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Precision profiling the breast cancer microenvironment

Project Description

The cancer microenvironment contains many different cell types, including various subsets of immune cells and cancer-associated fibroblasts, which support cancer growth. Collectively this is known as the stroma. While we know that these cells can influence the behaviour of cancer cells, how their content and spatial distribution in relation to cancer cells dictates this, is unexplored.

Breast cancer remains the most common type of female cancer, affecting one in eight women in the UK. Five different molecular subtypes exist, with the luminal A and B subtypes the most common. These are exemplified by the presence of estrogen receptor (ER), which is used by clinicians to guide treatment.

Using tissue samples from human breast cancers, this project will investigate how the cell composition of breast cancers may influence patient outcome. In this multidisciplinary project involving collaboration with pathologists, clinicians, physicists and chemists, you will employ a range of cutting edge advanced molecular pathology imaging techniques designed to build up a complete picture of the content and context of one of most common types of breast cancers, luminal A breast cancer. These techniques will include: 1) analysis of the cancer microenvironment using whole slide digital pathology imaging of immunohistologically stained tissue sections, 2) raman spectroscopy to identify structural fingerprints of specific molecules in different types of breast cancers, 3) Fast Field-Cycling (FFC) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), pioneered by the University of Aberdeen, to identify subtle changes in tissue architecture which cannot be detected by conventional MRI or by histopathology.

The overall aim is to employ these measurements using tissue samples from a cohort of breast cancers with known outcomes to determine if the biomarker profiles generated by these techniques can help optimise risk stratification for breast cancer patients at an early stage of their disease. In the longer term, this may have potential to develop simple, inexpensive laboratory tests to help inform patient outcome.

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of MEDICAL SCIENCES. Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Sciences, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing.

NOTE CLEARLY THE NAME OF THE SUPERVISOR AND EXACT PROJECT TITLE ON THE APPLICATION FORM. Applicants are limited to applying for a maximum of 3 applications for funded projects. Any further applications received will be automatically withdrawn.

Funding Notes

This project is funded by a University of Aberdeen Elphinstone Scholarship. An Elphinstone Scholarship covers the cost of tuition fees only, whether home, EU or overseas.

For details of fees: View Website

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a First Class Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2:1 Honours degree may be considered provided they have a Distinction at Masters level.

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