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Self-funded BMS project: Rewiring RNA networks to train innate anti-tumour immunity

   York Biomedical Research Institute

About the Project

Cancer immunotherapy has transformed outcomes in clinical oncology. Yet, challenges remain: not all types of cancer respond to current immunotherapies, and for those types that significant benefits are observed, there are still patients who show poor responses. Current cancer immunotherapies target cells of the adaptive immune system. However, infiltration of solid tumours by innate immune cells, such as myeloid cells, is a hallmark of cancer, associated with disease progression. Distinct subsets of myeloid cells contribute to either pro- or anti-tumour responses, suggesting that their activity can be tunable and therapeutically targetable. Despite this, there are currently no cancer immunotherapies targeting myeloid cells. Here, you will explore ways of training innate immune cells so they can kill tumour cells. You will do this by studying RNA networks within these cells. You will use non-coding RNAs as keys that allow you to unlock and rewire these networks to promote anti-tumour activity of myeloid cells. The use of cutting-edge immunological, imaging, and omics techniques and a world-leading research environment will transform your enthusiasm for immunology to impactful scientific discoveries and comprehensive training in biomedicine.

You will work on primary myeloid cell cultures of mouse or human origin that will be exposed to candidate immunomodulatory agents prior to their co-culture with tumour cells. You will assess myeloid cell function and cytotoxic activity. You will have access to top-notch live cell imaging equipment that will allow real time monitoring of interactions between myeloid cells and tumour cells. Flow cytometry, cell sorting and gene expression analyses are some of the main techniques that will be utilized. Additionally, mouse models of solid tumour will be employed to verify the importance of the ex-vivo findings.

For this project, applicants should be (cancer) immunology enthusiasts and should be motivated to perform ex-vivo and in-vivo experimental approaches.

The York Biomedical Research Institute at the University of York is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Entry Requirements: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions. 

ProgrammePhD in Biomedical Science (3 years) or MSc by Research in Biomedical Science (1 year)

Start Date: 1st day of any month agreed with the supervisor (the student will be affiliated with HYMS)


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Funding Notes

This is a self-funded research project that can be undertaken either as an MSc by Research or as a PhD. Applicants need to have adequate funds to meet the costs of fees and living expenses for the duration of the programme.

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