Brain Tumour Research

March is Brain Tumour Awareness Month 

The University is recognised as a Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence. It is one of only four in the UK with a unique focus on low-grade brain tumours.

Professor Oliver Hanemann and his dedicated team of researchers at the Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine HQ are carrying out world-leading research to discover treatments and ultimately, a cure for brain tumours.

Join us this March in the fight to raise awareness and vital funds to help save lives. 

The Roger Harris Fund

Roger Harris, CBE, was a well-respected and much-loved businessman in Plymouth. Sadly, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2017 and lost his battle with cancer in October of that year. 

In his memory, The Roger Harris Fund has been established by the Peninsula Medical Foundation and the University of Plymouth to raise £274,000, the amount needed to fund 100 days of cancer research in Plymouth. This will help Professor Oliver Hanemann and his team to carryout world-leading research to develop treatments and, ultimately, a cure for brain tumours.

Find out more about The Roger Harris Fund and how your donation could make a difference

Low-grade brain tumours

Our team are leaders in the investigation of low-grade brain tumours, which are usually slow-growing and frequently affect children and young adults. Such tumours can be just as devastating as malignant tumours and can bring equally dangerous and debilitating effects to patients by causing neurological conditions including loss of balance, weakness, cognitive problems, poor hearing, epilepsy and personality changes.

Professor C. Oliver Hanemann
Research Lead
Director, Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine

Our research

The Brain Tumour Research team’s work focuses on identifying and understanding the mechanisms that make a cell become cancerous and exploring ways in which to halt or reverse this process.

We are working to find new biomarkers and therapeutic targets for low-grade brain tumours, to test new drugs and to investigate how existing drugs could be re-purposed as therapies for brain tumours.

This research is facilitated using a number of complementary methods including the use of primary cell models and culturing techniques, and is driven by both hypothesis and omic discovery approaches (particularly genomics and proteomics).

Current areas of specific research activity include:

  • Mechanisms for how hypoxia contributes to tumour development
  • Setting international standard for biomarker development in Neurofibromatosis
  • Defining new drug targets in merlin-deficient brain tumours
  • Investigating use of combination therapy through research into brain tumour microenvironment and tumour immunology.

This is vital work, as the only treatments currently available for these brain tumours are invasive surgery and/or radiotherapy.


Our Centre’s research is supported by a range of successful collaborations including with Imperial College and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer centre, and we are part of the International REiNS consortium (Response Evaluation in Neurofibromatosis and Schwannomatosis).


Our research is supported and enabled by our established neurofibromatosis and meningioma biobanks and a developing low-grade glioma biobank, which include matched blood samples.

Our team

The University of Plymouth’s Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence comprises researchers with molecular, cellular, biomedical and clinical expertise.

Meet our team and collaborators


Stepanova DS, Semenova G, Kuo YM, Andrews AJ, Ammoun S, Hanemann CO, Chernoff J (2017) An Essential Role for the Tumor-Suppressor Merlin in Regulating Fatty Acid Synthesis Cancer Res 77, (18) 5026-5038

Provenzano L, Ryan Y, Hilton DA, Lyons-Rimmer J, Dave F, Maze EA, Adams CL, Rigby-Jones R, Ammoun S, Hanemann CO (2017) Cellular prion protein (PrPC) in the development of Merlin-deficient tumours Oncogene 36, (44) 6132-6142

Mindos T, Dun XP, North K, Doddrell RD, Schulz A, Edwards P, Russell J, Gray B, Roberts SL, Shivane A, Mortimer G, Pirie M, Zhang N, Pan D, Morrison H, Parkinson DB (2017) Merlin controls the repair capacity of Schwann cells after injury by regulating Hippo/YAP activity J Cell Biol. 216 (2) 495-510.

Find out more about our published work


An integrated platform for developing brain cancer diagnostic techniques

AiPBAND is a four-year, €3.7 million, pan-European, Horizon 2020, Marie Curie Innovative Training Network led by researchers at the University of Plymouth, designed to train the next generation of researchers in the early diagnosis of brain tumours.

The network comprises nine academic and three non-academic organisations, belonging to five EU member states and six partner organisations, with fields ranging from neuroscience, engineering and big data science to healthcare, clinical trials and economics. The initiative has four key objectives:

  • identify new blood biomarkers for patients with brain tumours
  • design three types of multiplex biosensor - plasmonic-based, graphene-based, and digital ELISA assay-based
  • development of a big data-empowered intelligent data management infrastructure
  • development of cloud-based diagnostic systems.

CAMPAIGN: University of Plymouth Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence

Around 16,000 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with a brain tumour. We're working with Brain Tumour Research to improve research and treatment.

We're one of four universities in the UK working with the charity to improve the treatment and outcomes of brain tumours.

About our campaign

OPINION - Brain tumours under the spotlight of parliament

It has taken persistence to get to the point when underfunding for research into brain tumours is discussed by our politicians. It will take more commitment and energy to drive the momentum forward to a point where we will start to see a difference

Read more from Oliver


Contact us

For general enquiries, please contact Nicola Hillary, Secretary to Chair of Clinical Neurobiology.

Telephone: +441752 437419

Address: R3TA6A, John Bull Building, Plymouth Science Park, Research Way, PL6 8BU.