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(MCRC Non-Clinical) High dimensional spatial analysis of the tumour microenvironment and the immune response within brain tumours

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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Dr K Couper , Dr F Roncaroli , Prof David Brough , Dr David Coope No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The microenvironment of solid tumours (TME) comprises neoplastic cells and a variety of stromal cell and immune cell populations. There is increasing appreciation that the cellular composition and spatial organisation of the TME is heterogenous, and that this has clinical implications, influencing the speed of tumour progression and responsiveness to treatment. Consequently, there is significant interest in leveraging new technologies to spatially resolve the cellular interplay within the TME in various tumour-types, to stratify patients more effectively and to better inform treatment modalities.

In this project the student will focus on diffuse astrocytoma (DA). There are currently few treatment options for DA other than surgical resection – which has variable efficacy – and the pace of DA progression is very different in different individuals, for reasons that are not understood. The student will utilise the tissue of an existing cohort of 35 surgically resected, well-characterised human IDH1/2 mutant DAs and will utilise a cutting edge high dimensional imaging platform (Hyperion imaging mass cytometry) to spatially map the immune compartment within the TME. Importantly, the student will be able to stratify the DA cases based upon clinical outcome (19 cases had recurrence that required re-operation within 5- 8 years) to study the neoplastic and immunological compartments within the TME that correspond with the clinical course of disease. Specifically, the student will identify the dominant myeloid cell populations present and will assess their spatial properties (such as location in the TME, and cell-cell interactions) that segregate within tumours of the two different patient groups.

The results of this project will transform our understanding of how the heterogeneous myeloid cell population is spatially and temporally organised within the complex TME and how this controls DA progression and treatment outcome. These results will directly lead to new therapeutic avenues for treatment of DA.

Entry Requirements:
Candidates must hold, or be about to obtain, a minimum upper second class (or equivalent) undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. A related master’s degree would be an advantage.

UK applicants interested in this project should make direct contact with the Primary Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. International applicants (including EU nationals) must ensure they meet the academic eligibility criteria (including English Language) as outlined before contacting potential supervisors to express an interest in their project. Eligibility can be checked via the University Country Specific information page (

If your country is not listed you must contact the Doctoral Academy Admissions Team providing a detailed CV (to include academic qualifications – stating degree classification(s) and dates awarded) and relevant transcripts.

Following the review of your qualifications and with support from potential supervisor(s), you will be informed whether you can submit a formal online application.

To be considered for this project you MUST submit a formal online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the CRUK Manchester Centre PhD Training Scheme (MCRC) website

General enquiries can be directed to [Email Address Removed].

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website

Interview date – 8 January 2021

Funding Notes

Funding will cover UK tuition fees/stipend only (currently at £19,000 per annum) and running expenses. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable a limited number of full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.

The duration of this project is four years to commence in October 2021.

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