Imperial College London

Dr Ana P. Costa-Pereira

Central FacultyCentre for Languages, Culture and Communication

Director of Centre for Languages, Culture & Communication



+44 (0)20 7594 9352a.costa-pereira Website




Mrs Sheila Ekudo +44 (0)20 7594 2086




S302Sherfield BuildingSouth Kensington Campus






Cytokines are small proteins produced by the immune system. They can have both beneficial and deleterious effects in cancer development and progression. These molecules are powerful and fast, and understanding how they elicit their biologic responses by activating Janus kinases (JAKs) and signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) is of fundamental importance for our ability to manage a large number of cancers that either depend on JAK/STAT signalling or that have a strong inflammatory component. For over 20 years, I have been dissecting signalling networks triggered in response to type I Interferons (IFN-α and IFN-βand type II (IFN-γ) and Interleukin-6-type cytokines (IL-6, OSM), and in the process challenged (successfully) the key paradigm explaining signalling specificity [Costa-Pereira et al. (2002). PNAS. 99: 8043]. Our work now focusses on devising ways to modulate cytokine signalling to develop more effective cancer therapies. This work, is complemented by our interest in other cytokines such as TRAIL and Fas (CD95), which signal through death receptors, thus triggering apoptosis.

Current projects focus on:

  • Regulation and organisation of cytokine signalling networks in tumour cells (or how cancer cells talk to each other using small messages called cytokines)
  • Tumour cell apoptosis signal transduction pathways (or how to kill cancer cells without affecting too much normal cells)
  • Identification of early biological markers for the detection and novel targets for the treatment of ovarian cancer (or what molecules can we use to specifically identify ovarian cancer early and what molecules should we destroy to treat ovarian cancer patients)

Key words: Cancer biology | Ovarian cancer | Signal transduction | Apoptosis | Cytokines | IL-6 | Interferons | JAKs | STATs | NF-κB


Laboratory classes are resource intensive: they are expensive and require expertly trained personnel. Yet, despite this, traditional laboratory classes fail to adequately train undergraduate students to proficiently and safely work in a real-life laboratory. In addition to that, there is evidence that scripted lab practicals actually disadvantage students that take them by luring them into a false sense of security (Buck et al., 2008, Holmes et al., 2017, Holmes and Wieman, 2018).

To address this, I have developed the concept of Lab Pods back in 2015, which  have been implemented as part of BSc Medical Biosciences (two experiential learning modules across Years 1 and 2). The Lab Pod is a unique concept, not found elsewhere, and it forms a key component of this unique fully blended undergraduate programme.

I am passionate about scientific research and how students learn. My current main educational research project revolves around the Lab Pods and how they impact (or not) on the development students' professional skills and whether they are (or not) transformative for students.

Current projects focus on:

  • Lab Pods: Biomedical science laboratory teaching conceptual ideation and pedagogical design (BSc Medical Biosciences, Year 1 and 2)
  • Undergraduate Immunology, design and flipped teaching (BSc Medical Biosciences, Year 2)
  • Undergraduate and postgraduate Cancer Biology, design and flipped teaching (Cancer Frontiers, MBBS Year 4; MRes Cancer Biology)
  • Designing student-centric online exams

Key words: Transformative learning | Experiential learning | Active learning | Social learning | Student-centred pedagogy | Blended pedagogy |  Lerner agency | Self-efficacy | Grit | Growth mindset | Creativity 


  • July 2020 - to date: Director of Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC)
  • February 2020: School of Medicine Head of Innovation in Undergraduate Science Education
  • 2018: Postgraduate Diploma in University Learning & Teaching (PG Dip ULT), Imperial College London 
  • January 2016 - 2020: School of Medicine Head of BSc Medical Biosciences (BMB) & BSc Medical Biosciences with Management (BMBM)
  • 2016: Postgraduate Certificate in University Learning & Teaching (PG Cert ULT), via accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning [AP(E)L], Imperial College London
  • April 2015 - Jan 2020: School of Medicine Head of BSc Programme Development
  • 2011: Promoted to Senior Lecturer 
  • 2008: Certificate of Advanced Studies in Learning and Teaching (CASLAT), Imperial College London
  • 2005-2007: Visiting Scientist at The Francis Crick Institute (formerly Cancer Research UK - London Research Institute & also Imperial Cancer Research Fund)
  • October 2005: Joined Imperial College London as a Research Team Leader (Cytokines and Cancer Signalling Group) and Lecturer in the Department of Surgery and Cancer, Faculty of Medicine
  • 1999-2005: Postdoctoral work at Cancer Research UK, London Research Institute (formerly Cancer Research UK - London Research Institute & also Imperial Cancer Research Fund) (Kerr Lab)
  • 1995-1999: PhD in Biochemistry, University College Cork, Ireland (Cotter Lab)
  • 1991-1995:  BSc (Hons) Biochemistry, University College Cork, Ireland (degree started at the University of Coimbra ; Erasmus student 1993/94; transferred registration to UCC in 1994)


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) (awarded 2008)
  • International Cytokine & Interferon Society (ICIS
  • British Association for Cancer Research (BACR)
  • British Society for Immunology (BSI)


  • 2018: Alternative Careers Guide at Queens Park Community School - NW6
  • 2017-2020: Science Week at Hobbayne Primary School - W7 (~180 students per year)
  • 2015: Imperial College Festival - "What do scientists studying human diseases do?"
  • 2013: Combination Dance - "Code" - scientific advisor



Hergovits S, Mais C, Haan C, et al., 2017, Oncostatin M induces RIG-I and MDA5 expression and enhances the double-stranded RNA response in fibroblasts, Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Vol:21, ISSN:1582-4934, Pages:3087-3099

Rutherford C, Speirs C, Williams JJL, et al., 2016, Phosphorylation of Janus kinase 1 (JAK1) by AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) links energy sensing to anti-inflammatory signaling, Science Signaling, Vol:9, ISSN:1945-0877

Schlegel CR, Georgiou ML, Misterek MB, et al., 2015, DAPK2 regulates oxidative stress in cancer cells by preserving mitochondrial function, Cell Death & Disease, Vol:6, ISSN:2041-4889

Schlegel CR, Fonseca A-V, Stoecker S, et al., 2014, DAPK2 is a novel modulator of TRAIL-induced apoptosis, Cell Death and Differentiation, Vol:21, ISSN:1350-9047, Pages:1780-1791

Bonito NA, Drechsler J, Stoecker S, et al., 2014, Control of gp130 expression by the mitogen-activated protein kinase ERK2, Oncogene, Vol:33, ISSN:0950-9232, Pages:2255-2263

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