Dr Ola Rominiyi

BSc (Hons) MB ChB (Hons) MRCS PhD

Neuroscience, School of Medicine and Population Health

NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Neurosurgery

Ola Rominiyi
Ola Rominiyi
Profile picture of Ola Rominiyi
+44 114 2711900

Full contact details

Dr Ola Rominiyi
Neuroscience, School of Medicine and Population Health
Royal Hallamshire Hospital
Glossop Road
S10 2JF

Ola Rominiyi studied medicine at the University of Manchester where he obtained a 1st Class Honours degree in Physiology & Pharmacology and completed a degree in Clinical Medicine graduating with Honours in 2011.

After completing House Officer posts in Cambridge, King’s Lynn and Oxford, in 2014, Ola secured a highly competitive neurosurgical training number in Sheffield. During his neurosurgical training Ola developed a strong interest in neuro-oncology research as a means towards reducing the devastation brain tumours cause patients and families. Supported by a Royal College of Surgeons and Neurocare Clinical PhD Fellowship, and Yorkshire’s Brain Tumour Charity (formerly BTRS), he was awarded a PhD in Molecular Neuro-Oncology in 2020.

During Ola’s PhD, under the supervision Dr Spencer Collis, he identified novel combination treatment strategies based on multimodal targeting of the DNA damage response in glioblastoma. He also developed new clinically- and surgically-relevant patient-derived cancer stem cell models to establish the Sheffield ‘Living Biobank’ of Glioblastoma. In 2021, Ola was awarded Sheffield’s first NIHR Clinical Lectureship in Neurosurgery which enables him to combine ongoing clinical training with research as Translational Lead for the newly established Sheffield Translational Brain Tumour Research Group.

Research interests

Understanding spatial intratumoural heterogeneity in high-grade brain tumours with a particular focus on responses to DNA damage and leveraging this knowledge to deliver new ways to monitor and treat disease in patients. I aim to combine a long-term ethos of excellence in clinical and surgical practice with internationally excellent academic research to ensure the best possible care and outcomes are extended to patients both now and in the future.


Journal articles

Conference proceedings papers


Research group

As part of the newly established Sheffield Translational Brain Tumour Research Group, I work in close collaboration with Dr Spencer Collis (Scientific Lead) and Mr Yahia Al-Tamimi (Clinical Lead) as the Group’s Translational Lead to help drive forward a number of projects.

Postgraduate Students as Primary Supervisor
Kelsey Wosnitzka (PhD Student)
Claudia Zizzo (MSc Science Communication)

As Secondary/Tertiary Supervisor
Aurelie Vanderlinden Dibekeme (PhD student)
Connor McGarrity-Cottrell (PhD student)
Hannah Gagg (PhD student)
Andra-Gabriela Antohi (MRes student)

Post-Doctoral Researchers
Dr Katie Myers (PDRA & Genome Stability Group Lab Manager) – with Dr Collis
Dr Callum Jones (PDRA) – with Dr Collis


American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
GE Healthcare UK
National Centre for the Replacement Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
Royal College of Surgeons (RCS)
Sheffield Hospitals Charity (SHC)
Sheffield NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC)
Tenovus Scotland
The Brain Tumour Charity (TBTC)
Weston Park Cancer Charity (WPCC)
Yorkshire’s Brain Tumour Charity (YBTC)

Teaching interests
  • Neuro-oncology and the DNA damage response
  • Clinical Neurosurgery
Professional activities and memberships

2020-2021+    NIHR Surgical Translational Research Collaborative – Sheffield Representative.

2018-2021+    Lead in TUoS ‘Industry-Academia’ collaboration with Novocure (TTFields).

2017-2021+    Lead for 100,000 Genomes Project Neuro-Oncology Recruitment & Data Curation at STH.

2017-2021+    Frequent reviewer for the British Journal of Neurosurgery, Cancer Biology & Medicine, British Journal of Cancer.

2016-2021+    Lead for Patient-Derived Glioblastoma Sample Retrieval at STH.

Current Projects


A. Advancing DNA damage response (DDR) targeted therapeutic combinations using surgical delivery

Robust data from my PhD studies reveals that simultaneous inhibition of FA pathway and PARP or ATR represents a highly efficacious approach to eliminate treatment-resistant glioblastoma stem cells. However, numerous compounds used to target these key DDR processes demonstrate poor penetration of the blood-brain barrier. I am therefore seeking funding to investigate the post-surgical intracavity delivery of our DDR-targeted combinations within a thermo-responsive, long-lasting, biodegradable paste in collaboration with Dr Ruman Rahman & Mr Stuart Smith (University of Nottingham) (https://doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-18-3850).

B. Understanding and overcoming treatment resistance in glioblastoma stem cells

Working in close partnership with Dr Spencer Collis (University of Sheffield), we are currently investigating the following therapeutic approaches.

B1 – Ex vivo 3D models of post-surgical residual disease to improve biological understanding and treatment: These studies aim to characterise the specific nuances of disease typically left-behind after surgery and identify an ‘Achilles heel’ of residual disease to help ensure future therapies can effectively eradicate post-surgical disease (https://www.thebraintumourcharity.org/brain-tumour-diagnosis-treatment/types-of-brain-tumour-adult/glioblastoma/glioblastoma-research/new-3d-models-invading-glioblastoma/). We are also developing these surgically-relevant models as a replacement for animal studies in certain contexts (https://nc3rs.org.uk/living-biobank-post-surgical-residual-glioblastoma-replace-animal-studies).

B2 – Ex vivo drug screening using human tissue to personalise cancer therapy: In collaboration with Professor Thomas Helleday (Karolinska Institutet), Dr Juha Rantala (Misvik Biology, CEO - https://www.misvik.com), Dr Greg Wells (Ex vivo Drug Screening Lead, Weston Park Cancer Centre), Professor Sarah Danson (Sheffield CRUK ECMC and ex vivo Clinical Lead) and Allcyte (https://www.allcyte.com), I aim to ensure these technologies, which use ultra-high content microscopy of freshly dissociated tumour tissue to prioritise the clinical potential of over 260 approved and experimental compounds, are applied to benefit patients with high-grade brain tumours (https://nc3rs.org.uk/ex-vivo-drug-screening-using-human-tissue-personalise-cancer-therapy-and-replace-murine-avatars).

B3 – Combining TTFields with therapeutic DDR inhibitors for the improved treatment of brain tumours: In collaboration with Novocure, we are developing more effective combination treatments based on TTFields therapy, which uses low-intensity, intermediate frequency alternating electrical fields to treat cancer and has been demonstrated to increase overall survival for patients with newly-diagnosed glioblastoma in a Phase III clinical trial (https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2017.18718).

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Figure: Summary of the mechanisms of action of TTFields.

From Rominiyi O & Vanderlinden A et al. Tumour treating fields therapy for glioblastoma: current advances and future directions. British Journal of Cancer (2021) 124(4):697-709 (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41416-020-01136-5).

B4 – Development of novel inhibitors of the FA pathway (nFAPi) to treat brain cancer:  I also support Dr Spencer Collis, Professor Beining Chen (Department of Chemistry, University of Sheffield) and Mr Thomas Carroll (Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) in the development of potent, highly-selective compounds which inhibit FA pathway activity and have the potential to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in high-grade glioma.

B5 – Dissecting spatiofunctional heterogeneity in the DNA damage response of glioblastoma: These studies aim to leverage advanced surgically-relevant models of glioblastoma with detailed spatial characterisation to better understand regional differences in responses to DNA damaging therapy at the molecular level and develop therapeutic strategies able to tackle this biological complexity.

Collectively, leveraging data on the most attractive therapeutic targets from these studies and our continually expanding Living Biobank of surgically-relevant, patient-specific glioblastoma stem cell models, we aim to work towards the establishment of strong academic collaborations and future industrial partnerships with pharmaceutical companies to help prioritise the translation of novel compounds. We are always pleased to consider proposals to collaborate and discuss sharing these resources where this has the potential to advance cancer therapy.


C. Detecting a ‘Pink Drink’ in the blood as an early warning system for brain tumours – towards Sheffield Monitoring Test (SMT)

These studies aim establish whether protoporphyrin IX (PpIX), the fluorescent molecule used to improve surgical resection rates for glioblastoma intra-operatively after administering 5-ALA (the ‘pink drink’), can also be detected in the blood to provide a tumour marker for glioblastoma which quantitatively reflects tumour burden.

D. Developing a ‘Phase 0’ neurosurgical clinical trial capability in Sheffield

‘Phase 0’ neurosurgical clinical trials (https://doi.org/10.1093/neuros/nyz218), where a drug is administered pre-operatively then resected tumour tissue assessed in the laboratory to quantify drug concentration and target effects represent an extremely valuable and underutilized pragmatic tool to confirm whether or not potential anti-cancer drugs are able to sufficiently cross the blood-brain/blood-tumour barrier. We are actively seeking funding to establish this capability in Sheffield and help ensure therapeutic approaches, including those developed by our team, have a clear route towards the clinic. The establishment of a Phase 0 / ‘window of opportunity study’ capability will be well supported by Sheffield’s growing capability to support fulfilment of the translational pathway including through the Early Phase Initiative (EPI) and Sheffield’s status as a CRUK Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC).

I am pleased to consider applications / expressions of interest from prospective PhD students.