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PhD Studentship – Resolving hepatocellular Tumour Immune MicroEnvironment (TIME) using in situ high dimensional analysis.

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  • Full or part time
    Dr c Wilson
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

Number of awards


Start date and duration

March 30 2020. The award covers a three year PhD studentship.

Application closing date



Immuno-oncology therapy has been heralded as a major breakthrough in Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), providing genuine hope that immunology-based therapies hold the key to providing dramatically better outcomes for the rising numbers of affected patients. Presently, immunotherapy with checkpoint inhibitors is unsatisfactory - with many patients showing little or no response and some having to cease treatment early due to adverse effects. Current HCC immune environment classification is based on bulk mRNA expression profiling and standard immunohistochemistry providing inadequate spatial resolution of the complex tumour immune microenvironment (TIME). Detailed knowledge of the composition of hepatocellular TIME in situ, including cell-cell interactions, will provide valuable information to guide personalized treatment decisions and identify additional treatment targets.

This Newcastle University scholarship is for a PhD student to study the composition of patient Hepatocellular TIME using High Dimensional Imaging Mass Cytometry, spatial transcriptomics (Visium) and preclinical mouse models of HCC. The project will focus on the interactions between immune cell populations within the tumour tissue using sophisticated imaging mass cytometry and Visium spatial transcriptomics transcriptomic methods.

Dr Caroline Wilson, Professor Muzlifah Haniffa ( and Dr Andrew Filby ( are affiliated with the Biosciences Institute ( and the Inflammation and Immunity (II) theme. The student will be integrated into the Biosciences Institute and II theme research environment.

We aim to nurture talent and support the successful candidate through the PhD programme. The successful candidate will receive wet lab research training, high dimensional data analysis skills alongside bioinformatics experts and mentorship to become a successful junior researcher. In addition, the student will receive training in animal handling and in the generation and analysis of humanized mouse models of liver cancer.


Newcastle University

Name of supervisor(s)

Dr Caroline Wilson

Professor Muzlifah Haniffa (

Dr Andrew Filby (

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility Criteria: You must have at least a 2:1 honours degree in a biological sciences discipline e.g. Immunology, Biomedical Sciences and an existing appropriate Masters degree or expected completion of this by the start of this studentship.

The award is only open to UK applicants.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system (

Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following information:
•insert the programme code 8300F in the programme of study section
•select ’PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences (full time) - Biosciences’ as the programme of study
•insert the studentship code bi004 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 bi004 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


Dr Caroline Wilson

[Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

The award covers UK tuition fees and living costs, with an annual stipend award commensurate with UKRI rates (for the academic year 2019/20 this is £15,009). Additional research costs will be met by the costs for the funded study.

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