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(MRC DTP) Determining potential targets to enhance radiotherapy treatment of cancer by activating the immune system

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Travis
    Prof K Williams
    Prof Tim Illidge
  • 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

Cancer causes more than one in four of all deaths in the UK, and despite recent advances in therapy, much more still needs to be done to identify new treatments, and to make existing treatments more effective.
Radiation therapy has been a long standing treatment for cancer, but does not always work and can cause long-term side effects. Such side-effects including the devastating disorder fibrosis, where normal tissue becomes scarred and non-functional. The aim of this PhD studentship is to better understand why radiotherapy doesn’t always work, and how side-effects like fibrosis occur.

The PhD will focus on a crucial molecule called TGF-beta, which is a powerful molecule in controlling many aspects of biology. Of importance here, TGF-beta is a major molecule that can inhibit immune responses, and can also cause fibrosis. The idea that we will test in this project is that radiotherapy upregulates pathways that activate TGF-beta, so stopping the immune system attacking the cancer is some situations, and also driving fibrosis.

The PhD project will use a cross-disciplinary approach, combining immunology techniques with molecular and cellular cancer studies, to identify vital pathways by which radiotherapy can be improved. We will use a combination of cell culture models, mouse models, and human patient samples to determine mechanisms that control the function of TGF-beta which are detrimental in outcome of cancer treatment. Thus, the project will provide a unique training opportunity combining immunological skills with cancer biology, identifying crucial mechanisms that may be targeted to promote better outcomes to radiotherapy.

Mark Travis:
Kaye Williams:
Tim Illidge:

Entry Requirements:
Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Funding Notes

This project is to be funded under the MRC Doctoral Training Partnership. If you are interested in this project, please make direct contact with the Principal Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. You MUST also submit an online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the MRC DTP website

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.

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