The role of the gut microbiota in breast cancer (HALLQ18BC)

Applications Close: 05 April 2018

Salary: £14,553.00 stipend

Contract Length: 4 years

We are looking for a creative and motivated PhD candidate to join a dynamic, multi-disciplinary research team investigating microbiota and host interactions. This position is within Dr Lindsay Hall’s lab ( at the Quadram Institute ( which will move (mid-2018) into a new interdisciplinary research building at the forefront of a new era in gut microbes, food, and health research, and with Dr Stephen Robinson (Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia,

Background: Breast Cancer (BC) is a leading cause of cancer-related death among females worldwide. Most patients present with localised tumours, associated with high five-year survival rates, however ~20-40% will relapse systemically and survival plunges (<25%) for patients with metastases. Unlike other metastatic cancers, it’s incurable and prolonging patients’ lives by a mere few years is expensive. The cascade of steps leading to BC development depends on reciprocal interactions between cancer cells and their local environment including the immune system. A key link to these immune components is our resident microbiota, which modulates mucosal and systemic immune responses. Thus, the gut-tumour axis may be critical in pro- and anti-cancer responses at primary tumour and metastatic stages. Probing microbiota and immune responses in BC patients, will determine factors driving progression during early disease stages and help devise counteracting approaches, improving outcomes and treatment responses.

The goal of this Big C PhD studentship is to understand how microbiota profiles in BC patients compares to healthy volunteers, how these differences relate to immune responses and clinical readouts, and determine impact of specific microbes on immune responses using in vitro models. This is a multidisciplinary project and a variety of techniques will be utilised throughout the PhD including clinical cohort management, microbiota sampling and processing, bioinformatics, microbiological and cell culture, and immune assays.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Funding Notes

This project is awarded with a 4-year Norfolk Cancer Charity BIG C PhD studentship. Tuition fees are covered for UK/EU rate only (£4195.00 2017/8 rate). Students liable for international tuition fees will need to fund the difference between the UK/EU fee level and the international fee level (£18,000. 2017/8 rate). A stipend will be provided for each year of the studentship (2017/8 rate is £14,553.00). Research training support funding is available.