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Targeting Cannabinoid Receptors for the Treatment of Colorectal Cancer

   School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition

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  Dr J Hislop, Prof Graeme Murray, Dr M McLean, Dr L Samuel  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Aberdeen United Kingdom Biochemistry Cancer Biology Pharmacology

About the Project

We invite applications for a competitively funded PhD investigating the role of cannabinoid receptors in the development of colorectal cancer (CRC) and their potential utility in therapeutics. CRC accounts for 12% of all diagnosed cancers and new therapeutic strategies are required for its treatment. One highly promising target is the cannabinoid receptor family of G-protein-coupled receptors. These receptors are activated by molecules produced by the body (the endocannabinoid system) as well as those found in the cannabis plant and are thought to be a promising and exciting target for a range of conditions, including cancer, where activation has been shown to be beneficial in slowing cancer cell growth.

This project will investigate the expression and function of the cannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoid system in patient tumour samples from different stages of colorectal cancer disease progression to determine the utility of the cannabinoid system as diagnostic or prognostic markers and as targets for the development of therapeutics. In parallel, the project will investigate the pharmacology of novel compounds at the cannabinoid receptors to determine their ability to reduce Colorectal cancer growth. These studies will be validated using a novel and exciting organoid 3D culture technique, that using primary tumour tissue to be grown in a controlled environment while maintaining the complexity of the physiological tumour environment.

Skills and Academic Environment

The student will gain important training in a wide range of techniques including tissue processing, histology and qPCR, cell and tissue culture including organoid culture, and a range of biochemical assays of cell growth and apoptosis, western blotting, flow cytometry and fluorescent microscopy.

The student will join the Institute of Medical Sciences within the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition at the University of Aberdeen which will provide a unique environment providing scientific enrichment to enable successful execution of the proposed studentship. The supervisory team combines pharmacology tissue biology, oncology and clinical pathology to provide expertise on the complex biology occurring during the development of colorectal cancer as well as experience of the challenges faced within the clinic. This will be invaluable to the development of the student as a researcher. We are fully committed to promoting an inclusive and supportive research culture and the students are encouraged to take part in public engagement events, networking events and take proactive leadership roles in these.


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.


Funding Notes

This is a competition funded project including tuition fees and stipend at UKRI rates (for 2021-22. this is £15,609 pa). Overseas candidates can apply for this studentship but will have to find additional funding to cover the difference between overseas and home fees (approximately £17,000 per annum).
Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree may be considered provided they have a Merit/Commendation/Distinction as Master's level.
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