Closing date: 25/03/2024
MB-PhD Project: The role of the cytokine interleukin 1 beta in shaping the neoplastic and immune cell landscape in Glioblastoma
Applications Deadline: Monday 25 March 2024
Project Keywords: Brain tumour; Neuro-immunology; Immunotherapy
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.
Glioblastoma is the most common type of malignant brain tumour. They are highly aggressive tumours and are generally incurable, with a mean survival time following diagnosis of only 12-18 months. As such, new treatments for glioblastoma are urgently needed.
Glioblastoma tumours are extremely heterogeneous, being comprised of various distinct tumour regions (niches), each of which have different biology and which can exhibit divergent responses to treatment. It is this intra-tumour heterogeneity that makes glioblastoma so difficult to cure.
In this project, you will investigate how immune pathways, in particular the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1B, promotes intra-tumoral spatial heterogeneity and the formation of distinct tumour niches within glioblastoma. Specifically, you will address how IL-1B promotes intra-tumoural hypoxia, and the establishment of immunosuppressive tissue niches.
Hypoxia is induced when tissue and tumour regions are starved of oxygen. This leads to the recruitment of pro-tumour immune cell populations, and pathologic immune cell- neoplastic cell communication in the tumour, which shortens survival. You will work on an interdisciplinary programme of work where you will utilise cutting edge high-dimensional imaging approaches combined with transcriptional profiling to analyse the localisation and activity of IL-1B in hypoxic and immunosuppressive niches within human glioblastoma samples. You will complement this with detailed mechanistic investigations using in vivo models of glioblastoma (which are selected to optimally reflect human disease), to analyse how IL-1B is activated and produced within the tumour.
You will subsequently examine how manipulation of the IL-1B pathway alters the tumour spatial architecture and hypoxic niche formation, modulating the progression and treatment response of glioblastoma. Collectively, the project will provide experience in cancer immunotherapy and will offer training in cutting edge neuro-oncology and immunology methodologies and technologies, including experience of in vivo experimentation.
About Prof. Kevin Couper (project Lead Supervisor)
Kevin is a Professor of Immunology based within the Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation and the Geoffrey Jefferson Brain Research Centre.
Kevin’s main research interests include:
- Malaria Pathogenesis – Kevin’s research group use murine models of malaria and human blood and tissue samples to investigate the parasitological and immunological processes that initiate and cause severe malarial disease.
- Understanding the immune response to brain tumours – Kevin’s research group work closely with pathologists and neurosurgeons within the Geoffrey Jefferson Brain Research Centre and employ cutting-edge high dimensional imaging approaches to study the cellular landscape within different types of brain tumour.
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.
Our goal is to provide a supporting experience where the student can gain the confidence to understand, perform and ultimately lead their own project during the course of their PhD. Our aim is for the student to gain excellent theoretical and laboratory training, with a major objective that the student obtains publications by the end of their studies.
We run laboratories where our doors are always open for students to discuss any problems or issues with their project. We also aim to create a culture where students are not under excessive pressure to succeed, but in which enthusiasm and motivation is acknowledged and encouraged.
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.
At the end of their research project or studies, we encourage people to evaluate their areas of interest and to identify fellowship schemes in which they may be competitive. We provide guidance and support for students to submit applications to these schemes.
Supervisors are always available with an open door policy to provide advice to students on any aspect of academic life, the highs and lows of research science, and career planning. This support will be continued after graduation.
We actively evaluate how students’ are performing in their PhD. If we feel this work-life balance is incorrect, we discuss this with them, identify why this might be the case, and how this can be rectified.
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.