Investigating the efficacy of urine, tissue and blood-based biomarkers for the detection of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (recurrence/progression)

   PhD Opportunities

  , ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The Maelor Academic Unit of Medical & Surgical Sciences (MAUMSS) is a novel initiative by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), and is designed to encourage and support research within the Health Board and to promote academic activity, basic science and clinical research across North Wales (UK) and beyond. MAUMSS is located in Wrexham (North Wales, UK) and staffed by an interdisciplinary team of academics, clinicians, scientists and postgraduate students who are available to lead on and help other healthcare professionals develop and run all kinds of clinical research projects. It has several laboratories containing state-of-the-art molecular, analytical and diagnostic equipment. There are also meeting rooms, video-conferencing and hot-desk facilities too. All of this is available for use to encourage new researchers (promote lifelong learning and continuous professional development), help maximise research impact and ultimately provide better outcomes for patients and the public.

As part of its formal collaborative partnership with Wrexham University (WU), MAUMSS has been instrumental in conceiving, developing and subsequently delivering an Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) accredited BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science, an MSc Biomedical Science and two IBMS approved MRes programmes in Applied Biomedical Sciences Research and Applied Clinical Research. MAUMSS, in collaboration with WU, also deliver successful MPhil and PhD (including Professional Doctorates) programmes. To date, these academic programmes have been very successful and continue to grow and have provided the opportunity for the development of new academic programmes, which further strengthens the well-established collaborative partnership between BUCHB and WU.

PhD Project


Bladder cancer (BC) is the eleventh most common cancer worldwide with an estimated 549,393 new diagnoses in 2018. Globally, it is also the fourth and thirteenth most common cancer in men and women respectively (Ferlay et al., 2018, Wong et al., 2018). It is the most common malignancy of the urinary tract (Bray et al., 2018). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the UK, there were 12,218 new BC cases in 2018 and 6,101 BC related deaths whiles the 5-year prevalence was 40,146 (WHO, 2019). Over ninety percent of all BC cases diagnosed in the UK are found in the transitional epithelium and are classified as transitional cell carcinomas (TCC). It is estimated that about 80% of TCC are non-muscle invasive (NMIBC) while about 20% may evade into the underlying detrusor muscle and are classified as muscle invasive BC (MIBC).

The current treatment/management protocols for BC involve patients undergoing endoscopy techniques (cystoscopy) and transurethral resection of the bladder tumour (TURBT) surgery to assess tumour growth and obtain biopsies for histological examination to aid diagnosis, staging and grading of patients. Cystoscopy and TURBT are repeatedly performed on the same patient during diagnosis, follow up and management. These measures are expensive, labour intensive and expose patients to repeated painful and invasive techniques. With significant variation in individual risk of recurrence and progression to non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, this study will aim to investigate novel non-invasive biomarkers that would aid quickly identifying patients at high risk of recurrence and progression. The biomarkers could potentially inform early intervention in these patients and improve overall prognosis following treatment for Bladder cancer. 


The project aims to investigate novel tumour biomarkers that may be effectively utilized to detect non-muscle invasive bladder cancer in patients undergoing treatment at the various hospitals within the health board. Identification of these biomarkers will aid in the follow-up of high-risk non-muscle invasive bladder cancer and contribute to predicting disease recurrence and progression. 

As part of your PhD you will be registered with Wrexham University (Wrexham, North Wales, UK) and based at BCUHB-MAUMSS.

NB: A small contribution toward tuition fees of up to £1500 per year may be provided for this study.

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)


Ella-Tongwiis, P., Makanga, A., Shergill, I., & Fôn Hughes, S. (2021). Optimisation and validation of immunohistochemistry protocols for cancer research. Histology and histopathology, 36(4), 415–424.
Ella-Tongwiis, P., Lamb, R.M., Makanga, A. et al (2020). The role of antibody expression and their association with bladder cancer recurrence: a single-centre prospective clinical-pilot study in 35 patients. BMC Urol 20, 187.
Hughes S.F., Lamb R.M., Moyes, A.J., Ella-tongwiis, P., Gill, A., Duckett, A., & Shergill, I. (2020). The Effect of Trans-urethral Resection of the Bladder Tumour (TURBT) on Routine Haematological and Biochemical Blood Tests: A Clinical-pilot Observational Study. Int J Biomed Sci, December 2020 Vol. 16 No. 4.

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