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Leukaemic Stem Cells and Their Takeover of the Bone Marrow

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  • Full or part time
    Dr C Berry
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Medical Research Scotland
PhD Studentship Award

This project is one of 15 PhD Studentships funded by Medical Research Scotland (http://www.medicalresearchscotland.org.uk) 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.

"Investigating Leukaemic Stem Cell Opportune Remodeling of the Bone Marrow Microenvironment" to be delivered by the University of Glasgow [Supervisors: Dr Catherine Berry (Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology), Dr Helen Wheadon (Paul O’Gorman Leukaemia Research Centre) and Professor Matthew Dalby (Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology)] and Collagen Solutions Plc (www.collagensolutions.com) [Company supervisor: Mr Grahame Busby].

Haemopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are specialised cells with the ability to (1) renew themselves and produce more stem cells or (2) to mature - a process called differentiation which produces mature blood cells. HSCs reside in the bone marrow ’niche’, a microenvironment, which supports these processes. Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is characterised by the proliferation of of leukaemic stem cells (LSCs) in the bone marrow. The progression and development of CML is encouraged by the establishment of a self-enforcing LSC niche, where LSCs remodel the healthy bone marrow niche to their advantage (ie. move in and takeover).

To date it has proved difficult to target LSCs with current therapies and to study exactly how they manage to dominate and alter the niche microenvironment. Recently, using tissue engineering, we have developed an artificial 3D niche model in the lab, comprising four resident niche cell types; mesenchymal stem cells, HSCs, endothelial cells and osteoblasts. The model is centred around a collagen gel culture, mimicking the bone marrow structure. By utilising this model system, we aim to provide insight into the microenvironmental changes that LSCs confer and how these changes influence the resident cells.

This niche model will also provide an excellent platform for drug screening in leukaemia. The second phase of the project will concentrate on this aspect, testing current therapies alongside drugs that target pathways involved in LSCs self-renewal.


Enquiries should be sent by email to Dr Catherine Berry:
[Email Address Removed]


Candidates must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK BSc Honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK, in an appropriate discipline. If English is not the candidate’s first language then appropriate competence and qualifications, as per the University of Glasgow’s guidelines (http://www.gla.ac.uk/international/englishlanguagerequirements/#tabs=1), must be in place.

Applicants should send (1) a CV; (2) two references on headed paper (academic or professional); (3) final or current degree transcripts including grades (scanned copy in colour or original document); (4) degree certificates (scanned colour copy of original document); and (5) a covering letter, explaining why the applicant wishes to carry out this project, by email to Dr Catherine Berry:
[Email Address Removed]

Interviews are expected to take place approximately 4 weeks after the closing date for applications.

It is anticipated that the PhD Studentship will start in October 2016.

Funding Notes

PhD Studentship provides: an annual tax-free stipend of £16,500, increasing to £17,000 over the four years; tuition fees at UK/EU rates only; consumables; and contribution to travel expenses. International fees are not covered.


(1) Centre for Cell Engineering (lab where studentship will be held) - http://www.cceuog.co.uk
(2) Dr. Catherine Berry (primary supervisor) - www.gla.ac.uk/researchinstitutes/biology/staff/catherineberry
(3) Dr. Helen Weadon (secondary supervisor) - www.gla.ac.uk/researchinstitutes/cancersciences/staff/helenwheadon
(4) Institute of Molecular, Cell & Systems Biology (Research Institute) - www.gla.ac.uk/researchinstitutes/biology/

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)

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