PhD Studentship Does Microsomal Transfer of MicroRNA Play a Role in Stromal-Epithelial Interactions?


Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health


Primary Supervisor: Dr Stuart Hunt –


In recent years, the importance of the tissue surrounding cancers, termed the tumour stroma, has become increasingly recognised. Indeed, a recent report provided evidence that the gene expression profile of the stroma is a more accurate predictor of disease outcome in head and neck cancer than that of the cancer cells themselves. The stroma is composed of a number of cell types, including fibroblasts, endothelial cells, immune cells and neurones. Communication between these cells by secreted factors is known to be a key factor in disease progression, and is likely to represent a good therapeutic target for novel therapies. Recently, it has become apparent that, as well as secreted proteins, small membranous vesicles termed microvesicles play a key role in cell:cell communication, and evidence is mounting that these vesicles may be important in the tumour stroma. We have preliminary data showing that microvesicles can be isolated from head and neck cancer cells and primary oral fibroblasts, and that they contain intact RNA. This project will utilise a variety of cutting edge cell and molecular biology techniquesse to characterise the microvesicles released by both cancer cells and stromal fibroblasts, to examine their importance in communication and influencing cancer and stromal cell behaviour. Furthermore, the project will analyse whether microRNA, regulatory non-coding RNA known to be present in microvesicles, mediate any effects observed.

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Entry Requirements:

Candidates must have a first or upper second class honours degree or significant research experience.



Interested candidates should in the first instance contact Dr Stuart Hunt


How to Apply:

Please complete a University Postgraduate Research Application form and attach at least two references to your application. To complete the application form please follow the link below.

Please clearly state the prospective main supervisor in the respective box and select  Clinical Dentistry as the department.



Other Information:

This project is funded through a University of Sheffield Faculty Scholarship, comprising of a stipend (at the RCUK rate) and home/EU fees only.


Closing Date: 10th January 2014

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