Tumour Treating Electric Fields for Non-invasive Treatment of Brain Cancer

Applications are invited for a 3.5-year MPhil/PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1 October 2021.

To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for PhD Communication and Electronic Engineering, then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within Health and Medical Technologies and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

Online application

Take a look at the Doctoral College's general information on applying for a research degree.

Project description 

This studentship is for a graduate to join our multi-disciplinary research group investigating a new safe treatment for cancer of the brain. The graduate will enrol for a higher degree aimed at achieving a PhD within three years. The treatment involves the use of low-intensity Electric Fields which are known to prevent the uncontrolled division of cancer cells. This treatment, if optimised, could revolutionise the treatment of fatal brain tumours such as Glioblastomas. It may also extend to other types of cancers. Currently, a treatment is already approved in the USA and used together with chemotherapy drugs to slow down the progress of the cancer. Our aim in this project is to maximise the efficacy of the Electric Fields so as to render the chemotherapy drugs unnecessary. 

To achieve optimization of the electric fields we are currently exploring the effect on cells inside the eggs of the common fruit fly (Drosophila). These cells divide much faster than human cancer cells so allowing direct observation of the dividing process under a high-resolution microscope. 

The project is in collaboration between the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics (SECaM), Peninsula School of Medicine and our industrial partner Zimmer & Peacock Ltd. The project will involve design and development of electronics, electric field electrode systems and graphene sensors. You will also gain experience of behavioural assays, immunohistochemistry, expression of fluorescent proteins and confocal microscopy.


Applicants should have (at least) a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification. Some background and expertise in Biochemistry, Bioelectronics and Biosensors as well as practical experience of conducting experiments and data analysis is desirable. 

The studentship is supported for three and a half  years and includes full home tuition fees plus a stipend of £15,609 per annum (2021/22 rate). The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for home fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover international fees will have to cover the difference between the home and the International tuition fee rates (approximately £12,697 per annum).

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Shakil Awan (shakil.awan@plymouth.ac.uk). However, applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.

General information about applying for a research degree at the University of Plymouth and to apply for this position please visit: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/student-life/your-studies/research-degrees

Please mark it FAO Doctoral College and clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics.

For more information on the admissions process email the Doctoral College, doctoralcollege@plymouth.ac.uk

The closing date for applications is 19 April 2021. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview the week beginning 3 May 2021. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an offer of a place by 31 May should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.