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Targeting DNA damage repair deficiency in MDS

Project Description

Some patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) can develop the more aggressive acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). These diseases occur in the older population and have poor outcome mainly due to low level of tolerance of intensive chemotherapy.

In breast cancer, a gene expression based test has been used to identify solid tumours that have defects in their ability to repair damaged DNA. Using a similar approach, we found that a large proportion of patients with MDS, particularly those that progress to AML, also have a DNA repair defect. From the most common genetic mutations that drive this DNA repair defect, we have identified a significant number of mutations in genes that that control how DNA is structured and the way that genes are “stitched” together during RNA splicing. Our studies have examined the molecular consequences of mutations in RNA splicing and DNA structure genes, both of which can have an impact on the way that DNA is repaired; a DNA repair deficiency that can be manipulated to enhance existing or novel therapies to improve outcomes in elderly patients.

This project will combine laboratory, computational and pre-clinical studies to explore the role of deficiencies in DNA repair as a therapeutic target in MDS and particularly during disease progression towards AML. This study will further understand the role of DNA repair in MDS, investigate the interaction of specific mutations in DNA repair and identify novel therapeutic targets and agents for MDS/AML to improve patient outcomes.


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:

The English Language Unit (ELU) 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 from the ELU

Funding Notes

*FUNDING CONFIRMED – UK MDS Patient Support Group*

Eligibility for both fees (£4327 for 2019/20) and maintenance (£15,009 for 2019/20) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK or EU resident.


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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