Defining the functional role of EGFR in glioblastoma tumour heterogeneity

Application deadline: 17 February 2023

Start date: April 2023

The project will commence in April 2023 and has funding for 4 years. The student will be based primarily at the Barts Cancer Institute, Barts and the London Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (FMD), Charterhouse Square in the City of London. This PhD studentship is funded by Barts Charity.

Primary Supervisor: Dr Paulo Baptista-Ribeiro

Centre for Tumour Biology

Glioblastoma is a common and aggressive brain tumour, which has a very poor prognosis, in part due to high tumour heterogeneity and nearly complete recurrence with chemotherapy-resistant disease. Glioblastoma primary treatment includes surgery and chemotherapy with the current standard of care drug, temozolomide. However, virtually all glioblastoma patients develop recurrent tumours that are resistant to temozolomide. Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) is commonly amplified or mutated in cancer but, in glioblastoma, displays variants that are uncommon in other cancer types. EGFR is amplified and/or mutated in 40-60% of glioblastoma patients. These EGFR variants can often co-occur in a single tumour and dramatically influence resistance to chemotherapy. However, it is challenging to study their functional effect in vivo, due to a lack of adequate models. Despite the prevalence of EGFR alterations and the existence of efficient therapies, to date, attempts at targeting EGFR in glioblastoma have been largely unsuccessful and the reasons for this failure remain unclear. Therefore, a better knowledge of how different EGFR mutations influence glioblastoma tumour growth in the context of tumour heterogeneity will provide new avenues to targeting EGFR in glioblastoma.

This project aims to define the functional role of EGFR variants in the development and progression of glioblastoma in the context of tumour heterogeneity. For this, we will combine our newly generated genetic systems to create and study tumour heterogeneity with in vivo and in vitro models of glioblastoma, including the fruit fly Drosophila and mammalian 3D models. Our experimental approaches will monitor tumour behaviours in vivo and in vitro and will ultimately reveal mechanism underlying the impact of EGFR heterogeneity in glioblastoma that will aid the development of future therapies.

We seek highly motivated prospective students, who should have a degree in cell and molecular biology or related subject (minimum degree of a 2:1). Previous experience of working with Drosophila and/or mammalian 3D models is not essential but would be advantageous.

Academic Entry Requirements

This studentship is open to graduates with

  • a 2:1 or 1st degree in cell and molecular biology or related subject.

English Language Requirements

Applicants for whom English is not a first language will also require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (with 6.0 in the written component) or equivalent, unless your undergraduate degree was studied in, and awarded by, an English speaking country. For more information on acceptable English language qualifications please see here.

Fee Status

The funding for this studentship only covers tuition fees at the Home rate. Overseas applicants are welcome to apply, but will be required to fund the difference in tuition fees.

The studentship includes the following funding for 4 years:

  • A tax-free annual stipend of £26,621.25
  • Tuition fees at the Home rate*
  • Project consumables

*If you are considered an Overseas student for fee purposes, you are welcome to apply for this studentship, however, you will be required to cover the difference in tuition fees.

To apply you will need to complete an online application form. Please choose the Non-Clinical PhD option when selecting the application form.

The following supporting documents will be required as part of your application:

  • Your CV
  • Statement of purpose
  • Details of 2 referees
  • Copy of your transcript(s), including a breakdown of marks
  • Copy of your passport
  • If applicable, proof of English proficiency

If you have a question about the project, or would like to arrange an informal discussion, please contact the supervisor directly (subject ‘PhD applicant’). For general enquiries about the PhD studentship or application process please contact 

Successfully shortlisted candidates will be invited to an interview at Barts Cancer Institute.