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The Role of Long Non-coding RNAs in Immune and Blood Cancer Cell Differentiation

   Hull York Medical School

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  Prof D Lagos  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

If you are interested in blood cancer, immunology, cellular differentiation, and/or post-transcriptional gene regulation, this fully-funded PhD project is for you. The project will be supported by a supervisory team with expertise in immunology, haematology, and RNA biology (Lagos, Fielding, Boucher).  

The project will focus on the role of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in the differentiation of normal and cancerous immune cells, specifically lymphocytes. Using a multitude of cutting-edge approaches (including analysis of transcriptomics datasets from clinical samples, and development of cell culture models of primary immune and blood cancer cell differentiation), you will first explore how lncRNAs contribute to immune cell activation and function under stimuli that mimic normal antigenic stimulation. Our lab has already demonstrated lncRNAs that can act as critical regulators of immune responses. You will establish human cell models that allow you to direct lymphocyte differentiation to disease-relevant phenotypes and manipulate levels of selected lncRNAs with a view to altering outcomes. In parallel, you will explore how these mechanisms are perturbed and/or whether they can be therapeutically targeted when immune cells become cancerous, as in the case of acute lymphoblastic leukaemias (ALLs). This is critical, as little is known about the role of the non-coding transcriptome in these group of diseases and significant therapeutic challenges remain. For example, the 5-year survival rate for adults diagnosed with T-ALL is less than 50%.  

By the end of your PhD you will have made significant discoveries in the field of lymphocyte differentiation and non-coding RNA biology, building on the combination of basic and clinical science expertise of the host labs. You will graduate with extremely strong laboratory and transferrable skills and clear understanding of how these can be applied to advance immune responses and discovery of advanced therapeutics for blood cancer. 

 For informal inquiries, please contact Dimitris Lagos, [Email Address Removed]. 

Location and Research Culture 

The project will take place within the Experimental Medicine and Biomedicine group at Hull York Medical School at the University of York.  

Hull York Medical School is a unique partnership bringing together the expertise of both the Universities of Hull and York and offering a thriving environment in which to conduct world-leading research. Strong partnerships with NHS Trusts and community health organisations offer a wide clinical base that fosters translation of biomedical research to improve health. Our research is a key component of the York Biomedical Research Institute

You will be part of a vibrant post-graduate community within the medical school but also interacting with students from other PhD Programmes at the University of York. You will have access to the University of York Biosciences Technology Facility, allowing the use of cutting-edge equipment to support the research as needed for the project (e.g. imaging, bioinformatics etc.) You will be supported by a thesis advisory panel, and will follow a training programme on transferable and research skills.  

Named Academic 

Dimitris Lagos, Professor of Immunology, [Email Address Removed]  

Start Date 

1st October 2023 

Qualification Required 

In order to qualify for this scholarship you will require an undergraduate degree with at least a 2.1, or equivalent, in a relevant subject. English Language IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component. 

How to Apply 

All applications MUST BE submitted to Hull York Medical School via the online application method choosing option PhD in Medical Sciences 2023 October, full time or part time:   


The deadline for applications is the 15th February 2023 

 In order for the Panel to get a sense of your academic background, commitment and interest, you are required to complete the application form in full and provide a research proposal/outline of academic interest. Research proposals and personal statements may be used in selecting applicants for interview. If you have any queries on how to apply please email [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This 4-year full-time studentship will be funded by the Hull York Medical School. The funding will include:
Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£17,668 for 2022/23 academic year)
UK tuition fees.
Research support and training charges, covering laboratory consumables and training costs.
International and EU students will need to have sufficient funds to cover the difference in fee costs (see laboratory-based degrees https://www.york.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/fees/international/ ) and the costs of their student visa, NHS health surcharge, travel insurance and transport to the UK as these will not be covered by the studentship.
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