Dr Rik Bryan

Rik Bryan.Cancer Research Birmingham Univesity Head shots day 2.

Dr Rik Bryan is a former clinical urologist and now a full-time research academic with a strong interest in bladder cancer. In particular he is focused on defining the immune microenvironment of bladder tumours, and in understanding and improving BCG immunotherapy approaches that are currently used to treat the disease.

Senior Research Fellow, School of Cancer Sciences, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham. 

Email: r.t.bryan@bham.ac.uk

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Background and Research focus

Mr Bryan is a former clinical urologist and now full-time research academic with a broad bladder cancer interest, from optical technologies, surgical techniques and chemoprevention trials to biomarker discovery, cadherin biology, and molecular pathways.

In particular, his research encompasses three streams of interest which include urinary biomarkers, narrow band imaging cystoscopy and BCG immunotherapy. Bladder cancers are diagnosed and followed-up using a combination of cystoscopic examination, cytology and histology. These are not only invasive and expensive, but also highly subjective investigations that reveal limited molecular insights into bladder cancer biology.  With this in mind, Dr Bryan and his collaborators have identified several bladder cancer biomarkers using proteomic and epigenomic approaches, and are currently investigating their effectiveness in diagnosing and predicting recurrence and progression.  The treatment options for bladder cancer largely depend on how advanced the tumour is and its grade of aggressiveness. A common approach after surgery is to treat patients’ bladders with a variant of the BCG vaccine to prevent recurrence of bladder cancer. However, it is unclear how the BCG vaccine works. Dr Bryan in collaboration with Dr Graham Taylor is interested in understanding the responses to BCG therapy with the aim of improving the intravesical BCG approaches currently used to treat bladder cancer.

Accompanying this research is a comprehensive molecular evaluation of the immunological milieu of the bladder tumour microenvironment.  He is also investigating the use of narrow band imaging cytoscopy in bladder tumour resection and subsequent disease surveillance. This technique is an important recent development within urology that has shown considerable promise in enhancing detection and thus reducing recurrence and progression of bladder tumors by improving the completeness of bladder tumour resection and improving the sensitivity of surveillance.


Urology; bladder cancer; BCG immunotherapy; narrow band imaging cytoscopy; tumour immunology; urinary biomarkers; cadherin switching.

Other activities

Rik is the Chief Investigator of the Bladder Cancer Prognosis Programme (BCPP), which has recruited over 1500 bladder cancer patients since its launch in 2005.  The BCPP has established one of the world’s largest bladder cancer biospecimen collections providing a unique resource for a wide array of bladder cancer studies. In addition to his research, Rik has made substantial contributions to organization and teaching on various taught programmes at the University of Birmingham. In particular, he leads the “Cancers of the Urogenital Tract – Background, Controversies, and Future Directions” module on the MBChB course (Year 2) as well as the “Clinical Challenges” module on the new MSc in Translational Medicine. He is also a reviewer for a number of urology and basic science journals, and sits on the committees of The Royal Society of Medicine Section of Urology, Action on Bladder Cancer, the “T2 and Below” subgroup of the NCRI Bladder Cancer Clinical Studies Group and a number of international clinical trials.


Bryan RT, Kirby R, O’Brien T, Mostafid H. So Much Cost, Such Little Progress. Eur Urol. 2014 Feb 22. pii: S0302-2838(14)00160-2.

Bryan RT, Shimwell NJ, Wei W, Devall AJ, Pirrie SJ, James ND, Zeegers MP, Cheng KK, Martin A, Ward DG. Urinary EpCAM in urothelial bladder cancer patients: characterisation and evaluation of biomarker potential. Br J Cancer. 2014 Feb 4;110(3):679-85.

Shimwell NJ, Bryan RT, Wei W, James ND, Cheng KK, Zeegers MP, Johnson PJ, Martin A, Ward DG. Combined proteome and transcriptome analyses for the discovery of urinary biomarkers for urothelial carcinoma. Br J Cancer. 2013 May 14;108(9):1854-61.

Bryan RT, Zeegers MP, van Roekel EH, Bird D, Grant MR, Dunn JA, Bathers S, Iqbal G, Khan HS, Collins SI, Howman A, Deshmukh NS, James ND, Cheng KK, Wallace DM. A comparison of patient and tumour characteristics in two UK bladder cancer cohorts separated by 20 years. BJU Int. 2013 Jul;112(2):169-75.

Patel P, Bryan RT, Wallace DM. Emerging endoscopic and photodynamic techniques for bladder cancer detection and surveillance. Scientific World Journal. 2011;11:2550-8.

Bryan RT, Wei W, Shimwell NJ, Collins SI, Hussain SA, Billingham LJ, Murray PG, Deshmukh N, James ND, Wallace DM, Johnson PJ, Zeegers MP, Cheng KK, Martin A, Ward DG. Assessment of high-throughput high-resolution MALDI-TOF-MS of urinary peptides for the detection of muscle-invasive bladder cancer. Proteomics Clin Appl. 2011 Oct;5(9-10):493-503.

Bryan RT, Tselepis C. Cadherin switching and bladder cancer. J Urol. 2010 Aug;184(2):423-31.

Bryan RT, Atherfold PA, Yeo Y, Jones LJ, Harrison RF, Wallace DM, Jankowski JA. Cadherin switching dictates the biology of transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder: ex vivo and in vitro studies. J Pathol. 2008 Jun;215(2):184-94.

Bryan RT, Billingham LJ, Wallace DM. Narrow-band imaging flexible cystoscopy  in the detection of recurrent urothelial cancer of the bladder. BJU Int. 2008 Mar;101(6):702-5; discussion 705-6. Epub 2007 Nov 13

Bryan RT, Hussain SA, James ND, Jankowski JA, Wallace DM. Molecular pathways in bladder cancer: part 2. BJU Int. 2005 Mar;95(4):491-6

Bryan RT, Hussain SA, James ND, Jankowski JA, Wallace DM. Molecular pathways in bladder cancer: part 1. BJU Int. 2005 Mar;95(4):485-90.