Mathematical models for cancer invasion
Cancer cell migration is an essential stage in the development and expansion of tumours and their metastases. Once a malignant tumour arises in some part of the body, it can grow and make its way through the surrounding tissue matrix in order to reach the blood vessels. After transportation across the bloodstream and subsequent extravasation, tumour cells colonise distant sites where further neoplasms emerge. This process is known as metastasis. Cancer is a very complicated illness. Construction of mathematical models describing growth and dispersion of cancer cells and their analytical and numerical study can contribute to a better understanding of the involved biological phenomena, enable predictions about the development and the extent of a tumour, and even suggest approaches to therapy improvements. Evolution equations are among the most convenient and versatile modelling tools in this context. They allow to include different effects as ’building blocks’ and can be treated analytically as well as numerically.
A reasonable minimal model for tumour invasion is obtained by coupling a reaction-diffusiontransport PDE for the density of the tumour with an ODE for the density of the surrounding tissue. Further components and various nonlinear effects could be introduced, such as: nonlinear diffusion, transport due to taxis (directed movement along the gradient of an attracting/repelling substance), nonlocality (in form of integral terms), modelling on different scales, etc. The resulting mixed systems of equations of different types (e.g., PDEs and ODEs) are
highly nontrivial and not as yet well-studied. Often, new ideas are required in order to attack them analytically.
The goal of this project is thus to develop and investigate some systems for tumour invasion analytically. Performing numerical simulations, in order to illustrate the possible behaviour of solutions, would be welcome as an addition, but this is not mandatory.
For this project solid knowledge of and inclination for mathematical analysis is indispensable.
General acquaintance with PDEs is necessary. Even more important is to be familiar with basic tools from analysis in infinite dimensional spaces (compactness, weak convergence, linear and compact operators, etc.), as well as with integration theory (Lebesgue measure and integral).
Dr Anna Zhigun
Full-time: 3 years
The Mathematical Research Centre conducts world-class research in the following areas: Algebra, Analysis, Operator Algebras, Algebraic Topology, Topological Data Analysis, PDEs, Survival Analysis, Bayesian Networks, Data Analytics and Operational Research. It maintains vibrant international links with a large number of researchers around the globe and regularly hosts international conferences and research visitors.
Mathematics at Queen's is joint 1st for Research Intensity in the UK. Queen’s is ranked in the top 170 in the world for graduate prospects (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022)
List of researchers, their interests and upcoming PhD projects can be found at:
Mode of study / duration
Registration is on a full-time or part-time basis, under the direction of a supervisory team appointed by the University. You will be expected to submit your thesis at the end of three years of full-time registration for PhD, or two years for MPhil (or part-time equivalent).
- The School has many industry links, some of which are with Seagate Technology R&D, Andor Technology and AVX Ltd. Many of our graduates take up positions with these companies in posts such as Statistical Analysis Programmer, Trainee Accountant, Financial Engineer and Business Analyst.
- Queen’s is ranked in the top 170 in the world for graduate prospects (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022). Graduates from the School take up employment through a number of companies such as Allstate, AquaQ Analytics, Citigroup, Deloitte, PwC, Randox, Seagate and UCAS.
World Class Facilities
- Since 2014, the School has invested over £12 million in new world-class student and staff facilities. Maths and Physics students now have their own teaching centre that opened in 2016 housing experimental physics laboratories, two large computer rooms for mathematical simulations and student study plus a student interaction area.
In addition, Belfast is one of the lowest student cost of living in the UK (Which? University, 2018).
- Students will have access to our facilities, resources and our dedicated staff. The School of Mathematics and Physics is one of the largest Schools in the University. Staff are involved in cutting-edge research that spans a multitude of fields.
After an undergraduate degree in QUB, I started my PhD journey in pure mathematics research. In the four years of study, there are two invaluable features. Firstly I received ideal supervision which helped me to solve my research problems and to touch the contemporary research work. Secondly the system is very free whereby I can study, consider and discuss the relevant maths knowledge and problems which are not directly related to my research but very helpful for my future research work.
Weijiao Hu, PhD Mathematics, 2019
Overall, 90% of research submitted to the REF 2021 by the School of Mathematics and Physics was judged as internationally excellent or world-leading.
Information on the research interests and activities of academics in the Mathematical Science Research Centre can be found at https://web.am.qub.ac.uk/wp/msrc/. These interests fit into the themes: Algebra, Analysis, Data Science, Optimization and Operational Research, Partial Differential Equations, Statistics, Topology and Geometry.
Research Impact in Mathematics at Queen’s is gained through having wide interactions with Industry and the Public Sector which enhances and accelerates societal and economic impact. In the REF 2021 results, 75% of impact in Mathematics was graded as 4* which demonstrates that the quality of impact is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
Mathematical and statistical skills are in great demand in the economy, particularly the advanced skills developed at the PhD level.
Employment after the Course
As well as continuing in research careers, our PhD graduates have also gone on to work in finance, computing, data analysis, management and teaching. Our advisors will be happy to provide further information on the career prospects arising from your chosen research area. Further information on careers can be obtained from the School and the Faculty.
People teaching you
Dr David Barnes
Head of Centre - Mathematical Sciences Research Centre
Dr Ying-Fen Lin
Postgraduate Advisor - Mathematical Sciences Research Centre
Course structureThere is no specific course content as such. A PhD programme runs for 3-4 years full-time or 6-8 years part-time. Students can register for a writing up year should it be required.
The PhD is open to both full and part time candidates and is often a useful preparation for a career within academia or consultancy.
Please review the eligibility criteria on the webpages. If you believe that you meet these criteria then follow the steps below:
Select ONE potential supervisor from our list of Academic Staff: https://www.qub.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate-research/find-a-phd-supervisor/ and send an email to that supervisor advising that you are interested in studying for a PhD, stating when you would start, and how you would plan to fund the research. It would be helpful to provide a a brief statement of the research question or interest, and how you think the question could be investigated. The potential supervisor may invite you to meet with them or they may invite you to apply formally.
Assessment processes for the Research Degree differ from taught degrees. Students will be expected to present drafts of their work at regular intervals to their supervisor who will provide written and oral feedback; a formal assessment process takes place annually.
This Annual Progress Review requires students to present their work in writing and orally to a panel of academics from within the School. Successful completion of this process will allow students to register for the next academic year.
The final assessment of the doctoral degree is both oral and written. Students will submit their thesis to an internal and external examining team who will review the written thesis before inviting the student to orally defend their work at a Viva Voce.
Supervisors will offer feedback on draft work at regular intervals throughout the period of registration on the degree.
Students will enjoy the benefits of modern practical laboratories, extensive computer facilities and interactive spaces. Students will be provided with their individual workspace.
The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.0, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.
International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.
For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
|Northern Ireland (NI) 1||£4,596|
|Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2||£4,596|
|England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1||£4,596|
|EU Other 3||£18,900|
1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.
All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
More information on postgraduate tuition fees.
There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.
Some research programmes incur an additional annual charge on top of the tuition fees, often referred to as a bench fee. Bench fees are charged when a programme (or a specific project) incurs extra costs such as those involved with specialist laboratory or field work. If you are required to pay bench fees they will be detailed on your offer letter. If you have any questions about Bench Fees these should be raised with your School at the application stage. Please note that, if you are being funded you will need to ensure your sponsor is aware of and has agreed to fund these additional costs before accepting your place.
How do I fund my study?1.PhD Opportunities
Find PhD opportunities and funded studentships by subject area.2.Funded Doctoral Training Programmes
We offer numerous opportunities for funded doctoral study in a world-class research environment. Our centres and partnerships, aim to seek out and nurture outstanding postgraduate research students, and provide targeted training and skills development.3.PhD loans
The Government offers doctoral loans of up to £26,445 for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes for English- or Welsh-resident UK and EU students.4.International Scholarships
Information on Postgraduate Research scholarships for international students.
Funding and Scholarships
The Funding & Scholarship Finder helps prospective and current students find funding to help cover costs towards a whole range of study related expenses.
How to Apply
Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.
Find a supervisor
If you're interested in a particular project, we suggest you contact the relevant academic before you apply, to introduce yourself and ask questions.
To find a potential supervisor aligned with your area of interest, or if you are unsure of who to contact, look through the staff profiles linked here.
You might be asked to provide a short outline of your proposal to help us identify potential supervisors.