PhD in Computational Biology and Drug Discovery Identifying Novel Cancer Targets using Computational Techniques

for Jan/Mar 2014

A computational biology PhD studentship is available at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex supervised jointly between Dr. Frances Pearl (Translational Drug Discovery Group) and Dr Eva Hoffmann (MRC Genome Damage and Stability Centre).  This is an exciting project that will utilise computational techniques to identify novel drug intervention targets for use in tumours with DNA damage response deficient backgrounds.

The DNA damage response is a set of integrated molecular processes that maintain the genetic integrity of the cell and is frequently disregulated during the development and progression of cancer. Drugs targeting the components of DDR could lead to the development of new approaches to the treatment of a wide range of cancers.

The project will focus on data mining publically available “omics” datasets, in combination with network analysis and bioinformatics druggability assessments to identify potential new targets and to identify the appropriate clinical backgrounds for their use. In addition to these activities, databases will be developed to integrate biological and chemical data to help support the drug discovery process. The discoveries made during the project will be validated in the laboratory, either as part of the project or with in collaboration with members of the Hoffmann laboratory and the Translational Drug Discovery group, dependent on the research interests of the student. 

The student will benefit by being embedded with the Translational Drug Discovery group where there is a strong collaborative approach to scientific research. The group comprises individuals from industrial and academic backgrounds from organic, synthetic, medicinal and computational chemistries as well as molecular biology, neuroscience and computational biology. The group has a number of current multidisciplinary drug discovery projects, which would provide an exciting environment, coupled with active collaborations and links to major academic institute and industrial centres. The MRC Genome Damage and Stability Centre is a world-leading discovery science environment, comprising 20 groups that focus on DNA damage responses and its role in human health and disease. The Genome Centre has a strong focus on translation of discovery science and collaborates closely with the Translational Drug Discovery group to achieve maximum impact of basic discoveries.

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This is a 3.5 year PhD research project, due to start Jan-Mar 2014. The successful applicant will have some technical background and be proficient in computer programming and data processing. Some knowledge of cancer biology or medicinal chemistry is an advantage.

Formal applications should be made using our online application system by clicking on the Apply button below. Use 2013-14 entry (May 14 start) and apply for PhD in Genome Stability. Please mention Dr Frances Pearl as the suggested supervisor in the application. Include a full CV, two references, transcripts and statement of interest. Applicants should hold qualifications at the level of, or equivalent to, a first or upper second class honours degree from a UK institution (overseas students are not eligible to apply for this studentship). Project enquiries should be sent to Dr Frances Pearl (

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