Alis Hales

Non-Clinical PhD student

Meet Alis Hales, a Non-Clinical PhD student. In her PhD project, she’s developing ex vivo models for breast cancer to define how differential tissue composition and mechanics drive genetic instability in breast cancer initiation.

Alis Hales headshot

What is your background?

I did my undergraduate degree at Imperial College London in biomedical sciences with a focus on Pharmacology. After this I went on to study a Master’s in Pharmacology at the University of Oxford.

 

Tell us about your research.

My project aim is to construct in vitro 3D-model environments that mimic low and high mammographic density tissue. This model will then be used to define how differential tissue composition and mechanics drive genetic instability in breast cancer initiation.

My supervisors are Andrew Gilmore, Sacha Howell and Rob Clarke, and I meet with them every few months to discuss the project. I’m currently based in Manchester at the Michael Smith Building in the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell/Matrix Research. But eventually I’ll be spending some time in Rob Clarke’s lab when I move onto work involving primary cells at the Oglesby Cancer Research Building.

I chose the non-clinical PhD scheme due to the world leading cancer research activities and well equipped excellent laboratory and core facilities [...] It is wonderful to be part of a team with a vast depth and breadth of research meaning there is always someone who can help you with a new technique or assist you in analysing your sometimes-strange data.

Alis Hales

Non-Clinical PhD Student

Why did you apply to this PhD scheme?

I chose the non-clinical PhD scheme due to the world leading cancer research activities and well equipped excellent laboratory and core facilities.

Furthermore, the CRUK Manchester Centre and MCRC has links with multiple NHS trusts including The Christie, one of the largest cancer treatment centres in Europe. These links providing great translation from bench to bedside meaning that scientific discoveries can make real differences for patient treatment.

I have spoken to many people who have said that their PhD data only really got flowing in their third year and they wished they had more time and therefore it is great that the I’m on a four-year PhD scheme.

 

What’s it like to study in Manchester?

I think my proudest moment thus far was when I received PhD offer. I had gotten to a point where I wasn’t sure if I was going to get a PhD and I might have to take a year out and so receiving that offer validated all my hard work and gave me the motivation I needed.

I am grateful to have a great supervisor who is very happy to support my research interests and allows me a lot of freedom in my research. I am also lucky to have a sociable and collaborative team who are happy to help out with experiments in the lab and go for socials after work. It is wonderful to be part of a team with a vast depth and breadth of research meaning there is always someone who can help you with a new technique or assist you in analysing your sometimes-strange data.

There are also lots of opportunities to attend seminars by both young and well-established researchers providing students with the opportunities to meet academics from a range of backgrounds with a wealth of knowledge.

 

What are your plans/aspirations after your PhD?

I know that I would like to remain in the cancer research field after my PhD. At the moment, my plan is to combine my interests in pharmacology and breast cancer looking into new therapeutics for both the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

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