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Targeted anti-cancer therapy with CDK4/6 inhibitors

School of Medicine

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Dr A Saurin , Prof R Petty No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Dundee United Kingdom Cancer Biology Cell Biology Molecular Biology

About the Project

Start Date: 20/09/21

Division: Cellular Medicine

CDK4/6 inhibitors are the next big hope for pan-cancer chemotherapeutics. They are currently licenced to treat breast cancer, but they show broad-spectrum activity in many different preclinical models. There are currently 12 different CDK4/6 inhibitors being tested in over 100 clinical trials against various tumour types1. To facilitate these efforts, there is an urgent need to understand exactly how these drugs work2, because this information could help identify biomarkers and combination treatments that can predict and improve patient outcomes.

The Saurin lab has recently made the important discovery that CDK4/6 inhibitors work by inducing genotoxic damage; in a manner that is comparable, yet complementary, to other cytotoxic chemotherapeutics (manuscript in preparation). This exciting discovery explains how these drugs cause long-term cell cycle exit and it reveals potential biomarkers (p53) and effective combination treatments.

This studentship will follow this up in a range of cancer cell types, using a combination of high-content microscopy, CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing and phospho-proteomics. This project therefore offers a unique ability to perform cutting-edge fundamental science with the potential for immediate clinical impact.

Further details of the Saurin lab ( and Professor Russell Petty (


Applicants to complete the Application form and email to [Email Address Removed] along with a CV and 2 academic references by Monday 22nd March 2021.

Eligibility Requirements

First class honours degree, and/or a Masters degree in a relevant discipline. (Non-clinical applicants)

MBChB (clinical applicants)

English language requirements

IELTS minimum overall score of 6.5

Reading 5.5, Listening 5.5, Speaking 5.5 Writing 6.0

Funding Notes

Funded by the Ninewells Cancer Campaign
RCUK stipend rate for 4 years (non-clinical applicants)
University of Dundee Clinical Research Fellow scale for 3 years (clinical applicants)


1) Alvarez-Fernandez, M. & Malumbres, M. Mechanisms of Sensitivity and Resistance to CDK4/6 Inhibition. Cancer Cell 37, 514-529 (2020).
2) Klein ME, Kovatcheva M, Davis LE, Tap WD, Koff A. CDK4/6 Inhibitors: The Mechanism of Action May Not Be as Simple as Once Thought. Cancer Cell. 34, 9-20 (2018)

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