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  Fully-funded Cancer Research UK project: Understanding cancer evolution in hematopoietic stem cells

   White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology

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  Prof D G Kent, Dr William Grey  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Lead supervisor: Prof David Kent

Co-supervisor: Dr William Grey


Recent advances in the tools to understand normal and malignant blood stem cells at the single cell level have prompted a major change in how we understand cancer evolution. We have developed a wide range of tools to track stem cells in people and also to study clonal evolution of those stem cells as they compete against one another in the process of cancer development. This PhD project combines stem cell biology, novel methods to track stem cells, and molecular profiling techniques to understand the tumour evolution in haematological malignancies.


1) Characterise pre-leukaemic haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells

2) Molecularly profile mutated and non-mutated stem cells from within the same patient using single cell assays

3) Understand the factors driving cancer evolution in patients

Cellular and molecular assays will include primary cell culture, flow cytometry, transcriptional profiling and global proteomics. Experiments will take place in both mouse models and primary patient material with the overall goal of understanding tumour evolution and the molecular factors driving it.

Both supervisors are members of the Centre for Blood Research in York which is a vibrant collection of experts from experimental, clinical and epidemiological research areas with the overall aim of working on normal and malignant blood cells with the aim to developing novel treatments for patients.

Entry Requirements: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with any biological, chemical, and/or physical science backgrounds, or students with mathematical background who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions. 

The Department of Biology is ranked in the top 10 overall in the UK for research excellence according to the Times Higher Education ranking of the latest REF results. We are committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills. We're exceptionally proud to have held an Athena SWAN Gold award since 2014 in recognition of our commitment.

Programme: PhD in Biology (3 years)

Start Date: 1st July 2024

Interviews: Monday 29 April 2024. 

We would encourage candidates to email the project supervisors a 2-page academic CV to discuss their suitability for the project before applying.


Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

This 3-year project is fully-funded by a grant to the primary supervisor from Cancer Research UK. It covers (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard CR-UK rate for doctoral students (£21,000 for 2023/24 academic year) (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK rate. Candidates who need a visa to study in the UK are not eligible.

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