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Thomas McMahon

DPhil Student

Research Interests 

Mutation plays a key role in driving the formation of tumours from once-healthy tissue. By identifying the specific patterns of mutations associated with cancer we can learn more about the processes which cause them to occur. The mutations which underly cancer are typically identified by studying samples taken directly from the patient tumour. However, most mutations occur prior to tumour formation. These mutations are very rare and hard to identify in samples of healthy tissue. I am working to develop a method with improved sensitivity to detect these mutations and overcome this problem. This could be used to improve early diagnosis of cancer as well as our understanding of earlier stages of cancer development.  


I completed an undergraduate degree (BA) in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge in 2020, specializing within the department of genetics. I stayed to complete a research masters (MPhil) supervised by Professor Julian Parkhill and Dr Lucy Weinert in 2021. During this time I used phylogenetic methods to study the impact of purifying selection upon genetic diversity in bacterial populations and how this might in turn influence evolutionary rate estimates.