First Cohort of MB-PhD Students Complete Research Projects

The first cohort of MB-PhD students who began their research projects in 2020, have now completed their research projects and over the next month will re-intercalate into medical school to complete their medical training.


To mark this milestone, the MCRC and CRUK Manchester Centre held a celebration event joint with the CRUK Cambridge Centre on Thursday 27th July 2023. Here, students from the Manchester and Cambridge cohorts discussed their research and hopes for the future of their projects.


Congratulations to Manchester MB-PhD students:

  • Macarena Fernandez Carro, supervised by Dr Adam Hurlstone whose project focused on “Exploiting tumour-promoting paracrine signals in solid cancers to boost genetically redirected T cells”
  • Nadin Hawwash, supervised by Prof. Andrew Renehen whose project focused on “Adulthood BMI And Cancer Risk Using Adiposity Metrics (ABACus 2): An Individual Participant Data Meta-Analysis”
  • Hadiyat Ogunlayi, supervised by Prof. Cliona Kirwan whose project focused on “Investigating theprocoagulant phenotype of normal and breast cancer-associated fibroblasts and their role in breast cancer.”


Over the next two months, Macarena, Nadin and Hadiyat will return to their medical studies while also writing up their theses aiming to graduate with MBChB and PhD in 2025 or 2026.

MB-PhD students in front of the OCRB in Manchester, Left to right: Macarena, Nadin, Hadiyat

MB-PhD students who have now finished their research projects. Left to right: Macarena Fernandez Carro, Nadin Hawwash, Hadiyat Ogunlayi

I feel accomplished and very grateful for this opportunity to contribute to cancer research.

My advice for prospective students would be that they shouldn't give up and they should persist and focus on problem solving with regards to their research questions. I would also advice that they approach their research question problems with curiosity instead of anxiety. 

In the future, I hope to specialize in oncology and also collaborate with other breast cancer researchers. 

Hadiyat Ogunlayi

After three years of analysing big data, I am looking forward to returning to medicine, seeing the patients behind the numbers, and transferring the skills I have gained during the MB-PhD in a clinical setting. I am eager to continue learning in both medicine and research and along the way I am looking forward to learning how to balance academia and practising medicine.

My advice for prospective students is to take part in widening participation initiatives during your time. Aspiring students will benefit, and it will help you develop many transferrable skills and maintain momentum throughout your degree. 

In the future, I aspire to become a surgical oncologist and clinician scientist with interests in cancer, data science and innovation working on a national and international level.

Nadin Hawwash

About the MB-PhD Programme

MB-PhDs aim to develop the next generation of clinical academic leaders, enabling aspiring clinician scientists the opportunity to undertake vocational training of a medical degree in tandem with research expertise with a PhD in cancer sciences.


The MB-PhD programme commenced in Manchester 2020 as part of the Cancer Research UK Clinical Academic Training (CAT) Grant. MB-PhDs enable current medical school students at The University of Manchester or University of St Andrew’s to intercalate a PhD research project within their medical training. Depending on their background, students can intercalate between their second and third year training or third and fourth year training.


Between 2020 and 2023, 12 students have been recruited onto the CRUK-funded programme.


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