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Wellcome - MRC

Cambridge Stem Cell Institute

Studying at Cambridge

Other PhD Opportunities

Studentship opportunities for 2018 entry, will be listed here shortly



Closed Opportunities for 2017 entry

The following studentship openings have now closed...


PhD Studentship with Dr Matthias Zilbauer & Dr Bon-Kyoung Koo  (Fixed Term)              

Human intestinal epithelial cell biology in health and disease (Fixed Term)

Fully funded 3-year PhD studentship under the joint supervision of Dr Matthias Zilbauer, Department of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge and Dr. Bon-Kyoung Koo, Wellcome Trust - Medical Research Council Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Cambridge UK.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available until 30 September 2020 in the first instance.

The deadline for applications is 2nd July 2017. Informal enquires regarding this studentship may be made to Dr. Matthias Zilbauer, e-mail:

Interviews are likely to take place on 17th July 2017.

Please quote reference RP12154 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

For more information please see the position advert on the University website

MRC iCASE 4-year PhD studentship (Laurenti)

Impact of Cell & Gene Therapy on the Function and Molecular Regulation of Haematopoietic Stem Cells 

A 4-year Medical Research Council Industry CASE PhD studentship, which will be jointly supervised by Dr. Laurenti at the University of Cambridge and Dr. Francis at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), to commence in October 2017. 

The Laurenti laboratory combines state-of-the-art experimental and computational methods to study the unique biological and molecular properties of human haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). GSK is a world leading research-based pharmaceutical company. In May 2015, the first autologous ex vivo gene therapy product, developed by the Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) platform, was recently approved by the European Medicines Agency. CGT supports numerous cell and gene therapy projects from early phase to commercial launch, and the development of innovative technologies to enable improvements to cell and gene therapy manufacture. 

The principal research aim of this project is to determine to what extent the gene therapy protocol affects the biology of HSCs. The project will combine single cell transcriptomics, lentiviral transduction technology, flow cytometry and single cell functional assays in vitro and in vivo. Adult HSCs and progenitor cells will be subjected to the gene therapy protocol and changes in their fate choices and transcriptome will be determined by single cell functional assays and single cell RNA-seq. This information will provide insights into how changes in the molecular circuitry of HSC alter their function under stress conditions, and will be used to guide process improvements to increase HSC functionality after transduction. 

The primary research will be carried out mostly in Dr Laurenti’s laboratory but the student will spend a minimum of 6 months at GSK during the time of the fellowship. 

We encourage applications from students with mathematical and/or bioinformatics skills. 

Application Deadline: Tuesday 14th February 2017 and shortlisted candidates will be interviewed between 27th-28th February 2017. 

Informal Academic Enquiries to: Dr Elisa Laurenti,

Application Process Enquiries to: Graduate Administrator, . 

For further details about our group and the institute, please visit:

BBSRC iCASE 4-year PhD studentship  

Decoding the network logic for resetting pluripotency

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 trajectories 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. 

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

Academic Enquiries to: Dr. Amy Li - .

Application Process Enquiries: Graduate Administrator - . 

For further details about our group and the institute, please visit: and   

MRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)

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: 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 in late January 2017. 


  • Academic requirements: At least a 2:1 Honours degree from a UK university or equivalent.
  • English language requirements: The University requires a high level of proficiency in English. For details, click here
  • Nationality: Eligibility for the studentships is subject to MRC nationality and residence criteria. Click here for details.

Application Deadline: 1st December 2016.  Interviews will be held in late January 2017. General application enquiries: please email the Higher Degrees Office at . 

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. 

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: Prof. 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