Isabel Pires -approved pic

Dr Isabel Pires

Lecturer in Biomedical Science/ Head of the Hypoxia and Tumour Microenvironment group

Faculty of Health Sciences

School of Life Sciences

01482 466656

Dr Isabel Pires is a cancer biologist, and particularly interested in how low oxygen (hypoxia) in tumours impacts on metastatic spread and therapy.

She is an enthusiastic science communicator, and has given talks in such events as TEDx Hull and Pint of Science. She is the main organiser of Soapbox Science Hull.

Dr Pires is passionate about training the next generation of scientists. She a member of the executive committee of the British Association for Cancer Research, and an ambassador of the Biochemical Society at Hull, as well as a member of their training panel.


Research Interests

  • Cancer biology (especially metastasis and therapy resistance)

  • Tumour microenvironment

  • Cancer therapy, including radiotherapy and targeted therapy

  • Modelling the tumour microenvironment

Research groups

Member of the University of Hull-HYMS Joint Centre for Cancer Studies

Member of the cross-faculty Biomicrofluidics group

External collaborators:

  • Prof Ester Hammond (University of Oxford)

  • Dr Stephen Maher (Trinity College Dublin)

  • Dr Jerry Thomas/David Ashford (University of York)

  • Dr Amanda Coutts (Nottingham Trent University)

  • Dr Amanda Harvey (Brunel University)

  • Dr Marie Kveiborg (BRIC, Copenhagen. Denmark)

  • Dr Célia Cabral (Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal)

  • Dr Marco Lemos (GIRM, Peniche, Portugal)


Pires I M*, Blokland N J, Broos A W, Poujade F A, Senra J M, Eccles S A, Span P N, Harvey A J*, Hammond E M (2014), 'Hypoxia-induced Rapid PTK6 Stabilisation is Associated with Increased Motility and Invasion', Cancer Biology and Therapy, 15(10):1350-7. * Co-corresponding author

Pefani D E, Latusek R, Pires I, Grawenda A M, Yee K S, Hamilton G, van der Weyden L, Esashi F, Hammond E M, O'Neill E (2014), 'RASSF1A-LATS1 Signalling Stabilises Replication Forks by Restricting CDK2-mediated Phosphorylation of BRCA2', Nature Cell Biology, 16 (10), 962-971.

Scrace S, O’Neill E, Hammond E M and Pires I M (2013), 'Use of the xCELLigence System for Real Time Analysis of Changes in Cellular Motility and Adhesion in Physiological Conditions', Adhesion Protein Protocols, Methods in Molecular Biology, 1046: 295-306.

Olcina M M, Foskolou I P, Anbalagan S, Senra J M, Pires I M, Jiang J, Ryan A J, Hammond E M (2013), 'Replication Stress and Chromatin Context Link ATM Activation to a Role in DNA Replication', Molecular Cell, 52(5):758-66.

Cazares-Korner C**, Pires I M**, Swallow I D**, Grayer S C, O'Connor L J, Olcina M M, Christlieb M, Conway S J, Hammond E M (2013), 'CH-01 is a Hypoxia-Activated Prodrug That Sensitises Cells to Hypoxia/Reoxygenation Through Inhibition of Chk1 and Aurora A', ACS Chemical Biology, 8(7):1451-9. ** equal contribution

Full list


Programmes taught on

Modules list


  • Cellular and Molecular Biology of Cancer (module coordinator)

  • Tumour Immunology and Microenvironment (module coordinator)

  • Organ-specific Cancers

  • Research Skills

  • Current Topics in Biomedical Science

  • Research Project and Dissertation


  • Skills for Biomedical Science

  • Biological Basis of Disease

  • Cancer Biology

  • Research Project and Dissertation

Research PhDs

Please contact Dr Pires directly if you are interested in joining her group. She welcomes applications/expressions of interest in the following:

  • Novel players in the biology of the tumour microenvironment (particular focus on metastasis)

  • Targeting the tumour microenvironment

  • Cancer biology, especially breast, colorectal, lung, and oesophageal cancer

  • Cancer therapy, especially radiotherapy and targeted therapies

  • Modelling the tumour microenviromnment, including 3D models of cancer and lab-on-a-chip

Completed PhDs

  • Flore-Anne Poujade (2013-2016)

  • Anna Todd (2013-2016)

Current PhD supervisions 

  • Thomas Collins (2015-2018)

  • Sarah Argyle (2015-2018)


Teaching awards and accolades

  • HEA Fellowship

  • PCAP (University of Hull)

  • HEA Associate Fellowship

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • 2007 - Ph.D. Pharmacology, University of Manchester, UK

  • 2002 - Licenciatura (Biology), Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal

External roles

  • Chair of the British Association for Cancer Research Media subcommittee (2017 - present)

  • Biochemical Society Training Theme Panel (2016 - 2019)

  • British Association for Cancer Research meetings and training subcommittee (2015 - present)

  • Member of the British Association for Cancer Research executive committee (2015 - present)

Awards and accolades

  • PARSUK Xpand Opportunities award (as supervisor) (2017)

  • Biochemical Society Local Ambassador at UoH (2016 - present)

  • PARSUK Xperience award (as supervisor) (2014, 2016)

  • Staff Excellence Award for Science Communication (2015)

  • Breast Cancer Campaign Pilot Grant (2014 - 2015)

  • Royal Society Research Grant (2013 - 2014)

  • BACR Meeting Bursary to attend the 28th IABCR/Breakthrough Conference, Manchester, UK (2012)

  • Talk 1st prize at the 3rd EU-IP DNA Repair Workshop for Young Scientists, Taormina, Italy (2009)

  • Bursary to attend the Sixth ESH-UT MD Anderson Cancer Centre International Conference on Mechanisms of Cell Death and Disease, Cascais, Portugal (2006)

  • PhD studentship (Foundation for Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Portugal) (2003-2007)

  • Bursary to attend the Gordon Research Conference - Genetic Toxicology, Oxford, UK (2003)

  • Visiting Scientist Bursary PRODEP III (2001-2002)

Professional highlights

  • TEDx Hull speaker (2017)

  • Author of a chapter on the hallmarks of cancer in 'The Secret Science of Superheroes' (2017)

  • Soapbox Science Hull main organiser (2016 - present)

  • Co-coordinator of Cafe Scientifique Beverley event (2016 to present)

  • Speaker at Pint of Science Hull (2016)

  • 'I'm A Scientist Get Me out of Here' outreach event participant (2015)

  • Speaker at Soapbox Science London (2014)