Other PhD opportunities

The following PhD studentships are now available:

BBSRC iCASE 4-year PhD studentship

MRC Doctoral Training Partnership

Cambridge Cancer Centre PhD studentships


BBSRC iCASE 4-year PhD studentship

BBSRC logo

The Smith Group at the Medical Research Council-Wellcome Trust Stem Cell Institute in Cambridge in partnership with the Computational Biology Group at Microsoft Research offers an exciting interdisciplinary 4-year PhD studentship commencing October 2017.

The pluripotent ground state of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) is governed by a self-reinforcing interaction network of transcription factors (Dunn et al, Science 2014). Combinations of factors within this network can induce somatic cells to acquire pluripotency, a process called molecular reprogramming (Takahashi and Yamanaka, Cell, 2006). Experimental and computational efforts have led to circuitry mapping of the key players in maintenance of the ESC state. However, how this molecular circuitry is launched and fully connected during reprogramming remains unclear. This project is a cross-disciplinary investigation to address systematically how cells transit to the pluripotent ESC state at the molecular network level. The multi-step, heterogeneous and asynchronous nature of the reprogramming process presents technical challenges. This project is designed to overcome these challenges by using a minimal reprogramming system and integrating quantitative single-cell gene expression profiling at defined reprogramming stages with computational network synthesis and modelling. This approach will transform a temporal series of single-cell snapshots of network status into reconfiguring network trajectories. Predictions formulated from the synthesised trajectores will be tested experimentally and the results used for iterative refinement of the model set.

As part of the BBSRC doctoral training programme, this 4-year PhD contains tailored training courses in the first six months of the studentship. In addition, a key element of this project is that the student will spend three months at Microsoft Research Cambridge, under the supervision of our collaborator, Dr Sara-Jane Dunn, to develop wider training and skills. 


UK and EEA students who have, or are expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in relevant biological subjects are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of the project means that we welcome applications from students with mathematical and computing experience who are interested in using their skills to address stem cell biology questions.

How to Apply

  1. Please complete our departmental Application Form process here*, which will include submitting your CV, providing the details of two referees, and your Degree transcripts.
  2. Please ask your referees to submit references directly to the SCI Graduate Administrator: sci-phd@stemcells.cam.ac.uk, using "BBSRCiCASE student reference" in the subject headder.

Application Deadline: Friday 20th January 2017 and shortlisted candidates will be interviewed at the beginning of February.

Academic Enquiries to
: Dr. Amy Li ml440@cam.ac.uk.
Application Process Enquiries: 
Graduate Administrator sci-phd@stemcells.cam.ac.uk

For further details about our group and the institute, please visit: http://www.stemcells.cam.ac.uk/researchers/principal-investigators/pressor-austin-smith http://www.stemcells.cam.ac.uk/  

*Please note that for this project you DO NOT APPLY DIRECTLY TO BBSRC, but apply to Prof Smith here at the Stem Cell Institute, as above*

MRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)

MRC logo (grey background)

University of Cambridge MRC are offering several fully funded PhD studentships for projects commencing in October 2017.

Students can apply for studentships with SCI members, details of which can be found below and here: http://mrcdtp.medschl.cam.ac.uk/prospective-students/how-to-apply/available-projects-for-2017/.  The studentships provide an annual stipend of £17k for 3.5 years, full fees and research costs.  The duration of the studentship allows for a funded period of write-up prior to thesis submission.  In addition to excellent research facilities, students will have access to a wide variety of training and researcher development activities, many of which are offered through the Graduate School of Life Sciences and the wider University.

The closing date for applications is 1st December 2016.  Interviews will be held late January 2017.


How to Apply

  1. Applicants are encouraged to contact prospective supervisors for further information about specific projects before applying.
  2. Applications must be made on the University’s online portal. Click here for a link to the Graduate Admissions webpages (http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/how-do-i-apply).  
  3. Please also follow the instructions on the Cambridge MRC DTP website: http://mrcdtp.medschl.cam.ac.uk/prospective-students/how-to-apply/  The course code is MDSM22.  You can select up to two projects – please add these to the ‘Research title’ field in order of preference quoting the project ID.  In the ‘Research summary’ field provide a brief synopsis of why you have chosen your project/s. Please provide the name of the Primary Supervisor for your first choice project in the ‘Research Supervisor’ field.

You need to upload the following documents with your application:

  • CV
  • Transcripts or degree certificates
  • English language score report forms (if English is not your first language)

Note: The two referees you list on the application form will be contacted automatically for their references, so please ensure you provide their correct email addresses.

Application Deadline1st December 2016.  Interviews will be held late January 2017.
General application enquiries: please email the Higher Degrees Office at mrcdtp@medschl.cam.ac.uk

Here is the full list of stem cell-related projects available:

Tumour niche; relevance for epithelial stem cell behaviour Supervisor: Dr. Maria Alcolea
Mechanism of induced pluripotency Supervisor: Dr. Jose Silva
Translational profiling and network analysis in diffuse large B cell lymphoma. Supervisor: Dr. Daniel Hodson
Decoding the role of stem cell heterogeneity in tissue homeostasis and regeneration using the Red2cDNA system Supervisor: Dr. Bon-Kyoung Koo
Factor that influence financial decision making in Huntington’s disease Supervisor: Prof. Roger Barker
Reprogramming induced oligodendrocyte progenitors (iOPCs) Supervisor: Prof. David Rowitch
Cell cycle regulation of differentiation in the neurological cancer, neuroblastoma Supervisor: Prof. Anna Philpott
Transcriptional and epigenetic resetting of pluripotency Supervisor: Prof. Austin Smith

Elucidating heterogeneity of adult lung stem/progenitor cells and their interactions with stromal/niche cells

Supervisor: Dr Joo-Hyeon Lee
Investigating epigenetic mechanisms in regulating intestinal epithelial cellular function during health and disease using human 3D intestinal organoid culture systems Supervisor: Dr. Matthias Zilbauer
The targeting and maintenance of mammalian epigenetic states and their function in health and disease. Supervisor: Prof. Anne Ferguson-Smith
Quality control of ribosome assembly Supervisor: Prof. Alan Warren

Cambridge Cancer Centre PhD studentships


Cambridge Cancer Centre supports a broad programme of formal education and training designed to nurture the next generation of cancer researchers and clinicians. They will fund up to 10 PhD studentships (including clinical and non-clinical students) for 2017 with projects covering an exciting range studies, including those with several SCI Principal Investigators, listed below.

Applications are invited from UK, EU and non-EU students from non-clinical or clinical disciplines.

Twenty projects are available to choose from, of which 10 may be funded, supporting the top 10 student applicants. Applicants can select up to two projects (a first and second choice) when applying. Each of the project titles below links to a pdf giving an outline of the project. For further information you are encouraged to study the website of the Lead Investigator, and Co-Investigators where applicable. Below are the Stem Cell Institue Principal Investigator projects available.

How to Apply

Apply directly to Cambridge Cancer Centre. For further information about the studentships, funding, and application process, please visit the Cambridge Cancer Centre website: http://www.cambridgecancercentre.org.uk/studentships

Application Deadline:  For both non-clinical and clinical applicants the application deadline is 30 November 2016.

SCI Projects Available

Translational profiling and network analysis in aggressive B cell lymphomas Lead Investigator: Dr Daniel Hodson
Characterisation of disordered metabolism in the stem cell niche during leukaemia evolution Lead Investigator: Dr Brian Huntly
Cell cycle regulation of differentiation in the paediatric cancer, neuroblastoma Lead Investigator: Prof. Anna Philpott
Exploiting the p53 axis for therapy in paediatric low-grade glioma Lead Investigator: Prof. David Rowitch
Elucidation of Cell Fate Transitions in Lung Cancer Stem Cells Lead Investigator: Dr Joo-Hyeon Lee

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