Thomas Helleday's Group

The Helleday group is continuously working towards developing novel targeted therapies out of basic science findings. The multidisciplinary translational research group is focusing on understanding basic DNA repair and DNA-damage signaling pathways as well as nucleotide metabolism and developing novel drugs for anti-cancer treatments, and for treating inflammation/autoimmunity and virus infections.

Thomas Helleday received his Ph.D. from Stockholm University in 1999. He was appointed lecturer at the University of Sheffield in 2000 and started his research groups at the Institute for Cancer Studies at the University of Sheffield (UK), while in parallel keeping a small research group at Stockholm University (Sweden). In January 2007, he was recruited as a professor of cancer therapeutics at the MRC/CRUK Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology at the University of Oxford and maintained a research group at Stockholm University. In 2012, Prof Helleday was appointed to the Torsten and Ragnar Söderberg Jubilee Professorship of Translational Medicine and Chemical Biology at the Science for Life laboratory at the Karolinska Institutet (KI) in Sweden, which since 2018 is hosted by the Department of Oncology-Pathology, KI.

In 2018, Professor Helleday reestablished a laboratory in the UK as founding Director of the Weston Park Cancer Center at the University of Sheffield. Today Prof. Helleday shares his time between KI and Sheffield University.

The Helleday team was the first to describe the sensitivity of homologous recombination defective cancers (HRD, e.g., BRCA mutant) to PARP inhibitors (Helleday 2003 US8859562B2, Bryant et al., 2005 Nature 434, 913-7), exemplifying the synthetic lethal concept for the treatment of cancer. Today, numerous PARP inhibitors are approved for the treatment of HRD ovarian and breast cancers, with pending regulatory approvals for prostate and pancreatic cancer. PARP inhibitors in BRCA mutated cancer showcase the synthetic lethal concept of cancer, a concept that many novel targeted therapies are using.

The Helleday group consists of four teams; Biochemistry and In Vitro pharmacology (Team Leader Dr. Ann-Sofie Jemth), In vivo pharmacology (Team Leader Dr. Kumar Sanjiv), Basic Science (Team Leader Dr. Oliver Mortusewicz) and Medicinal Chemistry (Team Leader Dr. Olov Wallner). The research teams are focused on DNA repair and nucleotide metabolism.

Research teams


The research aims to i) purify and target proteins in DNA repair and metabolism, ii) use probes and genetic tools to increase basic knowledge around target proteins, and iii) translate basic research findings into new treatments tested in the clinic.