Project code



School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Start dates

October 2023

Closing date

6 April 2023

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three-year PhD to commence in October 2023. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Science & Health, and will be supervised by Dr Priyanka Dey, Dr Sassan Hafizi and Professor Richard Grose

Candidates applying for this project may be eligible to compete for one of a small number of bursaries available. Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£17,668 for 2022/23). Bursary recipients will also receive a £1,500 p.a. for project costs/consumables. 

The work on this project could involve:

  • Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
  • Cell culture 
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Biomedical Statistical analysis with AI tools

It is estimated that 1 in 3 cancer deaths could be prevented if detected early when treatment is more effective. Traditional tissue biopsies or the new-era cancer imaging technologies are unable to provide the vital early diagnosis that can make the difference in prognosis. In contrast, the detection of biomarkers which are disease-specific biological molecules found in the body, provides one of the best ways, in principle, to detect cancers at an earlier stage. For example, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) was proposed as a biomarker in the 1980s. Although it is still used clinically, its prediction accuracy or specificity for prostate cancer diagnosis is debatable. Therefore, multiple biomarkers must be identified from specific cancer cell lines, which when detected simultaneously, could help diagnose the specific cancer types early. The project will explore the bioanalytical technique of Raman spectroscopy as a non-staining, non-histopathological, fast method to detect subtle changes in the chemical structures of the biomarkers-of-interest. This can aid in biomarker screening and lead to accurate diagnosis with high cancer specificity and progression monitoring capabilities. 

The supervisory team includes a multidisciplinary collaboration of academics across the University of Portsmouth and Queen Mary University London, UK. Their combined expertise in Raman spectroscopy, cancer biology and data analysis forms part of a research programme to make early cancer diagnosis a clinical possibility. 

The candidate will be based in the School of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences at the University of Portsmouth, UK, which houses extensive infrastructure in spectroscopy, cell culture, and analytical and microscopic facilities. The candidate will be supported to develop an in-depth understanding and hands-on skills in the above methods and techniques, advanced data analysis skills, academic writing, and presentation skills. They will also work with the team at Barts Cancer Centre of QMUL as part of the project.



These are intended to provide the candidate with an overview of the project scope.

  • Potential of Raman in diagnosis: Dey P, Blakey I, Stone N. Diagnostic prospects and preclinical development of optical technologies using gold nanostructure contrast agents to boost endogenous tissue contrast. Chemical Science. 2020;11(33):8671-85. 
  • Cancer biomarker understanding: Wu L, Qu X. Cancer biomarker detection: recent achievements and challenges. Chemical Society Reviews. 2015;44(10):2963-97.
  • Detection of biomarker using Raman: Contorno S, Darienzo RE, Tannenbaum R. Evaluation of aromatic amino acids as potential biomarkers in breast cancer by Raman spectroscopy analysis. Scientific Reports. 2021 Jan 18;11(1):1-9.

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 an appropriate subject. 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.

You should be highly motivated towards a laboratory-based PhD investigation, with strong written and verbal communication skills. You should also have some experience in analytical techniques and data analysis. 

Experience in cell culture and Raman spectroscopy is desirable.


How to apply

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

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. 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. 

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code PHBM7830423 when applying.