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IFNA in immune cell activation, cancer growth suppression and therapeutics

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, February 25, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Applications are invited from outstanding candidates to carry-out a PhD at the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre, part of the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) at the University of Edinburgh (

The hunt for immunomodulatory therapeutics in cancer has led to a renewed interest in a class of cytokines known as interferon-alpha (IFNA). This resurgence of interest is based on the discovery that members of the IFNA superfamily play a pivotal role in bridging the innate and adaptive immune systems. Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common type of malignant brain tumour among adults yet treatment options are limited making GBM a cancer of high unmet clinical need. Efforts to treat GBM using existing immunotherapeutics have so far failed to make a significant breakthrough. The PhD project available in the Group of Prof Kathryn Ball is based on a collaborative interaction with ILC-Therapeutics and aims to explore the use of non-canonical isoforms of IFNA and novel synthetic hybrid molecules as potential stimulators of immune surveillance mechanisms as well cancer cell intrinsic growth suppressor pathways in GBM. The project will use state-of-the-art proteomic techniques in combination with gene-editing, stem cell biology and biochemistry. A short internship with ILC-Therapeutics ( is included in the PhD training programme to encourage translation of basic research towards therapeutic applications.

The studentship is funded by the BBSRC through the IBioIC CTP and is open to both UK and EU citizens subject to BBSRC residence conditions.

Informal enquiries should be made to Prof Kathryn Ball (). Formal applications should include a cover letter and CV including the name and contact details of at least two referees.

Funding Notes

For full funding (fees and stipend) students must be UK or EU citizens who have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to commencement. EU citizens are eligible but will have to fund their own stipend.

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