Research projects

Exploring how the p53 mutation helps cancers spread

Dr Tomer Cooks
Project period
Jan 2023 - Dec 2025
Research Institute
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Cancer types
General cancer research
Award amount

Project aim

Dr Tomer Cooks is investigating how cancer cells with the p53 mutation – the most common cancer mutation - ‘educate' neighbouring cells to help tumours spread.

Hope for the future

Cancer is caused by genetic mutations that accumulate over time in the DNA of our cells.  In many cancer types, including pancreatic and colorectal cancers, the most common gene found to have mutated is called p53. Dr Tomer Cooks wants to better understand the role that p53 plays in changing the tumour environment and helping cancers to spread.

Dr Cooks hopes to identify ways to predict which tumours are likely to become life-threatening and reveal potential new targets for cancer treatments.  

Dr Tomer Cooks and his team enjoying a meal out together Dr Tomer Cooks and his team enjoying a meal out together

Meet the scientist

A few fun facts about Dr Cooks:

He was born near Tel-Aviv in 1977.

He is one centimeter short of 2 meters.

He really likes The Smiths.

When he grew up he wanted to be a lawyer.

He really wanted to become a father for a daughter, but ended up with three boys.

The science

Dr Tomer Cooks and his team have previously shown that the p53 mutation enables cancer cells to send messages to normal cells, altering the ‘tumour microenvironment’ to make it easier for cancer cells to thrive. Cancer cells send these messages by packing them up and delivering them in a special tiny parcel called an extracellular vesicle.


Dr Cooks believes that extracellular vesicles play a vital role in cancer development, and he is now planning a variety of experiments to further understand the interactions between p53, the extracellular vesicles and the tumour environment.


Working with colleagues at the Ben-Gurion University of Negev and with partners at the National Cancer Centre Singapore, Dr Cooks will use cutting edge techniques to study the molecular interactions in biological models, animal models and patient samples. By better understanding the mechanisms p53 uses to control cancer development, Dr Cooks hopes to identify new cancer cures.

Dr Tomer Cooks Dr Tomer Cooks
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