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The Best of the AACR Journals Collection: Author Profiles

photo of Gareth Thomas

Gareth Thomas

Title & Affiliation:
Professor of Experimental Pathology
School of Cancer Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, United Kingdom

Most-cited Article:
NOX4 Inhibition Potentiates Immunotherapy by Overcoming Cancer-Associated Fibroblast-Mediated CD8 T-cell Exclusion from Tumors

Q: What is your primary area of study/research?
A: Cancer-associated fibroblasts and the tumour microenvironment

Q: What influenced your decision to embark on a research career?
A: I came to research through an unusual route. I first qualified as a dentist, but found it a bit boring, so trained to become a head & neck pathologist. I undertook a PhD in cancer cell biology (investigating regulation of tumour cell invasion) as part of this training, and this was the first time in my years of studying that I found something really interesting. It felt more like having a hobby than going to work. I loved the moments when you get an exciting result, and you wonder if perhaps you are the only person in the world that knows this fact (probably not).

Q; What excites you most about your research area?
A: Part of my work is clinical, so what I find most exciting is the possibility of translating our research into something that will benefit patients. The role of cancer-associated fibroblasts in promoting resistance to checkpoint blockade is now well established, and my hope is that we will develop a successful strategy for targeting these cells to improve immunotherapy response rates in cancer patients. In fact, the first clinical trial testing NOX1/4 inhibition in combination with anti-PD1 (for the treatment of head & neck cancer) opens this year.

Q: What do you do for fun outside of work? What are your passions and hobbies?
A: We live in the middle of a national park, so I spend a lot of time on muddy expeditions with my family and dog. I enjoy running (these days trying to keep up with my children who annoyingly have become faster than me). I like to play the piano and guitar to relax (not at the same time) and play in our church musical group. As a proud Welshman, I am a keen rugby supporter.


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