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Detecting hydrolytic enzymes driving colorectal cancer development

Project Description

Colorectal cancer is linked with inflammation of the colon caused by poor diet, obesity and chronic inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Inflammation causes a vicious cycle of tissue damage and immune cell recruitment that if unresolved creates an environment that favours the development of cancer. Enzymes called hydrolases are vital for human health, and work by breaking down other molecules including proteins. However, too much hydrolase activity contributes to diseases such as IBD and cancer.

The PhD will identify the subset of hydrolases that are active during colorectal cancer development and conditions which predispose to cancer, including chronic inflammation and poor nutrition. To achieve this, we will apply chemical-approaches to cutting-edge animal and colon culture models including organoids and gut-on-a-chip, as well as patient samples. By the end of the PhD the student will have identified and characterised hydrolases contributing to gut inflammation and colorectal cancer. This will form the basis of future biomarker platforms and drug-discovery – an important step towards tackling colorectal cancer.

The successful applicant will undertake research in the Section of Nutrition Research within Imperial’s Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction and at the new £170M state-of-the-art Molecular Sciences Research Hub. Both provide an ideal environment to pursue a PhD and build your career in research. You will utilise multi-disciplinary approaches and have access to cutting-edge techniques and be part of a dynamic and supportive research environment.

This studentship would suit a motivated cell biologist, biochemist or chemist who is passionate about research at the interface with biomedicine, and with a strong interest in gut health. Applicants should have an outstanding academic background in cell biology or a closely related area and hold or expect to obtain a Master’s level qualification. All Imperial College PhD entry requirements must be met (see

Imperial College London provides excellent opportunities for research students’ training. All students benefit from a full programme of training in research and transferable skills organised through the Graduate School, the quality of which has been recognised several times at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards.

Informal enquiries can be directed to:

Funding Notes

Home/EU tuition fees for 3 years plus a stipend of £18,000 per annum

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