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Dr Matthew Rose-Zerilli BSc (Hons), PhD

Senior Research Fellow in Cancer Evolution

Dr Matthew Rose-Zerilli's photo
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Dr Matthew Rose-Zerilli is a Senior Research Fellow within Cancer Sciences at the University of Southampton. As a cancer geneticist, Dr Rose-Zerilli is interested in the evolutionary history of cancer at the single-cell level, as a way to understand the differences in therapeutic response and clinical outcome between patients.

Dr Rose-Zerilli’s Linkedin and ResearchGate profiles.

Career History

2018-present Senior Research Fellow, University of Southampton.
2016-present John Goldman Fellow for Future Science.
2014-present Faculty of Medicine Career Track Fellow, University of Southampton.
2014-2016 KKLF Post-Doctoral Researcher, Cancer Sciences, University of Southampton.
2015-present Honorary Contract WISH Laboratory SCBR,  University Hospital Southampton.
2015-present Honorary Contract Pathology Department, Royal Bournemouth & Christchurch Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
2014-2015 Visiting worker, Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, London.
2011-2014 KKLF Post-Doctoral Researcher, Cancer Sciences, University of Southampton.
2010-2011 CRUK Post-Doctoral Researcher, Cancer Sciences, University of Southampton.
2006-2009 PhD in Respiratory Genetics. Infection, Inflammation and Repair Division, University of Southampton.
2003-2006 Research Assistant, Human Genetics Division, University of Southampton.

Academic qualifications

BSc (Hons) Biochemistry, University of Portsmouth (2002).
PhD Genetics, University of Southampton (2010).

Research interests

My research is focussed in the understanding of both the evolutionary processes driving cancer progression and the multicellular ecosystem of tumour microenvironments. My group is exploiting the power of single-cell analyses to understand more about the evolution of cancer by investigating the interaction between different mutations in individual cancer cells. The accumulation of mutation generates phenotypic variability and natural selection leads to adaptions in cancer cell phenotypes, cooperation with other cancer cells and host cells in the cancer ecosystem to ensure the survival and growth of cancer.

The goal of my research is to identify the key cancer cell populations driving disease progression with the ultimate aim of providing improved clinical prognoses and directing appropriate therapeutic modalities.

We thank the following funders for supporting our current projects:

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Wessex Medical Research

Grants Awarded

Chan Zuckerberg Human Cell Atlas pilot grant (Overall PI: Dr Mario Suva, Centre-PI: Dr Rose-Zerilli)
Southampton CRUK development fund
Leuka John Goldman Fellowship for Future Science
Wessex Innovation Fund
Kay-Kendall Leukaemia Fund (PI: Dr Jonathan Strefford, Co-PI: Dr Rose-Zerilli)
University of Southampton RMC grant (PI: Dr Jay Self, Co-PI: Dr Rose-Zerilli)

PhD Co-supervisor to:

Dr Rob Walker (CSU; Main Supervisor: Prof Tim Underwood)
Miss Noeline Nadarajah (CES; Main Supervisor: Prof Eugene Healy)
Mr Tim Muntslag (Biological Sciences; Main Supervisor: Dr Diego Gomez-Nicola)

PhD research

‘Molecular Basis of Gene-Environment Interactions in the Pathogenesis of Asthma and COPD’. Professors John Holloway and Stephen Holgate, School of Medicine IIR studentship


Cancer Sciences

Affiliate Department(s)

Cancer Sciences

Completed postgraduate student supervision

Miss Jade Forster BSc (Completed 2016)
Mr Lee Brown MSc (Completed 2012)

Faculty of Medicine

Career Track Fellow

National and International responsibilities

Member of the European Research Initiative in CLL (ERIC; and part of the working group on establishing and harmonizing novel mutation technologies in CLL.
Human Cell Atlas participant.

Manuscript review including:

Nature, Human Mutation, BMC Research Notes, Scientific Reports and Cancer Genetics.

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Book Chapter


  • MEDI6227-36428 Quantitative Cell Biology
  • MEDI-MSC-004 MSc Genomic Medicine Lecturer
  • BM5 -Foundations of Medicine Tutor
  • Integrated PhD Cancer Pathway – Induction speaker (Cancer Genomics)
  • MMedSc Journal club
  • ONCSOC members (BM students) – Cancer Genomics seminar
Single-cell profiling of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia to understand cancer intra-tumoural heterogeneity and evolution.
Project overview

We are on the brink of a revolution in the management of cancer, heralded by the promise of targeted treatments. For this to be successful it has to overcome the inherent intra-tumour genetic heterogeneity that we observe in cancer patients. This heterogeneity provides pools of cancer cells with a multitude of genetic characteristics. Clinical intervention, such as treatment will impose a selective pressure and with Darwinian selection, cells with a survival/growth advantage will emerge to re-propagate the tumour. This research aims to study this process in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL), as it represents a model system to determine how best it can be overcome. CLL is ideal because samples are available throughout its protracted natural history, that is defined by evolution from indolent to progressive disease, therapy and relapse. The work will map genetic lesions into single cells, thereby allowing the study of clonal dynamics during the course of cancer.


Dr Matthew Rose-Zerilli (Senior Research Fellow in Cancer Evolution)
Miss Rachel Parker (Research Technician)


CLL Evolution
CLL Evolution diagram
Human Cell Atlas - 'Standardization of Single-Cell and Single-Nucleus RNA-seq Protocols for Tumours' (START).
Project overview

The Human Cell Atlas (HCA) is a global collaboration to map and characterise all cells in a healthy human body: cell types, numbers, locations, relationships, and molecular components. Once complete, it will be a fundamental resource for scientists, allowing them to better understand how healthy cells work, and what goes wrong when disease strikes.

The START project will lay groundwork for the HCA by determining best practices for tissue processing and single-cell profiling for different cancer-affected tissues. We will compare, evaluate and harmonize approaches across differing platforms at seven leading research centres in the US, Canada and Europe. Our project will compare methods for single-cell RNA-seq and single-nuclei RNA-seq, evaluating data reproducibility and will generate benchmark datasets and novel computational approaches.

Dr Rose-Zerilli and his team will work on standardizing sample processing and single cell analysis of oesophageal and breast tissue.


Dr Matthew Rose-Zerilli (Senior Research Fellow in Cancer Evolution)
Miss Rachel Parker (Research Technician)
Dr Jonathan West (Institute for Life Science Research Fellow)
Prof Tim Underwood (Professor of Gastrointestinal Surgery)
Prof Peter Johnson (Professor of Medical Oncology)


HCA Diagram
Dr Matthew Rose-Zerilli
Tel: +44 (0)23 8120 5156
Fax: +44 (0)23 8120 4264

Room Number: SGH/CS/C15/MP824

Telephone:(023) 8120 5163

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