Deadline: 2016-02-19
Value of Scholarship: Newcastle Upon Tyne
Level Of Study: PhD

PhD studentship in Northern Institute for Cancer Research: Understanding synthetic lethality of ATR inhibitors with DDR dysregulation common in ovarian cancer

Value of award

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of approximately £14,057 (full award) plus £2,500 from the industrial sponsor. A partial award covers fees at the UK/EU rate only.

Number of awards


Start date and duration

September 2016 for 4 years


This project aims to explore the therapeutic potential of an ATR inhibitor, developed at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, in ovarian cancer through exploitation of defects in the DNA damage response (DDR). ATR is key to the DDR by signalling DNA damage to cell cycle checkpoints and repair. Certain defects in the DDR confer sensitivity to ATR inhibition.

Many of these defects are common in ovarian cancer, the 5th most frequent cause of cancer death in women. The project will involve cytotoxicity studies in a panel of ovarian cancer cell lines, knockdown of DDR genes, mechanistic studies to determine why some DDR defects confer sensitivity to ATR inhibition and translational studies using primary cultures of ovarian cancer from patients. Training in relevant biochemical and molecular techniques, the scientific method and intellectual rigor will be given. Parts of the project will be undertaken at Vertex, the industrial sponsor’s laboratories.


Medical Research Council
Industrial CASE with Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Europe) Ltd

Name of supervisor(s)

Professor N Curtin and Dr Y Drew (Northern Institute for Cancer Research (NICR))
Dr J Pollard, Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Europe) Ltd

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree in biology, biochemistry, biomedicine, or a related area. A further qualification such as an MSc or MRes is advantageous.

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This award is available to UK/EU applicants. Depending on how you meet the MRC’s eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award. Also significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges). 

If English is not your first language, you must have IELTS 7 with at least 6.5 in the written component, or equivalent. 

How to apply

All applicants should complete the University’s postgraduate application system when applying for a studentship. You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’.

Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following information:

  • insert the programme 8300F in the programme of study section 
  • select ‘PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences – Cancer Research’ as the programme of study 
  • insert the studentship code CR073 in the studentship/partnership reference field 
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote the studentship reference code CR073 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project 
  • attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications


For further details please email Nicola Curtin, Professor of Experimental Cancer Therapy, Newcastle University, Northern Institute for Cancer Research and Newcastle University Institute for Ageing. 

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