Developing an Integrated Platform to Explore Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

Prof Owen Sansom (Colorectal Cancer and Wnt Signalling), Prof Ross Cagan and Prof Nikolaj Gadegaard

Despite increasingly sophisticated pre-clinical models, more than 9/10 promising cancer therapeutics fail in clinical trials. The nature of this resistance is complex and not fully understood. Of particular challenge has been solid tumours containing oncogenic KRAS, which generally represent aggressive disease that respond poorly to current therapies including potent RAS pathway inhibitors. The impact of addressing this challenge is significant: ~30% of solid tumours are 'KRAS mutant', leading to ~30,000 cancer deaths annually in the UK alone.

Exploring the challenge of KRAS-mutant tumours with different approaches, both the Sansom (mouse, organoids) and Cagan (Drosophila) laboratories have recently identified genomic complexity as a key contributor to drug resistance: increasing the number of genes altered in the mouse or fly blocked the efficacy of drugs that were effective against more standard, genetically simple models. This observation leads to a number of questions that will be explored through an extensive new collaboration, including integrating a novel organs-on-a-chip (OOAC) platform in development by University of Glasgow researchers led by the Gadegaard laboratory.

This studentship aims to use an integrated approach to understand how genetic complexity leads to drug resistance. In addition to a new understanding of tumour progression, this project will develop new technologies including an integrated platform for tumour studies – combing mouse, drosophila and OOAC technologies. The student will work closely with postdoctoral fellows in the Sansom, Cagan, and Gadegaard laboratories, providing a unique training environment while advancing a potentially transformative new project.


For informal enquiries, please email Dr Andy Campbell (

To apply, please complete a PhD Studentship Form (in right-hand menu opposite). Application deadline: 9th December 2019


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