Christina Fotopoulou

Christina Fotopoulou


A researcher at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre, Dr Christina Fotopoulou is also a surgeon and oncologist specialising in advanced gynecological cancers. Originally from Greece, she trained in Germany and now lives in West London with her husband and son. Here she tells us more about her work.

A typical day is…

Divided between surgery/clinic days and research days. Surgery is never far from my mind and I find it difficult not to worry about my patients when I’m in the lab. That said it is very important to invest in research and innovation when you’re dealing with such a challenging disease. I want to make sure my techniques are at the forefront of ovarian cancer treatment, and that I contribute to the better understanding of how ovarian cancer evolves and develops.

When I’m in the lab…

Sadly ovarian cancer is known for its high recurrence and often, when it comes back, it becomes resistant to treatment. My research is focused on fixing these two problems. I’m particularly interested in the heterogeneity of a tumour – that is, how each tumour behaves and responds differently – and the treatment challenges this poses.

One of my main projects is on surgical and bioengineering. In this project, I take samples during surgery, not only from the main cancer site, but from all around the abdominal cavity and circulating cancer cells. The laboratory then analyses the biology of tumours from different sites. The purpose of this is to try and discover any patterns, which could help us develop a theory why the disease recurs so frequently compared to other cancers.

We have partnered with the Imperial College Bioengineering Department and developed biosensors to aid us. These biosensors measure cellular information and allow us to compare tumorous cells with healthy cells. This is leading to a better understanding of how the disease mutates and spreads.

Initial data suggests that this information will help to predict surgical outcomes and we hope to develop the biosensors even further, so they can be used during surgery to determine the best course of action for each individual patient.

My most memorable work moments are…

Seeing my patients smile. There’s nothing more rewarding than telling a patient their operation went well and that I was able to remove all of their tumour.

The worst part of my job is…

Not being a magician. I long for the day when I can completely cure all of my patients.

The best part of my job is…

Working in an environment with amazing women, colleagues and students. It’s incredibly inspiring to be able to work with such smart and aspirational people.