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Development of brain-penetrating anticancer drugs

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Unciti-Broceta
    Prof N Carragher
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted

Project Description

Medical Research Scotland
PhD Studentship Award

This is a Medical Research Scotland ( funded PhD Studentship to be delivered jointly by the named University and Company. The Studentship is for four years and will provide the first-class academic and commercial training needed to equip the successful candidate for a science career in an increasingly competitive market.

"Rapid development of kinase inhibitors that cross the blood brain barrier and target brain malignancies" to be delivered by the University of Edinburgh [Supervisors: Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta and Professor Neil Carragher (both Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre) and IOmet Pharma Limited ( [Company supervisor: Dr Phillip Cowley]. IOmet Pharma is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada).

Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common and aggressive cancer that begins within the brain. Without treatment the average survival following diagnosis is merely 3 months, while with the best available surgical and adjuvant therapies survival can only be extended to 12-14 months. Pharmacological treatment of this incurable disease is severely limited by the lack of drugs capable of reaching the brain at therapeutic levels.

Using a cost-effective drug discovery strategy recently developed by scientists at the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre of the University of Edinburgh (see Fraser et al. J. Med. Chem. 2016, 59, 4697–4710), an innovative programme of research is proposed to synthesize and screen novel kinase inhibitors that are able to penetrate the brain and specifically target brain cancer growth and survival. The project will be carried out at the Innovative Therapeutics Lab of the CRUK Edinburgh Centre (part of the Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine) and and will benefit from the support and close interaction with IOmet Pharma, a Scotland-based life sciences company specialized on the development of anticancer drugs. The PhD student will receive invaluable training in multiple cutting-edge techniques at the interface of chemistry and biomedicine (including organic synthesis, medicinal chemistry, cell culture, phenotypic assays, IP protection and technology transfer) within a world-class research environment.

The project would suit a student with general interests in medicinal chemistry, drug development and translational research.


Enquiries should be sent by email to Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta:
[email protected]


Candidates must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first-class Honours degree (or a upper-second class with industry experience), or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK, in Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences or a related discipline. Lab experience in organic synthesis and medicinal chemistry via Honours project, a year in industry or MSc by Research will be highly valued.

Applicants should send a 2 page CV, the contact details of 2 academic references (including email addresses) and a covering letter, explaining why the applicant wishes to carry out this project, by email to Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta:
[email protected]

Interviews are expected to take place approximately 2-3 weeks after the closing date for applications.

It is anticipated that the PhD Studentship will start in September 2017.

Funding Notes

The PhD Studentship provides: an annual tax-free stipend of £17,500, increasing to £18,000 over the four years; tuition fees at UK/EU rates only; consumables; and contribution to travel expenses. International fees are not covered.


How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Clinical Medicine?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 206.93

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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