University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


PhD Studentship - Non-invasive imaging of the tumour vascular microenvironment during radiotherapy response

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK CI) is a joint venture between the Charity, Cancer Research UK, and the University of Cambridge. The Institute has excellent state-of-the-art facilities and research ranges from basic cancer biology and computational biology through to translational research and clinical application. Graduate students play a pivotal role in the continuing success of our research programmes and gaining a studentship in the Institute is an excellent opportunity to start a research career in an environment committed to training outstanding cancer research scientists of the future. For further information, go to: Professor Sarah Bohndiek wishes to appoint a student to work on the project entitled: Non-invasive imaging of the tumour vascular microenvironment during radiotherapy response.

The mission of the VISIONLab in Cambridge is to advance our understanding of tumour evolution using next-generation imaging sciences. We are particularly interested in using the absorption of light by haemoglobin in blood as a window on disease, using non-invasive imaging to reveal tumour vessel-forming mechanisms and vascular phenotypes. More information about the VISIONLab can be found on our website (

Project description:
Optoacoustic imaging is an emerging clinical technology that combines the high contrast of optical imaging with the spatial resolution of ultrasound (1). Recent work in the VISIONLab has shown that this technology can be used to identify tumour vascular phenotypes and oxygenation status at unprecedented resolution and depth in vivo (2-4). A crucial application for such imaging methods is radiotherapy, where imaging of blood oxygenation and tumour tissue hypoxia finds applications in monitoring response and determining radioresistance.

This PhD project will focus on studying tumour oxygenation and perfusion before, during and after radiotherapy in advanced mouse models. These studies will run in parallel with imaging in patient trials in the clinic, which the student will have an opportunity to support, seeing their efforts transition from bench to bedside. The student will have the opportunity to work across multiple research environments and departments, with potential for research visits to other centres within the CRUK Radiation Research Network and beyond.

1.E Brown, J Brunker and S E Bohndiek (2019) Photoacoustic imaging as a tool to probe the tumour microenvironment. Dis Model Mech 12 039636
2. M R Tomaszewski, M Gehrung, J Joseph, I Quiros-Gonzalez, J Disslehorst and S E Bohndiek (2018) Oxygen Enhanced- and Dynamic Contrast Enhanced- Optoacoustic Tomography provide surrogate biomarkers of tumour vascular function, hypoxia and necrosis. Cancer Res 78 (20) 5908-5991.
3. I Quiros-Gonzalez, M R Tomaszewski, S Aitken, L Bollepalli, L McDuffus, M Gill L Hacker, and S E Bohndiek (2018) Optoacoustic delineates murine breast cancer models displaying angiogenesis and vascular mimicry. Br J Cancer 118 1098-1106.
4. M R Tomaszewski, I Quiros-Gonzalez, J O'Connor, O Abeyakoon, G Parker, K Williams, F Gilbert and S E Bohndiek (2017) Oxygen enhanced photoacoustic imaging reveals vascular dynamics in murine models of prostate cancer. Theranostics 7 (11) 2900-2915.

Desirable qualifications and skills:
We are seeking a PhD candidate with a 1st class honours degree (held or predicted) in biological or biomedical sciences. We strongly value a candidate with the desire to learn, create and innovate. The project will combine a majority of experimental imaging with a minority computational element for image analysis and statistics. Full training will be provided in both areas. The successful candidate should have a strong interest in cancer biology. Additional relevant skills include: excellent oral and written communication skills; strong team working skills; an ability to take initiative to solve problems; strong motivation in driving projects forward; and a significant critical thinking capability. Examples of any past experience that demonstrates these characteristics should be highlighted in the cover letter that accompanies any application. We expect the candidate will develop into an independent experimental researcher and will present their work in academic journals, as well as at conferences.
Candidates with previous experience of in vivo imaging, for example during a Masters or Diploma degree, are particularly encouraged to apply.

Cancer Research UK has joined with the universities of Cambridge, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Oxford, the CRUK City of London Centre and the Institute of Cancer Research in partnership with the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London to create a network of centres of excellence in radiation research, CRUK RadNet. This PhD project is funded through the CRUK RadNet award to the University of Cambridge and includes full funding for University and College fees and a stipend of £19,000 per annum.

Only Home/UK students are eligible to apply for this studentship.

Further information:
This funded PhD project will be based in the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge. Requests for more information about the project or questions related to candidate experience should be made to Professor Sarah Bohndiek ( with the subject line "Optoacoustic PhD 2021" before the application to the University is complete.

How to apply:
All applications need to be made using the University Applicant Portal. Please visit: for further information about the course and to access the applicant portal.

To complete your on-line application, you need to provide the following:

Reference Request: The names and contact details of two academic referees who have agreed to act on your behalf.

Research: If you wish to be considered for more than one studentship, please enter the names of all of the supervisors you wish to consider your application in the 'Research summary' text box. If you only wish your application to be considered by a single supervisor, then please enter their name in the 'Research Supervisor' text box. Please describe your past 'Research experience' in the appropriate text box.

Course Specific Questions: Your statement of interest (limit of 2,500 characters) should explain why you wish to be considered for the studentship and which qualities and experience you will bring to the role. Please also state how you learned of the studentship.

Supporting Documents: Please upload your CV (PDF file), which should include a list of the examinations taken at undergraduate level and if possible, your examination results

The closing date for applications is 15 November 2020, with interviews expected to take place in December/January.

Please quote reference SW24184 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.