Early Detection and Tumourigenesis Pathways in Li Fraumeni Syndrome

Closing date: 02/06/2023

ACED Clinical PhD fellowship programme – Project: Early Detection and Tumourigenesis Pathways in Li Fraumeni Syndrome

Lead Supervisor: Dr Emma Woodward
Email: emma.woodward@mft.nhs.uk
 Professor David Wedge

PhD start date: September 2023
TBC (Early June)
Project Keywords: Early detection, circulating free DNA, Li Fraumeni Syndrome
Research Opportunity: ACED Clinical project leading to the award of a PhD

Applications for this project are now open. Please complete your application on The University of Manchester website.


Project Outline

Early detection of cancer is key to improving outcomes and there is a real drive through NHS and CRUK initiatives for 75% of cancer diagnoses to be at an early stage and for survival to reach 10 years. Here we will use the exemplar of high-risk hereditary cancer predisposition to investigate novel means of early detection through sequencing analyses of (i) circulating free DNA (cfDNA) and (ii) early lesions in clinical biopsy/surgical specimens.

The aim is to diagnose cancer before changes are seen on conventional imaging, and to develop an understanding of the very early molecular events occurring in the tissue, a prerequisite to understanding tumour evolution and ultimately novel treatment/interception strategies. Specifically, this clinical PhD is focussed on Li Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS) where there is a very high lifetime risk of developing a cancer, starting in childhood.

We have an active LFS research patient focus group who support and guide our research strategies and with whom it is anticipated the candidate will interact.

As a PhD student, you will learn laboratory techniques of sequencing, bioinformatics analyses, and integration of these datasets with clinical information. These approaches to early detection are likely to be embedded in future clinical practice; this PhD will set the scene for your future career in novel methods of early detection with direct line of sight into the clinic. This PhD is suited for students with an interest in adult/paediatric oncology, surgery, clinical genetics, public health, or pathology.

About Emma Woodward (project Lead Supervisor)

Dr Emma Woodward studied medicine at the University of Cambridge where she also completed a PhD studying familial phaeochromocytoma and familial renal cancer. Dr Woodward went onto train in adult medicine in London, Lausanne and Northern Ireland, prior to her higher specialist training in Clinical Genetics in Birmingham.

During this time Dr Woodward received an NIHR Clinician Scientist Award and undertook further study of familial renal cancer. She became a consultant at Birmingham Women’s Hospital in 2008 and at Saint Mary’s Hospital in 2015.

Dr Woodward’s current research is aimed at understanding the inherited predisposition to cancer, in particular thyroid cancer and whether structural genomic variants influence cancer predisposition risk. Her clinical work involves the inherited predisposition to adult and paediatric onset cancers.

Dr Emma Woodward headshot

ACED Clinical PhD research project in cancer early detection at The University of Manchester

The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, UCL, Canary Center at Stanford University, University of Cambridge, Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU, and The University of Manchester.

Earlier detection of cancer offers the greatest opportunity to deliver improvements in successful outcomes for patients. ACED aims to accelerate cancer early detection research by bringing together the best researchers across the UK and US.

We are looking for talented and motivated clinical doctors who have a strong academic background and are passionate about research in cancer early detection.

ACED and partnership logos

Funding Information

ACED Clinical Research Fellowships are funded for three years and cover:

  • project running costs
  • university tuition fees (at the UK rate – please see below)
  • an appropriate salary in line with the applicant’s current salary and grade.


The University of Manchester offers a limited number of bursaries enabling full studentships for international applicants. These studentships are awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.

International applicants (including EU nationals) must meet the required academic eligibility criteria (including English Language). International candidates also need to be aware of additional costs, including visa costs and the UK health surcharge.

Applications Timeline

Before submitting an application, we strongly advise you to contact the project supervisor to discuss the project and any particulars.

Please also make sure you have reviewed and meet the eligibility criteria for the project. Candidates must be post-registration clinicians and ideally, have a specialist post in a related subject. \

Further information is available on the Clinical PhD Studentships webpage. Information relating to CRUK ACED Manchester is available on their website.

Applications close on Friday 2nd June 2023.

Useful Links

Submit your application

Interested in applying for this opportunity? Go to The University of Manchester website to submit your application.

CRUK ACED Manchester

Find out more about The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED).

Get in Touch

Contact Simon Reeds, Postgraduate Programme Manager who manages the MCRC and CRUK Manchester Centre PhD programmes.

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