Funded PhD opportunities

Embryonic model for tumour-microenvironment interactions in paediatric brainstem gliomas

  • Application end date: 11th February 2018
  • Funding Availability: Funded PhD project (EU/UK students only)
  • Department: School of Biological Sciences
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr. Frank Schubert, Dr. Helen Fillmore

Project code: BIOL4000218

Project description

Paediatric diffuse midline gliomas (PDMG, formerly diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma) are among the most aggressive tumours. They are currently incurable and often lead to death within two years. The tumours arise the midline of the pons during early childhood, coinciding with periods of developmental myelination. Site and time point of tumour formation suggest a tight link with neurodevelopmental processes. While the cellular origin of the tumour is still under debate, significant progress has been made in mapping genetic change. Most notably, the tumour cells feature a K27M mutation in H3.3, which could lead to widespread gene de-repression. Rather little, in contrast, is known about the microenvironment of PDMG, not least due to a lack of a suitable experimental model. The aim of the project is to investigate the interaction of tumour cells and their microenvironment. This aim will be approached by combining neuro-oncology with developmental neurobiology. Specifically, it will utilise xenografts, grafting tumour cells into the brains of chicken embryos in ovo. The embryos will be incubated for several days, enabling to monitor the behaviour of the tumour cells in the embryonic environment and the response of the surrounding host cells. For the tumour cells, cell division, apoptosis and migration will be tested. For the host response the focus will be on endothelial cells, but also pericytes and microglia, which all have been implicated with tumour-host interactions. There is a major knowledge gap in this area concerning how these tumours recruit and establish needed blood supply for their continued growth and spread. Key pathways involved in blood vessel formation will be examined. The project will provide new insight into the biology of PDMG.

Supervisor profiles

Dr. Frank Schubert

Dr. Helen Fillmore

Admissions criteria

You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (depending upon chosen course, minimum second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Specific candidate requirements

An understanding of how the environmental resistome interacts with the food chains and its effects on the sustainability of high density aquaculture are critically important


Informal enquiries are encouraged and can be made to Dr. Frank Schubert at (02392 842022) or Dr Helen Fillmore at (02392 842046).

For administrative and admissions enquiries please contact

How to Apply

You can apply online at You are required to create an account which gives you the flexibility to save the form, log out and return to it at any time convenient to you.

A link to the online application form and comprehensive guidance notes can be found at

When applying, please quote project code: BIOL4000218.

Interview date: TBC

Start date: October 2018.

Funding notes

The fully-funded, full-time three-year studentship provides a stipend that is in line with that offered by Research Councils UK of £14,553 per annum.

The above applies for Home/EU students only.

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