University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


PhD Studentship: The p53 and p53 family involvement in Cancer

A 4-year PhD studentship is available from October 2018 under the supervision of Gerry Melino with an annual stipend of £15,000 (tax free)

The Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit, is an internationally renowned institution focussed on the delivery of field-changing mechanistic insights into toxicology and disease.

The Unit is part of the University of Cambridge; it is currently located in Leicester and will be relocating to Cambridge in early 2020. Candidates will therefore be undertaking the first part of their PhD at the Unit's current premises in Leicester. The Unit is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and provides a supportive learning environment designed to meet the scientific and transferable skills required for an internationally competitive career.

Students will be registered with the University of Cambridge for the duration of the studentship. Successful applicants will enjoy membership of a University of Cambridge College from commencement of their PhD in October 2018, but will initially have only limited access to College facilities due to the location of the Unit.


Cancer formation is the result of several alterations in the proteins that control the response to environmental stress, including DNA Damage Agents, as well as genes that control cell survival, cell proliferation or cell death. A crucial role here is exerted by p53, that, conversely, is mutated in over half of all human tumours. In the last decade two homologues of p53 have been identified: p63, involved in epithelial development, and p73, involved in toxicity, cancer and neurodegeneration. While p53 has been extensively studied over the last 32 years, p73 biology is still lagging behind despite lying at the crossroads between differentiation, cell cycle control and cell death. The project aims to understand the mechanisms of p53, mutated p53 and p73 regulation during normal conditions and upon insults and to define how these transcription factors influence gene expression, epigenetic landscape and the outcome and severity of cellular and organismal response to insults.

This project represents an ideal opportunity to learn a range of state-of-the-art techniques including, basic cell biology, molecular biology and bioinformatics tools to dissect the in vitro and in vivo mechanisms of cancer development.

There are a variety of training modules and courses which students are encouraged to attend. In addition, students follow the Toxicology Unit's weekly external and internal seminar programs and are included in the postdoc/student forums which take place each month and offers excellent opportunities for collaboration and career development.

Funding Notes

Candidates must expect to obtain qualifications at the level of a first-class or 2.1 Honours Degree in a biological science or related discipline and to fully satisfy the residence requirements of the UK Research Councils.

A fees-only award will be available to EU nationals who are not ordinarily resident in the UK. Students who are liable for fees at the 'overseas' rate are not eligible for these studentships.

To be eligible for a full award (stipend and university fees) a student must have:

  • Settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay
    Been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for three years prior to the start of the studentship. - This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences)
  • Not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education (this does not apply to UK or EU nationals)

This advert will remain open until 30th April 2018 or until a suitable candidate is found.

Applications must be made via the University's online Applicant Portal:

Fixed-term: 4 years.

If you have any queries regarding the application process please contact Rebecca Heatherley on

Please quote reference PU15031 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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