PhD Studentship, Cancer Sciences

Southampton, United Kingdom
£15,586.00 including fees at UK rate
18 May 2021
End of advertisement period
11 Jun 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Cancer Sciences

Location:  Southampton General Hospital
Closing Date:  Friday 11 June 2021
Reference:  1376821CM

Utilising sarcoma omic information to identify disease gene networks and associated novel therapies for patients

Lead Institute / Faculty: Cancer Sciences, Medicine

Main Supervisor: Dr William Tapper

Other members of the supervisory team: Dr Zoë Walters, Dr Mathew Rose-Zerilli, Dr Stephen Thirdborough

Amount of stipend and fees:  Stipend of £15,586.00 including fees at UK rate 

Duration of the award: 36 months, full time

Project description: 

Liposarcomas (LPS) are malignant tumours of fatty tissue with distinct histological subtypes. The most frequent adult subtypes are dedifferentiated (DDLPS) and well-differentiated (WDLPS). WDLPS are readily curable, whereas treatment for DDLPS is limited to surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy which are often ineffective and have significant side-effects. There is therefore an urgent need to identify better, less harmful treatments for DDLPS. 

Large omic datasets of LPS have been generated through initiatives such as Genomics England, the Cancer Genome Atlas and by our collaborators (Professors Shipley, Beggs and Schoffski). These include whole genome sequencing, gene expression profiling and single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq). 

The studentship will focus on integrating these omic data to generate a disease gene network for DDLPS. The network will be used to identify hub nodes that are deregulated in DDLPS patients as potential targets for treatment using small molecule inhibitors (SMI). A druggability metric will be generated and used to prioritise targets with drugs already in use. Candidate SMIs will be tested in near-patient models using state-of-the art scRNA-seq to investigate mechanisms of action and resistance. The methodology developed will provide a valuable pipeline for integrating omic data and identifying therapeutic targets in other cancer types.   

The student will join a highly regarded bioinformatics group, utilise the University’s high performance computer and benefit from a cross-disciplinary supervisory team with expertise in bioinformatics, sarcomas and cancer genetics which reflect the translational nature of the project. 

In addition to training from the Faculty of Medicine, the student will gain valuable skills in genomics, bioinformatics, data integration and network analysis along with opportunities for national and international training and presentation. 

Please contact:   Dr William Tapper (

Person Specification:  See below

The selected candidate will have excellent organisational, communication and problem solving skills. A background or strong interest in computational science, bioinformatics, genetics and genomics is desirable. The student will be working alongside basic scientists, clinicians and surgeons in a group with a clear focus on translation of research findings and close links to a number of charities. Therefore, motivation and good interpersonal skills are necessary attributes. Candidates should hold, or realistically expect to obtain, a first-class or upper-second-class honours degree/MSc in biological or medical sciences. 

The successful candidate is likely to have the following qualifications:

  • A 1stor 2:1 degree in a relevant discipline and/or second degree with a related Masters

Administrative contact and how to apply:

Please complete the University's online application form, which you can find at

You should enter Dr William Tapper as your proposed supervisor. To support your application provide an academic CV (including contact details of two referees), official academic transcripts and a personal statement (outlining your suitability for the studentship, what you hope to achieve from the PhD and your research experience to date).

Informal enquiries relating to the project or candidate suitability should be directed to Dr William Tapper (

Closing date: 11th June 2021
Interview date:  25th June 2021

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