Dr. Vassileva has wide-range expertise in pharmaceutical sciences and translational oncology, with diverse international experience across the academic, regulatory and publishing sectors.
She completed her HonBSc in Human Biology, MSc in Cancer Genetics and Pathobiology, and PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Toronto.
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. Her main interests include the development of effective targeted radionuclide therapies for solid tumours, while elucidating the radiobiological mechanisms and molecular profiles associated with response, and identifying strategies for optimal therapeutic outcomes.
She is involved in various nuclear medicine, cancer pharmacology and molecular imaging projects, focused on the discovery and development of new methods for experimental and clinical imaging of cancer. Furthermore, she is a co-investigator on a national multi-centre clinical trial, evaluating a novel PET imaging agent in solid tumours.
During her MSc, she made fundamental contributions to the understanding of the mutational landscape in endometrial cancer. She identified key mutational targets in DNA damage response, apoptosis, and growth factor signaling, and implicated these in the initiation, development and progression of endometrial cancer in young patients. Furthermore, her studies were the first to demonstrate the occurrence of these mutational signatures in pre-malignant hyperplastic lesions, and to associate their collective accumulation with tumorigenesis and clinicopathological parameters.
During her PhD, she developed a novel sustained-release drug formulation for the loco-regional treatment of ovarian cancer. She demonstrated that intraperitoneal implantation of this drug delivery system provided sustained release chemotherapy with superior therapeutic indices compared to clinically approved formulations. Furthermore, she was the first to demonstrate that tumour repopulation is a contributing factor to treatment failure with intermittent chemotherapy schedules, and that localised and sustained chemotherapy administration can reduce tumour repopulation, resulting in significantly improved response rates. Her work led to several publications and 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, investigating the links between cancer and inflammation, and the development of novel therapeutic strategies for ovarian cancer. She also contributed to a Phase II clinical trial in patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.
She then joined the UCL Cancer Institute, where she worked on numerous translational oncology projects involving targeted and combination therapies, including radioimmunotherapy, antibody-drug conjugates and small molecules to selectively treat tumours by exploiting cancer biology. She also contributed to the identification of novel diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in pancreatic cancer, and used various imaging modalities across multiple tumour types to facilitate diagnostic and therapeutic development. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/cancer/news/promising-results-targeted-treatment-colorectal-cancer
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 is 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/).
European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Research.
Furthermore, she peer-reviews for several scientific journals and research funding agencies.
et al., 2022, Tissue-specific human extracellular matrix scaffolds promote pancreatic tumour progression and chemotherapy resistance, Cells, Vol:11, ISSN:2073-4409, Pages:1-23
et al., 2021, Effective detection and monitoring of glioma using [18F]FPIA PET imaging, Biomedicines, Vol:9, ISSN:2227-9059, Pages:1-14
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