PhD Studentship - Non-invasive imaging of the tumour vascular microenvironment during radiotherapy response

open until filled
Medical Sciences, Cancer research
University of Cambridge
Cambridge, United Kingdom

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK CI) is a joint venture between the Charity, Cancer Research UK, and the University of Cambridge. The Institute has excellent state-of-the-art facilities and research ranges from basic cancer biology and computational biology through to translational research and clinical application.

Graduate students play a pivotal role in the continuing success of our research programmes and gaining a studentship in the Institute is an excellent opportunity to start a research career in an environment committed to training outstanding cancer research scientists of the future. For further information, go to:

Dr Sarah Bohndiek, Head of the VISIONLab, wishes to appoint a student to work on the project entitled: Non-invasive imaging of the tumour vascular microenvironment during radiotherapy response.

About us:

The mission of the VISIONLab in Cambridge is to advance our understanding of tumour evolution using next-generation imaging sciences. We are particularly interested in using blood as a window on disease, using non-invasive imaging to reveal tumour vessel-forming mechanisms and vascular phenotypes.

Project details:

Optoacoustic imaging is an emerging clinical technology that combines the high contrast of optical imaging with the spatial resolution of ultrasound imaging. Recent work in the VISIONLab has shown that this technology can be used to identify tumour vascular phenotypes and oxygenation status at unprecedented resolution and depth in vivo. A crucial application for such imaging methods is radiotherapy, where imaging of blood oxygenation and tumour tissue hypoxia find applications in monitoring response and determining radioresistance.

This PhD project will focus on studying tumour oxygenation and perfusion before, during and after radiotherapy. Initial validation will be performed in vivo, using small animal models of cancer. These studies will run in parallel with imaging in patient trials in the clinic, which the student will have an opportunity to support, seeing their efforts transition from bench to bedside. The student will have the opportunity to work across multiple research environments and departments, with potential for research visits to other centres within the CRUK Radiation Research Network and beyond.

Desirable qualifications and skills

We are seeking a PhD candidate with a 1st or 2:1 Honours Degree or the equivalent (held or predicted) in biological or biomedical sciences. We strongly value a candidate with the desire to learn, create and innovate. The project will combine a majority of experimental imaging with a minority computational element for image analysis and statistics. The successful candidate should also have a strong interest in experimental research, including and acquiring in vivo imaging data. Additional relevant skills include: demonstrably excellent oral and written communication skills; strong team working skills; an ability to take initiative to solve problems; strong motivation in driving projects forward; and a significant critical thinking capability. Examples of any past experience that demonstrates these characteristics should be highlighted in the statement of interest that accompanies any application. We expect the candidate will develop into an independent experimental researcher and will present their work in academic journals, as well as at conferences.

Candidates with previous experience of in vivo imaging, for example during a Master's or Diploma degree, are particularly encouraged to apply.

Further information

This funded PhD project will be based in the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge. Funding is available through the CRUK RadNet funding to the University of Cambridge. More information about the VISIONLab can be found on our website ( Requests for more information about the project or questions related to candidate experience should be made to Dr Sarah Bohndiek ( with the subject line "Optoacoustic PhD 2020" before the application to the University is complete.


This project is funded through the CRUK RadNet funding to the University of Cambridge and includes full funding for University and College fees and a stipend of £19,000 per annum.


Only Home and EU candidates need apply due to a restriction imposed by the funding body. Applications are invited from recent graduates or final year undergraduates who hold or expect to gain a first/upper second class degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject from any recognised university worldwide.

How to apply

All applications need to be made using the University Applicant Portal. Please visit: for further information about the course and to access the applicant portal.

To complete your online application, you need to provide the following:

Reference Request: The names and contact details of two academic referees who have agreed to act on your behalf.

Research: Please enter the name of the supervisor you wish to consider your application in the 'Research Supervisor' text box. Please describe your past 'Research experience' in the appropriate text box.

Course Specific Questions: Your statement of interest (limit of 2,500 characters) should explain why you wish to be considered for the studentship and which qualities and experience you will bring to the role. Please also state how you learned of the studentship.

Supporting Documents: Please upload your CV (PDF file), which should include a list of the examinations taken at undergraduate level and, if possible, your examination results.


The closing date for applications is 30 March 2020, with interviews expected to take place in April/May.

Please quote reference SW22697 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

"Absolutely essential for finding relevant conferences to present one's work and exchange ideas with other students. I found dozens of interesting events on CareersCampus ..."

Almuth Wietholtz, D.Phil. Comparative Social Policy, University of Oxford