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Designing and delivering selective inhibitors of the calcium-binding protein S100P as anti-metastatic agents

Life and Medical Sciences

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Dr Sharon Rossiter , Dr S Kirton , Dr L Urbano No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The project provides an exciting opportunity to carry out multidisciplinary research in cancer drug discovery, led by Dr Sharon Rossiter, Dr Stewart Kirton and Dr Laura Urbano. The project will be based in the new (from August 2020) department of Clinical, Pharmaceutical and Biological Sciences at Hertfordshire, in collaboration with our research partners at the University of Cambridge.

Project details
The calcium-binding protein S100P is overexpressed in a number of cancers, notably in the majority of cases of pancreatic adenocarcinoma, the most common and difficult-to-treat form of pancreatic cancer. This protein promotes tumour progression and metastasis through a number of pathways, making it an attractive prospect as a potential drug target.

The group has already discovered a number of functional small molecule S100P inhibitors that reduce cell invasiveness [1, 2], and have identified further S100P-binding molecular fragments through biophysical screening techniques. The next phase of the project focuses on optimising the activity and selectivity of inhibitors to move towards potential drug candidates.

The successful PhD candidate will undertake computational modelling and synthesis of novel small molecule inhibitors, taking these forward for formulation and cell-based assays of targeted drug delivery.

Applicant Requirements:
Essential: The applicant must hold, or be about to attain, a first class or upper second-class (2:1) Honours degree or equivalent from a recognised institution, in the area of chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences, biochemistry or similar subject with a substantial chemistry component.

IELTS 6.5 (or above with no less than 5.5 in any band)/TOEFL 79 (if international student).
Desirable: Previous experience of any aspect of drug discovery through employment, placement or project work would be an advantage.

Candidates with an enthusiasm for multidisciplinary drug discovery are encouraged to apply.

To apply, please download the application form from our website and send along with qualification certificates and/or university transcripts and a copy of your passport to: [Email Address Removed].

Due to the current pandemic, references should also be sent by email to [Email Address Removed].

Funding Notes

Students receive a stipend (£15,285 per annum in 2020/21) plus approved expenses. The studentship will also cover UK/EU student PhD tuition fees in each year of registration. Non UK/EU students will be required to contribute 50% of the international PhD tuition fee (£13650 for 2020-2021, increasing annually) in each year of registration.


1. Rossiter, S., Kirton, S., Camara, R. (2016) patent WO2016/181120
2. Camara, R., Ogbeni, D, Gerstmann, L., Ostovar, M., Hurer, E., Scott, M., Mahmoud, N. G., Radon, T. P., Cronogorac-Jurcevic, T., Patel, P., Mackenzie, L. S., Chau, D. Y. C., Kirton, S. B. and Rossiter, S. (2020) European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, In press.

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