Portrait of Dr Simon Allison Dr Simon Allison

View research degree topics that Dr Simon Allison might supervise

s.allison@hud.ac.uk | 01484 471477



My first degree (First class honours) was in Natural Sciences (Biological) at the University of Cambridge specialising in Biochemistry in my final year. After this I decided to embark on a PhD after catching the ‘bug’ for research during a summer research placement in Edinburgh looking at apoptotic cells down the microscope! My PhD (University of Glasgow) focused on the deregulation of RNA polymerase III transcription in cancers and mechanistic studies relating to this. This was followed by my first post-doctoral position at the University of York within the group of Prof Jo Milner during which I identified a novel role for the tumour suppressor p53 in the regulation of global histone modifications.

This was followed by a year’s teaching English as a Foreign Language in a town in Northern Greece before I returned to the UK to resume my scientific career. After further postdoctoral research positions at the Universities of York and Leeds, I began my independent research career at the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics of the University of Bradford after successfully securing my own external independent research funding as a PI.

I joined the University of Huddersfield as a Senior Research Fellow within the Department of Pharmacy in August 2015.

Research and Scholarship

The focus of my research is on improving our understanding of the molecular and cellular biology of cancers with the aim of exploiting fundamental ‘basal' differences that exist between cancer and non-cancer cells for more selective targeting of cancers.

Most currently used anti-cancer agents lack selectivity towards cancer cells and target both rapidly proliferating cancer and non-cancer cells. This leads to unpleasant side effects for the patient but also impacts on drug dosage that can be safely used and effectiveness of treatment. As a result, development of drug resistance and tumour recurrence are major problems. By focusing on the biology of cancers, and exploiting intricate cancer cell molecular dependencies or ‘addictions’ not shared by non-cancer cells, there is an opportunity to develop potent, more selective anti-cancer therapies and improve the selectivity of existing drugs.

Other research interests include the development and utilisation of more physiologically relevant in vitro models for studying cancers as well as patient-derived in vitro models for studying tumor heterogeneity and variability in patient response to drugs. Another area of interest is the further development of novel siRNA/DNA constructs developed as potential experimental and therapeutic tools.

Specific current research interests include:-

  • Exploitation of cancer cell metabolic re-wiring
  • The sirtuins and other NAD+-dependent enzymes
  • Molecular addictions/dependencies of cancer cells
  • Inter- and intra-cellular crosstalk
  • Regulation of epigenetic alterations in cancer cells
  • Elucidation of mechanisms of action of novel anti-cancer agents

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Allison, S., Sadiq, M., Baronou, E., Cooper, P., Dunnill, C., Georgopoulos, N., Latif, A., Shepherd, S., Shnyder, S., Stratford, I., Wheelhouse, R., Willans, C. and Phillips, R. (2017) ‘Preclinical anti-cancer activity and multiple mechanisms of action of a cationic silver complex bearing N-heterocyclic carbene ligandsCancer Letters . ISSN 0304-3835

Basri, A., Lord, R., Allison, S., Rodr�guez-B�rzano, A., Lucas, S., Janeway, F., Shepherd, H., Pask, C., Phillips, R. and McGowan, P. (2017) ‘Bis-Picolinamide ruthenium (III) dihalide complexes: dichloride to diiodide exchange generates single trans isomers with high potency and cancer cell selectivityChemistry - A European Journal . ISSN 0947-6539


Ayuso, J., Virumbrales-Mu�oz, M., Lacueva, A., Lanuza, P., Checa-Chavarria, E., Botella, P., Fern�ndez, E., Doblare, M., Allison, S., Phillips, R., Pardo, J., Fernandez, L. and Ochoa, I. (2016) ‘Development and characterization of a microfluidic model of the tumour microenvironmentScientific Reports , 6, p. 36086. ISSN 2045-2322

Elkashef, S., Allison, S., Sadiq, M., Basheer, H., Ribeiro Morais, G., Loadman, P., Pors, K. and Falconer, R. (2016) ‘Polysialic acid sustains cancer cell survival and migratory capacity in a hypoxic environmentScientific Reports , 6, p. 33026. ISSN 2045-2322

Lord, R., Allison, S., Rafferty, K., Ghandhi, L., Pask, C. and McGowan, P. (2016) ‘Cytotoxic Hydrogen Bridged Ruthenium Quinaldamide Complexes Showing Induced Cancer Cell Death by ApoptosisDalton Trans. . ISSN 1477-9226

Lucas, S., Lord, R., Basri, A., Allison, S., Phillips, R., Blacker, A. and McGowan, P. (2016) ‘Increasing anti-cancer activity with longer tether lengths of group 9 Cp* complexesDalton Transactions (16). ISSN 1477-9226


Kaner, R., Allison, S., Faulkner, A., Phillips, R., Roper, D., Shepherd, S., Simpson, D., Waterfield, N. and Scott, P. (2015) ‘Anticancer metallohelices: nanomolar potency and high selectivityChemical Science . ISSN 2041-6520

Lord, R., Hebden, A., Pask, C., Henderson, I., Allison, S., Shepherd, S., Phillips, R. and McGowan, P. (2015) ‘Hypoxia Sensitive Metal ?-Ketoiminate Complexes Showing Induced Single Strand DNA Breaks and Cancer Cell Death by ApoptosisJournal of Medicinal Chemistry , 58 (12), pp. 4940-4953. ISSN 0022-2623


Allison, S., Knight, J., Granchi, C., Rani, R., Minutolo, F., Milner, J. and Phillips, R. (2014) ‘Identification of LDH-A as a therapeutic target for cancer cell killing via (i) p53/NAD(H)-dependent and (ii) p53 independent pathwaysOncogenesis , 3 (e102), pp. 1-11. ISSN 2157-9024

Allison, S. and Milner, J. (2014) ‘RNA Interference by Single- and Double-stranded siRNA With a DNA Extension Containing a 3? Nuclease-resistant Mini-hairpin StructureMolecular Therapy—Nucleic Acids , 2 (12), p. e141. ISSN 2162-2531

Ahmadi, M., Ahmadihosseini, Z., Allison, S., Begum, S., Rockley, K., Sadiq, M., Chintamaneni, S., Lokwani, R., Hughes, N. and Phillips, R. (2014) ‘Hypoxia modulates the activity of a series of clinically approved tyrosine kinase inhibitorsBritish Journal of Pharmacology , 171 (1), pp. 224-236. ISSN 0007-1188


Knight, J., Allison, S. and Milner, J. (2013) ‘Active regulator of SIRT1 is required for cancer cell survival but not for SIRT1 activityOpen Biology , 3 (11), pp. 130130-130130. ISSN 2046-2441


Shah, Z., Ahmed, S., Ford, J., Allison, S., Knight, J. and Milner, J. (2012) ‘A Deacetylase-Deficient SIRT1 Variant Opposes Full-Length SIRT1 in Regulating Tumor Suppressor p53 and Governs Expression of Cancer-Related GenesMolecular and Cellular Biology , 32 (3), pp. 704-716. ISSN 0270-7306


Milner, J. and Allison, S. (2011) ‘SIRT1, p53 and mitotic chromosomesCell Cycle , 10 (18), pp. 3049-3049. ISSN 1538-4101


Blagosklonny, M., Lynch, C., Shah, Z., Allison, S., Ahmed, S., Ford, J., Warnock, L., Li, H., Serrano, M. and Milner, J. (2010) ‘SIRT1 Undergoes Alternative Splicing in a Novel Auto-Regulatory Loop with p53PLoS ONE , 5 (10), p. e13502. ISSN 1932-6203


Allison, S., Jiang, M. and Milner, J. (2009) ‘Oncogenic viral protein HPV E7 up-regulates the SIRT1 longevity protein in human cervical cancer cellsAging , 1 (3), pp. 316-327.


Ford, J., Ahmed, S., Allison, S., Jiang, M. and Milner, J. (2008) ‘JNK2-dependent regulation of SIRT1 protein stabilityCell Cycle , 7 (19), pp. 3091-3097. ISSN 1538-4101


Allison, S. and Milner, J. (2007) ‘SIRT3 is pro-apoptotic and participates in distinct basal apoptotic pathwaysCell Cycle , 6 (21), pp. 2669-2677. ISSN 1538-4101


Allison, S. and Milner, J. (2004) ‘Remodelling chromatin on a global scale: a novel protective function of p53Carcinogenesis , 25 (9), pp. 1551-1557. ISSN 1460-2180


Allison, S. and Milner, J. (2003) ‘Loss of p53 has site-specific effects on histone H3 modification, including serine 10 phosphorylation important for maintenance of ploidyCancer Research , 63 (20), pp. 6674-6679. ISSN 0008-5472


Johnston, I., Allison, S., Morton, J., Schramm, L., Scott, P. and White, R. (2002) ‘CK2 Forms a Stable Complex with TFIIIB and Activates RNA Polymerase III Transcription in Human CellsMolecular and Cellular Biology , 22 (11), pp. 3757-3768. ISSN 0270-7306,


Sutcliffe, J., Brown, T., Allison, S., Scott, P. and White, R. (2000) ‘Retinoblastoma protein disrupts interactions required for RNA polymerase III transcriptionMolecular and Cellular Biology , 20 (24), pp. 9192-9202. ISSN 0270-7306

Winter, A., Sourvinos, G., Allison, S., Tosh, K., Scott, P., Spandidos, D. and White, R. (2000) ‘RNA polymerase III transcription factor TFIIIC2 is overexpressed in ovarian tumorsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 97 (23), pp. 12619-12624. ISSN 0027-8424


Sutcliffe, J., Cairns, C., McLees, A., Allison, S., Tosh, K. and White, R. (1999) ‘RNA Polymerase III Transcription Factor IIIB Is a Target for Repression by Pocket Proteins p107 and p130Molecular and Cellular Biology , 19 (6), pp. 4255-4261. ISSN 0270-7306

Research Degree Supervision

I am currently co-supervising with other members of academic staff several PhD students within the School of Applied Sciences on various different projects. As well as formal or informal supervision of MSc and PhD students, I have also supervised undergraduate students undertaking research projects and gap/work experience students.

Any fully funded PhD studentships with me will be advertised as they become available (eg. findaphd.com).However, I would also welcome informal enquires from students that are interested in potentially undertaking a PhD with me who have a scholarship or government/industrial sponsorship or other self-funding.

As outlined in the Research section, I have research experience in many different aspects of Cancer Biology and Cancer Pharmacology with particular expertise and interest in opportunities that our detailed molecular and cellular knowledge of cancer biology may provide for the development of novel and more targeted anti-cancer therapeutic agents.

Potential themes for any prospective PhD project are likely to be in one of my areas of active research as outlined in the Research & Scholarship section but may relate to:-

  • Understanding and exploiting cancer cell metabolic re-wiring and the influence of p53
  • The sirtuins and other NAD+ or NADP(H)-dependent enzymes
  • Molecular addictions/dependencies of cancer cells
  • Regulation of epigenetic alterations in cancer cells
  • siRNA/DNA agents as experimental & therapeutic tools
  • Development of more sophisticated and predictive pre-clinical in vitro cancer models
  • Cancer metabolomics
  • Elucidation of mechanisms of action of novel anti-cancer agents


Please email me (s.allison@hud.ac.uk) in the first instance.

Postgraduate research opportunities with Dr Simon Allison



Teaching and Professional Activities

I contribute to undergraduate teaching in both the Pharmacy and Biology departments of the School. This includes Pharmacy and Biology undergraduate research project supervision and assessment (SHB4001 & SHP3003) and lecturing and practicals for SHP3002 (Cancer Pharmacology) & SIB2007 (Medical Pharmacology).