This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the ‘GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership’ which is offering up to 18 studentships for entry in September 2020.
The DTP brings together the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter to develop the next generation of biomedical researchers. Students will have access to the combined research strengths, training expertise and resources of the four research-intensive universities.
Lead supervisor: Dr James Turner, Department for Health, University of Bath
Co-supervisors: Dr John Campbell (Bath), Prof Richard Martin (Bristol) and Dr Athene Lane (Bristol)
In the UK, there are 47,740 new cases of prostate cancer each year and 11,631 men die annually from the disease. While new therapies improve care, emphasis is being placed on the role lifestyle has in predicting and modifying disease outcomes. Strong evidence shows that regular exercise improves quality of life, reduces fatigue and reduces incontinence in men with prostate cancer. Moreover, evidence from a range of cancers shows that regular exercise exerts anti-tumour effects, which may reduce the risk of developing cancer in the first place and may improve outcomes in patients.
The mechanisms underlying anti-tumour effects of exercise are not well understood, but cancer immune-surveillance likely has an essential role. Research shows that mechanisms stimulated by single exercise bouts are different to mechanisms brought about by long-term regular exercise. For example, the short-term effects of exercise include neuroendocrine activation and changes to immune cell trafficking, whereas long-term regular exercise impacts overall immune competency, low-grade inflammation and metabolic health, which can affect tumour growth.
This interdisciplinary research has two work packages. First, the impact of long-term regular exercise on cancer-specific immunity will be examined in men with prostate cancer enrolled onto a 6 month exercise intervention (The Pre-EMpT trial; BRISTOL). Cells are being cryopreserved in cohorts: 20-30 patients will have paired pre- and post-intervention samples to examine the effects of exercise. Additional samples (40-50 patients with pre-intervention cells stored) enable further exploration of baseline immune profiles linked to disease. The full cohort (180 patients) will be available for serum inflammatory and metabolic analyses. The second work package will recruit healthy men and patients with prostate cancer to take part in a mechanistic single-bout exercise study examining immune-surveillance (BATH). In both work packages, cutting-edge laboratory techniques will assess immunological parameters, inflammatory processes, and metabolic markers (BATH) using advanced quantitative methods and bioinformatics to facilitate analyses (BRISTOL).
This studentship will provide thorough training at four levels of scientific investigation:
1) analysis of physiological processes and disease at the molecular level, such as assessing inflammatory and metabolic factors implicated in tumour growth with proteomic techniques;
2) phenotypic and functional analysis of anti-cancer immunity at the cellular level with flow cytometry and cell culture techniques;
3) measurements at the whole-body level, such as assessing cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition or monitoring and prescribing exercise;
4) bioinformatics assessment of all study data.
Important generic research skills will also be developed (e.g. scientific writing, presentation skills, wider dissemination of research etc).
Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an area appropriate to the skills requirements of the project.
IMPORTANT: In order to apply for this project, you should apply using the DTP’s online application form: https://cardiff.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/gw4-biomed-mrc-doctoral-training-partnership-student-appl
You do NOT need to apply to the University of Bath at this stage – only those applicants who are successful in obtaining an offer of funding form the DTP will be required to submit an application to study at Bath.
More information on the application process may be found here: https://www.gw4biomed.ac.uk/doctoral-students/
APPLICATIONS CLOSE AT 17:00 ON 25 NOVEMBER 2019.