PhD Studentship: Combining Cell Biology with Population-Based Studies to Investigate the Role of BCL-3 in Therapeutic Resistance to Improve the Treatment of Rectal Cancer.

University of Bristol - Cellular and Molecular Medicine

We are looking to recruit an enthusiastic and talented PhD student to work under the supervision of Professor Ann Williams in the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and with Professor Caroline Relton in the Bristol Medical School (PHS).

Background: The management of rectal tumours has improved significantly with combined use of surgical total mesorectal excision and pre-operative chemo-radiotherapy (CRT), however the reason why some patients respond better to CRT than others remains unknown (response ranges from no response to complete therapeutic response). Hence there is an urgent need, not only to improve the long-term response to existing therapies but also to detect patients who will most benefit from neoadjuvant CRT.

The project:  Recent studies in stem cell biology have begun to identify the mechanisms underpinning the drive towards a more cancer stem cell (CSC)-like phenotype that contributes to therapeutic resistance and ultimately poor prognosis. Based on novel observations from the laboratory, this project focuses on the role of the newly identified BCL-3/β-catenin complex in colorectal tumour progression and therapeutic resistance. The approach combines proteomic analysis of 3D human rectal tumour models with complementary population-based causal analysis approaches including Mendelian randomization.

The successful candidate will be trained in the use of cutting edge molecular and cellular techniques and population health science research. They should have some experience in cancer biology and/or epidemiology, and a willingness to embrace this multi-disciplinary project.

Interested and suitably qualified candidates should make informal contact at with Professor Ann Williams ( before 17 March 2018. The intended start date for the project is September 2018, but there is flexibility.

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select Cellular and Molecular Medicine PhD on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form. For general enquiries linked to the online application process, please email   

Candidate requirements:  Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) and / or with a research Masters degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. cancer biology, molecular biology, biomedical sciences).

Funding:  This studentship is funded by Bowel & Cancer Research and covers full UK/EU PhD tuition fees and a tax-free stipend at the RCUK rate (currently £14,553 per annum for 2017-18).

Contacts: Interested and suitably qualified candidates should make informal contact with Professor Ann Williams by email

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South West England