CRUK Convergence Science Centre

The Cancer Research UK Convergence Science Centre brings you:

Converging on cancer – engineering and physical sciences and multidisciplinary approaches to advance cancer research seminar series

18th April 15.00-16.00

Please join us for an online seminar on Thursday 18th April, from 15.00-16.00 where you will hear a talk from:

Dr Robbie Murray – Department of Physics, Imperial College London

 Picosecond mid-infrared laser scalpels: from cancer biopsy analysis to surgical resection tools”

Picosecond mid-infrared lasers emitting light at the peak water absorption (2.94 µm) have been shown to be ideal tissue ablation (resection) tools. They act as an ideal scalpel, only removing tissue at the laser focus, with near-zero collateral damage to surrounding cells and tissue structures. In my group, we have been developing compact, robust, and field deployable sources for medical applications. I will discuss the use of these sources in different settings – including the stratification of cancer sub-types in cervical cancer biopsies through mass spectrometry based metabolomic analysis, and ongoing work aimed at deploying the lasers in surgical settings requiring the ultrahigh levels of precision that these lasers can offer over conventional resection tools (diathermy/CO2 laser).

Robbie is a Lecturer in Photonics in the Physics Department at Imperial College London, developing next-generation mid-infrared light sources for applications across healthcare and security. His work spans nonlinear optics, laser physics, ambient mass spectrometry, and the physics and chemistry behind ultrafast laser-tissue interactions. His team is developing new techniques to improve the resolution and speed of various mass spectrometric tissue analysis techniques, including ambient single-cell level mass spectrometry imaging, very high throughput sample analysis, and precision tumour resection guidance tools.




Dr Ben O’Leary – Division of Radiotherapy and Imaging, The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

“Evolutionary dynamics of treatment resistance in head and neck cancer”

Head and neck cancer is a disease with rising global incidence and poor outcomes. Most patients are diagnosed without distant metastatic disease, but despite curative-intent treatment with a combination of surgery and radiotherapy up to 50% will relapse. At recurrence, a minority will respond to immunotherapy and the median overall survival is 12 months. Head and neck cancers with unstable genomes demonstrate evasion of the immune system, for reasons that are not understood and could be related to treatment resistance. We aim to investigate genome instability and evasion of the immune response as mechanisms of resistance to radiotherapy and immunotherapy, to identify biomarkers to aid treatment selection and novel therapy combinations.

Ben is a Clinician Scientist and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden Hospital, and a visiting scientist in Peter Van Loo’s Cancer Evolution and Genomics group at The MD Anderson Cancer Center. His current research is focused on understanding the evolution of resistance to cancer therapies in head and neck cancers, including the use of liquid biopsies. He leads several translational studies at The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden.



To receive information about how to access this event please email

Please note: This webinar is exclusively available only to colleagues across the Institute of Cancer Research, Imperial College London, the Royal Marsden Hospital and Imperial College Healthcare.