Understanding the role of the hippo signalling pathway in ependymoma tumour biology

An opportunity has arisen for a three year PhD studentship starting on 1 October 2022 or 1 January 2023.

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To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for PhD Medical Studies (and select the entry point of October 2022), then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

Online application

Before applying, please ensure you have read the Doctoral College’s general information on applying for a research degree.

For more information on the admissions process, please contact doctoralcollege@plymouth.ac.uk.

Project description 

Ependymomas are tumours of the brain and spinal cord which affect paediatric and adult patients, representing the third most common malignant brain tumour in children. Ependymomas can also occur as part of the tumour syndrome neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2). Compared to other tumour types, relatively little is known about the signalling pathways that drive proliferation in ependymoma, however, recent breakthroughs in tumour classification and culture techniques have led to new opportunities for investigation in this area (Pajtler et al. 2015, Michealraj et al, 2020). 

The hippo signalling pathway is a highly conserved, canonical pathway and is implicated in various types of cancer. Hippo signalling plays an important role in other NF2 related tumours (schwannomas and meningiomas) and studies have shown that it may be also implicated in subgroups of spinal and intracranial ependymoma. The aim of this PhD will be to investigate the effect of inhibiting hippo signalling using small molecule TEAD inhibitors both in cell culture and in an animal model of ependymoma, investigating implications for tumour cells and tumour-associated immune cells, using a variety of molecular techniques. 

The successful applicant will work within Plymouth’s dynamic and collaborative Brain Tumour Research centre, which has strong links with the clinical departments of neurosurgery, neuropathology and neuro-oncology in the adjacent Derriford Hospital. The successful applicant will expect to become highly proficient in a range of lab techniques including cell culture, protein quantification by Western blotting, immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry. They will also gain experience with in vivo techniques and will obtain their Home Office personal license. Full training in all techniques will be provided.

Eligibility 

The ideal candidate will have a strong background/interest in molecular biology and cancer research. 

Applicants should hold or expect to obtain a first or upper-second class honours degree or equivalent in an appropriate subject. A master’s degree in a relevant field would be advantageous. 

The studentship is supported for three years and includes full home tuition fees plus a stipend of £16,062 per annum (2022/23 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 £12,670 per annum). 

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Holly Roy.

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on 01 June 2022. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview week commencing 20 June 2022. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received a response within six weeks of the closing date should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.