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Tumour microenvironment and colorectal cancer development: understanding the mechanisms of the tumour growth

Radcliffe Department of Medicine

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Prof D Kerr , Dr S Cai No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Our group has conducted a series of international adjuvant trials of chemotherapy for colorectal cancer (Kerr RS. et al, (2016), Lancet Oncol, 17, 1543 – 1557). In parallel, we have established a biorepository of tissue and constitutional DNA (n=3500) which has allowed us to generate a number of cancer susceptibility SNPs and commercial partners to characterise a prognostic mRNA signature which assists in selection of patients for chemotherapy and evaluation of drug resistance (Orlando G. et al, (2016), Hum Mol Genet, 25, 2349 – 2359).

About the research

Co-option of stromal cells and the tumour greatly influences tumour initiation, metastasis and particularly drug resistance. They altered profiling of gene expression and tumour metabolism in response to inflammatory infiltration and that is partially involved in cytokine networks.

The identification of cytokine signalling for gene expression and metabolisms across stromal cells and tumour will help us to understand the mechanisms of the tumour growth and potentially offer opportunities for biomarker discovery and hence therapeutic targets.

The student will acquire expertise in a wide range of state-of-the-art molecular and cell biological techniques, and bioinformatics analysis; consequently providing an excellent foundation for a research career. Formalised training and assessment of each technique by our members of the laboratory as appropriate. Our laboratory has clearly defined protocols to support training in specific experimental techniques. Standard operating procedures are regularly updated to ensure that methods are optimal.
As well as the specific training detailed above, students will have access to high-quality training in scientific and generic skills, as well as access to a wide-range of seminars and training opportunities through the many research institutes and centres based in Oxford.

The Department has a successful mentoring scheme, open to graduate students, which provides an additional possible channel for personal and professional development outside the regular supervisory framework. We hold an Athena SWAN Silver Award in recognition of our efforts to build a happy and rewarding environment where all staff and students are supported to achieve their full potential.

Funding Notes

Funding for this project is available to scientists through the RDM Scholars Programme, which offers funding to outstanding candidates from any country. Successful candidates will have all tuition and college fees paid and will receive a stipend of £18,000 per annum.

For October 2020 entry, the application deadline is 10th January 2020 at 12 noon (midday).

Please visit our website for more information on how to apply.


Tanskanen T. et al, (2018), Int J Cancer, 142, 540 – 546

Hutchins GGA. et al, (2018), Histopathology, 72, 391 - 404

Rodriguez-Broadbent H. et al, (2017), Int J Cancer, 140, 2701 – 2708

Sveen A. et al, (2017), Genome Med, 9

Kerr RS. et al, (2016), Lancet Oncol, 17, 1543 - 1557

Chen L. et al, (2016), Oncotarget, 7(8):9353-67

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