Chair of the EANS Section of Neuro-oncology
Dr Watts’s research group aims to improve the treatment and survival of patients with Glioblastoma (GB) by understanding the molecular genetic heterogeneity of individual tumours and using that data to develop a novel molecular stratification of GB suitable for application in clinical trial design.
Dr Watts qualified from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and trained in neurosurgery in Cambridge and London where he completed his specialist training in 2004. His research training was supported by the MRC first as a Clinical Fellow, gaining his doctorate from the University of Cambridge in 1999, and subsequently as a Clinician Scientist. In 2010 he was awarded a HEFCE Clinical Senior Lecturer position at the University of Cambridge.
As a practising neurosurgeon Dr Watts has established a dedicated neurosurgical-oncology research clinic, which is closely integrated with his lab. His group has established protocols for the efficient derivation of tumour-initiating stem-like cells from fresh GBM samples and utilized them to develop patient-specific xenogeneic models. He has adapted fluorescent surgery to develop Fluorescence-Guided Multiple Sampling (FGMS), which allows spatially discrete tissue samples to be taken from individual patients. This is providing novel insights into the impact of surgical sampling bias on our understanding of the complex genomic landscape of GBM, its clonal architecture and phylogeny at the level of the individual patient.
His clinical research seeks to couple fluorescence-guided cytoreduction with locally delivered therapies. He is chief investigator in the GALA-5 trial, which aims to identify clinical benefit from combining fluorescence with intra-operative chemotherapy. Dr Watts’ clinical practice specialises in surgical neurooncology, with a particular interest in intrinsic gliomas and cerebral metastases.