Dr. Sonia Rocha, Deputy Director of the Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression at the College of Life Sciences has been made a Fellow of the Society of Biology.

The Society of Biology aims to provide a single unified voice for biology – advising government and influencing policy, advancing education and professional development and encouraging public interest in the life sciences.

Dr. Sonia Rocha is a CRUK Senior Cancer Research Fellow and her research focuses on how tumours manage to survive without much oxygen. Solid tumours, such as breast cancer and pancreatic cancer, often have regions of low oxygen and these areas are hard to target with cancer drugs or radiotherapy.

When cancer cells sense that they are getting less oxygen than usual, they trigger a response to help the cells survive. Dr. Rocha is focusing on a protein called HIF, which is a master regulator of this response. She and her team are working to understand more about how HIF co-ordinates how cancers respond to low oxygen and inflammation, which is another feature of tumours. They are hoping to identify novel targets for cancer drug development.

Dr. Rocha said, “I am delighted with this honour. This is a reflection on the great people I have – and have had – in my laboratory and everyone that has supported and believed in me over the years. I am very thankful to all of these people.”

Professor Julian Blow, Director of the Centre of Gene Regulation and Expression said, “I am very pleased that Sonia has been elected to the Fellowship of the Society of Biology. The quality of her research, her initiative and leadership are inspiring for a whole new generation of life scientists.”