Phd Studentship: Regulation of oncogenic signalling by gene expression programmes

Application deadline: 31 January 2022

Start date: April or September 2022

The project may commence in April or September 2022 and has funding for 4 years. The student will be based primarily at the Barts Cancer Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD), Charterhouse Square in the City of London. This PhD studentship is funded by Barts Charity.

Primary Supervisor: Prof Pedro R. Cutillas

Centre for Genomics and Computational Biology

Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) is an archetypal oncogene that regulates one of the most frequently altered pathways in virtually all cancer types. Dysregulation of PI3K signalling occurs as a result of mutations in PI3K pathway members or due to alterations in upstream oncogenes, such as receptor tyrosine kinases and small GTPases (e.g., RAS). However, despite considerable research in this area, pharmacological inhibitors of PI3K have not shown the expected therapeutic benefit.

This studentship will investigate the fundamental mechanisms by which gene expression programmes regulate PI3K signalling with the aim of developing approaches for reversing therapeutic resistance to PI3K inhibitors. Initial experiments will use bioinformatic approaches to identify genes that impact PI3K signalling circuitry. The functional relevance of these findings will then be investigated using genetic and proteomic/phosphoproteomic approaches (see references below), and their biological significance will be assessed across different cancer types.

Together, this project will train the successful candidate in cutting-edge computational and proteomic approaches to investigate oncogenic signalling, which are skills in high demand in academia and industry. The research will significantly advance our understanding of the mechanisms that regulate PI3K activity in cancer.

Nat Biotechnol 38, 493-502 (2020)

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112, 7719-7724 (2015)

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 (£24,278-£28,057)
  • 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.

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.