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Early detection of oesophageal cancer

Project Description

Oesophageal cancer is an area of unmet clinical need; late diagnosis is one of the reasons that cure rates remain stubbornly low.

The overall aim of this project is to design and characterise near infrared (NIR) fluorophore-tagged tracers for optical imaging of early oesophageal neoplasia in vivo. We have identified a novel marker of early oesophageal cancer and prototypic antibody- and peptide-based tracers that target it have been developed. Therefore, one aspect of the project will be to refine and validate these new tracers in in vitro and in vivo assays. In addition, there is scope within the project to select new molecular markers for investigation and tracer design, synthesis and testing.

In vivo testing which will be performed in models of oesophageal cancer including genetically engineered murine models (GEMM) that closely simulate human oesophageal pre- and early oesophageal cancer. This aspect of the research will be conducted in collaboration with Prof. Michael Quante, Technische Universität München, Germany. Work to validate the tracers in human cancer tissue will be carried out in collaboration with Dr. Elizabeth Bird-Lieberman, Consultant in Translational Gastroenterology, Oxford.

Depending on the specific interests of the student, there is an opportunity to contribute to research in technical advances in pertinent microscopy techniques and miniaturised endoscopy instrument design.

In summary the project will suit a student interested in cross-disciplinary research, involving both cancer biology and imaging science, and who is keen to develop skills in translational cancer research.

This is a cross-disciplinary project that spans cancer biology, biomarker selection and validation and imaging tracer design and testing. It will involve training in aspects of the molecular pathology of oesophageal cancer, antibody and peptide engineering, advanced microscopy including confocal live cell imaging and in vivo bioluminescence imaging. The project will utilize in vitro and in vivo models of oesophageal cancer.

Cornelissen B et al. Imaging DNA damage allows detection of preneoplasia in the BALB-neuT model of breast cancer. J Nucl Med, 55:2026-31, 2014.

Volpi D et al. Electrically-tuneable fluidic lens imaging system for laparoscopic fluorescence-guided surgery. Biomed Opt Express, 8: 3232-3247, 2017.

Gill MR et al. A three-in-one-bullet for oesophageal cancer: Replication fork collapse, spindle attachment failure and enhanced radiosensitivity generated by a ruthenium(II) metallo-intercalator. Chem Sci, 9:841-849, 2017

Funding Notes

All complete applications received by 12 noon (UK time) on Friday 11 January 2020 will automatically be considered for all relevant competitive University and funding opportunities, including the Clarendon Fund, Medical Research Council funding, and various College funds. Please refer to the Funding and Costs webpage (View Website) for this course for further details relating to funded scholarships and divisional funding opportunities.

Funded studentships are highly competitive and are awarded to the highest ranked applicant(s) based on the advertised entry requirements for each programme of study.


Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Academic references are strongly encouraged, though you may use up to one professional reference provided that it is relevant to the course.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 238.51

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

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