Stratification of colorectal cancer using a combination of molecular biology and digital pathology



Funded PhD Opportunity

Stratification of colorectal cancer using a combination of molecular biology and digital pathology


Colorectal cancer (CRC) has one of the highest worldwide incidences (>1.3 million new cases), which results in ~610,000 deaths annually. Molecular profiling in CRC has markedly improved our biological understanding of the disease, although it is yet to significantly contribute to standard care, particularly in stage II/III disease. We have recently begun to molecularly profile a number of CRC cohorts, where we have prior knowledge of the patient’s clinical course following surgery and standard-of-care chemotherapy. Using this information we now wish to test the ability of digital pathology to determine a patient’s relapse risk and predict their response to subsequent chemotherapy treatment.

The student will use a combination of digital image analysis software (QuPath, Halo) and molecular information (transcription, mutations) to classify tumour samples into clinically relevant subtypes. This work will provide a new classifier to distinguish between lethal and non-lethal stage II/III CRC, allowing more precise and personalised clinical management of this heterogeneous disease grouping.

This exciting PhD project will allow a dynamic student to join a translational research group focussed on improving the lives of cancer patients. The ideal candidate will have a strong background in digital pathology with a keen interest in molecular biology and translational research.  


*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


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant field, such as the life sciences, maths, physics, or computer science 

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


Dr P Dunne

Prof D Longley

Dr Maurice Loughrey


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:  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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