Christopher Marshall (doctor)

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Chris Marshall
Born Christopher John Marshall
19 January 1949
Died 8 August 2015(2015-08-08) (aged 66)
Nationality British
Known for Work on RAS and RHO family of small GTPases
Awards Fellow of the Royal Society
Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences
Member of European Molecular Biology Organisation
Royal Society Buchanan Award
Novartis Medal of the Biochemical Society
Sterling Medal of the University of Pennsylvania
Cancer Research UK Life Time Achievement Award
Scientific career
Fields Cancer
Cell biology
Institutions Cancer Research UK
Institute of Cancer Research

Christopher John Marshall FRS FMedSci (19 January 1949 – 8 August 2015[1]) was a British scientist who worked as director of the Division for Cancer Biology at the Institute of Cancer Research.[2] Marshall was distinguished for research in the field of tumour cell signalling. His track record includes the discovery of the N-Ras oncogene[3] , the identification of farnesylation of Ras proteins,[4] and the discovery that Ras signals through the MAPK/ERK pathway.[5] These findings have led to therapeutic development of inhibitors of Ras farnesylation, MEK and B-Raf.

Early life[edit]

Marshall was born in Birmingham, UK, and educated at the King Henry VIII School, Coventry. He then studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge followed by a DPhil in cell biology at the University of Oxford. His graduate studies were followed by post-doctoral work at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund laboratories at Lincoln’s Inn Fields (now part of the Francis Crick Institute) in London and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.[6]

Oncogene research[edit]

In 1980, Marshall moved to The Institute of Cancer Research in London, and began studies to identify human cancer genes. This work, in collaboration with his colleague Alan Hall, resulted in the identification of NRAS, a new human oncogene.[7] Subsequent work from his laboratory showed that NRAS has important roles in leukaemia and others demonstrated the role of NRAS in melanoma. Following the identification of NRAS, Marshall concentrated on studying how NRAS and the two other RAS genes, HRAS and KRAS, act in cancer. His work in the field of cell signalling showed how RAS and other signalling proteins are involved in transmitting signals from outside of the cell all the way to the cell nucleus.[8] His work laid the foundation for studies that showed the importance of the BRAF cancer gene in melanoma.[9]

At the time of his death,[1] Marshall's laboratory studied the cell signalling mechanisms that allow cancer cells to disseminate through the body. In particular, these studies were focused on signal transduction pathways regulated by Ras and Rho family of small GTPases.[10]

Students and alumni[edit]

Several post-doctoral fellows and graduate students who trained in Professor Marshall’s laboratory have gone on to prestigious positions:

  • Professor Karen Vousden FRS, CRUK Chief Scientist and Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute, London, UK.
  • Professor John Hancock, IBP Chair and Professor, University of Texas Medical School, USA.
  • Professor Alison Lloyd, Professor of Cell Biology, University College London, UK.
  • Professor Richard Marais, Head of Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, UK.
  • Professor Mike Olson, Beatson Institute, Glasgow, UK.
  • Dr Erik Sahai, Group Leader, Francis Crick Institute, London, UK.
  • Dr Victoria Sanz-Moreno, Group Leader, Randall Division of Cell & Molecular Biophysics, King's College, London, UK.
  • Dr Faraz Mardakheh, Group Leader, Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ a b "ICR mourns loss of Research Director Professor Chris Marshall". Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  2. ^ "Chris Marshall". Cancer Research UK.
  3. ^ Hall, A; Marshall, CJ; Spurr, NK; Weiss, RA. "Identification of transforming gene in two human sarcoma cell lines as a new member of the ras gene family located on chromosome 1". Nature. 303: 396–400. doi:10.1038/303396a0. PMID 6304521.
  4. ^ Hancock, JF; Magee, AI; Childs, JE; Marshall, CJ (June 1989). "All ras proteins are polyisoprenylated but only some are palmitoylated". Cell. 57: 1167–1177. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(89)90054-8. PMID 2661017.
  5. ^ Leevers, SJ; Marshall, CJ (February 1992). "Activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase, ERK2, by p21ras oncoprotein". EMBO J. 11: 569–74. PMC 556488. PMID 1371463.
  6. ^ "Chris Marshall, 1949-2015".
  7. ^ "From RAS to RHO: The making of the great cell biologist Alan Hall (1952–2015)".
  8. ^ Marshall, CJ (January 1995). "Specificity of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling: transient versus sustained extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation". Cell. 80: 179–185. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(95)90401-8. PMID 7834738.
  9. ^ "Mutations of the BRAF gene in human cancer". Nature. 417: 949–954. doi:10.1038/nature00766.
  10. ^ "Professor Chris Marshall". Institute of Cancer Research.
  11. ^ "Institute Professor Wins Prestigious Science Award". Institute of Cancer Research. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2009.
  12. ^ "Chris Marshall wins Lifetime Achievement Award". Cancer Research UK.