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Great North Cancer Research JGW Patterson Foundation PhD Studentship in Immuno-Oncology: Investigating Pathways to Immune-Mediated Pathology During Cancer Immunotherapy

Project Description

Number of awards:

Start date and duration:
October 2019 for 4 years.

A recently developed class of “checkpoint inhibitor” (CPI) drugs enhance anti-cancer immunity with durable clinical benefit, but induce severe immune-related adverse events (irAEs) in up to 50% of patients. In this experimental medicine project, serially collected biological samples from an inception cohort of well-characterised malignant melanoma patients treated with CPIs will be interrogated using state-of-the-art technology. The aim is to identify (i) baseline biomarkers that predict subsequent irAE development prior to CPI initiation, and (ii) biological pathways that reflect the transition from pre-clinical immune dysregulation to organ-specific pathology during treatment. Techniques may include multiparameter fluorescence-based flow cytometry and/or mass cytometry of blood and tissue.

The successful applicant will join a multi-disciplinary research team, being based in the Inflammation, Immunology and Immunotherapy laboratories ( within Newcastle University’s Institute of Cellular Medicine, with additional supervisory input from the Northern Institute of Cancer Research ( The student will play a driving role in developing sample analysis protocols and analysis pipelines – for example applying emerging analysis pipelines in R. Insights gained could have important therapeutic implications for immuno-oncology and immune-mediated disease more generally.

JGW Patterson Foundation.

Name of supervisor(s):
Professor Ruth Plummer (, Northern Institute for Cancer (
Dr Arthur G Pratt ( and Dr Amy E Anderson (, Institute for Cellular Medicine (

Eligibility Criteria:
Applicants should have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first-class or upper-second-class Honours degree in a relevant subject.

This award is available to UK/EU students only.

If English is not your first language, you must have IELTS 7 with at least 6.5 in the written component, or equivalent.

How to apply:
You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application form ( Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following:

insert the programme code 8300F in the programme of study section
select ‘Master of Research/Doctor of Philosophy (Medical Sciences)’ as the programme of study
insert the studentship code CR091 in the studentship/partnership reference field
attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote the studentship reference code CR091 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project. Please also attach a copy of your English language qualifications if English is not your first language.
Please also send your cover letter and CV to Dr Arthur Pratt by email to

For further details, please contact: or .

Funding Notes

The award covers full tuition fees at the UK/EU rate, and an annual stipend at the standard Research Council UK rate for the duration of the programme, which is £15,347 (2019/20). Significant research costs are also included.

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