Research

Graduate School


Carlos Enrique Balcazar Lopez

Doctoral researcher

+44 (0)20 7911 5000 ext 64401 Carlos.balcazar_lopez@my.westminster.ac.uk University of Westminster 115 New Cavendish St, London W1W 6UW

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Science and Technology | Faculty
Molecular and Applied Biosciences | Department
Against Breast Cancer Research Unit; Cell Communication | Research

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I am a research student at the University of Westminster. In 2010 I completed an MSc degree in Medical Molecular Biology at the University of Westminster (UK) having graduated in a BSc degree in Bacteriology and Clinical Laboratory at the University of Valle in Colombia.

Prior to reading my MSc I worked in a clinical laboratory as a microbiologist, haematologist and clinical biochemist in a general hospital, in an intensive care ward and a renal unit in Colombia. The experience gained coupled with my MSc research has equipped me with advanced knowledge and skills in research laboratory techniques in accordance with good clinical laboratory practice standards. Moreover, I also gained considerable experience in working well with people for the attainment of group objectives, prioritising tasks and efficient resource management.

My diverse roles in the laboratory have involved taking samples from patients, processing experiments and data and reporting results. Due to my academic achievements I was allowed to work unsupervised in the laboratory in the fields of hematology, clinical biochemistry and microbiology. As a part of my post I was involved with projects in public health such as a malaria project and tuberculosis project. At the same time I was working processing samples from patients of the Intensive Care Unit, Renal Unit and Casualty.

My MSc research project involved cloning and expression of genes and hence I have obtained good skills in techniques such as designing primers, DNA extraction from microbial pellets, PCR, gel electrophoresis, transformation, culturing of microbial cells, media and reagent preparation etc.

During my undergraduate and postgraduate years I have followed extensive practical sessions in Biochemistry, Chemistry, Molecular Biology and Microbiology.

Breast cancer progression and phytoestrogen interactions with estrogen receptor C. Balcazar, P. Greenwell, M. Dwek Against Breast Cancer Research Unit, University of Westminster, London, UK Breast cancer is a multi-factorial disease and it is difficult to predict or control the physiopathology, to date one of the major risk factors alongside the patient’s genetic background is life time exposure to estrogen. Understanding the estrogen receptor (ER) has been a milestone in elucidating breast cancer biology, leading to advances in breast cancer management.

Alongside this, evidence from epidemiological studies suggests that dietary consumption of phytoestrogen may modulate disease progression. This study hypothesises that the interaction between some phytoestrogen (present in pre-diagnosis diet or in the new diet adopted by breast cancer patients) and specific ER isoforms displayed in breast tumours influences the action of synthetic and endogenous estrogen in breast cancer cells.

In turn, estrogens modulate pathways in which ERs play an activating role for example in cellular proliferation, in this context; several genetic variants (such as single nucleotide polymorphisms, SNPs) may play a functional role in the progression of breast cancer in different patient populations. This study aims to understand the interaction and influence of estrogen and phytoestrogens in breast cancer cells and if this affects the disease outcome in terms of patient prognosis. The work will use computer and laboratory models to establish how estrogen-like chemicals in foods interact with ER.

An additional study of SNPs of these receptors will allow a comparison between the role of SNPs and prognosis in a UK breast cancer patient population. Data from the study will provide a better understanding of the ERs (both homo- and hetero-dimers) in breast cancer and its role as a transcription factor in breast cancer cell proliferation and molecular interaction with other estrogenic agents.

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