Alex Websdale


I am a second year PhD student researching the effects of the tumour microenvironment (TME) in the context of oxysterols on the development of chemotherapy resistance in cancer. I graduated from the University of Aberdeen with an integrated Masters in Biochemistry, which included a year abroad working at EMBL Rome. My experiences from labs both past and present have allowed me to learn and develop skills in immunohistology, cell culture and genomics-based techniques alongside a well-rounded biological knowledge. Outside of the lab, I enjoy travelling, playing guitar, listening to music and sports.

Research interests

My PhD project focuses on the role in non-tumour cells of the TME in the induction of chemotherapy resistance in cancer cells through the oxysterol-Liver X Receptor (LXR) axis. The hypothesis is that non-tumour cells, such as macrophages, adipocytes and fibroblasts, are capable of producing and secreting oxysterols that activate LXR in cancer cells. Activation of LXR then leads to the expression of chemotherapy drug efflux pumps. My project primarily utilises two methods to test this hypothesis; immunohistochemistry on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded breast tumours and cell culture-based experiments. Through immunohistochemistry, I will examine correlations between enzymes involved in the production and modification of oxysterols and chemotherapy pumps under the transcriptional regulation of LXR. Additionally, localisation of oxysterol producing and modifying enzymes will be examined to determine the cell types responsible for oxysterol production. Cell culture will be used to co-culture non-cancer cells of the TME with cancer cells in 3D spheroid cultures to analyse the effect of non-cancer cells on LXR activation through oxysterols.


  • Biochemistry with Industrial Placement, MSci, University of Aberdeen