University of St Andrews

Vacancy: PhD Scholarship in Breast Cancer Biology

PhD Scholarship in Breast Cancer Biology

Stipend:  £12,000 pa

Applications are invited from students who have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class BSc (or foreign equivalent) in a relevant field for a PhD scholarship in the School of Medicine. You will work in the laboratory of Prof Richard Iggo, Professor of Molecular Medicine, in the Biomolecular Sciences Building and the Bute Medical Building. The post is funded by the EU framework 6 “Active p53” Integrated Project and is available immediately. The Active p53 consortium comprises academic labs in Italy, Denmark, Israel, France, England, The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Scotland.

You will study the role of p53 in breast cancer and develop breast cancer models that reproduce the microarray phenotypes seen in human tumours. You will use Affymetrix microarrays to identify genes suspected of playing a causal role in the oncogenic process or the response to treatment. These genes will be manipulated in human cells using lentiviral cDNA and shRNA  vectors. The cells tested will include established cell lines and primary cells grown as floating mammospheres. Mammary fat pad models will be used to study the phenotype of the transduced cells and the response to drug therapy.

The Iggo lab has performed extensive expression microarray analyses in the context of a clinical trial (EORTC 10994) comparing anthracycline with taxane treatment of locally advanced breast cancer (Farmer Oncogene 24, 4660-4671). This work led to the proposal that human breast tumours can be divided into three groups based on steroid receptor activity: luminal tumours, which have dominant estrogenic (ER) signalling, molecular apocrine tumours, which have dominant androgenic (AR) signalling, and basal tumours, which lack AR and ER expression. A key goal in this field is to understand the biological mechanisms underlying the different expression patterns. Tumours in the basal group commonly have p53 mutations, whereas tumours in the molecular apocrine group commonly have ERBB2 amplification, but these changes only partially explain the formation of the different groups. A second goal of the EORTC 10994 study is to identify mechanisms of resistance to anthracyclines and taxanes. Preliminary analysis of microarray data indicates that stroma is an important determinant of the response.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Prof Iggo (, tel.  +44 1334 463558). For further information see

Applicants should send a cv and ask two referees to send references by e-mail or fax to Prof Iggo (fax +44 1334 463482).  Please do not use the Prospects on-line application form. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to visit St Andrews and present a seminar about a research project performed during their studies. Reasonable travel costs will be refunded for travel within the EU. Screening of applications will begin on the 15th June 2006 and continue until the post is filled. Please note that funding will only cover the stipend and EU student fees.

contact: Prof Richard Iggo

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[05-06-2006 to 16-06-2006]


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