Nick Leslie


+44 (0)131 451 8157
Room 2.13
James Nasmyth Building
Heriot-Watt University
Roles and responsibilities

Deputy Head of Institute

IB3 Postgraduate Programme Co-ordinator


Nick's lab studies the changes that occur in normal cells which can eventually result in cancer. In particular Nick and his group have investigated the tumour suppressor protein PTEN and why the loss of PTEN function is a common step in the development of many tumours. Most recently they have been collaborating in the application of new technologies to these problems. In particular they have been using microfluidics to study blood samples from cancer patients and using 3D bioprinting of cancer cells to make better laboratory models of human tumours.

Selected publications

Alvarez-Garcia V, Bartos C, Keraite I, Trivedi U, Brennan PM, Kersaudy-Kerhoas M, Gharbi K, Oikonomidou O and Leslie NR (2018). A simple and robust real-time qPCR method for the detection of PIK3CA mutations. Scientific Reports. 8, 4290 Link

Wise HM, Hermida MA and Leslie NR (2017). Prostate cancer, PI3K, PTEN and prognosis. Clinical Science. 131, p197-210 Link

Gupta A and Leslie NR (2016). Controlling PTEN Stability: a Dominant Role for Lysine 66. J. Biol. Chem. 291, 18465-73 Link

Leslie NR and Longy M (2016). Inherited PTEN mutations and the prediction of phenotype. Sem Cell Dev Biol. 52, p30-38 Link

Tabriz AG, Hermida, MA, Leslie NR and Shu W (2015). Three-dimensional bioprinting of complex cell laden alginate hydrogel structures. Biofabrication, 7, 045012.  [Most downloaded article from the journal during the month after publication] Link

Spinelli L, Black FM, Berg JN, Eickholt BJ and Leslie NR (2015). Functionally distinct groups of inherited PTEN mutations in autism and tumour syndromes. J. Med. Genet. 52, 128-134 Link

Spinelli L, Lindsay Y and Leslie NR (2015). PTEN inhibitors: an evaluation of current compounds. Adv. Biol. Regul. 57, 102-11 Link

Leslie NR and den Hertog J (2014). Mutant PTEN in Cancer: Worse Than Nothing. Cell, 157, p527-9 Link

Leslie NR and Brunton VG (2013). Where is PTEN? Science. 341, p355-6 Link

Berglund, FM, Weerasinghe, NR, Davidson, L, Lim, JC, Eickholt, BJ and Leslie NR (2013). Disruption of epithelial architecture caused by loss of PTEN or by oncogenic mutant p110a/PIK3CA but not by HER2 or mutant AKT1. Oncogene 32, 4417-26 Link

Tibarewal P, Zilidis G, Spinelli L, Schurch N, Maccario H, Gray A, Perera NM, Davidson L, Barton GJ, and Leslie NR (2012). PTEN protein phosphatase activity correlates with control of invasion, gene expression and tumour suppression, but not AKT. Science Signaling, 5, ra18 Link


NRL studied Genetics at Cambridge and Glasgow Universities before research work at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research and the University of Dundee, addressing cellular control mechanisms which are disturbed in many cancers. In particular, Nick has worked extensively on the tumour suppressor protein PTEN, the function of which is disrupted in around a third of all cancers. In 2013, Nick moved his laboratory to Heriot Watt University, where his work continues to develop our understanding of tumour biology and how we can use this better understanding to help us treat cancer. Many of the projects underway in his lab now involve collaborations with engineers and physicists to develop the application of new technologies to cancer research. He has raised >£2M in research funding as lead investigator and his 80+ publications currently accumulate over 400 citations per year.