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  Fully funded PhD studentship: Towards rapid and early cancer diagnostics at the point of care using machine learning assisted vibrational spectroscopy

   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

   Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisory Team: Prof. Senthil Murugan Ganapathy

Project description

Cancer continues to be one of the most prevalent diseases worldwide. Cancer is associated with a very high mortality rate (50% survival at 10 years) as most cancers are diagnosed at a late stage. Recent advances have been made in early detection, though the assays employed are still experimental, highly expensive and can suffer from poor sensitivity and specificity. On the other hand, vibrational spectroscopy (Mid-IR and Raman) has shown to be robust in detecting cancer-specific analytes within the blood and other bodily fluids.

This Ph.D. project focuses on advancing cancer diagnostics through vibrational spectroscopy, specifically targeting novel biomarkers such as circulating tumor DNA (ct-DNA), epigenetic markers, and microRNA (miRNA). Utilizing infrared and Raman spectroscopy, the project aims to unveil unique vibrational profiles associated with these biomolecules in biological samples. Innovative on-chip photonic device platform will be developed to enhance the precision of biomarker detection. Integrating machine learning, the research aims to develop computational models for the identification, classification, and prediction of cancer based on these specific biomarkers. Anticipated outcomes include a robust set of vibrational spectroscopy-based biomarkers detection, offering a significant stride toward personalized cancer diagnostics through non-invasive and real-time assessment of ct-DNA, epigenetic markers, and miRNA expression. This research holds promise for transforming cancer diagnosis with early detection and precise characterisation of cancer subtypes.

Join us in shaping the future of cancer diagnostics and making a real impact in healthcare.

Apply now and be part of a team committed to advancing solutions for early cancer detection challenges.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date

Applications are accepted throughout the year.

The start date will typically be late September, but other dates are possible.


For UK students, tuition fees and a stipend at the UKRI rate plus £2,000 ORC enhancement tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years (totalling around £21,000 for 2024/25, rising annually). EU and Horizon Europe students are eligible for scholarships. CSC students are eligible for fee waivers. Funding for other international applicants is very limited and highly competitive. Overseas students who have secured or are seeking external funding are welcome to apply.

How To Apply

Apply online: Search for a Postgraduate Programme of Study ( Select programme type (Research), Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, next page select “PhD ORC”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor.

Applications should include:

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts/Certificates to date

For further information please contact: 

The School of Zepler Institute is committed to promoting equality, diversity inclusivity as demonstrated by our Athena SWAN award. We welcome all applicants regardless of their gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or age, and will give full consideration to applicants seeking flexible working patterns and those who have taken a career break. The University has a generous maternity policy, onsite childcare facilities, and offers a range of benefits to help ensure employees’ well-being and work-life balance. The University of Southampton is committed to sustainability and has been awarded the Platinum EcoAward.

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Engineering (12) Physics (29)

Register your interest for this project