Dr Colby Eaton, BSc, PhD
Senior Lecturer, Department of Human Metabolism,
University of Sheffield
Dr Eaton graduated with a BSc in Anatomy and Experimental Pathology from the University of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland in 1978. He subsequently studied at the Tenovus Institute for Cancer Research inCardiffand completed a PhD at the University of Wales, College of Medicine in 1984.
Dr Eaton undertook postdoctoral studies at the Tenovus Institute until his appointment as lecturer in the Department of Surgery, University of Sheffield in 1994. In 1998, he moved to the Department of Human Metabolism and Clinical Biochemistry, University of Sheffield and later joined Prof Freddie Hamdy in the Department of Academic Urology in 2000. He became a Senior Lecturer in 2004 and moved to the Academic Unit of Bone Biology in 2008.
Throughout his research career, Dr Eaton’s research has centred on prostate cancer. He has developed a number of novel in vitro and in vivo model systems to study the regulation of growth and survival of prostatic cancer cells and their cellular interactions with other cell populations. His recent interests are focused on defining the populations of prostatic cancer cells that act as the ‘seed’ for the initiation of bone metastases and identifying the mechanisms by which these cells survive and proliferate in the bone microenvironment. In particular his studies using human prostate cancer models have recently shown that even in cell lines that proliferate rapidly in vitro, the cells that arrive and initially take up residency in bone, when cells are injected into experimental animals, are mitotically dormant and remain so for extended periods. Only a small subset of these cells eventually form proliferating lesions. This is an important observation suggesting that the imperative for tumour cells is to survive in new environments and not necessarily to proliferate. Current studies are focused on the mechanisms controlling dormancy and on strategies to kill dormant tumour cells.
Dr Eaton’s research is currently funded by Cancer Research UK (CRUK): Programme grant: ‘Defining the metastatic niche’ and he has recent received extensive funding from the EU (FP6) on several programmes that have established collaborative networks across the EU (PRIMA, PROMET, P-Mark). In particular he has strong collaborations with the University of Leiden (Dr Gabri van der Pluijm) and the University of Bern (Dr Marco Cecchini).