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Benjamin P Fairfax
BM BCh PhD MRCP
- Principal Investigator
- Tumour Microenvironment/ Cancer Immunology Theme co-Lead
- Consultant in Medical Oncology
As a clinician I work in the Oxford Cancer Centre to treat skin cancer - whilst in my lab I research variation between individuals in immune responses, especially those that are determined by our genetics. Understanding what these are is important because it can provide an unbiased picture into immune pathways that may form targets for new cancer therapies, as well as help make our current medications more personalised.
How we vary between one another in our genetic code has a critical impact on events throughout our lives that our influenced by our immune system. Whilst we most think of genetic variation influencing our susceptibility to infection, it is increasingly clear that small genetic changes can influence individual patient's ability to respond to cancer immunotherapy - in terms of both cancer shrinking, but also the development of side effects from treatment - so called 'immune related Adverse Events' (irAEs).
My group has recently demonstrated that patients who develop irAEs from immunotherapy for melanoma tend to have better clinical outcomes - but this is not always the case, and some patients have excellent clinical outcomes without getting side effects. Nonetheless, the links between patient genetics, there immune responses to immunotherapy, development of irAEs and response to the tumour are very strong. By studying these we are developing a much better picture of how immunotherapy works and hope that we will be able to take these findings back to the clinic to better target treatments.
For a full list of my work:
I did my PhD at the MRC-LMCB, UCL completing this in 2003 and then completed my clinical training in Oxford.
I was accepted onto the Oxford Academic Foundation programme and, having become interested in human genetics, took time away from clinical training to gain postdoctoral experience. I was awarded a Wellcome MB-PhD postdoctoral Fellowship and I did this in Julian Knight's group at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics.
Upon completion of this I specialised in Medical Oncology. I see skin cancer patients as a Consultant in the Oxford Cancer Centre. I am co-lead for Immunology on the NIHR Oncology Translational Research Group.
GROUP ALUMNI & NEXT DESTINATIONS
Sara Danielli, Research Assistant - Undertaking a DPhil with Jelena Mirkovic at the Kennedy Institute, Oxford
Alba Verge de los Aires
Alba was a Research assistant in the group from November 2019- late 2021. She has extensive experience in numerous immunological techniques, having previously worked at the Institut Necker-Enfants Malades in Paris where she worked on B cell subsets. Alba was a key figure for the group, preparing samples, organising the group and playing a key role in experimental success. She has now returned tolive with her family in Barcelona.