PhD Studentship in Cancer: Characterisation and Targeting of Leukaemia-maintaining Cells

Newcastle University

Value of award

100% UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £17,000 (full award). Also significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges). Successful international candidates will be required to make up the difference between the UK/EU fees and international fees.

Number of awards: 1

Start date and duration: April 2018 for 4 years.


Chromosomal rearrangements giving rise to fusion genes are frequent initiating events in acute leukaemias. Expression of these fusion genes is restricted to leukaemic cells and is generally required for maintaining the leukaemic phenotype; they, thus, constitute leukaemia-specific therapeutic targets. The aim of this project is to develop a leukaemia-specific therapeutic approach capable of completely eliminating the leukaemic clones.

You will apply a liposomal delivery strategy with a therapeutic siRNA approach targeting MLL/AF4, the most common fusion gene in infant leukaemias. To prove efficacy in vitro and in vivo, you will, in collaboration with groups from the Sanger Centre Cambridge, characterise leukaemic sub-populations at the single cell level and determine the impact of MLL/AF4 on the in vivo maintenance of these populations in patient-derived xenograft models. A successful outcome of this project will lay the fundament for novel targeted and more benign treatments of childhood and adult leukaemias.

Sponsor: Cancer Research UK

Name of supervisor(s)

Professor Olaf Heidenreich and Dr Simon Bomken
Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre
Northern Institute of Cancer Research
Newcastle University

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Master or equivalent degree in the area of (bio)organic chemistry or biomedicine.

This award is available to UK/EU and international applicants. If you are an international applicant and English is not your first language, you must have IELTS 7 with at least 7 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 CR082 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 CR071 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.

In addition, please send a copy of your CV and covering letter to


For further information, please contact:

Professor O Heidenreich
Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre
Northern Institute of Cancer Research
Newcastle University

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