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The University of Southampton
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Dr Helen Parker PhD, BSc Biochemistry (Hons)

Senior Researcher in Cancer Genomics

Dr Helen Parker's photo

Dr Helen Parker is a Senior Research Fellow, within Cancer Sciences at the University of Southampton. Dr Parker is a molecular biologist, whose research focuses on advancing our understanding of cancer biology and providing mechanistic insights that are enhancing risk stratification, prognosis, and the treatment of haematological malignancies.

Dr Parker graduated from the University of Southampton with a degree in Biochemistry in 2001, then joined the University’s Leukaemia Research Fund Cytogenetics Group as a research assistant. Whilst working within the group, Dr Parker completed a PhD in the genetic profiling of haematological malignancies, then began her post-Doctoral career working with Professor Jon Strefford, to establish the Cancer Genomics group. Fourteen years later, Dr Parker is the Senior Research Scientist for the group. Focussing on B-cell malignancies, including CLL and SMZL, Dr Parker employs a plethora of genomic approaches to dissect the human genome and its epigenetic regulation. Through biomarker discovery and validation, and enhancing our understanding of the molecular mechanisms and pathways dysregulated in malignancy, the Cancer Genomics group aims to transform the management of cancer patients by improving diagnosis, risk stratification and the development of targeted treatments.


BSc (Hons) Biochemistry, University of Southampton (2002).

PhD Genomics, University of Southampton (2008).

Appointments held

2020-present. Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Cancer Genomics Group, University of Southampton.

2008-2019. Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Cancer Genomics Group, University of Southampton.

2002-2008. Research technician, LRF Cytogenetics group, University of Southampton.

Research interests

Previous PhD research

Thesis Title: ‘Genetic profiling of haematological malignancies’

PhD Supervisors: Professors Christine Harrison and Graham Packham.

Funding Agency: Leukaemia Research Fund.

Research projects

Dr Parker’s research focusses on the application of a range of methodologies, approaches, and techniques to the study of (epi)genomic defects in B-cell malignancies, including Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) and Splenic Marginal Zone Lymphoma (SMZL). Genomic alterations can have utility as biomarkers, by providing guidance on the most appropriate treatment regime, and identifying those patients likely to develop progressive disease, or those that might exhibit limited response to treatment.

As part of the international CRUK ECRIN_M3 programme, Dr Parker is contributing to the development of unique resources and innovative tools to advance our understanding of immune dysregulation, and the molecular and cellular mechanisms and pathways involved in the progression and malignant transformation of pre-malignant MZL-like MBL to SMZL. The ultimate objective is to improve early diagnosis, risk stratification, and prevention of malignant transformation, disease progress and death.

Specific projects that Dr Parker leads or contributes to include:

1.    Methylation profiling and mutational screening in SMZL patients.

2.    The analysis of chromatin organisation, chromatin modifications and the transcriptome in SMZL.

3.    Telomere erosion as a prognostic indicator in SMZL.

4.    Whole-genome sequencing of SMZL patients to identify non-coding mutations.

Genome complexity in UK CLL clinical trial patients.

Research group

Cancer Sciences

Member of the Cancer Sciences Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.

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Book Chapters


• Integrated PhD programme: induction speaker
• MEDI6234 MSc Genomics Guided Treatment: workshop leader
• MEDI-MSC-004 Genomic Medicine: dissertation supervisor
• BM4: Personal Academic Tutor
• Supervision of PhD students

Dr Helen Parker
Faculty of Medicine, Room AB215, Mailpoint 801, South Academic Block, University Hospital Southampton, Tremona Road, Southampton, SO16 6YD

Room Number : SGH/CSB/MP824

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