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Role of RNA-translational machinery in anti-cancer effects of 5-Fluorouracil.

Project Description

5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is an analogue of Uracil that is used for treatment of a wide range of tumours, including colorectal cancers. Despite the extensive use of 5-FU for treatment of colorectal cancers, less than one-third of patients achieve objective responses, highlighting the need for better understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to the cancer cell’s resistance to 5_FU. Importantly, incorporation of cellular derivatives of 5-FU into RNAs, interferes with several RNA-related processes inculding maturation of rRNA, tRNA, and mRNA precursors. Thus, the surveillance mechanisms that monitor quality of cellular RNAs, have a critical role in cellular response to 5-FU, which could serve as potential drug targets, to enhance the anti-cancer effects of 5-FU or mitigate associated toxicities.

Working between the functional genomics and RNA biology groups in the CCRCB, the prospective PhD student will apply a range of state-of-the art RNA-biology and genomics techniques and data analytics to investigate the cellular mechanisms that contribute to detection and suppression of RNAs in response to 5-FU treatment. We hypothesize cells detect the presence of 5-FU and its derivatives in RNAs, followed by inducing degradation of the aberrant RNAs, which thus would help cancer cells to resist the cytotoxic effects of 5-FU treatment.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

INTO Queen’s English Language Courses offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained at: https://www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/Applying/University-Preparation-Courses/INTOEnglishlanguagecoursesatQueens/

Funding Notes

*FUNDING CONFIRMED – Department for the Economy (DfE) Award*

Eligibility for both fees (£4,327 for 2019/20, 2020/21 TBC) and maintenance (£15,009 for 2019/20, 2020/21 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

For further details re eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the following link: View Website


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, website for further details about the Centre:


When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School.

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