Multiomic study of the interaction between tumours and their microenvironment

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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

About the Project

Cancer genomics has transformed the landscape of cancer research, leading to the discovery of numerous previously unknown driver genes and spawning whole new fields of study, including mutational signatures1 and tumour evolution2. Over the same period, imaging technologies that allow the capture of multiomic data from single cells in situ, preserving their spatial relationships, have transformed studies of the tumour microenvironment (TME), enabling direct observation of the full repertoire of immune cells3, in addition to the cell matrix surrounding tumours4, and metabolic processes including hypoxia5.

In this project, you will apply multiple spatial technologies including Spatial Transcriptomics; Hyperion imaging mass cytometry; Desorption Electrospray Ionisation Imaging Mass Spectrometry (DESI) and Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Imaging Mass Spectrometry (MALDI) Mass Spectrometry Imaging (MSI) metabolomics; and spatial genomics to a cohort of primary or metastatic cancers. Starting with genomics, you will reconstruct the evolutionary trajectories of the tumours, before overlaying aligned trajectories at the RNA, protein and metabolite level. Spatial features will be identified at the cell, community and tissue level, and interactions between cell communities, including tumour, immune and stromal cells will be identified.

Entry Requirements

Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area/subject. Candidates with previous laboratory experience are particularly encouraged to apply.

How To Apply

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website ( Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select the appropriate subject title.

For international students, we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

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”

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Mathematics (25)

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 1 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website View Website


1. Alexandrov et al. Signatures of mutational processes in human cancer. Nature 500:415-421 (2013)
2. Gerstung et al. The evolutionary history of 2,658 cancers. Nature 578:122-128 (2020)
3. Schurch et al. Coordinated Cellular Neighborhoods Orchestrate Antitumoral Immunity at the Colorectal Cancer Invasive Front. Cell 182:1341-1359 (2020)
4. Winkler et al. Concepts of extracellular matrix remodelling in tumour progression and metastasis. Nature Communications 11:5120 (2020)
5. Moncada et al. Integrating microarray-based spatial transcriptomics and single-cell RNA-seq reveals tissue architecture in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas. Nature Biotechnology 38:333-342 (2020)

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