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We have 167 Cancer Biology PhD Projects, Programmes & Scholarships for European Students (exc UK)



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Cancer Biology PhD Projects, Programmes & Scholarships for European Students (exc UK)

We have 167 Cancer Biology PhD Projects, Programmes & Scholarships for European Students (exc UK)

A PhD in Cancer Biology would provide you with the opportunity to research a specific cancer in great detail. Whether you’re developing a new treatment, understanding the factors that allow a tumour to arise or innovating better diagnostic tests, you’ll be improving our understanding of cancer and saving lives.

What’s it like to do a PhD in Cancer Biology?

Doing a PhD in Cancer Biology, you’ll develop excellent laboratory skills, particularly in cell culture, working with RNA and studying the proteome. Most Cancer Biology projects link to other subjects and as such, you’ll have experience working with techniques from Cell Biology, Immunology and Genetics.

Some typical research topics in Cancer Biology include:

  • Developing novel diagnostic tests
  • Understanding a potential trigger of metastasis
  • Developing novel therapeutics to treat a specific cancer
  • The immune system and cancer interactions
  • Characterising the role of a specific tumour suppressor or oncogene in a certain cancer

Generally, Cancer Biology programmes are advertised on the university website with the research proposal, including the scope and primary aim of the research pre-determined by the supervisor. These projects are usually fully-funded.

It’s uncommon to propose your own research in Cancer Biology since the additional bench fees make self-funding difficult. It can also be tricky to find a supervisor with the interests that line up well with your suggested project that also have the equipment and expertise to supervise you through your PhD.

In your daily life you’ll be in the laboratory conducting experiments, reading the literature for new methods you could try, analysing old data, and talking to colleagues and your supervisor about your work. In the final year of your PhD you’ll submit a thesis of around 60,000 words that will contribute to the knowledge of your field and you’ll defend your work during your viva exam.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements for most Cancer Biology PhD programmes involve a Masters in a subject directly related to Biology, with at least a Merit or Distinction. If English isn’t your first language, you’ll also need to show that you have the right level of language proficiency.

PhD in Cancer Biology funding options

The Research Council responsible for funding Cancer Biology PhDs in the UK is the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). They provide fully-funded studentships including a stipend for living costs, a consumables budget for bench fees and a tuition fee waiver. Students don’t apply directly to the BBSRC, you apply for advertised projects with this funding attached.

It’s uncommon for Cancer Biology PhD students to be ‘self-funded’ due to the additional bench fees. However, if you were planning to fund yourself it might be achievable (depending on your project) through the UK government’s PhD loan and part-time work.

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Identification of drivers of somatic evolution using machine learning

This Barts Charity funded project will commence in April 2024 and has funding for 4 years. The successful candidate will be based at Barts Cancer Institute, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (FMD), Charterhouse Square in the City of London. Read more

Screening of CAR-T cell therapies using 3D microfluidic tumour models

This project focusses on advancing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-T) cell therapy as a revolutionary treatment for cancer. While CAR-T cells have shown exceptional success against blood cancers there is a need to overcome challenges such as side effects and testing complexities. Read more

Revolutionising oral cancer screening

Since 1975, the UK has witnessed a staggering 60% increase in oral cancer cases while worryingly, the five-year survival rate remains at 50% or less. Read more


Metastatic melanoma is a hard-to-treat disease and it remains as one of the most worrisome cancer. There is an urgent need to improve the current therapies (chemotherapy, radiotherapy) that have a limited efficacy. Read more

Precision Medicine DTP - Dissecting mitotic phosphatases network and the effect of molecular glues to combat cell proliferation

  Research Group: Institute of Cell Biology
Background. Many cancers are associated with an alteration in protein function and regulation. While protein phosphatases represent potential therapeutic targets because of their essential role in cell signalling, survival and cell division, they usually do not have any pockets for inhibitors. Read more

Precision Medicine DTP - A Personalized Approach - Putting the Squeeze on Mesothelioma

  Research Group: Centre for Inflammation Research
Additional Supervisor. Prof Janne Lehtioe [Karolinska Institutet]. Background. Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) is an asbestos induced, infiltrative, aggressive and incurable cancer that originates in the pleural lining of the lung. Read more

Precision Medicine DTP - AI-driven drug discovery for diseases of unmet need with high-throughput phenomics data

Abstract. Drug discovery is extremely expensive and most candidate compounds fail at various stages of clinical trials. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has recently emerged as a promising tool to accelerate the search for new active compounds. Read more

Precision Medicine DTP - Using single transcriptomic and genetic manipulation to investigate the cellular interaction in preneoplastic cell development niche

  Research Group: Centre for Inflammation Research
Additional Supervisor. Prof Thomas Otto [University of Glasgow]. Background. Tumourigenesis is initiated by a single cell acquiring an oncogenic mutation, which drives preneoplastic cell (PNC) development. Read more

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