Dr. Vassileva has wide-range expertise in medical and pharmaceutical sciences, precision cancer medicine and translational oncology, with diverse international experience across academic, regulatory and publishing sectors.
She completed her HonBSc in Human Biology, MSc in Medicine and Cancer Pathobiology, and PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Toronto.
Her academic career has focused on the pathobiology, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer – from identifying mutational targets within key molecular pathways involved in the initiation, development and progression of cancer – to identifying biomarkers, developing novel imaging and treatment strategies, with the ultimate goal of effective clinical translation.
She has worked at the European Medicines Agency, and as an Associate Editor at Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology.
Dr. Vassileva is working on translational precision medicine approaches for the detection and treatment of cancer. She is involved in various cancer pharmacology and molecular imaging projects, involving the discovery and development of new methods for experimental and clinical imaging of cancer. She also works on therapeutic approaches that target tumour biology, the radiobiology of targeted radionuclide therapy, and the development of theranostic strategies for the detection and treatment of solid tumours.
During her MSc, she identified key mutational targets in DNA damage response, apoptosis, and growth factor signaling pathways, and implicated these in the initiation, development and progression of endometrial cancer in young patients. Her studies were the first to demonstrate the occurrence of such mutations in pre-malignant hyperplastic lesions, and to associate their collective accumulation in the pathobiology of endometrial cancer. She made fundamental contributions to the understanding of the mutational landscape in endometrial cancer.
During her PhD, she evaluated the safety and efficacy of a novel implantable drug delivery system for the treatment of ovarian cancer. She demonstrated that the drug delivery system can be safely used for sustained intraperitoneal chemotherapy administration, achieving significantly better therapeutic indices compared with clinical chemotherapy formulations. She also demonstrated that tumour repopulation occurs with intermitted versus sustained chemotherapy, and that it is a contributing factor to treatment failure. Her work led to several publications and the filing of a patent (Bipolymer-Surfacant System for Use in Drug Delivery) with the University of Toronto Innovations Foundation.
She completed postdoctoral studies at the Barts Cancer Institute, where she worked on several pre-clinical and clinical projects focused on targeting cancer-related inflammation and combination therapies for ovarian cancer.
She then joined the UCL Cancer Institute, where she worked on numerous translational oncology projects involving targeted and combination therapies, the identification of novel diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, theranostics, and the application of various imaging modalities across multiple tumour types.
Teaching, Mentoring and Governance
She is a Fellow of The Higher Education Academy, with extensive teaching and mentoring experience. She supervises undergraduate and graduate research students. She lectures on the MBBS/BSc in Surgery and Anaesthesia and BSc Precision Medicine Programmes at Imperial College London, and the MSc Cancer Programme at University College London. She contributes to examination content, project and thesis evaluation.
Furthermore, she was a member of the Academic Board of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at UCL, an assessor of fellowship applications for the Higher Education Academy, a member of the Athena Swan self-assessment team, and a lead for the mentoring scheme at UCL.
In addition to her research responsibilities, she a member of the Advisory Council of Wellbridge HealthCare Venture Capital, a Trustee of the Head and Neck Cancer Research Trust (www.hncrtrust.org), a member of numerous committees and groups, including the NCRI Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group (http://ctrad.ncri.org.uk/) and the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Pharmaco-Imaging Focus Group (http://www.aaps.org/Pharmaco-imaging/).
Member of European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Research.
Furthermore, she peer-reviews for several scientific journals and research funding agencies.
et al., 2019, Targeting pyruvate kinase M2 and lactate dehydrogenase a is an effective combination strategy for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, Cancers, Vol:11, ISSN:2072-6694
et al., 2019, Evaluation of apoptosis imaging biomarkers in a genetic model of cell death, Ejnmmi Research, Vol:9, ISSN:2191-219X
et al., 2017, Tunable semiconducting polymer nanoparticles with INDT-based conjugated polymers for photoacoustic molecular imaging, Bioconjugate Chemistry, Vol:28, ISSN:1043-1802, Pages:1734-1740
et al., 2017, Electrohydrodynamic fabrication of core-shell PLGA nanoparticles with controlled release of cisplatin for enhanced cancer treatment, International Journal of Nanomedicine, Vol:12, ISSN:1176-9114, Pages:3913-3926
et al., 2017, Use of a next generation maleimide in combination with THIOMAB (TM) antibody technology delivers a highly stable, potent and near homogeneous THIOMAB (TM) antibody-drug conjugate (TDC), Rsc Advances, Vol:7, ISSN:2046-2069, Pages:24828-24832