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MicroRNA dysregulation in malignant germ cell tumours: more than a biomarker?

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  • Full or part time
    Prof N Coleman
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Malignant germ cell tumours (mGCTs) are the most common cause of cancer deaths in young adult males. Our group discovered that all mGCTs, despite being clinically and pathologically variable, are characterised by specific abnormalities in microRNA levels. This important finding has led to the development of widely-adopted blood tests for mGCT diagnosis and monitoring. The current project will investigate whether the microRNA changes can also be targeted as new biological therapies for mGCTs. Initial work will involve the generation of inducible lentivirus constructs for replenishment of tumour suppressor microRNAs and depletion of oncogenic microRNAs in established tumours. The effects of rectified microRNA expression will then be investigated using multiple in vivo model systems. The ultimate aim is to progress the work to first-in-man clinical trials.

All applications should be made online via the University’s Applicant Portal for a PhD in Pathology (BLPA22). In the Studentship section of your application please enter the projects that you are applying for in order of preference. You are allowed to select up to 3. A completed application must be submitted by the closing date below. An application is only complete when all supporting documents, including the 2 academic references, are submitted. It is the applicants responsibility to ensure their referees submit their references before the closing date.

Applicants can select up to a maximum of three supervisors/projects, although this is not a requirement. Additionally, the Department requires that by the time of interview all potential students must have fulfilled the Language Requirements for admission.

Funding Notes

Funding* will cover the student’s stipend at the current Research Council rate and University Fees. The studentships will be funded for three years in the first instance subject to eligibility**, with the possibility of additional funding in the fourth year depending on circumstances.

**The studentships are available to students who qualify for Home/EU fees

Applications from ineligible candidates will not be considered.


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The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.


1. Murray MJ and Coleman N (2019) MicroRNA dysregulation in malignant germ cell tumours: more than a biomarker? Journal of Clinical Oncology (in press)
2. Kucia-Tran JA, Tulkki V, Scarpini CG, Smith S, Wallberg M, Paez-Ribes M, Araujo AM, Botthoff J, Feeney M, Hughes K, Caffarel MM, Coleman N.(2018) Anti-oncostatin M antibody inhibits the pro-malignant effects of oncostatin M receptor overexpression in squamous cell carcinoma. The Journal of Pathology 244: 283-295
3. Murray MJ, Watson HL, Ward D, Bailey S, Ferraresso M, Nicholson JC, Gnanapragasam VJ, Thomas B, Scarpini CG, Coleman N. (2017) ‘Future-proofing’ blood processing for measurement of circulating microRNAs in samples from biobanks and prospective clinical trials. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 27:208-218
4. Groves IJ, Knight ELA, Ang QY, Scarpini CG, Coleman N (2016) HPV16 oncogene expression levels during early cervical carcinogenesis are determined by the balance of epigenetic chromatin modifications at the integrated virus genome. Oncogene 35:4773-86.
5. Murray MJ, Raby KL, Saini HK, Bailey S, Wool SV, Tunnacliffe JM, Enright AJ, Nicholson JC, Coleman N (2015) Solid tumors of childhood display specific serum microRNA profiles. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention 24:350-60

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