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Andrew Hollins   BSc (Hons), PhD

Dr Andrew Hollins


BSc (Hons), PhD

Research Development Officer


As a Research Development Officer I support research development with the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences (CBLS). I work within the Research Development team, which is part of Research and Innovation Services (RIS). I support the academic community in enhancing and increasing both research capacity and research income for the College and for the University.

Previously I worked with the Cardiff University School of Biosciences the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutics as a Research Associate (between 2001 and 2019).

My most recent research focused on the generation of 3-D organoid culture models. Where I developed 3-D models from cancer patients to investigating tumour biology. We were developing these models to screen cancer treatments and to replace old cell models.

My research interests were in the generation of novel patient disease relevant culture platforms. These interests came from my earlier research work which was on:

  • primary cell isolation and culture.
  • directed stem cell differentiation in 3-D systems.
  • pharmaceutical drug delivery system biology.
















I am a former researcher who specialised in the generation and utility of 3-dimensional (3-D) organoid culture platforms for the study of tumour biology. Specifically, I worked on the development of 3-D model systems aimed at faithfully reflecting populations of cancer patients, both in terms of genetic heterogeneity and cellular composition. These models are intended to facilitate the drug testing / selection / identification of cancer treatments and to replace 2-D cell lines in the longer term.

My most recent research interests and activities were in the areas of:

  • Breast organoid platform development - characterizing patient derived 3-D organoid cultures.
  • Colorectal organoid platform - characterizing patient derived 3-D organoid cultures.
  • Lung organoid platform - characterizing patient derived organoid cultures.
  • Exploring the utility of colorectal organoids in drug screening in order to assess their future as part of a novel stratified medicine paradigm.

My interests were in 3-D primary cell culture systems, and the generation of patient disease relevant culture platforms. This interest was developed during prior experience working with 2-D primary cell isolation systems over a range of tissues; with directed stem cell differentiation in 3-D; and with pharmaceutical drug delivery system biology.


  • Taught as part of the Biomedical Sciences ‘Skills for Science’ – question setting, followed by presentation review and marking (2017-2018).
  • Delivered sessions as part of Yr1 School of Medicine PCS Function Different Tissues Small Group Tutorials (2014).
  • Lectured on “Embryonic development and development of the eye” (a module on Ocular Anatomy and Physiology) for the School of Optometry undergraduate degree scheme (2007- 2008).
  • Lectured on “Cell and Organ Culture” within the PhD techniques lecture series run within the School of Optometry & Vision Sciences (2007).


My PhD was on “The role of caveolin in alveolar cell differentiation and embryogenesis” from the Welsh School of Pharmacy (Cardiff University) under the supervision of Prof. Mark Gumbleton. A large part of my doctoral thesis work was developing a primary human lung epithelial culture model for drug trafficking assays, during my time with the group I began my research career (2001). In 2002 I joined the Centre for Genome-based Therapeutics for four years working upon the design and delivery of antisense nucleic acid therapeutics, particularly against targets relevant to cancer and diabetes most notably generating and testing novel anti-EGFR complexes.

In 2006 I stepped across to the field of Neuroscience working first in the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences (Cardiff University; Prof. Marcela Vortuba, 2006-2008), and subsequently two positions within the School of Biosciences in the Neuroscience division on projects exploring the potential for the generation of neural cells from the directed differentiation of neurospheres suitable for replacement therapy in neurodegenerative disease (working with a team led by Prof. Nick Allen, Prof. Anne Rosser and Prof. Stephen Dunnett, 2008-2012). The latter provided an understanding of stem cell biology and culture.

Before I joined the laboratory of Prof Trevor Dale (my final research position with the School of Biosciences), I was with the Cancer Research UK Centre Cardiff having initially worked on a related project titled "Developing stem-cell containing organoids for pre-clinical studies of colorectal cancer therapeutics” funded by the Cardiff Experimental Cancer Medicines Centre (ECMC) for the previous two years. These were a set of projects where I was able to fuse much of my prior knowledge to refine a colorectal organoid platform, and begin generating a lung organoid program.

Honours and awards

  • Seedcorn award; School of Biosciences, Cardiff University (2018).
  • Poster prize; European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute Symposium (2016).
  • Travel prize to attend the joint American Society of Neural Therapy and Repair (ASNTR) and International Neural Therapy and Repair (INTR) conference, Florida, USA (2011).

Professional memberships

  • scientitific lead Lung Cancer Wales Cancer Partnership Multi-Disciplinary Research Group (2017-2019)
  • co-chair, School of Biosciences Research Staff Group (2019)
  • member, School of Biosciences Athena Swan committee (2018)
  • member, Cardiff institute for Tissue Engineering and Repair (2016-2019)

Additionally, during different phases of my research career, I was also a member of the following organisations:

  • British Neuroscience Association (BNA).
  • Forum of European Neuroscience (FENS).
  • European Association for Vision in Eye Research (EVER).
  • American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, USA (AAPS).
  • US National Post-doctoral association (USNPDA).
  • Cardiff University Biomedical and Life Sciences Graduate School Management Committee.
  • School of Biosciences representative on the Research Committee of the Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering and Repair (CITER).

Academic positions

2018 – 2019: Research Associate School of Biosciences, Cardiff University. Working within an Innovate UK funded Biomedical Catalyst project titled "Patient-derived breast cancer organoids to transform drug discovery screening assays". A project based exploring the development of methodologies for the long term and scaled culture of breast cancer organoids.

2014 - 2018: Research Associate Cancer Research UK Cardiff Centre, based within the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University. Project based around the development of methodologies and platforms designed to permit stratified approaches to improve drug selection/identification in cancer treatment.

2012 - 2014: Researcher. Cardiff Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre, School of Medicine, Cardiff University. Project – development of 3D cultures as potential cancer models for therapeutic screens.

2008 - 2012: Research Associate School of Biosciences, Cardiff University. Project: “Development of a platform to generate clinical grade neural progenitors for transplantation in Huntington’s disease”. Initial Project: “Stem Cells for Therapeutics and Exploration of Mechanisms in Monogenic Diseases”.

2006 - 2008: Post-Doctoral Scholar. School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University. RoFAR funded Project: “Exploring the role of Erythropoetin and other neuroprotective agents in rodent models of autosomal dominant optic atrophy”.

2002 - 2006: Post-Doctoral Scholar. Centre for Genome-based Therapeutics, Cardiff University (3 appointments). Projects funded by Cancer Research UK, and the British Heart Foundation. Involving nucleic acid therapeutic design and delivery systems.

2001 - 2002: Post-Doctoral Scholar. Drug delivery, Welsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University. BBSRC funded project: “Investigation of the potential role of caveolae in uptake of nanoparticulate gene delivery systems”.

Committees and reviewing

  • Editor, School of Biosciences Research Staff Group blog.
  • Journal reviwer for the Journal of Drug Targeting; and for Pharmaceutical Research.