Polo-like kinase inhibitors for targeted treatment of adrenocortical carcinoma

   Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research

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  Dr C L Ronchi, Dr P Foster  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Dr Ronchi is a clinician scientist and an Endocrinologist with long-standing expertise in endocrine tumors. Her research field mostly focuses on molecular markers involved in the pathogenesis and prognosis of adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC), a rare orphan disease with several unmet needs.

Dr Foster is a cancer biologist and expert in drug discovery as well as IMSR Lead for Postgraduate Research and Senior Tutor. His research field focuses on new drug targets for endocrine-related cancers.

This PhD project will focus on the investigation of innovative targeted drug treatments for ACC. Preliminary studies have shown that polo-like kinase family members are highly expressed in ACC. Thus, we intend to test the mechanism of action and the efficacy of different polo-like kinase inhibitors – alone or in combination with other compounds – both in vitro (using in several ACC cell models) and in vivo.

The ultimate goal of Dr Ronchi’s research will be to improve the clinical outcome of patients with ACC through a personalised management approach (precision medicine).

IMSR represents an ideal environment for the success of the project and for the PhD student training thanks to the availability of cutting-edge genomic facilities, support from core infrastructure, accessibility to biomaterial, link with the clinical departments at University Hospital Birmingham and a collaborative, international and inclusive atmosphere.

Person Specification

Applicants should have a background in molecular biology and cell culture. They should have a commitment to translational research in the field of oncology or endocrinology and to multidisciplinary teamwork. They should hold or realistically expect to obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a relevant subject (e.g. Endocrine Oncology).  

To be considered for this studentship, please send the following documents to Dr Cristina Ronchi ([Email Address Removed]) and Dr Paul Foster ([Email Address Removed]):

•             A detailed CV, including your nationality and country of birth;

•             Names and addresses of two referees;

•             A covering letter highlighting your research experience/capabilities;

•             Copies of your degree certificates with transcripts;

•             Evidence of your proficiency in the English language, if applicable.

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)


Targeted Gene Expression Profile Reveals CDK4 as Therapeutic Target for Selected Patients With Adrenocortical Carcinoma.
Liang R, Weigand I, Lippert J, Kircher S, Altieri B, Steinhauer S, Hantel C, Rost S, Rosenwald A, Kroiss M, Fassnacht M, Sbiera S, Ronchi CL.Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020 Apr 16;11:219.
Targeted Molecular Analysis in Adrenocortical Carcinomas: A Strategy Toward Improved Personalized Prognostication.
Lippert J, Appenzeller S, Liang R, Sbiera S, Kircher S, Altieri B, Nanda I, Weigand I, Gehrig A, Steinhauer S, Riemens RJM, Rosenwald A, Müller CR, Kroiss M, Rost S, Fassnacht M, Ronchi CL.J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Dec 1;103(12):4511-4523.

Where will I study?

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 About the Project