Fernando Calvo

  • BBTEC. C/ Albert Einstein 22, PCTCAN, 39011 Santander
  • (+34) 942 206799 ext. 111
  • calvof@unican.es
  • Tumour Microenvironment
  • Principal Investigator; Ramon y Cajal Researcher
  • Cancer
  • Department of Cell & Molecular Signalling

Fernando got a BSc in Biochemistry at the Universidad del Pais Vasco (2001). Following a year at AstraZeneca (Manchester, UK), he joined the group of Piero Crespo at CSIC/Universidad de Cantabria (Santander, Spain), where he obtained a PhD studying Ras GTPases in 2008. He then carried out post-doctoral work in London (Erik Sahai) where he studied cancer metastasis and the tumour microenvironment. In 2013 he set up his own group at The Institute of Cancer Research (London, UK). In 2018 he returned to Santander where he leads the Tumour Microenvironment Team at the IBBTEC. Fernando's group uses a wide range of techniques from conventional cell and molecular biology, through in vivo models and analysis of clinical material, to study the role of the tumour microenvironment in cancer progression, dissemination and response to therapy.

Dr Calvo has authored more than 30 peer-reviewed publications in SCI journals, including Nature Cell Biology, Nature Communications, Journal of Cell Biology y Journal of National Cancer Institute. Throughout his career he has been regularly funded by national and international grants, including Worldwide Cancer Research Grant, CRUK Multidiciplinary Award. He has mentored 1 doctoral and 1 master theses and he has been honoured by different national and international research awards. He acts as a reviewer for numerous scientific journals and granting agencies. He has been invited as a speaker to more than 40 meetings, workshops and seminar series in national and international universities and scientific institutions.

​Research interests

  • Non-cancerous cells and matricellular molecules within the tumour, collectively defined as the tumour microenvironment, participate in many hallmarks of cancer. The Tumour Microenvironment Team investigates the multicellular context of solid tumours to understand the molecular mechanisms regulating cancer progression and dissemination. The ultimate goal of these studies is to yield important insights into cancer biology leading to improved strategies for cancer therapy. To achieve this, we collaborate with academics, clinicians and engineers in a multidisciplinary approach, integrating experimental cancer models, murine and patient-derived material, complex in vitro and in silico systems and high throughput genomics and bioinformatics. 
  • Cytoskeletal regulators of cancer dissemination. Our team is interested in understanding why and how cancer cells spread through the body. Using state-of-the-art in vitro approaches and pre-clinical models, we study the reciprocal interactions between invading/metastatic cells and their microenvironment, and the molecular rearrangements that promote efficient metastatic behaviours in cancer cells, with a particular emphasis in the modulation of the cytoskeleton.

  • Mechanisms of stromal reprogramming in cancer. We investigate the environmental cues (chemical or physical) and signals from malignant cells that lead to the emergence of tumour-promoting phenotypes in otherwise normal cells of the tumour microenvironment, with a particular focus in cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF). Using molecular and bioinformatics tools, we examine patterns of gene expression and signal activation in cancer stroma. We then investigate the effect of reciprocal interactions between cancer cells and normal cells in these patterns, their relevance in tumoural processes and strategies to perturb them to deter tumour progression.

  • Characterisation of the role of CAF heterogeneity in tumour progression. We have developed in vitro and in vivo systems to investigate CAF behaviour, their contribution to the hallmarks of cancer (e.g. cancer cell growth, invasion, angiogenesis, immune suppression), and the molecular mechanisms controlling them. However, there is molecular and functional heterogeneity within the CAF population, which has a major impact in tumour evolution and therapeutic response. Our team aims at examining this diversity and its contribution to metastatic dissemination and resistance.  


  • Ramón y Cajal Research Fellowship| Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (RYC-2016-20352) | 2018-2023 | PI: Fernando Calvo.
  • Collaborative Agreement The Institute of Cancer Research - CSIC | The Institute of Cancer Research, UK | 2019-2020 | PI: Fernando Calvo.
  • "Investigating the physical and biological determinants of cancer cell extravasation" | Multidisciplinary Project Award (C57744-A2367) | Cancer Research UK | PIs: Fernando Calvo y Emad Moeendarbary (Imperial College London, UK) | 2017-2021 | This project is being carried out at The Institute of Cancer Research, UK.
  • "Role of Borg proteins in cancer cell invasion and metastasis" | The Institute of Cancer Research, UK | 2014-2018 | PI: Fernando Calvo.
  • "Investigating the role of stromal IGFBP5 in breast cancer progression, dissemination and therapeutic resistance" | The Institute of Cancer Research, UK | 2017-2021 | PI: Fernando Calvo | This project relocated to M Gerlinger's lab (ICR) when F Calvo left the ICR (Jan 2018).
  • "Investigating the role of stromal Dkk3 in breast cancer progression and metastasis" | Worldwide Cancer Research (Ref 15-0273) | 2015-2018 | PI: Fernando Calvo. 
  • "Characterization of breast cancer-associated fibroblasts" | Cancer Research UK Postdoctoral Fellowship | 2010-2013 | PI: Erik Sahai.

María Subijana Fernandez de Larrinoa

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