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Improving lipid analysis via surface mass spectrometry and imaging approaches to address challenges in brain cancer heterogeneity

School of Pharmacy

About the Project

The University of Nottingham has a long-standing reputation for world-class research. The School of Pharmacy is ranked 5th in the world (2019 QS World Rankings) for pharmacy and pharmacology and was recently awarded an Athena Swan Silver award. The School was also ranked joint 1st in the UK rankings on quality of research for Pharmacy Schools in the most recent Research and Excellence Framework (REF) and has a strong collegial ethos. Furthermore, the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Panel judged that the University of Nottingham delivers high quality teaching and learning to students.

This project aims to develop surface mass spectrometry and imaging methods for the analysis of lipid species, which are important disease biomarkers, for the analysis of human biomedical samples. Understanding the differences in lipid profiles between, e.g. more and less aggressive, subgroups of specific forms of brain cancers such as medulloblastoma or glioblastoma multiforme can infer which metabolic pathways are affected between samples. This in turn can inform future therapeutic targets which can be studied in vitro.

This three-year PhD project will be based in the School of Pharmacy and utilises state-of-the-art instrumentation acquired in recent years. Advanced high mass resolution (Orbitrap) instrumentation will be utilised for the analysis of lipids from brain cancer samples. Surface mass spectrometry and imaging techniques such as atmospheric pressure (AP) matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation (MALDI) and secondary ionisation mass spectrometry (SIMS) will be considered.

This is a multi-disciplinary project combining analytical science with physical sciences and chemical sciences. The project will be highly analytical with a focus on understanding lipid ion formation via different ionisation processes and routes to improving these. Furthermore, biological and medical sciences will play a key role in understanding differences in lipid signatures between different brain cancer samples. This project seeks to make the most of the world leading capabilities and instrumentation available at the University of Nottingham, particularly ambient ionisation, high mass resolution SIMS instrumentation and data analysis.

The successful candidate will:

• Receive the training needed for a professional career as a multidisciplinary analytical scientist

• Receive a full studentship tax free (fees and stipend at UK/EU rates) for 3 years

• Work directly with leading academics

• Receive a travel and consumable allowance

Funding Notes

Due to funding restrictions, the position is only available for UK candidates. Candidates must possess or expect to obtain, a 2:1 degree in Physics, Chemistry, Biology or a related scientific discipline. The project is particularly suitable for candidates with a scientific background who would like to develop their analytical skills.

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