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Aled Clayton

Professor Aled Clayton

Director of Research

School of Medicine

+44 29225 10589
Tenovus Building, Room GF16, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN
Welsh speaking
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am part of the Tissue Microenvironment Group, School of Medicine, Cardiff University which is a collection of diverse and international researchers with a multidisciplinary approach to science.

My own specialist insterst involves studies of cell-derived vesicles. This is now a rapidly growing and exciting area of biology, but we have been able to establish some expertiese in this field since the early 2000's. The group has published well over 90 papers, most in relation to vesicles, and their roles in subverting immune responses, in controlling the cancer microenvironment and as potential disease biomarkers.

I am interested in understanding the mechanisms by which vesicle biogenesis and secretion is controlled, and the impact such vesicles have on the development and progression of cancer; particularly focussing on prostate cancer. Developing tools and assays to quantify nano-vesicles in biological fluid specimens is also an important aspect of the group's activities.

Although my main focus is in cancer biology, I collaborate broadly with researchers in Cardiff including those in the schools of dentistry, engineering  and optometry, and interact with other Universities, on aspects including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases and other conditions that impact our society in significant ways.
































We are interested in understanding how cells produce small fat-bubbles (vesicles), and why they seem to do this so extensively. Our studies focus on the role of such bubbles in changing the immediate surroundings of the cancer tissue. it seems these bubbles (often called exosomes) can interfere with the correct function of immune cells, they can encourage formation of blood vessels, and can hijack other neighbouring cells to behave abnormally- all of these effects assist the growth and ultimate spread of the tumour.

We can also detect vesicles in the urine and blood of cancer patients, and we are working hard on developing new methods to isolate exosomes from biological fluids, and to use these as means of discovering new indicators of disease. This work involves making new tools with engineers at Cardiff, to sort vesicles in order to improve our ability to detect vesicles in body fluids. We have examined the complex array of protein molecules on the vesicles, and are beginning to also look at RNA-molecules, which hide inside the bubble. To do this, we have partnerships within Cardiff University, including the Wales Gene Park, The Wales Cancer Bank and the Wales Cancer Research Centre. We also have strong links to Swansea Univerity for undertaking some of these studies.

Together, these studies will provide much needed information about how the cancer cells can dominate and take-over their microenvironments. Learning how to block these effects is likely to be very useful therapeutically. Pperhaps we can also use the presence of exosomes in urine/blood as future tests to support diagnoses and monitoring of cancer.

We are particularly pleased to be involved in a European union Consortium, entitled ProEVLifeCycle, which focuses on the role of vesicles in prostate cancer, and details of this can be found here:, Here we will train the next generation of vesicle researchers and bring new know-how, technologies and ideas from across Europe to bear on prostate cancer.

Funding sources

  • The European Commission 
  • Cancer Research Wales
  • Prostate Cancer UK
  • Dunhill Medical Trust
  • Tenovus 
  • British Lung Foundation
  • Dunhill Medical Trust
  • Tenovus Cancer Care
  • CRUK
  • Welcome Trust ISSF


Like many research-focussed academics, I also contrubute to the undergraduate and postgraduate teaching activities of the College of  Biological Life Sciences , and the School of Medicine.

These include, amongst others:-

Intercalated BSc and Pharmacology degrees, School of Medicine:

  • Contributions towards developing, running and marking laboratory-based research projects.
  • Assesments of student research presentations and dissertations.

Molecular Biology of Cancer, School of medicine:

  • Plenary, EV in cancer biology, an introduction covering topics including the nature and diversity of EV, history of EV discovery, functions of EV in immune modulation, angiogenesis, stroma activation, metastatic dissemination.

College of Biomedical Life Science


  • Tutotials and assessor for selected literature Review Projects, and occasional laboratory methods based tutorials/demonstrations etc.


Career overview

  • Professor (August 2017- present), Division of Cancer & Genetics, Cardiff University
  • Snr Lecturer (08/2013-07/2017), Division of Cancer & Genetics, Cardiff University
  • Lecturer; (08/2004 to 07/2013), School of Medicine, Cardiff University
  • Research Fellow (01/1999 to 07/2004) School of Medicine, Cardiff University
  • Research Fellow, (10/1996 to 12/1998) School of Medicine, Cardiff University

Education & qualifications

  • 1997: PhD (Medicine), Institute of Nephrology, University of Wales College of Medicine.
  • 1998: Diploma in Biomedical methods, University of Wales College of Medicine.
  • 1993: BSc (Hons) Biochemistry,  University of Wales College Cardiff

Honours and awards

  • Visiting Professor for the Finish Government inFlames Programme at the university of Turku

Professional memberships

  • Founding Member of the International Society for Extracellular vesicles (ISEV)
  • Founding Member and trustee of the United kingdom Extracellular Vesicles Society

Committees and reviewing

External Committees

  • 2017: Science Committee & Membership Committee, United Kingdom EV Society
  • 2017: Organising Committee. Royal Society Discussion Meeting; EV's in the Tumour Microenvironment (published reports)
  • 2015-2017: NCRI Clinical Studies Group - Molecular Biomarkers Advisory Group
  • 2015- United Kingdom Extracellular vesicle Forum, annual conference organiser and co-organiser 2014, 2016 ongoing.
  • 2016- International Society for Extracellular vesicles, Annual Conference Local Organising Committee, Rotterdam
  • 2016-2017- Organising Committee, Royal Society Discussion Meeting, EV in the Cancer Microenvironment, London 2017.

PhD Examiner

  • 2023. PhD Opponent, Helsinki University.
  • 2023. Internal Examiner, PhD, Div. Cancer & Genetics, Cardiff
  • 2022. PhD Oponent, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • 2021. Examination PhD Oxford University.
  • 2021. Internal Examiner, PhD Cardif for BIOSCI
  • 2019. PhD Oponent, Gothenburg University.
  • 2018. Examination Chair, Cardiff PhD
  • 2017. External Examiner, PhD St Andrews.
  • 2017. Internal Examiner, PhD, Cardiff.
  • 2016. Examination Chair, Cardiff M.D.
  • 2016. External Examiner, PhD Leicester University
  • 2015. Second Opponent, PhD Oslo, Norway
  • 2014. External Examiner, PhD Oxford Brookes
  • 2013. Internal Examiner, PhD, Cardiff



The team are very interested in persuing studies related to

  • nano-vesicle measurements/analytics
  • vesicle-mediated intercellular comunication including drug-delivery applications
  • vesicles in basic cancer biology that may include immunological functions, and roles in modulating cancer associated fibroblasts
  • the utility of vesicles as cancer markers (particularly in prostate cancer).

PhD Supervisor:

  • Miss. Mariama Mbengue, co-supervised with Dr. Jason Webber & Prof. Rachel Errington

Undertaking an investigation of intracellular factors controlling secretion of vesicle subsets, and the consequence of attenuating some of these on vesicle-mediated intercellular communication.

  • Miss. Jasmine Owen, co-supervised with Dr. Helen Pearson (ECSCRI, BIOSCI)

Undertaking an investigation of stromal cells in Prostate Cancer

  • Mr. Keran Hodson, co-supervised with Dr. Toby Phesse (ECSCRI, BIOSCI)

Investigating contributions of vesicles to Wnt-signalling in cancer.