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PhD Studentship - Artificial intelligence and deep learning approaches for deciphering genome regulation in carcinogenic systems - Dr Shamith Samarajiwa


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).

Artificial intelligence and deep learning approaches for deciphering genome regulation in carcinogenic systems - Dr Shamith Samarajiwa

Cancer is a collection of over 300 different complex diseases where genetic mutations, chromosomal aberrations, epigenomic modifications and interactions with the components of the tumour microenvironment all play a role in carcinogenesis. The Samarajiwa group integratively studies how the perturbations of gene, (epi) genome and chromatin structure regulation contributes to carcinogenic processes. Large multi-dimensional datasets from experimental studies (both functional genomic and cancer genomic data) will form the raw material to develop state-of-the-art hybrid computational biology and artificial intelligence based approaches to understand regulatory rules in pro and anti-carcinogenic processes. In particular, deep learning (and machine learning) approaches will be developed or applied to discover high-level regulatory features in multidimensional data-sets and to improve performance over traditional statistical or computational models. A potential outcome would be to gain an understanding of interacting regulatory layers within complex biomedical datasets with the long term aim of identifying regulatory processes that can be targeted for designing anti-cancer therapeutics. This multidisciplinary project will provide the ideal candidate with the required quantitative skills, an exciting opportunity to build expertise in computational genomics, data science and cancer systems biology.

The successful candidate should have a good first degree in a quantitative field (mathematics, computer science, data science, statistics, engineering or physics) and preferably a masters degree in machine learning, deep learning or computational biology (with machine learning expertise). Knowledge of biology not required.

More information about the research undertaken in the Samarajiwa lab can be found here: www.mrc-cu.cam.ac.uk/research/Shamith-Samarajiwa-folder

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.