PhD Studentship-Mesenteric Fibrosis In Small Intestinal Neuroendocrine Tumors: Pathogenesis and Therapeutic Targets

Updated: about 23 hours ago
Location: London, ENGLAND
Deadline: 26 Feb 2021

UCL Department / Division
Division of Medicine
Specific unit / Sub department
Institute for Liver and Digestive Health
Location of position
London
Duration of Studentship
3 years
Stipend
£17,285 per annum
Vacancy Information
This is a comprehensive collaborative study programme based in two leading ENETS Centers of Excellence i.e. the Royal Free London and Erasmus MC Rotterdam. The neuroendocrine tumour (NET) unit at the Royal Free Hospital has an international reputation for the management of neuroendocrine tumour patients. In 2010 it was the first UK centre to be awarded European Centre of Excellence. The team works within a multidisciplinary team and aim to enhance the prospects for treatment by a combination of clinical and laboratory research. The RFH NET team conducts a number of clinical and basic science research trials relating to the treatment of and the pathogenesis of NET development. The clinical lead and head of the neuroendocrine unit is Professor Martyn Caplin. Research is based at the UCL – Royal Free Campus at the Institute for Liver & Digestive Health (ILDH) under supervision of Professor Krista Rombouts and Professor Martyn Caplin. The ILDH, is part of the UCL Division of Medicine, is made up of six centres that concentrates the entire clinical and scientific activity in Hepatology at UCL in close coordination with Hepatobiliary Medicine, Surgery and Liver Transplantation. The ILDH is a major education site and provides training for UCL medical students, specialist registrars, graduate students and post-doc fellows. This makes the UCL-ILDH one of the most international and multicultural clinical research hubs in the World. Research activities are characterized by a strong integration of clinical activities with laboratory expertise and biotechnological platforms which span from very basic cellular and molecular biology to translational projects in Hepatology, Gastroenterology, HPB, Liver Transplant and Regenerative Medicine. Currently most of the academic and clinical activities of the UCL-ILDH are based at the Royal Free Campus in Hampstead; the Royal Free Hospital being one of the largest Foundation NHS Trusts in the United Kingdom.
 
Neuroendocrine Tumours, originating from the small bowel (SI-NETs), are one of the most common forms of neuroendocrine tumour (NET). An increasingly common finding is scarring otherwise known as Mesenteric Fibrosis (MF) which is associated with SI-NETs. Recent studies suggest that this fibrosis is associated with a poor outcome. There has been very little research into this area and currently no medical treatments are available. The proposed study aims to understand what causes this fibrotic/scarring process and evaluate potential therapies in experimental models with a view to subsequently identifying the best candidate for medical treatment. We will also aim to demonstrate the best imaging and blood predictors of complications from such a fibrotic process associated with SI-NETs.
Rombouts and Professor Martyn Caplin. The ILDH, is part of the UCL Division of Medicine, is made up of six centres that concentrates the entire clinical and scientific activity in Hepatology at UCL in close coordination with Hepatobiliary Medicine, Surgery and Liver Transplantation. The ILDH is a major education site and provides training for UCL medical students, specialist registrars, graduate students and post-doc fellows. This makes the UCL-ILDH one of the most international and multicultural clinical research hubs in the World. Research activities are characterized by a strong integration of clinical activities with laboratory expertise and biotechnological platforms which span from very basic cellular and molecular biology to translational projects in Hepatology, Gastroenterology, HPB, Liver Transplant and Regenerative Medicine. Currently most of the academic and clinical activities of the UCL-ILDH are based at the Royal Free Campus in Hampstead; the Royal Free Hospital being one of the largest Foundation NHS Trusts in the United Kingdom.
Neuroendocrine Tumours, originating from the small bowel (SI-NETs), are one of the most common forms of neuroendocrine tumour (NET). An increasingly common finding is scarring otherwise known as Mesenteric Fibrosis (MF) which is associated with SI-NETs. Recent studies suggest that this fibrosis is associated with a poor outcome. There has been very little research into this area and currently no medical treatments are available. The proposed study aims to understand what causes this fibrotic/scarring process and evaluate potential therapies in experimental models with a view to subsequently identifying the best candidate for medical treatment. We will also aim to demonstrate the best imaging and blood predictors of complications from such a fibrotic process associated with SI-NETs.
Studentship Description
Mesenteric Fibrosis In Small Intestinal Neuroendocrine Tumors: Pathogenesis and Therapeutic Targets. This study aims at identifying what causes Mesenteric Fibrosis (MF) or the scarring process in small intestinal neuroendocrine tumors by: 1) investigating factors and pathways implicated in Neuroendocrine Carcinogenesis and Fibrogenesis; 2) developing biomarkers for diagnosis and prediction of clinical risk in MF, and 3) demonstrating the predictive role of radiomics on clinical outcome.
Avenues of research include: identification of clinically useful biomarkers for the diagnosis and prediction of clinical risk in MF by using whole blood and serum of patients, RNA sequencing will be performed on selected paired tissue (healthy, primary and metastasis tissue) and in blood samples to identify commonly up- or downregulated genes in the tissue and blood. Moreover, epigenetic tissue analysis will be performed in patients to assess their role in MF development in SI-NET by comparing the demethylation profile of the healthy tissue with the primary tumor and compare these profiles with the metastatic site, marked by fibrosis. Moreover, in vitro experiments will identify interactions between SI-NET cancer cells and stromal fibroblasts and identify new targets for anti-fibrotic therapy.
For more information regarding the project and the research group, please contact: k.rombouts@ucl.ac.uk.
Applications should be sent directly to Prof Krista Rombouts and include a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a cover letter. This should set out your previous academic or other experience relevant to the proposed research; why you wish to undertake this research at UCL; your previous research or professional training and what further training you think you will need to complete a PhD; and what ethical issues you will need to consider in undertaking this research. In addition, two references should be named at the end of the statement. At least one reference must be from an academic referee who is in a position
Person Specification
The three-year PhD fellowship at the NET-ILDH provides a broad in-depth training in fundamental aspects of biomedical translational science. The fellowship provides the candidate with the opportunity to carry out cutting edge research in an internationally competitive environment.
The successful applicant should have at least a 2.1 honours or equivalent for undergraduate degree (BSc) in biomedical science, molecular medicine, translational oncology, human molecular genetics, or life science. The successful applicant will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, good experimental practice and the ability to think analytically and creatively. Good computer skills, plus good presentation and writing skills in English, are required. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided. The student will develop their skills in mammalian cell culture; computational analysis of RNA-sequencing data, and epigenetic tissue analysis of samples derived from patients.
Eligibility
The 3 year project, funded by Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation, includes a stipend commencing at £17,750.56 plus full university fees £17,081.00 (for UK and EU students).
The studentship is available to UK nationals and EU (non-UK) nationals if they have been resident in the UK since September 2017. To be eligible to pay fees at the UK/EU rate, you must normally be a national of an EU country, or the relevant family member of an EU national, and have been ordinarily resident within the European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland or EU Overseas Territories for the 3 year period before the first day of the first academic year of your programme. Please see the UCL Student fee status page to determine your appropriate tuition fee.
Contact name
Krista Rombouts
Contact details
k.rombouts@ucl.ac.uk
UCL Taking Action for Equality
Closing Date
26 Feb 2021
Latest time for the submission of applications
23.59
Interview date
TBC
Studentship Start Date
TBC
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