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PhD in Cancer Biology - The relationship between uptake and efflux transporters in Breast Cancer

   Biosciences Institute

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  Dr Simon Lowes, Dr A P Meeson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Number of awards


Start date

19 September 2022

Award duration

3 Year funded PhD


This PhD project will explore the role of transport proteins in Breast Cancer.

Transporter proteins confer on cells the ability to uptake and efflux different molecules. These include the solute carrier (SLC) superfamily (incorporating the SLCO and the SLC22A families), which mediate solute uptake into cells, and the ABC family, which mediates efflux out of cells. These transporter families are important in breast cancer (BC) and in breast imaging, because certain members of these families transport estrogens, anticancer drugs, and MRI contrast agents. Thus transporters conceivably play a role in BC pathogenesis, treatment, and radiological diagnosis.

Our previous work on ABC transporters has shown upregulated expression of members of the ABC family in hormonally-regulated breast and ovarian cancer. We have shown partial reversal of paclitaxel resistance in ovarian cancer cells via inhibition of ABCB1-expressing cancer stem cell population known as side population (SP) cells. We have reported that MCF7 (hormone responsive) and MDA-MB-231 (hormone non-responsive) BC cell lines contain SP cells, the MCF7 SP cells having increased expression of ABCG2 and increased resistance to the chemotherapeutic drug mitoxantrone, compared to the MCF7 non-SP cells (NSP).

In this project the student will explore the functional role of these transporters in the context of both BC and breast imaging, as well as increasing our understanding of transporter expression in different histological subtypes of BC.

As potential targets for BC treatment, targeting of single ABC transporters has not proven effective clinically. We hypothesise this may be due to the need to target more than one transporter and potentially more than one type of transporter.


Women’s Cancer Detection Society

Name of supervisor/s

Dr Simon Lowes (primary) and Dr Annette Meeson (co-supervisor)

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree or international equivalent, in a subject relating to cancer biology, including cell biology and human genetics. Further qualification such as an MRes is advantageous.

This award is available to home and international applicants. Successful international candidates will be required to make up the difference between the home fees and international fees.

Successful EU applicants will be considered for the Vice-Chancellor’s EU Research Scholarship:

English Language requirements: IELTS 6.5 overall, with 5.5 or more in each sub-skill.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’.

Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following information:

• insert the programme code 8420F in the programme of study section

• select ‘PhD Biosciences (FT) as the programme of study

• insert the studentship code BI055 in the studentship/partnership reference field

• attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote the studentship reference code BI055 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project

• attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications

Contact Details

[Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

100% of home tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £16,062 (full award)
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