PhD Studentship: Using organoids and Drosophila to define a novel colorectal tumour suppressor gene encoded on the frequently deleted 1p22 locus

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 is a Barts Charity funded PhD studentship.

Primary Supervisor: Dr Angus Cameron

Centre for Tumour Biology

Project Details: Gastrointestinal (GI) tract cancers are amongst the most prevalent and lethal malignancies worldwide and in the UK, bowel cancer is the second biggest cause of cancer deaths. Using a genetic model and bioinformatics, we have identified a novel tumour suppressor gene, which protects against colorectal tumour development. Critically, the gene is encoded at the 1p22 locus which is deleted in almost a third of colorectal cancer cases, in addition to a range of other cancers. This project can help explain the reason for this recurrent loss which will have broad impact in cancer research.

In this project, we will explore tumour suppressor functions using state-of-the-art organoid culture models and the powerful genetic model, the fruit fly (Drosophila). The impact of targeting the new tumour suppressor on stem cells, tissue growth and cancer signalling pathway activity will be measured. As organoids and flies are amenable to genetic manipulation, this approach saves time and reduces use of mammalian cancer models. At the BCI, we also have access to extensive human colon cancer tissue banks to validate our findings directly in human samples.

Training and Support: The studentship will take place at Barts Cancer Institute under the supervision of Dr Angus Cameron and Dr Paulo Ribeiro. Dr Cameron is an expert in novel cancer drug targets, curently focussing on pancreatic and colorectal cancer. Dr Ribeiro is an expert in Drosophila as a model to explore tissue growth, morphology and cancer. The project will provide the candidate with extensive training in cancer models, genetics, biochemistry and bioinformatics, which are skills in high demand in academia and industry.

Barts Cancer Institute is a world-class cancer research institute in the UK, performing basic and clinical research. In 2018 the BCI joined the Francis Crick Institute, King’s and UCL to form the CRUK City of London Major Centre. Advanced Microscopy Imaging, pathology, tissue banks and bioinformatics complete a robust infrastructure to deliver this project.

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 bci-cancercourses@qmul.ac.uk 

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