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Dr Zoë S Walters BSc (hons), PhD

Lecturer in Translational Epigenomics, Programme Lead for the MSc Genomic Medicine, Children with Cancer UK Fellow

Dr Zoë S Walters's photo

Dr Zoë Walters is a lecturer in translational epigenomics and is also Programme Lead for the MSc Genomic Medicine within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton.

Dr Zoë Walters was appointed Lecturer in Translational Epigenomics within the Faculty of Medicine in 2017. In 2015 Zoë was awarded a Children with Cancer UK Fellowship to study the role of an epigenetic protein, EZH2, in a soft tissue sarcoma known as rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS). Zoë’s research team at Southampton focuses on aberrant epigenetic mechanisms that contribute to the pathogenesis of diseases including cancer. Zoë is also part of the Senior Management Team and is Dissertation Lead for the MSc in Genomic Medicine.

Zoë gained a BSc in Molecular Genetics at the University of Sussex where she also obtained her PhD working on signal transduction mechanisms in the formation of the wing and leg structures in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. From there she went to Cardiff University where she undertook research using the model organism Xenopus to uncover novel genes involved in Wnt signalling that might provide insights into tumorigenesis. Here she discovered a solute carrier involved in embryonic patterning in the frog that is linked to Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) signalling. In 2008, Zoë joined Prof. Janet Shipley’s team at the Institute of Cancer Research where she investigated novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of RMS. 


PhD, Developmental Genetics, University of Sussex  (2006)

BSc (Hons), Molecular Genetics in Biotechnology, University of Sussex (2002)

Appointments held

Dissertation Module Lead, MSc Genomic Medicine, University of Southampton (2017-2018)

Module Lead, MSc Oncology, Institute of Cancer Research (2014-2017)

Research Fellow: Histone Demethylase Target Validation in Cancer  (2012-2014)

Research Fellow: The relationship between PAX3-FKHR and MYCN expression in high-risk childhood rhabdomyosarcomas and potential for therapeutic intervention (2008-2012)

Research Fellow: Isolation of modifiers of Wnt and p53 pathways in Xenopus embryos (2006-2007)

Research interests


Differentiation is the process by which pluripotent (unspecialised) cells stop proliferating and become mature cells with characteristics specific to a particular lineage. Cancer cells are thought to lack the ability to be able to fully differentiation into their mature cell fate and as such remain undifferentiated and continue to proliferate uncontrollably. Epigenetic mechanisms, such as histone methylation, have been shown to control the process of differentiation. These marks and the enzymes that regulate them have been shown to be aberrant in a number of malignancies. My lab is investigating the role of a number of histone modifying enzymes in maintaining the undifferentiated state of paediatric cancers including soft tissue sarcomas. We are interested in how these enzymes can be exploited therapeutically, both as single agents and in combination with other therapies, to force cancer cells to differentiate to a more benign state. 

Rare Disease

Through internal collaborations our team is investigating the potential for using epigenetic and other targeted therapies by a precision medicine approach for the treatment of rare diseases.


Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 (EZH2) as a therapeutic Target in Rhabdomyosarcomas.

Combining epigenetic and differentiation therapy for the treatment of sarcomas and paediatric cancers.

Contribution of heterogeneity of differentiation to treatment resistance.

Research group

Human Development and Health

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Zoë is Programme Lead for the MSc in Genomic Medicine

Dr Zoë S Walters
Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Building 85, Life Sciences Building, Highfield Campus, Southampton, SO171BJ

Room Number: SGH/Duthie DB004/MP808

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