The interplay between ethnicity, the microbiome and DNA damage in prostate cancer

The interplay between ethnicity, the microbiome and DNA damage in prostate cancer.

Start date

1 January 2023


3.5 years

Application deadline

Funding source

The Prostate Project and the University of Surrey Doctoral College

Funding information

UKRI stipend (£17,668 a year, with annual increments based on inflation) and fees covered. Funding also includes a research training and support grant of £3,000 for the duration of the studentship. Funding is for 3.5 years.


In the UK, black men are at greater risk of prostate cancer and have a higher mortality rate compared to Caucasian and Asian men. The reasons for this are unclear. Studies investigating ethnicity differences in other cancer types demonstrate a clear link between the patient’s microbiome with prognosis and response to treatment. We are seeking a talented and enthusiastic PhD candidate to lead a project to identify and characterise racial differences in microbiome and tumour characteristics in prostate cancer cases among black, white and Asian men. Knowledge of how ethnicity influences the microbiome and tumour characteristics may help tackle racial disparities in prostate cancer.

In this PhD, you will employ cell, molecular and spatial biology techniques to address the complex interplay between ethnicity, the microbiome and DNA damage in prostate cancer. You will gain experience in the use of clinical samples in research (ethical approval process, procurement and use of formalin fixed paraffin embedded or FFPE samples, analysis of clinical parameters such as Gleason score, pathologic stage, PSA levels and genomic alterations), multiplex immunofluorescent staining, assays to measure DNA damage and repair, immune profiling and microbiome profiling in FFPE samples. Moreover, you will gain significant experience in the bioinformatics tools necessary for analysis of complex data sets. 

The project will be conducted at the University of Surrey, under the supervision of Drs. Nicola Annels and Lisiane Meira, within the Oncology group. The student will work in the Oncology laboratories to execute the project, with access to core facilities at the University of Surrey. The Oncology research group is a vibrant and collegial group with technical and bioinformatics expertise and infrastructure to provide training and support.  

Eligibility criteria

Minimum of 2:1 in relevant first degree (e.g. Biology, Biochemistry, Biomedical Science). Master’s degree (e.g. Bioscience/biomedicine, bioinformatics, biochemistry, immunology). Desirable qualities include; excellent verbal and written communication skills, cell culture, molecular biology, immunology research experience, teamwork experience, awareness of the values of equality, diversity and inclusion. Commitment to independent study and enthusiasm for cancer research are essential.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Biosciences and Medicine PhD programme page. Please clearly state the studentship title and supervisor on your application. Once you have completed and submitted your application, please send an email to the primary supervisor ( confirming you have applied.

Studentship FAQs

Read our studentship FAQs to find out more about applying and funding.

Application deadline

Contact details

Name: Nicola Annels and Lisiane Meira



Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.