Dr Helen Matthews

School of Biosciences

Sir Henry Dale Fellow

Dr Helen Matthews
Profile picture of Dr Helen Matthews
+44 114 222 2310

Full contact details

Dr Helen Matthews
School of Biosciences
Florey Building
Western Bank
S10 2TN
  • 2021 – present  Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow, University of Sheffield
  • 2017 – 2021 Senior Research Associate, MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology & The Francis Crick Institute, London
  • 2014 Visiting Scientist, Institut Curie, Paris
  • 2009 – 2017 Postdoctoral Research Associate, MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, London. Advisor: Buzz Baum
  • 2004 – 2008 PhD University College London. Advisor: Roberto Mayor
  • 2000 – 2004 MSci Imperial College London
Research interests

Our research group is focussed on understanding how cells divide in normal tissues and during cancer development and metastasis. To do this we take a multidisciplinary approach, combining imaging and cell biology with biophysical techniques to measure mechanical forces associated with cell division.

Cell shape and mechanics during cell division

Cells go through a series of dynamic shape changes when they divide. These include cell rounding and stiffening in early mitosis and separation into two daughter cells at cytokinesis. We want to understand how these changes are co-ordinated by dynamic regulation of the actin cytoskeleton throughout cell division. We are particularly interested in how cells divide within epithelial tissues where they must maintain attachment with neighbouring cells to preserve tissue integrity and organisation.

Cell division in cancer

Cancer is a disease of uncontrolled cell proliferation and division. We are investigating how genetic mutations in cancer cells affect the cell division process. In recent work, we found that Ras oncogenes change cell shape and mechanics during mitosis (Matthews et al. 2020). We are now exploring how changes to cell division induced by the oncogenic kRas promote the formation of tumours during the early stages of pancreatic cancer development.

We are also interested in how the modified micro-environment within a tumour affects cancer cell division. Tumours are usually far stiffer than healthy tissue due to cell crowding and the deposition of extra-cellular matrix. We use micro-fabrication techniques to mimic some of the mechanical stresses (eg. compression, stretch) found in tumours to study how these conditions impact cell division.


Journal articles