Cancer Research UK PhD Studentship in Cancer Genetics - Aspirin: Understanding Its Anti-cancer Properties and Enhancing its Utility

Newcastle University

Value of award

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £19,000 in line with Cancer Research UK stipends.

Number of awards: 1

Start date and duration

October 2018 for 4 years.


Interested in preventing cancer? It is now clear that regular use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug aspirin can reduce the incidence of a number of common cancers. This is most pronounced in colorectal cancer (CRC), the second most common in both men and women. We have shown that regular aspirin use can prevent around half of cancers in people with a hereditary predisposition condition known as Lynch syndrome. Despite this, it remains unclear how aspirin achieves its anti-cancer effect, or how the molecular characteristics of individual tumours interact with it. Furthermore, markers of aspirin’s anti-cancer action, which could inform its clinical use, have yet to be identified.

This PhD project will explore the molecular impact of aspirin upon cancer development, and aims to identify patient groups who will benefit most from its use. This studentship will use tumours arising within an ongoing aspirin dose-finding clinical trial involving Lynch Syndrome patients to investigate the molecular basis of aspirin action. It will also use high throughput sequence assays to attempt to identify further patient subgroups with increased cancer risk, or with increased risk of adverse effects of long term aspirin use. The studentship is part of an international collaborative Catalyst Cancer Research UK award.


Cancer Research UK

Name of supervisor(s)

Dr Michael Jackson, Dr Mauro Santibanez Koref and Professor Sir John BurnInstitute for Genetic Medicine

Eligibility Criteria

You must have at least a 2:1 BSc (Hons) in biomedicine, genetics, or a related area. A further qualification such as an MSc or MRes is advantageous.

This award is available to UK/EU applicants. To study this course you need to meet the following English Language requirements: IELTS 6.5 overall (with a minimum of 5.5 in all other sub-skills).

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 programme code 8300F* in the programme of study section 
  • Select ‘PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences –Genetics’ as the programme of study 
  • Insert studentship code GM005 in the studentship/partnership reference field 
  • Attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote studentship reference code GM005 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.

* The online application system will only allow one application using the programme code 8300F. If you are applying for TWO or more projects using that code then you will need to email our Postgraduate Admissions Service with the following information:

  • Your application number (from the first project application that you submitted online)
  • The second studentship code and its corresponding title
  • A two-page covering letter for the second project
  • Our Postgraduate Admissions Service will then forward this information to the relevant selector in the Faculty of Medical Sciences.


For further details, please email:

Dr Michael Jackson

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Northern England