University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


Cancer Research UK 4 year PhD Studentships (or 1 year MPhil + 3 year PhD)

Cancer Research UK 4 year PhD Studentships (or 1 year MPhil + 3 year PhD), commencing October 2020

Two PhD studentships are available which are funded through the £4.3 million CRUK Catalyst Award: "CanGene-CanVar ( Data Resources, Clinical and Educational Tools to leverage Cancer Susceptibility Genetics for Prevention and Early Detection of Cancer", which runs 2019-2024. This large programme, based at the University of Cambridge, is designed to deliver research and resources that will improve how we deliver national NHS testing for cancer susceptibility genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2 and genes for Lynch Syndrome. This is a collaborative program of work that involves seven Higher Education Institutes (Cambridge, Institute of Cancer Research, Southampton, Manchester, Leeds, Oxford and St George's University London) as well as Public Health England (Health Data Insight) and senior members of NHS England and Health Education England. The successful applicants will work within a large collaborative team of scientists, clinicians and patients. There will also be opportunities to partner with other national and international collaborators who are working on partner projects.

Components of the overall programme span from (i) complex linkage of routinely collected national datasets to inform research insights to (ii) de novo research including development of novel machine learning methodologies, through to (iii) delivery and practical implementation within clinical and laboratory services in the NHS set of tools, resources and guidelines.

The PhD studentships will be hosted at the Centre for Cancer Genetic Epidemiology (, Department of Public Health and Primary Care (, University of Cambridge, under the joint supervision of Professors Antonis Antoniou and Paul Pharoah, and will work closely with Dr Marc Tischkowitz (Department of Medical Genetics, and other CanGene-CanVar collaborators.

The key objective of the PhD projects will be to capitalise upon an entirely novel set of datasets generated from linkage of genetic data going as far back as 20 years and taken from routine testing of cancer susceptibility genes across 22 UK molecular diagnostics laboratories, with routinely collected datasets held at the Public Health England National Disease Registration Service (including National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service - NCRAS). The datasets will include full registration data for all retrospective and prospective tumours, pathology data including full descriptive report, details of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, imaging, subsequent recurrences, surgery and death. These will be de-identified complex individual-level longitudinal lifecourse datasets annotated by germline status for relevant cancer susceptibility genes, from families highly enriched for the relevant cancer types.

The successful applicants will develop skills in lifecourse analysis using complex data, and will develop a close understanding of the structures of NRCAS routinely collected cancer data. The students will join the cohort of PhD students being trained by the CRUK Cambridge Centre and will carry out cancer related research in population health sciences.

There will be the opportunity to address several specific questions, depending on the skills and interests of the successful candidates. These include:

1) To assess the population coverage of current mutation screening practice in the UK and how that varies by cancer site, type and demographic characteristics.

2) To estimate and model the risks of second cancers and risk of recurrence among women and men who have already been diagnosed with cancer and who carry mutations in high-risk genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2.

3) To assess the long term health outcomes of different treatments for women and men with mutations in cancer susceptibility genes who had or had not been diagnosed with cancer.

4) To evaluate pathological features of tumours arising in those with inherited germline susceptibility.

The projects will suit students with strong quantitative and analytical skills. Ideally students should possess a masters degree in epidemiology or public health or a related quantitative discipline. However, the 4 year funding can be applied to a 1 year MPhil + 3 years PhD, with the MPhil being one of the existing programmes in the DPHPC, (Epidemiology, or Public Health, The ideal candidate will have excellent academic abilities (at least a 2.1 honours degree or equivalent undergraduate degree) combined with strong communication skills in order to make the most of interdisciplinary training opportunities.

The CRUK studentship will provide an annual stipend (£19,000 pa) and university and college fees at UK/EU level.

To apply please complete the University GRADSAF application form - then click on Course Directory and choose Public Health & Primary Care - PhD

In your application you will be asked to complete a statement of interest outlining your suitability, why you are interested in a PhD in this area, your background and research interests and you will also be required to provide:

(i) your CV

(ii) your academic transcripts and

(iii) details of two academic referees.

We invite application from UK, EU and non-EU students. Please ensure you meet the University of Cambridge entrance requirements: see

We welcome informal conversations about this post: please contact Professor Antonis Antoniou at or his assistant Maureen Rae at 01223 748627

The deadline for applications is 29 November, 2019.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by late December 2019.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview week commencing 20 January, 2020.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their interview by mid February 2020 and successful applicants will receive a formal offer letter by end February 2020.

Please quote reference RH20986 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.