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  (WIS) The interplay between the intratumoural microbiome, the type of cancer inflammation and the response to immunotherapy

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr Santiago Zelenay, Dr Ravid Straussman  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The project will be undertaken at two locations - the University of Manchester and Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. The time spent at each institution is flexible and will be determined by project progression. Candidates can discuss these arrangements with the supervisor.

Immunotherapies hold great potential for improving cancer patient outcomes. However, we do not fully understand why some patients respond to therapy while others do not. We know that inflammation – the body’s natural immune response – can both speed up and slow down tumour progression and can both promote and limit the response to immunotherapy. Different types of intratumoural inflammatory responses occur, but the instructive signals that dictate the ‘flavour’ of inflammation within the tumour bed are poorly defined. Dr Santiago Zelenay’s (CRUK Manchester Institute, University of Manchester) and Dr Ravid Straussman (Weizmann Institute) propose to tackle this central gap in knowledge building on recent ground-breaking work from their teams. Dr Zelenay’s team has established the inflammatory makeup of a tumour as a powerful predictor of patient survival and response to immunotherapy (Zelenay et al. Cell 2015, Bonavita et al. Immunity 2020, Pelly et al. Cancer Discovery 2021). Dr Straussman’s group has uncovered the existence of tumour type-specific bacteria across multiple human cancer types (Straussman et al. Nature 2012, Geller et al. Science 2017, Nejman et al. Science 2020, Narunsky-Haziza L et al. Cell 2022). Within this framework, the main aim of this PhD project will be to investigate the interplay between the intratumoural inflammatory response and the tumour microbiome with the overarching goal of providing new insights into the principles that dictate the outcome of immunotherapy. The successful candidate will undertake this four-year research project by combining expertise and approaches established in Dr Zelenay’s and Straussman’s groups in these two pioneering areas of cancer research.

This programme offers the opportunity to undertake a PhD project spending time in both The University of Manchester and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel as outlined on


Applicants must have obtained or be about to obtain a First or Upper Second class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in a relevant discipline. 

Before you Apply

Applicants must make direct contact with preferred supervisors before applying. It is your responsibility to make arrangements to meet with potential supervisors, prior to submitting a formal online application. 

How to Apply

Apply to PhD Cancer Sciences. On your application form in the funding section, state that you intend to apply for the WIS PhD studentships.

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website

Informal enquiries should be made directly to the primary supervisor Dr Santiago Zelenay - [Email Address Removed].

Your application form must be accompanied by a number of supporting documents by the advertised deadlines. Without all the required documents submitted at the time of application, your application will not be processed and we cannot accept responsibility for late or missed deadlines. Incomplete applications will not be considered. If you have any queries regarding making an application please contact our admissions team [Email Address Removed] 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

This project is funded under The University of Manchester and Weizmann Institute of Science Studentship. Funding covers fees (UK rate) and stipend for four years commencing in September 2023. Candidates will be required to split their time between Manchester and Israel, as outlined on The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a scholarship that will enable a full studentship to be awarded to international applicants. This full studentship will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this funding.
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