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Neuroblastoma and Myc regulation

Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD Studentship supported by Kidscan.

The student working on this project will investigate the regulation of the protein phosphatase PPP1/CDCA2 and MYCN in neuroblastoma.

The studentship is for UK/EU residents only and includes tuition fees and a tax-free stipend (£17,009 per year) for 3 years. We would like the student to start at Brunel in October 2019.

The successful candidate will be supervised by Professor Paola Vagnarelli and Professor Arturo Sala. For informal discussions about this studentship, please contact Professor Paola Vagnarelli (Paola.vagnarelli@brunel.ac.uk).

Project details

Neuroblastoma is a cancer originating from the peripheral nervous system affecting infants and very

young children. Although the major molecular alterations occurring in neuroblastoma have been discovered, clinicians and researchers are still struggling to find ways to inhibit the molecule responsible for tumour growth, especially the neuroblastoma-causing gene called MYCN. An abnormal increase of MYCN, consequence of a pathological process called gene amplification, has been identified as the most important molecular alteration in neuroblastoma. Unfortunately, no laboratory has been successful, at least so far, in developing a drug that blocks MYCN cancerous activity. In our laboratory, we have recently identified a link between MYCN and another molecule frequently increased in cancer CDCA2 (also called Repo-Man). The aim of the project is to validate a new therapeutic strategy for neuroblastoma based on the development of a molecular inhibitor or CDAC2. In preliminary experiments, we have gathered evidence suggesting that a CDCA2 blocking protein inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells containing MYCN. Since alterations of MYCN are common in other childhood malignancies of the nervous system, such as medulloblastoma and glioblastoma, this study could pave the way to new therapeutic avenues for children with cancer. Informal enquires may be addressed to Prof Paola Vagnarelli, e-mail: paola.vagnarelli@brunel.ac.uk.


Candidates should have an undergraduate degree (first or upper second class) or equivalent qualification in Bioscience or equivalent disciplines. Laboratory experience is essential and familiarity with R and genome analyses is desirable. Applicants who have not been awarded a degree by a University in the UK will be expected to demonstrate English language skills to IELTS 7.0 (minimum 6.0 in any section).

How to apply

If you wish to apply, please e-mail the following to chls-pgr-office@brunel.ac.uk

By 10th July 2019

• An up-to-date CV;

• A single-page A4 single-spaced covering letter setting out why you are a suitable candidate. Please state the name of the project at the top of the page.

• Names and contact details for two referees;

• A copy of your highest degree certificate and transcript.

• A copy of your English language qualification (where applicable).

Short-listed applicants will be required to attend an interview. Interviews will take place week commencing July 15th 2019. Applicants chosen for interview will be instructed to submit a formal online application via Admissions.

For further information about how to apply please contact the College of Health and Life Sciences Postgraduate Research Student Office on chls-pgr-office@brunel.ac.uk.