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Visualising and targeting Leukaemic Stem Cells in the Bone Marrow Microenvironment

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, February 25, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This project is one of 9 four-year PhD Studentships funded by Medical Research Scotland ( to be delivered jointly by the named University and Company. The Studentship will provide the first-class academic and commercial training needed to equip the successful candidate for a science career in an increasingly competitive market.

"Visualising and targeting Leukaemic Stem Cells in the Bone Marrow Microenvironment" to be delivered by the University of Glasgow [Supervisors: Dr Vignir Helgason (Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre (WWCRC), Institute of Cancer Sciences) and Dr. Leo Carlin (Institute of Cancer Sciences and Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute) and LifeArc ( [Company supervisor: Dr. Barbara Saxty].

Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is a cancer in the blood and develops following a specific mutation in a bone marrow (BM)-located blood stem cell. We and others have shown that CML stem cells are not killed with currently available drugs and can become resistant leading to relapse of patients. Therefore, CML stem cells represent a crucial target for anti-cancer treatment.

The BM microenvironment is essential for leukaemogenesis and can contribute to the drug resistance of CML stem cells. The main aim of our Medical Research Scotland PhD project is to understand how BM enviromental factors and cellular processes control the way in which CML stem cells function. The student will use the best laboratory models for CML, including live imaging of BM-located CML stem cells, to test novel pre-clinical drugs that block drug resistance pathways. We hope that results from this project will lead to the development of novel therapy options for CML and other stem cell driven leukaemias.

For this innovative project, the student will be located in the Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre and the CR-UK Beatson Institute (both world-class research facilities dedicated to cancer). The student will have access to advanced imaging technology required for the development of this project. This setup will also provide the student with a valuable opportunity to i) interact with experts and gain knowledge in different research areas, ii) work in world leading centres for translational research and training, and iii) be actively involved in drug-development collaboration.

The student will gain significant experience in the isolation of leukaemic stem cells, survival assays following in vivo/vitro drug treatments, live cells imaging, Western blotting, immunofluorescence and energy metabolism/autophagy assays (Mass-spec/Seahorse Extracellular Flux Analyser). The student will also join the Research Training Programme offered to all students studying for postgraduate degrees at the University of Glasgow. This will include various taught courses designed to help PhD students obtain a range of generic and transferable skills to enhance their personal/professional development. The student will have the opportunity to participate in public engagement events throughout the course of the programme to further develop his/her professional and personal skills.


Enquiries should be sent by email to Dr Vignir Helgason:

Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK, in relevant discipline. MRes/MSc would be desirable.

Applicants must submit their application through the University of Glasgow’s online application system. Please login via the following link:

Applicants should include a CV, the contact details of 2 references (including email addresses) and a covering letter, explaining why the applicant wishes to carry out this project, with their application.

Please note, by applying for this PhD Studentship you have agreed that your application may be shared with all parties involved in the PhD Studentship, including Medical Research Scotland and LifeArc.

Interviews are expected to take place 3-4 weeks after the closing date.

It is anticipated that the PhD Studentship will start in October 2019

Funding Notes

PhD Studentship provides: an annual tax-free stipend of £17,500, increasing to £18,000 over the four years; tuition fees at UK/EU rates only; consumables; and contribution to travel expenses. International fees are not covered.


How good is research at University of Glasgow in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 60.34

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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