milestone for the treatment of advanced metastatic solid tumors. Dr. Figueiredo’s vision includes investigating new avenues for breaking tumor-induced systemic immune tolerance, a critical step to restore cancer immunosurveillance and more durable anti-tumor immune responses, unleashing the power of immunotherapy in refractory patients.

Link to Dr. Figueiredo’s Publications
Professor Sarah E. Coupland – George Holt Chair in Pathology, United Kingdom (Collaborator)

Prof. Coupland is a senior Consultant Histopathologist at the Liverpool University Foundation Hospital Trusts with expertise in Ophthalmic Pathology, Haematopathology, Molecular Pathology, and Biobanking. She leads one of the 4 supraregional NHSE Eye path services, receiving ophthalmic samples from a broad geographical patch, and enabling trainees from UK & overseas to experience ocular & molecular pathology.

Further, she is Molecular pathology lead of the NHS North West Genomic Laboratory Hub and aims to improve equity-of-access to panel testing/whole-genome sequencing for cancer patients and those with rare-inherited diseases.

Prof. Coupland is also the current (and first female) ‘George Holt Chair of Pathology’ at the University of Liverpool, and leads the world-renowned ‘Liverpool-Ocular-Oncology-Research-Group’ (www.loorg.org), comprising ~30 clinicians, scientists, and students.

LOORG’s research focusses on ocular melanomas, lymphomas and other eye cancers, and employs high-resolution techniques to better understand the development/progression of these tumours, to improve patient outcome. Sarah has also hosted undergraduate and high-school summer students (e.g. Nuffield scholars), and more recently the Pathological Society’s NATM, promoting academic Pathology.

Prof. Coupland is President of the “International Society of Ophthalmic Pathology” and was the Vice-President of the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) (2017-8) and ARVO Trustee in ‘Anatomy-Pathology-Oncology’.

Prof. Coupland has published ~300 scientific articles (H-index, 48 Scopus), written ~60 Chapters, and has given ~180 keynote lectures. She was awarded the prestigious “International Council of Ophthalmology’s” Pathology prize (given out every 4 years only) & the 2019 RCPath Excellence Award.

Link to Professor Sarah Coupland’s Publications
Prof Judy Coulson, BSc, PhD, PGcertHE (Project Contributor)

Prof Coulson graduated from the University of Salford in 1990 with a first-class degree in Biological and Biochemical Sciences. She gained a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of London in 1994, and then held post-doctoral research positions at Aston University and the University of Nottingham, where she was awarded her first independent grant by the AICR in 1999. Judy joined the University of Liverpool in 2001 as a Lecturer on a research and teaching path, gaining a PG certificate (distinction) in learning and teaching in Higher Education in 2004. She is currently a Reader in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, where she runs a research group funded by NWCR, BLF and the Wellcome Trust. She collaborates with several PIs in Physiology, Cancer Medicine and IGH. Judy is a member of the NWCR centre and ITM Research Committees and is the ITM lead for mentoring.


Link to Judy Coulson’s Publications
Professor Gary P. Nolan, Rachford and Carlota A. Harris Professor. (Project Contributor)

Dr Nolan is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He trained with Leonard Herzenberg (for his PhD) and Nobelist Dr David Baltimore during his postdoctoral work for the first cloning/characterization of NF-κB p65/ RelA and the development of rapid retroviral production systems. He has published over 300 research articles and is the holder of 20 US patents, and has been honoured as one of the top 25 inventors at Stanford University.

Professor Nolan is the pioneer developer of the CyTOF approach to high parameter cell analysis. CyTOF is a state-of-the-art technique, which allows the interrogation of 40-50 parameters at single-cell resolution. The method has been critically important for systematic identification of different complex cellular populations using high-dimensional analysis in many diseases, including cancer.

Professor Nolan is a contributor to our project in the provision of advanced mass cytometry training at his laboratory in Stanford, US.

Link to Garry P. Nolan’s Publications



Dr Helen Kalirai, Senior Researcher at LOORG (Collaborator)

Dr Helen Kalirai is a senior postdoctoral research fellow with a strong background in biobanking (custodian of the Liverpool Ocular Oncology Biobank) and molecular pathology (Manager of the Liverpool Ocular Oncology Molecular Pathology Service). Dr Kalirai is also developing several areas of research within LOORG: The developmental origin of uveal melanocytes from cells of the neural crest suggests that primitive multipotent remnants of these cells may be present in the uveal tract and/or that neural crest developmental signalling pathways have been harnessed by the uveal melanoma cells permitting metastatic spread and colonisation.

By understanding more about choroidal melanoblast biology and migration we may gain novel insight into the aberrant processes that occur during uveal melanoma development and metastasis.​ The average survival of patients with metastatic UM (mUM) is approximately 12 months, and there are currently no proven effective treatments. The reasons for the refractory behaviour of UM cells to current therapies remain unclear; however, our previous data examining the secretome of primary UM indicated the upregulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins; collagens, fibronectin and laminin, and glycoproteins; aggrecan and thrombospondin, in UM at high risk (HR) of developing metastatic disease.

Bioinformatic analysis of the secretome data also identified hepatic fibrosis as one of the most differentially upregulated biological processes in HR-UM, suggesting that this is required during tumour progression. By understanding the composition of the ECM in UM and how this may differ between aggressive and more indolent tumours as well as at the primary and metastatic sites, we can use this information to develop novel 3D culture models for drug testing that more accurately reproduce the in vivo setting.ogy at Stanford University School of Medicine. He trained with Leonard Herzenberg (for his PhD) and Nobelist Dr David Baltimore during his postdoctoral work for the first cloning/characterization of NF-κB p65/ RelA and the development of rapid retroviral production systems. He has published over 300 research articles and is the holder of 20 US patents, and has been honoured as one of the top 25 inventors at Stanford University.



Link to Helen Kalirai’s Publications



Dr. Joseph Sacco, MBChB, MSc, MRCP, PhD (Project contributor)

Dr. Sacco studied Medicine at the University of Zimbabwe. He joined the Specialist Registrar Training Programme in Mersey Deanery in April 2006, where he completed his training in Medical Oncology. Dr Sacco was appointed as Clinical Research Fellow at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in November 2013 before taking up a substantive post as Clinical Senior Lecturer in Medical Oncology at the University of Liverpool and Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in June 2014.
Dr. Sacco was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool in July 2013 Investigating roles for the deubiquitylating enzymes in the PtdIns3-K/PKB pathway in cancer.
He is actively involved in the recruitment and follow-up of patients on phase Ib, II, and III trials, in melanoma and head and neck cancer, with a subspeciality interest in uveal melanoma.


Link to Joseph Sacco’s Publications