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The University of Southampton

Professor Diana Eccles MB ChB, MD, FRCP

Dean of Medicine, Professor of Cancer Genetics

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Professor Diana Eccles is Dean of Medicine and is also Professor of Cancer Genetics at the University of Southampton.

Professor Eccles has been Chair of Cancer Genetics since 2004. She graduated from Manchester University on 1983 and has trained in Manchester, Edinburgh and Southampton. After training in general medicine, then specialist training in adult oncology she worked on the molecular genetics of ovarian cancer in the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh to gain her MD in 1992. She then moved to Southampton to a research post in Genetic Epidemiology simultaneously training in Clinical Genetics and when appointed to a consultant post in Southampton in 1995 she set up one of the first NHS funded Cancer Genetics Services in the UK within the Wessex Clinical Genetics Service.

Professor Eccles is the Chief Investigator for a large national cohort study (the Prospective study of Outcomes in Sporadic versus Hereditary breast cancer). This study has recruited over 3000 women with breast cancer diagnosed before 41 years of age and provides material for studies investigating the role of inherited genetic mutation in breast cancer risk and prognosis. She is PI for a number of other clinical studies that broadly aim to improve diagnosis or management of genetic predisposition to cancer and incorporates cancer prevention studies.

Professor Eccles is part of Cancer Sciences which incorporates the Southampton Cancer Research UK Centre, the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit and links closely through our clinical academics to Cancer Care at UHS ( She continues to work as an NHS consultant in clinical cancer genetics which encompasses diagnosis and management of many different genetic conditions that predispose to tumour development in families.


MB ChB, Medicine and Surgery, Manchester University (1983)
MRCP, Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh (1986)
MD, Molecular Genetics of Ovarian Cancer, Manchester University (1992)

Appointments held

Lecturer in Medical Oncology 1986-1989

Clinical Research Fellow in MRC Human Genetics Unit Edinburgh 1989-1992

Clinical Research Fellow in Cancer Genetics Epidemiology Research Group and Honorary Senior Registrar in Clinical Genetics, Southampton 1992-1994

Consultant in Clinical Genetics (Cancer specialization) and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Cancer Genetics, Southampton 1995-2004

Professor of Cancer Genetics and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Genetics, Southampton 2004-present

Director of University of Southampton Clinical Trials Unit December 2009-2014

Head of Cancer Sciences 2015-2018

Research interests

Prospective study of Outcomes in Sporadic versus Hereditary breast cancer (acronym POSH). This National Cancer Research Network Portfolio study has recruited over 3000 women diagnosed with breast cancer at very young ages (before 41 years. Breast cancer diagnosed at these young ages comprises less than 10% of all breast cancers. Young age at diagnosis is associated with a lower chance of survival and this group is also enriched patients who carry genetic factors that predispose to breast cancer. Comprehensive clinical data and DNA samples for most recruits are available. Flagging in the national Medical Research Information Service database means that the patients taking part in the study can be tracked for twenty years following diagnosis. Mean and median follow up of the cohort is approaching 5 years and a variety of early outcome studies are now being completed including

The effect of high risk genes on survival: this project is exploring whether breast cancer caused by the high risk predisposition genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 respond differently to conventional treatments.

The effect of common genetic variants on breast cancer diagnosis and survival is being explored in a series of international collaborative experiments linking in closely with the bioinformatics research group.

Exploring the validity of available prognostic predictors in younger women with breast cancer as a project within the MSc Clinical Trials and Statistics course in Southampton.

In addition, linking in with researchers in qualitative medicine in Health Sciences, a Research for Patient Benefit project (funded by the NIHR) will use the POSH patient cohort and experience of the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer in this age group to explore and improve approaches to information giving at diagnosis. A Decision Aid aimed specifically at younger women will be developed and piloted in preparation for a future randomised trial of its use.

Tumour tissue is being collected for all the cases and in collaboration with QMUL tissue micro arrays (TMAs) are assembled. Pathology and breast cancer radiological images are captured electronically using software developed in house by the Clinical Research Informatics Research Unit.

One of the most potent cancer predisposition syndromes known is the Li Fraumeni syndrome. This is caused by an inherited mutation in the very important gene TP53. An inherited fault in this gene greatly increases the risk of cancers but particularly early onset breast cancer. A new study (COPE) is aiming to determine the type and timing of the key molecular events in breast cancers arising in patients with a germline TP53 mutation.


Cancer Sciences

Affiliate Department(s)

Cancer Sciences Research group

Postgraduate student supervision


1995-1998 Wendy Sotheran MD
2000-2004 Mohammed Al-Dahmesh PhD
2004-2008 Ellen Copson PhD
2006-2010 Victoria Hammond PhD
2008-2013 Ioannis Politopoulos PhD
2009-2014 Rosie Upstill-Goddard PhD


2012-present Kate Packwood
2015-present Hayley McKenzie

University of Southampton

Present         Dean of Faculty of Medicine

2015-2018     Head of Cancer Sciences

2012-2014     Chair of the Faculty of Medicine Athena Swan Silver Self-Assessment Team

National and International responsibilities

2016-ongoing   Cancer Research UK Clinical Careers Committee
2014-ongoing   UK Genetic Testing Network – Genetic Test Evaluation Working Group
2015-ongoing   Genomics England Hereditary Cancer Genomics Clinical Interpretation Partnership
2015-2016         Research Council of Norway Scientific Advisory Board for Centres of Excellence Awards
2014-ongoing   Member of the Advisory Board Astra Zeneca PARP inhibitor trials
2012-ongoing   Member of the BCC Tissue Bank Tissue Access Committee (TAC)
2014-ongoing   Member of the NCRI Colorectal Clinical Studies Group
2014-ongoing   Member of the UK Cancer Prevention Studies Group
2012-2015         Academic Vice President of the Clinical Genetics Society
2011-2013         National Institute for Clinical Excellence Guideline Development Group responsible for developing the revised Management of Familial Breast Cancer Guideline CG164
2011-2015         MRC Clinical Research Training Fellows Scientific Review Board (Member)
2010-2014         Member of National Cancer Research Institute Breast Cancer Studies Group
2011-2014         Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Scientific Advisory Board (Member)
2009-2014         Associate Editor of the Journal of Medical Genetics




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Professor Eccles delivers the Cancer Genetics lecture in Semester 4 for the BM5 students and acts as personal tutor to undergraduate medical students as they progress through the course.

Professor Eccles’ main teaching commitment is to training at specialist and F2 level in Clinical Genetics, she is the Wessex Regional Specialist Advisor for Genetics Foundation year 2 lead tutor for Clinical Genetics. Nationally she is the Academic Vice President of the Clinical Genetics Society and a member of the RCP Specialist Advisory Committee for Clinical Genetics. She also advises on genetic education in the Oncology trainees curriculum and is involved in training for oncology registrars in the Wessex Region.

As an expert in Cancer genetics, Professor Eccles is a regular faculty member at a variety of national and international educational fora including the European Society for Medical Oncology conference, European School of Oncology, the European School of Human Genetics and the Anglo-Indian Genetics Collaboration.

Professor Diana Eccles
Phone: (023) 8120 8537 Fax: (023) 8120 4346 Email:

Room Number: SGH/SAB/

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