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Assessing the impacts of targeting mRNA translation machinery on metabolic fitness and treatment response of glioblastoma cancer cells

   School of Medicine, Dentistry & Biomedical Sciences

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  Dr S M Jafarnejad, Dr C Adrain  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The current standards of care for glioblastoma are rarely curative, highlighting the urgent need for a better understanding of its biology to enhance the development of innovative therapeutic approaches. 

Energy production and metabolism are essential processes for supporting the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. mRNA translation is the process by which cells produce proteins and therefore is a key element in regulation of cellular metabolism. Whereas in normal cells mRNA translation is tightly controlled, dysregulated translation is a common phenomenon in cancers, including glioblastoma. Cancer cells commonly enhance the rate of energy production and metabolism by accelerating mRNA translation.

We have evidence that demonstrates the important role of a mRNA translation machinery in maintenance of cell survival, metabolic homeostasis, and treatment-reponse of glioblastoma cancer cells through production of proteins that are instrumental in controlling the mitochondrial activity. We aim to study the mechanism by which the mRNA translation machinery regulates key metabolic processes and assess the impacts of its depletion on metabolic reprogramming, survival and anticancer treatment response of cancer cells. 

Besides providing ground-breaking insights into the mechanisms of tumourigenesis and regulation of metabolic pathways in cancer cells, this work will be critical for identifying novel vulnerabilities of cancer cells that could be exploited for development of effective anti-cancer treatments.

This project will provide an ideal training opportunity for a PhD student at the intersection of RNA biology, metabolism, and cancer biology. The student will gain skills in a wide range of biochemistry, cell & molecular biology, and cancer biology assays. Our national and international collaborations and attending conferences will further enhance the student’s professional network and career prospective. 

For further information about our research and recent publications please visit:

Dr Jafarnejad publication list:

Dr Adrain publication list:


 You must hold or expect to get an upper second class honours degree from a university in the UK or Ireland, or qualifications and experience considered by the University as equivalent to that standard. Candidates who already hold a doctoral degree, or who have registered on a PhD for one year (or part-time equivalent) or not eligible.  

English Language Requirements 

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years. 

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes. 

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree. 

Funding Notes

Funded by the Department for the Economy (DfE) / Brainwaves. For UK domiciled students the value of an award includes the cost of approved tuition fees and maintenance support (Fees £4,596, Stipend £15,609 – 2023 TBC). To be considered eligible you must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for the full 3 year period prior to the start of the studentship and you must be ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland on the first day of the start of the studentship.


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, The Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research, website for further details about the Centre:
Please click on the 'Apply Now' button to apply.
When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School
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