Professor Norman Maitland

Professor Norman MaitlandProfessor of Molecular Biology at the University of York and Director of the Yorkshire Cancer Research Unit.

Chair, Orchid’s Scientific Advisory Board.


Norman J Maitland, PhD is a graduate in Biochemistry (University of Glasgow), with a doctorate in Cancer Studies (University of Birmingham). He trained as a Robertson Research Fellow in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and CRC Research Fellow in Genetics (University of Edinburgh).  During this time his research was mainly directed towards the role of DNA tumor viruses in human cancer.  In 1977 he reported the first correction of a gene defect in mammalian cells by direct gene transfer. After appointment as the first UK Lecturer in Molecular Pathology at the University of Bristol (1983-91), to develop nucleic acid technologies in the diagnosis and treatment of human disease, he determined the importance of HPV infection in human oral carcinomas, and was appointed the first Director of the CLIC Children’s Cancer Research Laboratory, which described the role of genomic imprinting in tumor suppression in Wilms Tumor and the importance of gene fusions in tracking clinical disease in pediatric leukemias.

In 1991 he moved to York, to become Yorkshire Cancer Research Professor of Molecular Biology and Director of the YCR Cancer Research Unit.  The laboratory had two main aims: firstly to bring a structural biology approach to the understanding of protein function in oncogenic viruses, culminating in a series of papers which revealed the key role of HPV16 E2 protein-induced chromatin looping in the control of viral oncogene expression.  The second aim, which is now the main focus of the laboratory, was to establish a basic biology research group to understand prostate cancer and hence to develop effective therapeutics. Current research on the basic biology of the prostate, including studies of gene expression control and therapy for human prostate cancer, is based on a stem cell paradigm, which the CRU has now studied for more than 10 years, establishing many of the systems and hypotheses worked on around the world in this field. He is the author of more than 150 refereed papers, numerous academic articles and is a past chair of both the British Prostate Group and the European Society for Urological Research, and was awarded the Chopin prize in 2009 for research excellence in the field of prostate stem cell biology.  He has coordinated and participated in a large number of EU funded research networks, involving both Gene Therapy approaches to cancer treatment, and prostate cancer biology.  In 2002, he founded a biotech company (Pro-Cure Therapeutics), to exploit the translational output of the Cancer Research Unit.  He is the author of more than 40 patent applications including key granted patents for the use of prostate cancer stem cells as therapeutic targets.

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