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Modulating immune signalling pathways for patient benefit in cancer and viral infection

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

Project Description

Medical Research Scotland
PhD Studentship Award

This project is one of 11 four year PhD Studentships funded by Medical Research Scotland (http://www.medicalresearchscotland.org.uk) to be delivered jointly by the named University and Company. The Studentship will provide the first-class academic and commercial training needed to equip the successful candidate for a science career in an increasingly competitive market.

"Generating Biologics to modulate IFITM1 in cancer and infection" to be delivered by the University of Edinburgh [Supervisors: Professor Kathryn Ball (Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine) and Professor Jurgan Haas (Division of Infection ad Pathway Medicine)] and Scotia Biologics Ltd (www.collagensolutions.com).

Constitutive expression of interferons and their downstream signalling pathways are proving to play a critical role(s) in host responses to cell transformation in the tumour microenvironment. Although interferon stimulated genes (ISGs) are classically associated with anti-viral defences and tumour suppression, emerging data suggests that a subset of ISGs is elevated in response to chronic endogenous IFN and/or self RNA exposure in the tumour microenvironment. This upregulation confers resistance to DNA damaging agents and mediates aggressive tumour growth.

We have identified a receptor that can regulate ISGs in cancer cells and that is highly over-expressed in some tumour types suggesting that it could be a candidate target for immunotherapy. This PhD project will involve using human tissues and human derived cancer cell models to validate the receptor as a potential anti-cancer and/or anti-viral immune therapy target. In addition, in collaboration with our industrial partner (Scotia Biologics Ltd) the student will be involved in producing and validating synthetic antibodies as biologic regulators of receptor activity and potential therapeutic agents. The project will use a range of cross-disciplinary approaches at the interface between biochemistry, cell biology, technology and clinical science. The range of techniques and skills required for the project will centre around proteomic analysis, gene editing, antibody technology and bioinformatics.

The project is based in the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre which is part of the Institute for Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) a state-of-the-art well equipped internationally recognised institute. The IGMM brings together over 500 research and support scientists in research programmes across the whole spectrum of basic, clinical and translational research. Edinburgh has often been voted as the city offering the highest quality of life in the UK, and is renowned for its affordability and rich cultural life.


Enquiries should be sent by email to Professor Kathryn Ball:
[Email Address Removed]


Candidates must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK BSc Honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK, in a relevant scientific field, such as Biochemistry, Biological Sciences or Neuroscience, or an MSc that includes research training. Above all they should be enthusiastic and self motivated. Applicants should send a CV, the contact details of 2 academic references (including email addresses) and a covering letter, explaining why the applicant wishes to carry out this project, by email to Professor Kathryn Ball:
[Email Address Removed]

Interviews are expected to take place approximately 2-3 weeks after the closing date for applications.

It is anticipated that the PhD Studentship will start in September 2017.

Funding Notes

PhD Studentship provides: an annual tax-free stipend of £17,500, increasing to £18,000 over the four years; tuition fees at UK/EU rates only; consumables; and contribution to travel expenses. International fees are not covered.



How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Clinical Medicine?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 206.93

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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