Dr William R English (BSc, PhD)

Research Fellow

Department of Oncology & MetabolismWill English
The Medical School
Beech Hill Road
S10 2RX

Office: GU32, The Medical School

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 215 9200

Email: w.english@sheffield.ac.uk


I completed my PhD in biochemistry in 1996 with Professor Robert Freedman at the University of Kent and the Protein Engineering Department at the Institute of Food Research, Reading, before working in the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg with Professor Tom Creighton. I joined the group of Professor Gillian Murphy in 1997 and remained with the Murphy group until 2010. During this period I worked first within Strangeways Laboratory, Cambridge followed by the University of East Anglia and then on to the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research in 2002 where I was awarded a British Heart Foundation Intermediate Research Fellowship. In 2007 I moved to the newly formed Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute as part of the Proteases and Tumour Microenvironment Group.

I joined the Tumour Microcirculation Group led by Prof Gillian Tozer at the University of Sheffield in 2011 to continue my research interests in vascular biology and the tumour microenvironment, becoming a permanent academic member of staff as Research Fellow in 2013.


My team’s research is focused on understanding how the tumour microenvironment regulates cancer biology. My projects use an interdisciplinary approach, combining bioinformatics analysis with in vitro and in vivo models of cancer to understand how the tumour microenvironment regulates response and resistance to therapy, and in turn how this impacts on metastasis.

I am particularly interested in how the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) family of ligands and receptors influence the tumour microenvironment, cancer cell migration and metastasis. Although there has been significant interest in how these ligands and receptors regulate tumour vascular biology, less is known about their function within the cancer cells themselves or in non-vascular stromal cells within the tumour microenvironment.

I also collaborate with the Department of Materials Science in the Faculty of Engineering to develop synthetic vascular constructs to support tissue engineering applications and the development of artificial tumour microenvironments.

Current projects include:

  • Bioinformatics analysis of data across multiple cancers to identify links between survival and VEGF – VEGFR gene family expression to identify biomarkers and novel co-therapies.
  • Development of ovarian and colorectal cancer cell lines via CRISPR/Cas9 and ZFN based gene editing to understand how VEGF – VEGFR signalling influences response and resistance to therapy.
  • Characterisation of VEGF – VEGFR signalling within the tumour microenvironment of soft-tissue sarcoma and its influence on sarcoma metastasis.
  • Understanding the role of sarcoma-associated fibroblasts in soft-tissue sarcoma biology and response to therapy.
  • Characterisation of novel 3D printed surfaces for the isolation of metastatic cells.



I contribute to teaching on the MSc(Res) in Translational Oncology, the MSc(Res) in Molecular Medicine and the MSc(Res) in Genomic Medicine. I am also deputy module leader of module 1 on the MSc(Res) in Translational Oncology. I supervise research projects on MSc(Res) degrees and the intercalated BMedSci degree.

Key publications (see link to the right for full list)

1. English, W. R., Lunt, S. J., Fisher, M., Lefley, D. V., Dhingra, M., Lee, Y. C., Bingham, K., Hurrell, J. E., Lyons, S. K., Kanthou, C. & Tozer, G. M. (2017) Differential Expression of VEGFA Isoforms Regulates Metastasis and Response to Anti-VEGFA Therapy in Sarcoma, Cancer research. 77, 2633-2646.

2. Dew, L., English, W. R., Ortega, I., Claeyssens, F. & MacNeil, S. (2016) Fabrication of Biodegradable Synthetic Vascular Networks and Their Use as a Model of Angiogenesis, Cells Tissues Organs. 202, 319-328.

3. Dew, L., English, W. R., Chong, C. K. & MacNeil, S. (2016) Investigating Neovascularization in Rat Decellularized Intestine: An In Vitro Platform for Studying Angiogenesis, Tissue Eng Part A. 22, 1317-1326.

4. Kanthou, C., Dachs, G. U., Lefley, D. V., Steele, A. J., Coralli-Foxon, C., Harris, S., Greco, O., Dos Santos, S. A., Reyes-Aldasoro, C. C., English, W. R. & Tozer, G. M. (2014) Tumour cells expressing single VEGF isoforms display distinct growth, survival and migration characteristics, PLoS One. 9, e104015.

5. Correa de Sampaio, P., Auslaender, D., Krubasik, D., Failla, A. V., Skepper, J. N., Murphy, G. & English, W. R. (2012) A heterogeneous in vitro three dimensional model of tumour-stroma interactions regulating sprouting angiogenesis, PLoS One. 7, e30753.

6. Winder, D. M., Chattopadhyay, A., Muralidhar, B., Bauer, J., English, W. R., Zhang, X., Karagavriilidou, K., Roberts, I., Pett, M. R., Murphy, G. & Coleman, N. (2011) Overexpression of the oncostatin M receptor in cervical squamous cell carcinoma cells is associated with a pro-angiogenic phenotype and increased cell motility and invasiveness, J Pathol. 225, 448-62.

7. Eisenach, P. A., Roghi, C., Fogarasi, M., Murphy, G. & English, W. R. (2010) MT1-MMP regulates VEGF-A expression through a complex with VEGFR-2 and Src, J Cell Sci. 123, 4182-93.

8. Krubasik, D., Eisenach, P. A., Kunz-Schughart, L. A., Murphy, G. & English, W. R. (2008) Granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor induces endothelial capillary formation through induction of membrane-type 1 matrix metalloproteinase expression in vitro, International journal of cancer. 122, 1261-72.

I would like to thank the following for supporting my groups research 

Yorkshire Cancer Research                                                           Fiderh 

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