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Dr Andrew Stoker
Great ormond St. Institute of Child Health UCL
30 Guildford Street
Dr Andrew Stoker profile picture
  • Associate Professor in Developmental Neurobiology
  • Developmental Biology & Cancer Dept
  • UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
  • Faculty of Pop Health Sciences


1979-1982 :        University of Cambridge, England.
            Natural Sciences Tripos; Part II Genetics.
            Part II Supervisor : Dr. Martin Evans
            Awarded :  BA in Natural Sciences  (Class II.I)
            Awarded :  MA in 1985.

1982-1986 :        Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London.
            Supervisor : Dr. John A. Wyke.
            Awarded : Ph.D. April 1986 (UCL, University of London)

Professional History
1986 to 1988        EMBO Research Fellow
1988 to 1991        University of California Postdoctoral Scientist
held at:                  Division of Cell and Molecular Biology,
                              Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory,
                              Berkeley, CA, USA.
                             Supervisor: Dr. Mina J. Bissell

Oct 1991 to          Royal Society University Research Fellow,     
May 1998            Department of Human Anatomy, University of Oxford

June 1998 to         Royal Society University Research Fellow & University Lecturer,
Sept 1999              Institute of Child Health, University College London

October 1999         Senior Lecturer, Institute of Child Health, University College
to present                London

October 2002    Associate Professor, Institute of Child Health, University College London
To present

I have coordinated two Research Training Networks under EC Frameworks FP5 and FP6. These focused on the function of PTP enzymes in a range of disease models and were successful in training nearly 20 PhD students and postdocs.

From 2012-2017 I was the Departmental Graduate Tutor in the Institute of Child Health and since 2015 I have been the FPHS Faculty Graduate Tutor (research). I am integrally involved in matters of UCL postgraduate research student training, management and support.

Research Summary

My research group has historically focussed on understanding the roles of phosphotyrosine signalling, first in oncogenesis and later in axonogenesis and neurogenesis. Since 1988 I have had particular interest in understanding the roles of the tyrosine-specific phosphatases (PTPs). I was the first to demonstrate the location of a receptor PTP (RPTP) in embryonic axons and that this RPTP localised to growth cones. We went on to show a role in neurite formation in culture and a novel role in controlling retinotectal axon targeting in avian embryos. We also demonstrated roles of another RTP, PTPgamma, in spinal motor neuron development in the chick embryo. Our subsequent research with Radu Aricescu into RPTP ligands demonstrated the first proteoglycan ligand for PTPsigma, heparan sulphate. This finding went on to help several international teams to discover that these RPTPs play important, novel roles in synapse formation and nerve repair.

In 2008 I turned my attention again to molecular oncology, applying my knowledge to nervous system cancers. We initially focussed on oxidovanadium compounds (PTP inhibitors) as potential therapeutic platforms in neuroblastoma. We showed that such PTP inhibitors enhance the actions of retinoic acid, a biological used in neuroblastoma residual disease treatment. The inhibitors induce increased neuronal differentiation and senescence in tumour-derived cell lines and we also discovered that oxidovanadium synergises with inhibitors of glutathione synthesis to drive cytotoxicity in neuroblastoma cells. Both of these areas are of interest in the longer term for potentially enhancing residual disease treatment in patients.

Our subsequent objectives have included the identification of PTP family members that have “oncogene-like” behaviours in neuroblastoma cells. Our loss-of-function screens with shRNA, siRNA and most recently CRISPR/Cas9, have identified a number of candidate PTPs that we are now investigating. By defining their biochemical function, and effector pathways, we hope to be able to pinpoint suitable targets for future therapeutic intervention.

Recently we have expanded our interests in new approaches for enhancing retinoic acid-based therapy. Working with collaborators in Cardiff we have demonstrated that inhibitors of retinoid catabolism that block CYP26 function can double the ability of retinoic to induce differentiation and to limit tumour cell proliferation. However, these inhibitors are highly hydrophobic, and are very difficult to administer to humans. We have thus also provided the first proof of principle that such inhibitors can be delivered to tumour cells using liposome-based nanotechnology. This may lead to the future application of such inhibitors in pre-clinical testing.

Teaching Summary

My teaching and teaching support roles are:

1) The lead on MSc module "understanding research and critical appraisal"

2) Lecturing on neuroblastoma in the GOSICH MSc module Molecular and Clinical Aspects of Childhood Cancer

3) Lecturing on peripheral nervous system development under the MSc/MRes Neuromuscular Disease and MSc CLINICAL NEUROSCIENCE/NEUROLOGY

4) Research project supervision of iBSc, MSc and PhD students in my laboratory

6) External examiner for the MSc in Cancer Biology, University of Kent (2016-2019)

7) I am Faculty Graduate Tutor for research in Population Health Sciences

01-APR-2012 Departmental Graduate Tutor (Research) Institute of Child Health UCL, United Kingdom
01-OCT-2002 Reader Institute of Child Health UCL, United Kingdom
Academic Background
1986   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
1985   Master of Arts University of Cambridge
1982   Bachelor of Arts University of Cambridge
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