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Understanding how the microbiota impacts metastatic niches in breast cancer (ROBINSONSU18BCN)

Project Description

Project Background:
Whilst prognosis for early stage breast cancer (BC) has seen significant improvements in recent years, metastatic BC remains incurable; five-year survival rates are only 15-20%, highlighting the need for new approaches. The gut microbiota is emerging as a promising therapeutic target in cancer. Several studies have shown that the microbiota can enhance cancer treatment efficacy through immune modulation. However, many BC patients may have a severely ‘disrupted’ microbiota due to antibiotics prescribed during BC treatment and currently we do not fully understand how these changes in the resident microbial populations impact disease outcomes. Using experimental mouse models we have shown that disrupting the microbiota with antibiotics accelerates primary mammary carcinoma.

This PhD project aims to test the hypothesis that manipulating the gut microbiota with antibiotics influences early metastatic processes by modulating immune responses.

The project is multi-disciplinary and the student will receive training in microbiology, in vivo mouse tumour models, immunology, bioinformatics and mathematical modelling approaches to understand how antibiotics affect microbiota profiles and tumour immune surveillance.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here: http://www.uea.ac.uk/biological-sciences/people/profile/stephen-robinson
Type of programme: PhD
Start date of project: October 2018
Mode of study: Full time

Acceptable first degree: 2:1 BSc Honours AND a Masters in Biological Sciences

Standard minimum entry requirement: 2:1.

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship is funded by Breast Cancer Now (breastcancernow.org). Funding is available to UK/EU applicants only for a maximum of 3 years and includes an annual stipend of £14,844 (rising to £15,444 in year 3)


i) Garrett, W. S. et al. Cancer and the microbiota. Science 348, 80–6 (2015).

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