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Precision & Personalised Approaches for Treating Cancer


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Project start date
Saturday 1 October 2022
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Source of funding
Dr Kevin Critchley and Professor Stephen Evans
Additional supervisors
David Jayne
School of Physics and Astronomy
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Over 10 million surgical operations are performed each year in the NHS, with patients increasingly benefiting from minimally invasive approaches with reduced morbidity, quicker return to normal function, and cost savings for the NHS. Endoluminal (scarless) surgery is the holy grail for gastrointestinal cancers, but the clinical application is limited by the dexterity of instruments and the ability to diagnose and safely treat pathology. <br /> <br /> We are interested in developing disruptive and convergent technologies to identify and treat endoluminal cancer, improve disease outcomes, and reduce surgical harm. To do this, we are seeking to establish a new collaboration between medicine, robotics and physics. The aim is to use robots to deliver nanoparticles to tumour sites to enhance localised delivery and identify and treat tumours. <br /> <br /> Project:<br /> In Physics, we will develop nanomaterials (e.g. micro-/nano-bubbles1,2 gold nano-rods3) that can be delivered robotically and used to locate/ identify tumours (and their margins) through probes contained within the robotic system. These so-called theranostic particles will be activated using light or ultrasound to treat cancer or locally deliver therapy to the tumour area. <br /> <br /> Specifically, in Physics, we will: <br /> 1. Seek to establish new molecular probes that recognise the tumour target, either directly by recognising the new cancerous growth or targeting the mucosal biofilms associated with colorectal neoplasia. This will require microfluidic systems for the development of cells, biofilms and/or colorectal cancer models.<br /> 2. Fabricate and test the targeting of functionalised nanoparticles' targeting in vitro and ex vivo models of endoluminal colonic neoplasia. These particles will be activated by light in the case of gold nanorods (for photothermal therapy) or ultrasound in the case of nano-/micro- bubbles (drug release / sonoporation). The targeting will be by affimers or antibodies.<br /> 3. Develop a fluorescent targeting nanoparticle system suitable for demarking endoluminal neoplasia and be ready for preclinical evaluation<br /> <br /> References<br /> 1. Ingram N, et al. Theranostics 2020;10(24):10973-92. DOI: 10.7150/thno.49670 <br /> 2. Batchelor DVB, ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 2020 doi: 10.1021/acsami.0c07022 <br /> 3. Roach L, et al. Nanotechnology 2018;29(13) doi: 10.1088/1361-6528/aaa99d<br />

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study section that you are applying for <em><strong>PHD Physics &amp; Astonomy FT</strong></em> and&nbsp;in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is&nbsp;<em><strong>Precision &amp; Personalised Approaches for Treating Cancer</strong></em> as well as&nbsp;<a href="">Professor Stephen Evans</a> as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis. &nbsp;Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion before making a formal application. &nbsp;We also advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close early, should we receive a sufficient number of applications or that a suitable candidate is appointed.</p> <p>Please note that you must provide the following documents at the point you submit your application:</p> <ul> <li>Full Transcripts of all degree study or if in final year of study, full transcripts to date</li> <li>Personal Statement outlining your interest in the project</li> <li>CV</li> <li>Funding information including any alternative sources of funding that you are applying for or if you are able to pay your own fees and maintenance</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p style="margin-bottom:12px"><strong>Self-Funded or externally sponsored students are welcome to apply.</strong></p> <p><strong>UK&nbsp;</strong>&ndash;&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Doctoral Scholarships</a> and <a href="">Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship</a> are available to UK applicants. The&nbsp;<a href="">Bell Burnell Scholarship Award</a>&nbsp;is available to support applicants who are from groups that are currently under-represented in physics (awarded by the IOP).&nbsp; <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Non-UK</strong> &ndash; &nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">Bell Burnell Scholarship Award</a>&nbsp;is available to support applicants who are from groups that are currently under-represented in physics (awarded by the IOP).&nbsp; &nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to nationals of China. The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Marshall Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to support US citizens. <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Important:</strong>&nbsp; Any costs associated with your arrival at the University of Leeds to start your PhD including flights, immigration health surcharge/medical insurance and Visa costs are <strong>not</strong> covered under these studentships.</p> <p>Please refer to the <a href="">UKCISA</a> website for information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information regarding your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information about this project, please contact Professor Stephen Evans<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>