Platelets and cancer: identifying novel interactions and therapeutic targets to prevent disease

This exciting new project aims to explore how platelets interact with cancer cells and how this interaction can be targeted to develop better therapeutics.

Start date

1 July 2023


3 years

Application deadline

Funding source

School of Veterinary Medicine/FHMS

Funding information

Funding includes UKRI-aligned stipend (£17,668 pa for 2022-23), approved University of Surrey fees and a research budget. This studentship is funded by Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.


Platelets are tiny circulating blood cells which prevent bleeding from damaged blood vessels (haemostasis) by becoming active at the site of injury. In addition to this crucial role, platelets can be activated inappropriately (thrombosis) leading to heart attack or stroke. Platelets also contribute to the progression of other diseases such as inflammation, cancer, or diabetes through the secretion of bioactive substances and microparticles which influence the activity of many different cell types.

Thrombotic complications are commonly seen in cancer patients and are a leading cause of death in these patients. This exciting new project aims to explore how platelets regulate cancer cell activity. The successful student will investigate how platelet-released substances interact with receptors on the surface of cancer cells, how this leads to the formation of tumour cell-platelet aggregates and will explore if this can be targeted to reduce cancer metastasis and develop better therapies.

This project will equip the student with skills in a wide range of techniques including the use of specialist tests of platelet function, cell migration, cell and molecular biology assays, mass spectrometry and microscopy.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants should have a first-class or upper second-class honours or equivalents in Biochemistry, Biomedical Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Biological Sciences, Physiology or similar subjects.

Practical experience of cell biology, platelet or cancer cell biology is desirable but not essential.

English language requirements

IELTS Academic 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with at least 6.0 in each individual category, or equivalent.

How to apply

Applicants are encouraged to contact Dr Lisa Holbrook ( to discuss the project informally prior to applying

Applications should be submitted via the Veterinary Medicine and Science PhD programme page (N.B. Please select the July 2023 start date when applying).

When completing your application, in place of a research proposal, please provide a brief motivational document (1 page maximum) which specifies:

  • the project title(s) and principal supervisor name(s)
  • an explanation of your motivations for wanting to study for a PhD
  • an explanation of your reasons for selecting the project(s) you have chosen.

Additionally, to complete a full application, you MUST also email a copy of your CV and 1-page motivational document directly to the relevant project principal supervisor. Due to short turnaround times for applicant shortlisting, failure to do this may mean that your application is not considered.

Please note that online interviews for shortlisted applicants are expected to take place in late March/early April.

Studentship FAQs

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

Application deadline

Contact details

Lisa Holbrook



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