Dr Justin Sturge


Reader in Biomedical Science

Role at Hull York Medical School

Dr Sturge is involved in translational research investigating the microenvironmental factors that drive cellular and molecular mechanisms of cancer progression and metastasis, including the bio-mechanical changes in human tissue that occur during diabetes and ageing. Key findings from his basic research have resulted in the development of blood tests and imaging agents for the early detection of invasive cancer, and validation for their diagnostic and prognostic accuracy in patients.

Dr Sturge leads two modules on the Biomedical Sciences M.Sc. programme: Research Skills for Biomedical Sciences and Current Topics in Biomedicine and contributes to lectures and assessment on other Level 7 and Level 4-6 modules.

Dr Sturge is a Dignity & Respect Advisor (DARA) who provides impartial support and advice to any employee of the University who wishes to openly discuss, equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) concerns in confidence, and within a safe, supportive, and non-judgemental space.


Dr Sturge is a Reader in The Centre for Biomedicine. Previous roles include: Reader (2016-2022), Senior Lecturer (2012-2016) in Biomedical Sciences, University of Hull; Non-Clinical Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London (2006-2011); Post-Doctorate Research Associate, Institute of Cancer Research (2001-2006), King's College London (1998-2001). PhD, Imperial College London (1998); BSc (Hons) Pharmacology (1992).


Dr Sturge's research is focused on understanding how the cell surface receptor Endo180 contributes to the different stages of cancer. He is now using the latest technologies available to translate this knowledge into better survival rates for patients. His research in this area began by investigating the basic cell biology of Endo180 function as a pro-migratory receptor, followed by its function in more complex in vitro models of human cancer, and most recently the translation of the findings towards diagnostic advances for cancer patients. In particular the discovery that Endo180 behaves as a supressor-to-promoter switch for the invasive behaviour of normal epithelial cells set a precedent for this translational research. This includes development of the first diagnostic test for the accurate measurement of Endo180 levels in patient serum and the first multi-modal bio-imaging probe to monitor the pro-invasive switch in Endo180 in patients using near infra red (NIR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Current research is focussed on the validation and application of Endo180-based diagnostics for the early detection of invasive cancer.

Funded Research Projects:

Differentiating the malignant potential of pancreatic cysts, Professor Anthony Maraveyas (co-PI), Dr Justin Sturge (co-PI)
Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust £299,000 (September 2017 - March 2021)

Gene-editing of MRC2 in prostate cancer cell lines, Dr Daniel Diaz-Garcia (visiting scientist), Justin Sturge (host lab)
Newton Fund Development Award £1,400 (March 2017 - April 2017)

Development of Endo180 protein fragments, Dr Mercedes Rodriguez-Teja (visiting scientist), Justin Sturge (host lab)
British Council £7,000 (March 2016 - April 2016)

ENDOGLOWS: development of a multimodal bioimaging platform for detecting the switch to aggressive prostate cancer, Justin Sturge (PI), Graeme Stusiuk (co-I)
Prostate Cancer UK, S14-017 £100,000 (September 2015 - September 2018)

The role of Endo180 in metastatic bone disease in advanced breast cancer, Justin Sturge (PI), Carlo Palmieri (co-I)
Breast Cancer Campaign (Breast Cancer Now) 2013MaySP021 £20,000 (November 2013 - August 2015)

Chinese Scholarship Council Investigating the biological and clinical implications of Endo180 in breast cancer, Justin Sturge (PI) £96,000 (September 2013 – September 2016)

Investigation of the collagen receptor Endo180 in metastatic bone disease associated with prostate cancer, Justin Sturge (PI), Jonathan Waxman (co-I)
The Rosetree’s Trust, M59 £51,000 (April 2011 - March 2014)

Larp1, EMT and chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer, Sarah Blagden (PI), Justin Sturge (co-I), Sadam Ghaem-Maghami (co-I), Euan Stronach (co-I)
Wellbeing of Women, RG1319 £198,589 (April 2011 - March 2014)

Interaction of circulating tumour cells with vascular endothelium via the C-type lectin receptor Endo180, Justin Sturge (PI), Ana Violetta Fonseca (co-I)
Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia £27,000 (March 2010 - February 2011)

How to prevent the spread of prostate cancer, Justin Sturge (PI), Jonathan Waxman (co-I)
The Rosetree’s Trust, M40 £30,000 (January 2010 - December 2013)

The role of SK1 activity in prostate cancer cell motility, invasion and metastasis, Justin Sturge (joint PI), Dmitry Pshezhetskiy (joint PI), Jonathan Waxman (co-I)
The Prostate Cancer Charity & Milly Apthorp Charitable Trust, 110854 £124,492 (October 2009 - September 2012)

Pro-inflammatory macrophages induce chemoresistance and migration of cancer cells through sphingosine kinase-1 activation, Dmitry Pshezhetskiy (PI), Justin Sturge (co-I), Joao Nunes (co-I)
Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia £48,000 (December 2009 - November 2013)

Upgrade of microscopes and cell imaging suite, Michael Seckl (PI), Justin Sturge (co-I), Charles Coombes (co-I), Eric Lam (co-I), Carlo Palmieri (co-I), Ernesto Yague (co-I), Olivier Pardo (co-I), Dmitry Pshezhetskiy (co-I)
Department of Heath £500,000 (equipment) (December 2008)

Prognostic value and cooperation of collagen degradation pathways in prostate cancer metastasis, Justin Sturge (PI)
Association of International Cancer Research, 08-080 £186,425 (October 2008 – September 2011

)Cooperation between pericellular & intracellular collagen degradation pathways during prostate cancer invasion, Justin Sturge (PI), Marjorie Walker (co-I), Jonathan Waxman (co-I)
The Prostate Cancer Charity, 110719 £154,969 (October 2008, offer declined)

Microscope upgrade for prostate cancer research, Justin Sturge (PI)
Prostate Cancer Research Foundation £12,000 (October 2008)

The role of Endo180 in prostate cancer in bone metastasis, Justin Sturge (PI), Jonathan Waxman (co-I)
Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust (Tony Gallagher & Lord Harris) £175,693 (January 2007 - June 2011)

The role of Endo180 in prostate cancer cell migration and metastasis, Justin Sturge (PI), Jonathan Waxman (co-I)
The Prostate Cancer Charity, 110632 £97,093 (October 2007 - February 2011)


BSc Biomedical Science, MSc Biomedical Science, MSc Cancer Biomedicine

Level 4: Skills for Biomedical & Human Biology Sciences (400479); Human Physiology (400480); Cell Structure & Function (400485)

Level 5: Professional & Research Skills for Biomedical Scientists (500704); Molecular Cell Biology & Histopathology (500708)

Level 6: Cancer Biology (601128); Independent Research Project (601454)

Level 7: Current Topics in Biomedical Science (701043 - Module Coordinator); Research Skills in The Biosciences (701047 - Module Coordinator); Cellular and Molecular Biology of Cancer (701048); Biomedical Sciences Research Project (701042).

MSc Cancer Biology (Imperial College London) - guest lecture on Metastasis

  • Professor Carlo Palmieri - University of Liverpool
  • Dr Mercedes Rodriguez-Teja - UDELAR, Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Dr Graeme Stasiuk - King's College London
Postgraduate research supervision

Dr Sturge welcomes enquiries from potential PhD and MSc (Res) students interested in exploiting the role of Endo180 and/or mechanobiology in chronic disease as a diagnostic and therapeutic target. Projects are particularly focused on the association between ageing and diabetes and the increased risk of invasive cancer.

His team has been the host laboratory for external Masters and Bachelors research project students from the University of Oxford, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Tokyo Medical & Dental University, University of British Columbia and University of Newcastle, as well as hosting postdoctoral fellows from Portugal, Czech Republic, Mexico and India.

Dr Sturge has helped to mentor junior research fellows, PhD students and lecturers since starting his first academic position at Imperial College London.

Completed PhD's:

Julian Hendrik Gronau, The Role of Endo180 in Prostate Cancer Cell Migration and Metastasis, Imperial College London, funded by Prostate Cancer UK (2013)

Kai Wang, Investigating the Biological and Clinical Implications of Soluble Endo180, University of Hull, funded by Chinese Scholarship Council and Breast Cancer Campaign (2017)

Mitchell Clarke, ENDOGLOWS: Development of a Multimodal Bioimaging Platform for Detecting the Switch to Aggressive Prostate Cancer, University of Hull, funded by Prostate Cancer UK (2020)

Completed MRes's:

Susann Bruche, Dual Impact of Altered Extracellular Matrix and Intracellular Signals Generated by S1P/SphK1 and the Collagen Modulating Receptor Endo180 during Cardiac Fibrosis, Imperial College London (2010)

Claudia Breit, The Role of Endo180 in Prostate Cancer Progression, Imperial College London (2010)

Kamil Talar, Stiffness Induced Disruption of Endo180-CD147 Suppressor Complex as a Biophysical Trigger for Invasive Pancreatic Cancer, University of Hull (2017)

George Firth, The Synthesis and Validation of Multimodal PET/Fluorescence Zinc Sensing Probes as Potential Imaging Agents for Prostate Cancer, University of Hull (2017)

Matthew Walker, The Role of Endo180 in Pancreatic Cancer Progression, University of Hull (2021)

External roles
  • Fellowship of The Higher Education Academy
  • Ambassador for British Society of Cell Biology
Honours and awards
  • EDUCATE NORTH Research Team of the Year: Endo180 Cancer Research Team (2016)
  • Fellowship Higher Education Academy (FHEA) (2008)
  • Certificate in Advanced Study for Learning and Teaching (Imperial College, 2008)
  • Honor Fell Travel Awards, British Society for Cell Biology (1999, 2002, 2004)
  • Wellcome and Toulman Prizes for Excellence in Pharmacology (1991) at University of Portsmouth.