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, Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham

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

UoB profile

LinkedIn profile


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, Mr Bryan and his collaborators have identified several bladder cancer biomarkers using proteomic, genomic 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. Mr 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. 



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 including the SELENIB clinical trial. 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).  He is also a reviewer for a number of urology and basic science journals, and sits on the committees of the University of Birmingham’s Clinical Trials Oversight Committee (CTOC), Bladder GeCIP of the 100,000 Genomes Project, The Royal Society of Medicine Section of Urology, the charity Action Bladder Cancer UK, the “T2 and Below Subgroup” (TABS) of the NCRI Bladder Cancer Clinical Studies Group and a number of international clinical trials (POUT and CROES NBI TURBT).



Snell KIE, Ward DG, Gordon NS, Goldsmith JC, Sutton AJ, Patel P, James ND, Zeegers MP, Cheng KK, Bryan RT. Exploring the roles of urinary HAI-1, EpCAM & EGFR in bladder cancer prognosis & risk stratification. Oncotarget. 2018 May 18;9(38):25244-25253. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.25397. eCollection 2018 May 18


Dowell AC, Cobby E, Wen K, Devall AJ, During V, Anderson J, James ND, Cheng KK, Zeegers MP, Bryan RT, Taylor GS. Interleukin-17-positive mast cells influence outcomes from BCG for patients with CIS: Data from a comprehensive characterisation of the immune microenvironment of urothelial bladder cancer. PLoS One. 2017 Sep 20;12(9):e0184841. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0184841.eCollection 2017.


Afshar M, Goodfellow H, Jackson-Spence F, Evison F, Parkin J, Bryan RT, Parsons H, James ND, Patel P. Centralisation of radical cystectomies for bladder cancer in England, a decade on from the ‘Improving Outcomes Guidance’: the case for super centralisation. BJU Int. 2018 Feb;121(2):217-224. doi:10.1111/bju.13929. Epub 2017 Jul 10


Bardoli AD, Afshar M, Viney R, Foster M, Porfiri E, Zarkar A, Stevenson R, James ND, Bryan RT, Patel P. The PD-1/PD-L1 axis in the pathogenesis of urothelial bladder cancer and evaluating its potential as a therapeutic target. Future Oncol 2016; 12: 595-600.


D’Costa JJ, Goldsmith JC, Wilson JS, Bryan RT, Ward DG. A Systematic Review of the Diagnostic and Prognostic Value of Urinary Protein Biomarkers in Urothelial Bladder Cancer. Bladder Cancer. 2016 Jul 27;2(3):301-317.


Naito S, Algaba F, Babjuk M, Bryan RT, Sun YH, Valiquette L, de la Rosette J; CROES Narrow Band Imaging Global Study Group. The Clinical Research Office of the Endourological Society (CROES) Multicentre Randomised Trial of Narrow Band Imaging-Assisted Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumour (TURBT) Versus Conventional White Light Imaging-Assisted TURBT in Primary Non-Muscle-invasive Bladder Cancer Patients: Trial Protocol and 1-year Results. Eur Urol. 2016 Sep;70(3):506-15. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2016.03.053. Epub 2016 Apr 23.


Togneri FS, Ward DG, Foster JM, Devall AJ, Wojtowicz P, Alyas S, Ramos Vasques F, Oumie A, James ND, Cheng KK, Zeegers MP, Deshmukh N, O’Sullivan B, Taniere P, Spink KG, McMullan DJ, Griffiths M, Bryan RT. Genomic complexity of urothelial bladder cancer revealed in urinary cfDNA. Eur J Hum Genet 2016 Jan 13. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2015.281.


Ward DG, Baxter L, Gordon N, Ott S, Savage RS, Beggs A, James JD, Lickiss J, Green S, Wallis Y, Wei W, James ND, Zeegers MP, Cheng KK, Mathews GM, Patel P, Griffiths M, Bryan RT. Multiplex PCR and next generation sequencing for the non-invasive detection of bladder cancer. PLoS One 2016; 11: e0149756.


Liu X, Dowell AC, Patel P, Viney RP, Foster MC, Porfiri E, James ND, Bryan RT. Cytokines as effectors and predictors of responses in the treatment of bladder cancer by Bacillus Calmette-Guérin. Future Oncol 2014; 10: 1443-56.


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.