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The identification and validation of predictive markers of poor outcome in Triple Negative Breast Cancers (TNBCs) following DNA damaging chemotherapy treatment

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  • Full or part time
    Dr P Mullan
    Dr N O'Brien
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description


Triple negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are a poorly defined, heterogeneous subtype of breast cancers with poor clinical outcomes. It is becoming apparent that within this subtype there appear to be at least two further breast cancer subpopulations with respective good and poor outcomes to current (FEC) chemotherapy treatment. Using an in-house microarray dataset we wanted to identify genes showing discriminatory power to predict FEC outcome. Traditional bioinformatic approaches such as using differentially expressed genes did not produce any significant genes, highlighting TNBC heterogeneity. Therefore, an ‘elastic net’ approach was utilised which we have previously shown to have utility in TNBC. Elastic Net analyses generated a gene signature which predicts outcome in both our in-house and external (publically available) TNBC datasets. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) screening for one of these predictive markers showed that its expression positively predicted for relapse to FEC. We now want to refine this signature further by interrogating the underlying biology driving the expression of these markers. These investigations could potentially assist clinicians in making a better-informed decision of which TNBC patients are likely to relapse following first line FEC chemotherapy treatment. They may also provide insights into alternative/additional therapies aimed at improving survival rates for this aggressive disease.


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


DEL Research Studentships

Eligibility for both fees and maintenance (£14,057 for 2015/16, 2016/17 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:


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.

Related Subjects

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