Self-funded PhD students only

Project code



School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Start dates

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time PhD project, to commence in October 2020 or February 2021.

The PhD will be based in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences and will be supervised by Dr Sassan Hafizi.

The work on this project will


  • Identify mechanisms of cancer cell biology as driven by a specific group of receptors 
  • Explore novel approaches for therapeutic targeting of these receptors
  • Provide the student with a range of discipline-specific as well as soft skills for the future
  • Be a springboard to a future career in academia, industry or education

Several different cancers, including blood cancers and solid tumours, feature expression of the TAM receptor tyrosine kinases (Tyro3, Axl, Mer), both as primary tumour promoters or as supporters of drug-resistant resistant tumours. The goal of the Hafizi laboratory is to unravel the molecular mechanisms of TAM receptor biology in human cancer cells through a variety of experimental assays and approaches. This work holds promise for developing novel, targeted, therapies that would be more effective in certain cancers. The project lies within the biological sciences with a molecular component, e.g. biochemistry, pharmacology, biomedical sciences. Specifically, the PhD student shall be trained in a range of cell biological and biochemical techniques, including cell culture, various cell biology assays, protein and gene expression analyses, immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy, molecular binding analyses, enzyme activity assays, as well as in silico molecular docking analysis.

If you choose to join the Hafizi lab as a PhD student, you will be part of a dynamic research group within a vibrant research environment at the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, where notable achievements have been made in oncology, neuroscience, microbiology and drug delivery fields. Also, you will be part of external collaborative networks involving the supervisor’s group and project partners both in the UK and overseas. Furthermore, PhD students in the department regularly participate (and organise) events such as journal clubs, presentations and research seminars. In addition, you will have access to a wide-raging skills development program run by the university’s Graduate School. The experimental and analytical skills developed during this project will prepare you well for a future career in academia or industry.

Fees and funding

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

2020/2021 entry (for October 2020 and February 2021 entries)

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a

International full-time students: £16,400 p/a

International part-time students: £8,200 p/a

PhD by Publication

External candidates £4,407 p/a

Members of staff £1,680 p/a*

2021/2022 entry (for October 2021 and February 2022 entries)

PhD and MPhil

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a*

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a* 

International full-time students: £17,600 p/a

International part-time students: £8,800 p/a

All fees are subject to annual increase.

PhD by Publication

External Candidates £4,407 p/a*

Members of Staff £1,720 p/a*

If you are an EU student starting a programme in 2021/22 please visit this page.

*This is the 2020/21 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) maximum studentship fee; this fee will increase to the 2021/22 UKRI maximum studentship fee when UKRI announces this rate in Spring 2021. 

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

BSc degree with a major molecular bioscience component (e.g. biochemistry, pharmacology, biomedical science).

An MSc or MRes in a related subject is also desirable.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Sassan Hafizi ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form and select ‘Biomedical, Biomolecular and Pharmacy’ as the subject area. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

When applying please quote project code: PHBM4961019

October start

Apply now

February start

Apply now

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