PhD Studentship: Development of a non-mammalian, pre-clinical screening tool for predictive analysis of drug safety

Deadline: 20 January 2014.

Start Date: October 2014

Supervisory Team: Grant Wheeler Email:

The Project:

Drug toxicity is an important concern in the development of novel pharmaceuticals that are effective and safe for use in patients. Currently this requires the use of a large number of animals to ensure that new drugs are non-toxic and therefore safe to use in clinical trials in humans. The Home Office published that in 2012 alone, almost 80 000 rats and mice were used in studies on drug testing. Thus annually this is a huge number of animals, so any new protocols developed that can reduce this burden on animal testing could have a huge impact in significantly reducing the number of animals used for drug safety testing each year. We aim to develop such a protocol using a combination of mammalian cell lines, early frog embryos (prior to coverage by the Animals Scientific Procedures Act) and computer modeling to predict toxicity. We will validate this model by using a panel of drugs with already well-characterised toxicity profiles in rats and mice, to assess how well our protocol can predict toxicity in small rodents. It is hoped that if the correlation is good, our protocol could be used to assess toxicity of new potential drugs in the early stages of testing to provide an understanding of an acceptable level of risk for continuation in the development of a particular drug.

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Entry Requirements: First degree (2.1) in Biological Sciences.


This project is funded by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3RS) for three years and due to funding restrictions is open to applications from the UK/EU.

An annual stipend of £14,639 is available to the successful candidate.

Making Your Application:

Please apply via the University’s online application system, via the ‘Apply’ button below.

NB: Applications are processed as soon as they are received, so early application is encouraged.

To discuss the application process or particular projects, please contact the: Admissions Office, email: or telephone +44 (0)1603 591709. 

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