Lecturer in Biochemistry

James Larkin

  • I specialise in disease diagnosis and classification, with a particular emphasis on cancer.
  • Co-founder of a company spinning out of the University of Oxford to drive development of my diagnostics technology.
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).


I primarily give tutorials in small groups to first year biochemistry students with topics covering the fundamentals of molecular and cellular biochemistry. Emphasis is given to nucleic acid structure and function, DNA transcription and translation, as well as the understanding of techniques used in genetic analysis and cloning.


My main research focus is on the use of metabolomics for the diagnosis and classification of diseases. Metabolomics is a powerful technique which combines the analysis of biofluid samples, such as urine and blood plasma, by an analytical technique such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) with multivariate statistical modelling techniques. Combined, metabolomics can classify samples into groups which I use for classification of disease states and disease diagnosis.

Using this approach, I have shown that it is possible to separate relapse-remitting and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis patients using a blood test in a way that is much more rapid (only minutes for analysis) than current clinical diagnosis methods (typically up to a year).

More recently, I have shown that I can use the same analysis technology to identify cancer in patients who are presenting at their doctor with nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue. This is an exciting finding that shows the great promise a metabolomics-based diagnostic platform could deliver. I am currently spinning a company out of the University of Oxford to develop this technology further.

Larkin - Intext Photo

I also have an interest in understanding the flow of blood into and around tumours and have published several papers in the field. Tumours need nutrients and oxygen for growth and often have a very abnormal vasculature, grown in a disorganised and ad hoc fashion. I used perfusion and diffusion-based MRI techniques in models of brain metastasis to try and understand how abnormal vasculature gives rise to known tumour pathology, as well as trying to predict tumour locations using non-invasive imaging.

Larkin - Intext Photo

Selected Publications

Larkin JR, Anthony S, Johanssen VA, Yeo T, Sealey M, Yates AG, et al. Metabolomic Biomarkers in Blood Samples Identify Cancers in a Mixed Population of Patients with Nonspecific Symptoms. Clinical Cancer Research. 2022;28(8):1651-1661. https://doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-21-2855

Larkin JR, Dickens AM, Claridge TDW, Bristow C, Andreou K, Anthony DC, et al. Early Diagnosis of Brain Metastases Using a Biofluids-Metabolomics Approach in Mice. Theranostics. 2016;6(12):2161–2169. https://doi.org/10.7150/thno.16538

Larkin JR, Simard MA, Bernardi A de, Johanssen VA, Perez-Balderas F, Sibson NR. Improving Delineation of True Tumor Volume With Multimodal MRI in a Rat Model of Brain Metastasis. International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics. 2020 Apr;106(5):1028–1038. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2019.12.007

Larkin JR, Simard MA, Khrapitchev AA, Meakin JA, Okell TW, Craig M, et al. Quantitative blood flow measurement in rat brain with multiphase arterial spin labelling magnetic resonance imaging. J. Cereb. Blood Flow Metab. 2018 https://doi.org/10.1177/2F0271678X18756218

Dickens AM, Larkin JR, Griffin JL, Cavey A, Matthews L, Turner MR, et al. A type 2 biomarker separates relapsing-remitting from secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Neurology; 2014 Oct;83(17):1492–1499. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000000905

Dr Larkin

The future of disease diagnosis and classification is being driven by advanced biochemical technologies being developed today.