March 2012: All The Way from Memphis – how your support brought Helen to Portsmouth…


A leading US brain tumour specialist is one of a number of key team appointments made to the UK’s first dedicated laboratory-based brain tumour research centre thanks to a further half a million grant from Brain Tumour Research.


In collaboration with member charities: Ali’s DreamCharlie’s Challenge and Headcase, Brain Tumour Research has enabled Professor Helen Fillmore to join the University of Portsmouth’s Cellular and MolecularNeuro-Oncology Group.  The research team will also be expanded by three PhD studentships in the Autumn.


Neuro-oncology scientist, Helen, joins from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Neurosurgery, where she started as a post doctoral fellow.  She was appointed an assistant professor in 1998 and became an associate professor in 2006. 


Principal Research Fellow, Helen, is excited at the opportunity to work with such a dedicated and talented group:  “What really motivated me to come was a shared passion to make a difference to people’s lives.  This, coupled with ‘World Class’ facilities, opens the door further to finding a solution to brain tumours and I am so delighted to be able to be playing a role here at Portsmouth.”


After a brief spell studying sport in her native Tennessee, Helen found her true vocation in brain tumour research (“I picked up a book on the subject one day and then couldn’t stop wanting to know more!”) and took to a ferocious period of learning - with commendable results.


Helen Fillmore has a degree from California State University and a PhD at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Centre for Excellence in Neuroscience. Her achievements include helping establish a brain tumour tissue bank in Virginia which contains over 300 brain tumours, cell lines, DNA and protein samples.  More recently, she has been involved in using a nanotechnology approach to treat brain tumours.


Helen, who has held a variety of affiliations and joint academic appointments including: physiology, biophysics, anatomy, neurobiology, biochemistry, molecular biology and pharmaceutics, shares her colleagues’ drive to find answers to help fight brain tumours. 


Her expertise and input is clearly much valued by the University of Portsmouth’s team leader Professor Geoff Pilkington, who says: “Helen brings us over twenty years’ experience in cancer research, with fifteen of these years dedicated to neuro-oncology research. Ultimately, our collective experience working with patients is what motivates us to invest the time to move our knowledge and understanding forward every single day.  Helen’s commitment and passion are evidenced by the contribution she is already making here and we are all very grateful to Brain Tumour Research, its member charities and supporters for enabling her to be working with us.”

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