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Dr Karthic Swaminathan

Lecturer in Skin Sciences

Faculty/Dept/School School of Chemistry and Bioscience
(Faculty of Life Sciences)
Telephone +441274 234174


Dr Swaminathan graduated with a Bachelor in Biochemistry in 2004 (University of Madras, India) and with a dual degree in master’s in biotechnology and a Post Graduate Diploma in Bioinformatics (2006) from Bharathidasan University, India. After completing his master’s education, he obtained International Graduate School Scholarship (IGSDHD) to pursue PhD studies at University of Cologne and received his PhD from Institute of Biochemistry (2013, Cologne, Germany) on the role of coronin actin binding proteins in cell migration. His research during his PhD studies have identified a novel role of coronin proteins in cell migration through modulation of GTPase signalling and myosin II dynamics (Swaminathan et al, PNAS 2014, Swaminathan et al, Sci Rep 2016).     

He then received a Cancer Research UK (CRUK) postdoctoral fellowship to continue his research on understanding cell migration during organismal development and cancer metastasis at Beatson Institute of Cancer Research (CRUK), Glasgow. He has uncovered several cytoskeletal signalling pathways required for efficient colonization of melanocyte during embryonic development and demonstrated how these signalling pathways are altered during the development of melanoma (Swaminathan et al JID, 2021, Papalazarou et al Development 2020, Woodham et al Curr Biol 2017, Reid et al, EMBO J 2017).  

In 2020, Dr Swaminathan joined as a Lecturer at the Centre for Skin Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences at University of Bradford. He has won research awards from Wellcome Trust, Royal Society, and British Skin Foundation.  


Cancer Metastasis and Genomics Group (CMG) 

The overarching goal of his research group at UoB is to understand how cancer cells spread (metastasis) and identify novel translatable pathways/targets to treat metastatic disease.  

Nearly 90% of cancer related deaths is due to metastasis. Cancer metastasis is defined as a process in which cancer cells spread to distant tissues and organs generating tumours away from the original site. The complex metastatic process relies on cancer cells penetrating the surrounding tissue, gaining access to circulatory system, and seeding and growth in distant organs.     

The group focuses on elucidating molecular mechanisms underpinning cancer metastatic process within the context of three broad research themes:  

Theme 1: Sugars, Cell Adhesion, and Migration 
Altered cell attachment (adhesion) to the Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM), which is a meshwork of proteins that holds the cells in place, is a hallmark of cancer cells. We investigate how addition of sugars to signalling proteins (process known as sialylation) influences cancer cell behaviour such as their attachment to ECM, invasion, and migration.   

Theme 2: Epigenetics of Stem Cell Biology and Cancer
Epigenetic programs are crucial to maintain the homeostasis of embryonic and adult stem cells. Our previous work has demonstrated that a healthy epigenetic program is required for embryonic development and to maintain lineage specific transcriptional output during adult stem cell homeostasis. Altered epigenetic signalling and associated transcriptional programs are commonly observed during cancer metastasis.  We investigate the epigenetic programs required for stem cell homeostasis (development and adult stem cells) and aim to understand how cancer cells leverage these epigenetic programs during metastatic progression.     

Theme 3: Microbiome and Metastasis 
Recent emerging evidence has highlighted the importance and diversity of microbiome within the tumour microenvironment. These tumours bound microbiome were demonstrated to influence tumour progression and treatment outcomes. We investigate the molecular mechanism underpinning the interplay (communication) between microbiome and tumour cells impacting tumour invasion and metastasis.  
We use an integrated approach combining biochemical, molecular biology, and cell culture methods with state-of-the-art genomics techniques to unravel the mechanisms of cancer metastasis.

Professional activities

  • 01-JAN-13: University of cologne - PhD
  • 01-JAN-08: Bharathidasan University - Master of Philosophy
  • 01-JAN-06: Bharathidasan University - Master of Science
  • 01-JAN-05: Bharathidasan University - Post Graduate Diploma
  • 01-JAN-04: University of Madras - Bachelor of Science

  • 05-DEC-19: University of Bradford - Lecturer in Skin Sciences
  • 01-APR-14: Cancer Research UK (BICR, Glasgow) - Postdoctoral Researcher

  • 01-JUN-19: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Member
  • 01-JAN-20: The European Association of Cancer Research (EACR), Member
  • British Society of Cell Biology (BSCB), Member

  • 01-JAN-23: BBSRC Peer Review ,
  • 01-JAN-23: UKRI FLF Peer Review,

  • 01-JAN-10: International Graduate School Scholarship (IGS-DHD))
  • 01-JAN-19: Wellcome Trust ISSF Award

  • Module Lead BIS5012-B


TitleThe RAC1 target NCKAP1 plays a crucial role in progression of BRAF/PTEN -driven melanoma in mice. (2020)
AuthorsSwaminathan K;Campbell A;Papalazarou V;Jaber-Hijazi F;Nixon C;McGhee E;Strathdee D;Sansom OJ;Machesky LM;
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
TitleThe WAVE Regulatory Complex Is Required to Balance Protrusion and Adhesion in Migration. (2020)
AuthorsWhitelaw JA;Swaminathan K;Kage F;Machesky LM;
TitleThe Arp2/3 complex is critical for colonisation of the mouse skin by melanoblasts. (2020)
AuthorsPapalazarou V;Swaminathan K;Jaber-Hijazi F;Spence H;Lahmann I;Nixon C;Salmeron-Sanchez M;Arnold HH;Rottner K;Machesky LM;
JournalDevelopment - Company of Biologists
TitleWASP Restricts Active Rac to Maintain Cells' Front-Rear Polarization. (2019)
AuthorsAmato C;Thomason PA;Davidson AJ;Swaminathan K;Ismail S;Machesky LM;Insall RH;
JournalCurrent Biology : Cb
TitleCoordination by Cdc42 of Actin, Contractility, and Adhesion for Melanoblast Movement in Mouse Skin. (2017)
AuthorsWoodham EF;Paul NR;Tyrrell B;Spence HJ;Swaminathan K;Scribner MR;Giampazolias E;Hedley A;Clark W;Kage F;Marston DJ;Hahn KM;Tait SW;Larue L;Brakebusch CH;Insall RH;Machesky LM;
JournalCurrent Biology : Cb
TitleTumor matrix stiffness promotes metastatic cancer cell interaction with the endothelium (2017)
AuthorsReid, SE; Kay, EJ; Neilson, LJ; Henze, AT; Serneels, J; McGhee, EJ; Dhayade, S; Nixon, C; Mackey, JB; Santi, A; Swaminathan, Karthic; Athineos, D; Papalazarou, V; Patella, F; Roman-Fernandez, A; ElMaghloob, Y; Hernandez-Fernaud, JR; Adams, RH; Ismail, S; Bryant, DM; Salmeron-Sanchez, M; Machesky, LM; Carlin, LM; Blyth, K; Mazzone, M; Zanivan, S
JournalEMBO Journal
TitleNovel Coronin7 interactions with Cdc42 and N-WASP regulate actin organization and Golgi morphology. (2016)
AuthorsBhattacharya K;Swaminathan K;Peche VS;Clemen CS;Knyphausen P;Lammers M;Noegel AA;Rastetter RH;
JournalScientific Reports
TitleCoronin7 regulates WASP and SCAR through CRIB mediated interaction with Rac proteins (2015)
AuthorsSwaminathan, Karthic; Stumpf, M; Mueller, R; Horn, AC; Schmidbauer, J; Eichinger, L; Mueller Taubenberger, A; Faix, J; Noegel, AA
JournalScientific Reports
TitleA Cdc42- and Rac-interactive binding (CRIB) domain mediates functions of coronin. (2014)
AuthorsSwaminathan K;Müller-Taubenberger A;Faix J;Rivero F;Noegel AA;
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
TitleThe Dictyostelium discoideum RACK1 orthologue has roles in growth and development. (2014)
AuthorsOmosigho NN;Swaminathan K;Plomann M;Müller-Taubenberger A;Noegel AA;Riyahi TY;
JournalCell Communication And Signaling : Ccs
TitleThe cytohesin paralog Sec7 of Dictyostelium discoideum is required for phagocytosis and cell motility. (2013)
AuthorsMüller R;Herr C;Sukumaran SK;Omosigho NN;Plomann M;Riyahi TY;Stumpf M;Swaminathan K;Tsangarides M;Yiannakou K;Blau-Wasser R;Gallinger C;Schleicher M;Kolanus W;Noegel AA;
JournalCell Communication And Signaling : Ccs
TitleMutations in LMNA modulate the lamin A--Nesprin-2 interaction and cause LINC complex alterations. (2013)
AuthorsYang L;Munck M;Swaminathan K;Kapinos LE;Noegel AA;Neumann S;
JournalPLoS ONE