Development of the biology and targeting of a novel target on cancer associated fibroblasts

Application deadline: 12 May 2023

Start date: September 2023

This Barts Charity-funded project will commence in September 2023 and has funding for 4 years. The successful candidate will be based at Barts Cancer Institute, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (FMD), Charterhouse Square in the City of London.

Primary Supervisor: Prof John F Marshall

Centre for Tumour Biology

We have discovered that a malaria parasite-derived protein binds with very high selectivity to the cancer associated fibroblasts associated with pancreatic cancer. We know the specific epitope the molecule binds to but not the protein on the CAFs that expresses this epitope. Since fibroblasts in non-cancer tissues do not express this epitope it suggest that this unknown molecule exhibits a cancer-associated biology that should be determined.  In addition this target may be an effective therapeutic target for suppressing the pro-tumourigenic effects of CAFs.  Both of these aspects will be explored in this project using many different types of cellular, biochemical, immunological and molecular biology methods.

The successful candidate will have or expect to have a 2.1 or First in a suitable biological undergraduate degree. Ideally the candidate will also have significant laboratory experience and be confident in performing a variety of methods relevant to the list described above. Supportive references from three referees will also be required for the successful candidate.

Academic Entry Requirements

All applicants should have or be expecting:

  • A first or upper second class honours degree in a relevant biological subject from a UK university or the international equivalent from a recognised institution. For international equivalencies please see Queen Mary International Office. Or;
  •  A medical degree from a recognised institution.

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 £24,429 (increasing annually with inflation)
  • 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 select the 'Non-Clinical PhD' option.

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.