CRUK Cambridge Centre MRes + PhD in Cancer Biology

Information for non-clinical student applicants for 2018

The CRUK Cambridge Centre is a dynamic collaboration of academic researchers, clinicians, and the pharmaceutical and biotech industries based in the Cambridge area. We combine world-class science and technology with excellent patient care to pioneer new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer. By working together across different disciplines, we are breaking down the barriers between the laboratory and the clinic, enabling patients to benefit from the latest innovations in cancer science.

More than 600 laboratory researchers and physicians are united through a 12 programme structure that brings together investigators working on: Aerodigestive, Breast, Haematological, Brain, Ovarian, Paediatric, Pancreatic and Urological cancers. An additional four programmes focus on: ‘Cancer Imaging’ to promote our world-leading expertise in laboratory and clinical imaging research; ‘Cell and Molecular Biology’, to engage our colleagues working in all aspects of biology relevant to cancer; ‘Early Detection’ to support this special area of research emphasis in our CRUK Major Centre; and ‘Onco-Innovation’ to provide a collaboration point for our colleagues in the pharmaceutical industry (e.g. AstraZeneca, Medimmune) as well as members from University departments in the physical sciences. 

This extensive research effort is supported by a state-of-the-art research environment that includes:

  • World-class research facilities for basic and clinical research
  • Nationally and internationally recognised centres of excellence – the Cambridge Centre is one of only two CRUK Major Centres, and Cambridge is a hub for Early Detection and Precision Medicine.
  • Outstanding opportunities for translational research – the wealth of basic research across the Centre fuels major efforts to translate fundamental scientific discoveries to benefit patients with cancer.  

The CRUK Cambridge Centre is lauching an innovative new MRes/PhD programme comprising of a first year MRes degree with three components:

  • Two 15 week research rotations 
  • A weekly ‘Lectures in Cancer Studies’ series and 1 week intensive teaching in genomic medicine, to cover the wide breadth of basic and applied cancer biology
  • A 1-2 week placement in a patient-facing setting to give insight into the rewards and challenges of cancer research

Successful completion of the 1 year MRes programme, including assessment of rotation project write-ups and defense of a PhD proposal, will lead directly on to a 3 year PhD (with a potential further year of funding for completion and writing up), usually in one of the rotation project host laboratories.

Five CRUK Cambridge Centre MRes + PhD studentships are available for non-clinical applicants, to commence in October 2018.

Students will choose one of the CRUK Cambridge Centre Programmes listed below, within which they will select their MRes rotation projects. The MRes rotation projects offered by each Programme are also listed under each Programme (click on the project title for further information):

Cellular and Molecular Biology Programme 
Designing Targeted Protein Degradation tools for future Therapeutics
Supervisors: Catherine Lindon, Laura Itzhaki
Laboratory location: Department of Pharmacology

Investigating the role of FAM190A in cell division and oesophageal cancer
Supervisor: Paolo D’Avino
Second supervisor: Rebecca Fitzgerald
Laboratory location: Department of Pathology

Novel factors in the DNA damage response
Supervisor: Svetlana Khoronenkova
Second supervisor: Luca Pellegrini
Laboratory location: Department of Biochemistry

Regulation of DNA replication by checkpoint kinases
Supervisor: Philip Zegerman
Second supervisor: Steve Jackson
Laboratory location: Gurdon Institute

Early Detection Programme
Global epigenetic reprogramming and cancer
Supervisor: Wolf Reik 
Second supervisor: Richard Gilbertson
Laboratory location: Babraham Institute

In-situ lineage tracking with 1 million inducible DNA barcodes
Supervisor: Jamie Blundell
Laboratory location: Hutchison/MRC Research Centre 

Cancer incidence in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers participating in the EMBRACE prospective cohort
Supervisor: Antonis Antoniou
Second supervisor: Paul Pharoah
Laboratory location: Strangeways Research Laboratory

Haematological Cancers Programme
Characterisation of disordered metabolism in the stem cell niche during leukaemia evolution
Supervisor: Brian Huntly 
Second supervisor: Simón Méndez-Ferrer
Laboratory location: Cambridge Institute for Medical Research

Investigating transcriptional dysregulation during the early stages of leukaemogenesis at single cell resolution
Supervisor: Bertie Gottgens
Second supervisor: Larissa Carnevalli
Laboratory location: Stem Cell Institute

Role of GNA13 in lymphoid malignancies
Supervisor: Daniel Hodson
Laboratory location: Department of Haematology / Stem Cell Institute

Neurobiology and Brain Cancers Programme / Paediatric Cancers Programme
Why are some neuroblastoma tumours resistant to differentiation?
Supervisor: Anna Philpott
Laboratory location: Hutchison/MRC Research Centre / Stem Cell Institute

Identification of a highly proliferative glioma progenitor
Supervisor: David Rowitch
Second supervisor: Steve Pollard
Laboratory location: Stem Cell Institute

Differential gene expression in osteosarcoma
Supervisor: Matthew Allen
Laboratory location: Department of Veterinary Medicine

Intracellular antibodies targeting the super-controller Myc
Supervisor: Heike Laman
Laboratory location: Department of Pathology

Investigating an infectious aetiology for paediatric lymphoma
Supervisor: Suzanne Turner
Second supervisor: Amos Burke
Laboratory location: Department of Pathology

Urological Cancers Programme
Mapping the origins of tumour development using single-cell technology
Supervisor: Charlie Massie
Second supervisor: Vincent Gnanapragasam
Laboratory location: Hutchison/MRC Research Centre (Dept. Oncology)

Molecular basis of inherited renal cell carcinoma (RCC)
Supervisor: Eamonn Maher
Laboratory location: Academic Laboratory of Medical Genetics

Overcoming challenges of cell free DNA detection in kidney cancer
Supervisor: Grant Stewart
Second supervisor: Nitzan Rosenfeld
Laboratory location: Department of Surgery

One of the main principles of the Centre is the open exchange of scientific knowledge and skills across the many disciplines involved in cancer science, creating a culture of continuous learning and development for all members. By being part of the Centre, students will also have the opportunity to attend a number of lecture series, workshops and meetings aimed at facilitating and strengthening collaborations between complimentary disciplines and across different departments and institutes.

Funding
The CRUK Cambridge Centre MRes + PhD studentships include full funding from Cancer Research UK to cover the University Composition Fee (at Home/EU rate), a travel and consumables budget, and a stipend, which is currently £19,000 per annum. In addition, the CRUK Cambridge Centre and the Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust provide joint funding for one overseas non-clinical student each academic year.

How to apply
Applications, including a CV and a Reasons for Applying statement (2,500 character limit), must be made via the University of Cambridge Graduate Admissions website.  Applicants must select up to two Programmes (a first and second choice) from the five listed above, and this should be clearly stated in their Reasons for Applying statement.

We invite applications from UK, EU and non-EU students for these non-clinical studentships. Please ensure you meet the University of Cambridge entrance requirements. 

If you are a clinical student you need to apply for a Clinical Research Training Fellowship via the University of Cambridge Job Opportunities website (applications will open 1 October 2017, with a deadline of 30 November 2017).

Interview and selection process
Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application via email by early January 2018.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend a day of interviews at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute on 18 or 19 January 2018. Reasonable travel costs will be reimbursed.

You will be interviewed by a panel of Principal Investigators from the CRUK Cambridge Centre, including members of the Programme you have applied to, and you will be given the opportunity to visit the relevant department(s) or institute(s) for your selected Programme. We strongly encourage informal interaction between short-listed candidates and the Principal Investigators and their laboratories before the formal interview.

Following your interview you will be informed of the outcome via email.

Key dates
• The deadline for applications is 30 November 2017
• Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by early January 2018.
• Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview wb 18 or 19 January 2018.
• Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their interview at the beginning of February 2018 and successful applicants will receive a formal offer letter by mid-February 2018

If you have general enquiries about the CRUK Cambridge Centre non-clinical MRes + PhD studentships or the application process, please contact graduateadmissions@crukcambridgecentre.org.uk.