PhD Studentship in Cancer Research - Functional Screening for Novel Therapies in High-risk Childhood Cancers

Newcastle University

Value of award

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £14,171. Successful international candidates will be required to make up the difference between the UK/EU and international fee.

Number of awards: 1

Start date and duration: January 2017 for 4 years.


High-risk cancers are a major cause of death in childhood; there is an urgent need for innovative therapies which could lead to improved outcomes. Our research focuses on high-risk embryonal tumours - rhabdoid tumours and medulloblastoma. We have recently undertaken comprehensive biological characterisation of large primary tumour cohorts, using state-of-the-art genomics/epigenomics, to identify critical biological events in their development. This has been complemented by screening the functional relevance of every gene in the genome in experimental models using CRISPR-CAS9 technology, and we have used these findings together to identify actionable therapeutic targets.

This studentship will establish and validate the direct functional role that candidate events identified play in tumour development, and their potential to be targeted therapeutically. We will focus on understanding the regulatory mechanisms driving key genes (e.g. DNA methylation, chromatin configuration, enhancer status), including deploying novel CRISPR technologies to directly modulate the epigenetic status of individual candidate genes and establish their contribution. Finally, we will establish how functionally-validated events could be targeted therapeutically.

The Northern Institute for Cancer Research (NICR) is the focus of research excellence in translational cancer research at Newcastle with an annual research income of ~£10m and >250 personnel, including over 60 post-graduate research students.


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Name of supervisor(s)

Professor S Clifford, Dr D Williamson and Professor S Bailey - Northern Institute for Cancer Research

Eligibility Criteria

Candidates must have a BSc in an appropriate biological sciences discipline at first or 2:1 level, or a Masters degree in a relevant subject (e.g. cancer research, bioinformatics).

This award is available to UK/EU and international applicants. If English is not your first language you must have IELTS 7 with at least 6.5 in the written component, or equivalent.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’.

Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following information:

  • insert the programme code 8300F in the programme of study section
  • select ‘PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences – Cancer Research' as the programme of study
  • insert the studentship code CR077 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote the studentship reference code CR077 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.


For further details, please email Professor S Clifford or Dr D Williamson.

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Northern England