Endothelial regulation of organ microenvironment and metastasis during tumour progression



Funded PhD Opportunity

Endothelial regulation of organ microenvironment and metastasis during tumour progression

Project Description

The blood vessels are the vehicle through which circulating tumor cells travel from their original site to distant organs, often to form metastasis, the major cause of cancer-associated mortality. The vascular endothelium is the barrier between those tumor cells in circulation and a presumably healthy, cancer-free organ; disruption of the physiology and metabolism of the endothelial cells allow and sometimes promote extravasation and tumor seeding. This can be a result of the activation status of the endothelium in response to tumour-derived signals, and which can affect the microvascular integrity, permeability, and intercellular communication, including the recruitment and retainment of inflammatory and immune cells. In this project, the PhD candidate will investigate the effects of tumor-derived signals on the endothelial function, using ex-vivo models of primary endothelial cells from tumour-free organs, and in-vivo assessment of distant vascular beds during tumor progression.

The main aims of this project are to find (1) how endothelial cells respond to tumour-derived cues at a molecular and metabolic level, and how those responses affect their behaviour and physiology, (2) characterise the vasculature and the microenvironment of distant organs at different stages of cancer progression, namely vessel integrity and the presence of inflammatory cells and (3) how those changes affect compliance with circulating tumour cells, to identify the most vulnerable organs, stages, or the most important windows of opportunity for treatment.  


Dr C Branco

Entry Requirements

Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU http://www.qub.ac.uk/tefl/

Funding Notes

*FUNDING CONFIRMED – Department for the Economy (DfE)*

Eligibility for both fees (£4260 for 2018/19, 2019/20 TBC) and maintenance (£14,777 for 2018/19, 2019/20 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

For further details re eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the following link: View Website

Closing Date

Sunday, January 20, 2019


How to Apply


Please refer to 'Entry Requirements' for specific admissions criteria.


Apply online via the Queen's on-line application portal .  Guidance is available on the University’s Prospective Student pages.


When applying for a project, please choose ‘MEDICINE’ as your subject area/School.


Please ensure you adhere to the closing dates.


If you have any further queries please contact:  pgoffice.smdb@qub.ac.uk  or +44 (0) 28 9097 2619/2042.


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences,  Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, website for further details about the Centre.



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