University of Cambridge

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PhD Studentship - Computational models of channel dysregulation in oesophageal carcinogenesis - Dr Ben Hall/Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald


The Medical Research Council Cancer Unit at the University of Cambridge is a leading centre for cancer research in the UK. Our aim is to undertake research that advances our understanding of the earliest steps in the emergence of cancer, and to use this knowledge for early diagnosis, risk stratification and clinical intervention, through the development of innovative enabling technologies. The Unit is based within the Hutchison/MRC Research Centre on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, and possesses excellent research facilities, strong collaborations with clinicians and colleagues in other disciplines, and a vibrant and supportive working environment.

We have a number of PhD opportunities for entry in October, 2018 (see related advertisements). The following fully funded studentship is available to eligible candidates (see Eligibility and Funding section for details).

Computational models of channel dysregulation in oesophageal carcinogenesis - Dr Ben Hall and Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald

This is an opportunity for someone interested in working in a dynamic collaborative environment across computational biology and molecular biology of cancer evolution. The project would involve developing and applying machine learning models for ion dysregulation in respect to oesophageal cancer based on primary patient data. These predictions can then be tested in in-vitro model systems.

Ion channels play a major role in the development and control of cellular behaviour. They constitute a third of all genes in the human genome, and represent half of known drug targets. They have a further role in the control of the cancer phenotype and the progression of the disease. This has been observed in a variety of systems, but is of particular importance in upper gastro-intestinal cancers where there is a long established role for the effects of acid reflux and more recent data identifying potential ion channel tumour suppressors. This project would initially use machine learning-based approaches to understand how ion channels change in cancer progression, before focusing in on the behaviour individual proteins using either experimental or theoretical approaches. The ideal candidate should be able to demonstrate a good level of computer proficiency, and interest/experience in working with biological problems. Direct experience of working with large datasets would also be an advantage.

More information about the research undertaken in the Hall lab and by Rebecca Fitzgerald can be found here: www.mrc-cu.cam.ac.uk/research/benjamin-hall-folder and www.mrc-cu.cam.ac.uk/research/rebecca-fitzgerald

Eligibility and Funding: We welcome applications from those holding, or expecting to obtain at least an upper second class degree (or equivalent) in a relevant scientific subject. These studentships are funded by the Medical Research Council and are open to UK and EU applicants only. Other international students are not eligible to apply. UK applicants will be eligible to receive full funding of University and College fees and a stipend of £18,000 p.a. EU applicants will be funded on a fees-only basis, unless they meet the MRC's eligibility criteria (visit the MRC website for further details: www.mrc.ac.uk/skills-careers/studentships/studentship-guidance/student-eligibility-requirements/). Successful applicants will be registered with the University of Cambridge.

How to apply: All applications will need to be made through the University Application Portal and will entail an application fee of £50. Please visit: www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/cvcupdmsc/apply for further information about the programme and to access the Applicant Portal.

You are allowed to apply for more than one project as part of the same online application. Whilst making your application please make it clear which project area(s) and principal investigator(s) you are interested in working with. Your online application will need to include:

  • A CV, including full details of all University course grades to date.

  • Contact details for two academic or professional referees.

  • A personal statement outlining your interest in a specific project area, what you hope to achieve from a PhD, and your research experience to date.

The above information must be provided under relevant sections on the application portal.

Further notes on completing the 'Research' section on the application portal

  • In the 'Research Title' textbox, if you are applying for one project only, insert the project title. If you wish to apply for more than one project, insert 'Cancer Research'.

  • If you are applying for more than one project, in the 'Research Summary' textbox, please insert the project titles you wish to apply for.

  • In the 'Research Supervisor' textbox, please insert the initials of the Supervisor(s) you wish to consider your application.

  • Please also describe your research experience in the appropriate textbox.

The closing date for applications is 30th November 2017, with interviews expected to take place in December.

Please contact studentships@mrc-cu.cam.ac.uk with any other enquiries concerning studentships or eligibility criteria.