Eccles, Professor Diana M

MB ChB, MD, FRCPDiana Eccles




Clinical genetics (cancer)

Training and education

  • MB ChB (medical degree) - Manchester, 1983
  • General medical training in Manchester and Edinburgh
  • MRCP (member of the Royal College of Physicians) - Edinburgh, 1986
  • Registrar in paediatric oncology and haematology - 1986 to 1987
  • Lecturer in oncology - 1987 to 1988
  • MD - Manchester University, 1992
  • Clinical genetics training in Southampton
  • Specialist accreditation - 1995


Research fellow - Medical Research Council genetics unit, 1989 - 1992


Prof Eccles is a consultant geneticist who joined the Trust in 1995. She trained in general medicine, oncology and clinical genetics. Here at University Hospital Southampton, she provides genetics clinics for cancer patients, and also advises on complex cases both locally and nationally.

She’s the lead clinician for regional specialist services for the genetic conditions von Hippel-Lindau disease and neurofibromatosis type two. She also chairs the Clinical Exome Project, which aims to bring more local patients access to diagnostic genetic testing.

Prof Eccles helps to train oncologists and geneticists to use genetic testing in the treatment of cancer. She’s particularly interested in how a patient’s genes can make them more likely to get breast cancer. She was an expert member of the NICE clinical guidelines on familial breast cancer.

Another interest is interpreting and reporting genetic variants (changes in genes that cause genetic conditions). At the University of Southampton, Prof Eccles teaches master’s degree students, leading a class called ‘Molecular pathology of cancer and application in cancer diagnosis, screening and treatment’. In 2004, the University of Southampton recognised Prof Eccles’ achievements by awarding her a personal chair. She became the head of cancer sciences in the university’s faculty of medicine in 2015.

Key achievements

  • Establishing and developing the new cancer genetics clinical service.
  • Starting an annual family support day for carriers of the BRCA gene and people with Lynch syndrome.
  • Developing an internationally adopted classification framework for reporting genetic variants linked to clinical context.
  • Establishing the importance of cancer pathology in assessing genetic risk and integrating the collection of the relevant data into clinical practice.

Awards and prizes

  • MacElwain prize for outstanding research in oncology - 1992
  • Healthcare Foundation Mid Career Award - 2002-3
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians - 1999


Prof Eccles’ main research interest is in how knowledge of genes that make someone more likely to get breast cancer can improve the treatment of the condition. She’s the chief investigator for a national study of 3000 patients with young-onset breast cancer. The study looks at the impact of genetic background on breast cancer biology and treatment outcomes.

Prof Eccles has research interests in breast cancer treatment, cancer prevention, and genetic epidemiology (the study of how genetic factors influence health and disease in families). She has authored 284 peer reviewed publications and 15 book chapters.  

  • Burn J, Gerdes AM, Macrae F, Mecklin JP, Moeslein G, Olschwang S, Eccles D et al. Long-term effect of aspirin on cancer risk in carriers of hereditary colorectal cancer: an analysis from the CAPP2 randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2011 Dec 17; 378(9809):2081-7.
  • Copson E, Eccles B, Maishman T, Gerty S, Stanton L, Cutress RI, Altman, D.G., Durcan,L., Simmonds, P., Lawrence, G., Jones, L., Bliss, J., and Eccles, D. Prospective Observational Study of Breast Cancer Treatment Outcomes for UK Women Aged 18-40 Years at Diagnosis: The POSH Study. J Natl Cancer Inst May 30th 2013.(online first).
  • Eccles DM, Li N, Handwerker R, Maishman T, Copson ER, Durcan LT, et al. Genetic testing in a cohort of young patients with HER2-amplified breast cancer. Annals of oncology: official journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology / ESMO. 2016;27(3):467-73.
More information on Prof Eccles' research and publications including how to contact her, is available on the University of Southampton website.