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  Understanding alpha particle radiation-induced DNA damage repair and transdisciplinary approaches to environmental cancer prevention and early detection

   Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

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  Dr A Goodarzi  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The GOAL of this work is to find effective ways to reduce the future burden of environmental cancers, including lung cancers caused by radioactive radon gas, air pollutants, and heavy metals in our air and water, using biology and epidemiology with a strong emphasis on knowledge implementation and science communication.

The FOCUS of this doctoral project is to understand how repetitive exposure to alpha particle radiation causes DNA mutations in our bodies that increase risk of cancer. Students working on this project will use genetic models systems (including gene-edited human cell lines and yeast) to identify molecular pathways that respond to the formation of the clustered, complex DNA damage caused by alpha particle radiation. A major goal is to understand why alpha particle induced DNA damage is challenging for cells to repair. Depending on the student's interest, this project could also potentially leverage atomic physics and epidemiological approaches in order to develop novel methods of assessing lifetime exposure to radon gas that can be implemented within health care systems as a new criteria for cancer screening.

Students will gain SKILLS in: cell and molecular biology, advanced microscopy, gene editing, DNA repair biology, genetics, radiation sciences, mass spectrometry, epidemiology, knowledge implementation, multivariate analysis, and/or science communication.

Study will be LOCATED at: The University of Calgary's Charbonneau Cancer Institute (, which is located within the Cumming School of Medicine in Calgary, approximately 45 minutes drive from the Rocky Mountains in the province of Alberta, in Canada. You can learn more about Alberta by visiting

Applicant REQUIREMENTS: The ideal candidate should have a BSc (hons) or an MSc or MPhil degree in the fields of Biology, Biochemistry, or an equivalent field. Knowledge of the DNA damage response field is a major bonus, as is an interest in transdisciplinary approaches to problem solving.

IMPORTANT: An equivalent BSc Grade Point Average of 3.5 (out of 4.0) or higher is essential. In UK this would equate to a first or upper second class BSc degree. Fluency in spoken and written English is also essential.

Biological Sciences (4) Environmental Sciences (13) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

This is a fully funded doctoral project open to citizens and permanent residents of Canada, UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and all European Union nations. Priority will be given to those who are eligible for direct entry to the PhD program.


This project is a part of The Evict Radon National Study (, a publicly funded, Canada-wide project using transdisciplinary approaches to reducing environmental cancer burdens