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The role of the epigenetic diet in modulating apoptotic cell death in human carcinogenesis (ref: SF18/APP/Panagiotidis)

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  • Full or part time
    Prof M Panagiotidis
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Epigenetic modifications can contribute to carcinogenesis by various means including altering gene expression responsible for evading apoptotic cell death, abnormal cell proliferation, etc. Because such modifications are reversible (in contrast to genetic mutations), there is a growing interest in identifying molecules with the potential to interact with the cancer epigenome and thus restore its “normal” state. In this context, various dietary phytochemicals have been shown to regulate gene expression by means of modulating the epigenome in addition to exhibiting a plurality of other biological properties like anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, etc. To this end, such dietary phytochemicals have been shown to constitute the basis of the so-called “epigenetic diet”.
In the context of the proposed project, our lab has established various models of experimental human cancers (e.g. skin, prostate, oral, liver, breast, lung, etc.) where the involvement of the epigenome has been documented by our work and the work of others. In such models, the proposed project aims to uncover the role of the epigenetic machinery in modulating apoptotic cell death as a result of the action of specific phytochemicals like polyphenols and isothiocyanate compounds derived from cruciferous vegetables. This, in turn, is of utmost importance as it links the preventive action of these dietary phytochemicals to specific epigenetic modifications capable of altering apoptotic gene expression and thus possibly acting as potential biomarkers of therapeutic outcome.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications should include a covering letter that includes a short summary (500 words max.) of a relevant piece of research that you have previously completed. Applications that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF18/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 1st July 2019 for October 2019 start, or 1st December 2018 for March 2019 start
Start Date: October or March

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers

Funding Notes

This studentship is only open to self-funding candidates. Self-funding candidates are expected to pay University fees and to provide their own living costs. University fee bands are shown at

This project will incur fees at Band 4.


Mitsiogianni M, Amery T, Franco R, Zoumpourlis V, Pappa A, Panayiotidis MI. From chemo-prevention to epigenetic regulation: The role of isothiocyanates in skin cancer prevention. Pharmacol Ther, S0163-7258(18)30102-5, 2018 [Epub ahead of print]

Anestopoulos I, Voulgaridou GP, Georgakilas AG, Franco R, Pappa A, Panayiotidis MI. Epigenetic therapy as a novel approach in hepatocellular carcinoma. Pharmacol Ther, 145:103-19, 2015
Anestopoulos I, Sfakianos AP, Franco R, Chlichlia K, Panayiotidis MI, Kroll DJ, Pappa A. A Novel Role of Silibinin as a Putative Epigenetic Modulator in Human Prostate Carcinoma. Molecules, 22(1), pii: E62, 2016
Mantso T, Sfakianos AP, Atkinson A, Anestopoulos I, Mitsiogianni M, Botaitis S, Perente S, Simopoulos C, Vasileiadis S, Franco R, Pappa A, Panayiotidis MI. Development of a Novel Experimental In Vitro Model of Isothiocyanate-induced Apoptosis in Human Malignant Melanoma Cells. Anticancer Res, 36(12):6303-6309, 2016
Ziech D, Anestopoulos I, Hanafi R, Voulgaridou GP, Franco R, Georgakilas AG, Pappa A, Panayiotidis MI. Pleiotrophic effects of natural products in ROS-induced carcinogenesis: the role of plant-derived natural products in oral cancer chemoprevention. Cancer Lett, 327(1-2):16-25, 2012

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