Closing date: 25/03/2024
MB-PhD Project: Immunomodulation in multiple myeloma
Applications Deadline: Monday 25 March 2024
Project Keywords: Myeloma, Immunology, Biomarkers
Research Opportunity: Intercalated PhD, leading to the award of PhD and MBChB
The project supervisor is offering a PhD in the below area during 2024/2025. Work during the Summer Placement might involve some of this work but could vary.
Multiple myeloma is a devastating B-cell malignancy for which there is no cure. The development of immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs) has proved transformative to multiple myeloma care, however, their remain unanswered questions related to the mechanism of action of this important drug class. Key among these, it is currently uncertain whether modulation of the immune system contributes to IMiD efficacy in multiple myeloma. Instead, this is thought to occur via cancer-intrinsic processes.
This project will apply flow cytometric analysis to elucidate contributions of the immune system to the IMiD mechanism of action in multiple myeloma and by extension, identify biomarkers of IMiD response. There will be opportunities to answer key questions related to the therapeutic efficacy of IMiDs when used in combination with other frontline therapies including immunotherapy and proteasome inhibition.
Unresolved questions include:
- Does the immune system contribute to the efficacy of IMiDs in multiple myeloma?
- Why do IMiDs show synergy with proteasome inhibitors?
- How do these properties intersect with emerging immunotherapies?
In parallel, the CRUK Cancer Biomarker Centre (CBC), in collaboration with an industry partner and Consultant Haematologist Dr Emma Searle (the student’s clinical mentor) is embarking on a major program of research that seeks to improve patient outcomes in multiple myeloma through the identification of early-stage biomarkers. The MB-PhD fellow will be integrated with an established team of CBC-based immunologists who are pioneering immune-oncology biomarkers across a spectrum of cancers. They will work closely with collaborators at The NHS Christie Foundation Haematological Treatment Unit (HTU) where access to leading clinicians enables outstanding translational science ground in patient derived (physiological) samples. Emerging from this program of research the fellow will be fully versed in cutting edge translational science and competent to lead research programs in the immune-oncology field.
About Prof. Caroline Dive (project Lead Supervisor)
Upon completing her PhD studies in Cambridge, Professor Caroline Dive moved to Aston University’s School of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Birmingham where she established her own group studying mechanisms of drug induced tumour cell death, before moving to The University of Manchester to continue this research. Caroline was awarded a Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine Research Fellowship before joining the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute (CRUK MI) in 2003.
Currently, she is Interim Director of the Institute and Director of its Cancer Biomarker Centre, with research spanning tumour biology, biomarker discovery and preclinical pharmacology alongside regulated laboratories for biomarker assay validation and qualification within clinical trials to Good Clinical Practice standards supporting clinical decision-making.
About the lab group
Find out more about the lab group involved in this project and how we support your wellbeing, learning and career development.
CBC is a welcoming environment, where basic, translational and clinical scientists work in tandem with mutual respect. CBC students are embedded in a supportive network of integrated teams with day-to-day supervision by team leads and deputies. We have 3 clinical fellows and 9 students currently.
My goal is to support the student in their journey potentially towards research independence, equipping them with laboratory skills, research acumen and confidence. We seek to transfer fundamental tenants of a successful research career to ensure the long-term career success.
All students provide presentations within lab meetings on a regular basis to engage with their laboratory group. For formal supervisor meetings, students should be able to discuss and show understanding of their project to a high level, with the meetings designed primarily to support and give constructive advice to the student.
CBC laboratory facilities in the new Paterson building are well-equipped with all necessary equipment and space for this project.
I expect the student to develop deep expertise in multiple myeloma biology and therapeutics, maintain highest levels of research excellence and integrity and with practice support, present their findings internally and externally where the opportunity arises.
They will have opportunities to network and build their reputation, expanding opportunities for future career development with access to the extensive research network of the CBC Director that includes globally renowned scientists and clinicians.
The supervisory team is committed to ensuring project success and will calibrate laboratory mentorship to student capabilities alongside their clinical mentorship from Dr Searle.
Good mental health supports a successful research career. The translational immunology team enjoys an excellent work-life balance whilst maintaining the utmost scientific excellence evidenced by the international reputation of the CBC.
Find answers to some common questions about our MB-PhD summer placement.
To apply for our MB-PhD summer placement, you must be:
A University of Manchester MBChB student:
- currently studying in Year 1 or 2
A University of St Andrews Medicine BSc (Hons) student on the Manchester course pathway:
- currently studying in Year 1 or 2
International applicants (including EU nationals) must ensure they meet the relevant academic eligibility criteria (including English Language).
Placement weeks will be arranged between students and supervisors over the summer before the start of the next academic year (2-6 September).
University of St Andrews students can apply for funding from their university to cover expenses.
These placements are unpaid but students at The University of Manchester interested in undertaking a summer placement and unable to do so due to financial reasons should get in touch with Georgina Binnie-Wright, Postgraduate Programme Manager, at MCRCTraining@manchester.ac.uk, to discuss.
Students who are interested in this opportunity should send the following details to Georgina Binnie-Wright, Postgraduate Programme Manager, at MCRCTraining@manchester.ac.uk:
- Your name
- Current year of MBChB study
- Are you intending to apply to the MB-PhD programme in future? (Yes/No)
- Are you applying for this opportunity due to a general interest in academic research? (Yes/No)
- 200 words maximum on why you are interested in a placement
- Lab preference(s)
Depending on how much interest is shown, preference may be given to students who are eligible to apply to the MB-PhD programme in the 2024-25 recruitment round.
Expressions of interest should be returned by Monday 25 March 2024.
- Application deadline: 25 March 2024
Find out more about our MB-PhD Studentships which allow you to study a fully-funded PhD alongside your medical degree.
Read first-hand experiences of from cancer scientists from across Manchester.