Applications are invited for a 3-year full-time PhD studentship funded by the Barry Reed Cancer Research Fund and Barts Cancer Institute. The aim of this project is to test a novel hypothesis in how cancer starts, and to understand the natural emergence of cancers in human tissues.
Age is the single most common determinant of cancer: to first order, cancer is a disease of ageing. Gene alterations play an important role in driving cancer initiation and progression. Recently it has been shown that normal tissues, in all of us, from young ages, harbour a myriad of dangerous DNA mutations, sometimes in large clones of cells, as we get older. Yet most people will not develop cancer, so we are forced to go back to the blackboard and ask the question: What actually is causing cancer? How do tumours naturally emerge in human tissues?
In this project we will test an innovative hypothesis, based on our intriguing recent discovery that developmental reversion, in experimental human embryonic stem systems, induces transiently a cancer-like state. Potentially related to this, when our tissues are stressed and old, the regenerative process seems to reignite genes that are normally only expressed during embryonic developmental stages. Why this happens it is not known. What the consequence of this is and how this might relate to cancer is not known.
This project is aimed at an ambitious candidate with strong lab experience in biochemistry and/or molecular biology, with good numeracy skills, willing to undertake an interdisciplinary approach to solve this scientific problem. If you have programming skills or desire to learn programming and/or experience with working with mouse models it is a bonus. The project will commence in September 2021 and has funding for 3 years. The student will be based primarily at the Barts Cancer Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD), Charterhouse Square in the City of London.
We are a small scientific team, with strong track record in epigenetic mechanisms and we are core members of a wider Queen Mary University community of group leaders interested in epigenetics research (http://qmulepigenetics.com/home). At Barts Cancer Institute we have a strong sense of community, supportive of skills development with the emphasis on group driven research work creating a highly collaborative and sociable environment for PhD students.
English Language Requirements:
Applicants for whom English is not a first language will also require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (with 6.0 in the written component) or equivalent, unless your undergraduate degree was studied in, and awarded by, an English speaking country. For more information on acceptable English language qualifications please see here.
For an informal discussion, please contact the lead project supervisor: Dr Gabriella Ficz, firstname.lastname@example.org, subject ‘PhD applicant’.
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