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Understanding metabolism in the blood cancer multiple myeloma and its precursor condition MGUS

   Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology

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  Prof Warwick Dunn, Prof Chris Bunce  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Applications will be reviewed until a suitable candidate is appointed and funding is available.

Cancers are one of the major diseases leading to death globally and research to understand the molecular mechanisms which lead to cancer development, to identify treatment targets or to identify biomarkers for early diagnosis remains a major focus. All cancers have a metabolic component with the most commonly known being the Warburg effect.

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a blood cancer which effects blood plasma cells, a white blood cell which produces antibodies. More than 5000 people are diagnosed with MM each year in the UK. Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) is the distinct and frequently non-symptomatic precursor to Multiple Myeloma. Understanding metabolic perturbations in MGUS and how these lead to transition to MM is an important research question to reduce the severity of disease symptoms and increase survival rates through improved treatments. The application of metabolomics provides a research tool to study metabolism on the global scale.

The PhD research project will be focused on the application of untargeted and targeted metabolomics tools to study biofluids and cellular samples from MGUS and MM patients to define metabolic changes over time in relation to progression from MGUS to MM.

You will be immersed in a multi-disciplinary research environment across the Universities of Liverpool and Birmingham. The supervisors view a PhD primarily as a training opportunity and both will provide training in a range of areas including (1) Personal development (e.g. personal effectiveness); (2) Metabolism, metabolomics, analytical chemistry and bioinformatics; (3) In-vitro cell models: the student will receive face-to-face training from the group of Bunce on the design and operation of primary and immortalised human cell culture; (4) Study design and operation in clinical studies including ethical considerations.

The project is suited to a biology/biochemistry/chemistry student with either a first or upper second BSc/MSci degree (or equivalent) as a minimum.

For any enquiries and to express your interest in applying for this studentship, please contact Professor WB Dunn on: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

The project is open to both UK, European and International students. It is UNFUNDED and applicants are encouraged to contact the Principal Supervisor directly to discuss their application, the project and applying for funding. Assistance cab be given to those who are applying to international funding schemes. Details of costs can be found on the University website:
A £2000 ISMIB Travel and Training Support Grant may be available to new self-funded applicants.


1. Dunn, W.B., Broadhurst, D.I., Atherton, H.J., Goodacre, R. and Griffin, J.L., 2011. Systems level studies of mammalian metabolomes: the roles of mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Chemical society reviews, 40(1), pp.387-426.
2. Lodi, A., Tiziani, S., Khanim, F.L., Günther, U.L., Viant, M.R., Morgan, G.J., Bunce, C.M. and Drayson, M.T., 2013. Proton NMR-based metabolite analyses of archived serial paired serum and urine samples from myeloma patients at different stages of disease activity identifies acetylcarnitine as a novel marker of active disease. PloS one, 8(2), p.e56422.
3. Masarwi, M., DeSchiffart, A., Ham, J. and Reagan, M.R., 2019. Multiple myeloma and fatty acid metabolism. JBMR plus, 3(3), p.e10173.
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