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Understanding and targeting prostaglandin E2 signalling for cancer therapy

University of the West of England, Bristol - Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bristol
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: From £15,609 per annum. All bench fees are also provided
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 21st July 2021
Closes: 8th August 2021
Reference: 2021-OCT-HAS06

About the project

This is one of two available PhD projects that will be supervised by Dr Alex Greenhough (UWE Bristol) in collaboration with Prof Ann Williams and Dr Emma Vincent (University of Bristol) with funding from industrial partner Sosei Heptares (Cambridge). The purpose of this project is to investigate the use of novel small molecule drug candidates targeting prostaglandin E2 G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) for the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer, the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK.

The cyclooxygenase-2/prostaglandin E2 (COX-2/PGE2) pathway plays key roles in colorectal tumorigenesis and is a bona fide target for cancer therapy. PGE2 signals via four GPCRs termed EP receptors (EP1-4), with EP2 and EP4 mediating PGE2’s cancer promoting functions in the tumour microenvironment. PGE2 signalling drives the activation of oncogenic pathways, increases expression of cancer stem cell markers, suppresses tumour immunity and fuels tumour promoting inflammation — all of which may impact patient responses to existing therapies. Selective pharmacological inhibition of EP2/4 receptors therefore represents an exciting strategy to target PGE2 signalling for cancer prevention and/or as an adjunctive therapy.

This project will reveal how novel small molecules targeting PGE2 receptors could be used for the treatment of colorectal cancer. Given the increasing incidence of colorectal cancer in younger individuals (<50), this project has exciting possibilities to further understand the drivers of early onset cancer and to improve the treatment of colorectal cancer in this age group.

For more details about the project visit

. For an informal discussion about the studentship, please contact Dr Alex Greenhough via email to arrange a Teams/Zoom call.

Funding details

The studentship is available from October/November 2021 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £15,609per annum. All bench fees are also provided.

The studentship will be funded by a partnership with Sosei Heptares

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years (Home/EU rates only). Overseas applicants will be required to cover the difference between Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates in each year of study.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must have a BSc (2:1 or above) or equivalent degree in a biological or biomedical sciences discipline. Experience in cell biology techniques is desirable but not essential as training will be provided. This studentship is eligible for UK/EU applicants only.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. For full details of the project and how to apply please visit

When prompted use the reference number 2021-OCT-HAS06.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 8th August 2021.

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