The Essex Biomedical Sciences Institute is committed to providing training and professional development opportunities for researchers and clinicians alike through its postgraduate degrees and Clinical Research Fellowships.
Through the School of Biological Scienceswe offer MSc by dissertation (MSD), MPhil and PhD degrees and we welcome enquiries and applications from prospective graduate students, both from the UK and overseas.
Click here to view current studentship opportunities in the School.
PhD project - Prostate Cancer: early detection, monitoring and prognosis (Yukti Hari)
Prostate cancer is a major health problem in men above the age of 50. It is a slow growing cancer and do not show many relevant symptoms during early stages. Detection of prostate cancer by measuring increased levels of Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) in serum is in practice but the method is not very accurate for all types of prostate cancer cases. A more sensitive biomarker is required to discriminate conditions such as Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH) from high risk tumors. Such a marker can help in correct choice of treatment based on the stage of the cancer. We have discovered a protein called ‘BORIS’ that is present in prostate tumors and absent in normal prostate tissue samples as shown by the figure below (BORIS is visible as the brown deposit in the tumour tissue on the right). We aim to investigate further the properties of BORIS as a candidate for prostate cancer biomarker.
This project is funded through a generous donation awarded to EBSI by the Colchester Catalyst Charity.
The EBSI hosts the successful Clinical Research Fellowship (CRF) scheme to enable hospital doctors, typically at the Specialist Registrar stage of their training, to undertake a research project leading to the award of a higher degree. Most commonly, this would be the 2-year ‘Doctor of Medicine’ (MD) research degree although alternative schemes leading to qualifications of MSc (1-year), MPhil (2-year) or PhD (3 year) are possible. CRFs often combine their research with some limited clinical duties and this often forms an essential part of their research. CRFs are supervised jointly by an academic member of staff from the University and a member of Consultant staff from the Hospital NHS Trust.
Clinical Research Project (Dr. Nikhil Pawa) - Identification and validation of new biomarkers in colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer after breast and lung, with around 106 new cases diagnosed each day in the UK. Survival rates exceed 90% if the disease is detected at an early stage. The colorectal cancer screening programme in the UK is a faecal based test with varying compliance and considerable false positives. There is a great need to develop an alternative test based on the identification of specific biomarkers for both diagnosis and treatment monitoring. This study aims to validate the role of a specific protein BORIS as a potential biomarker for colorectal cancer. Expression of BORIS will be analysed both in the blood and tissue of patients with colorectal cancer and correlated with their clinical cancer staging. Furthermore patients will also be followed after resectional cancer surgery to identify changes in the expression of BORIS within their blood. Further 2 dimensional gel electrophoresis is also planned to search for alternative biomarkers within the leukocytes of patients (The image is Immunocytochemistry showing good expression of BORIS in the leukocytes of a colorectal cancer patient).