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 Giulia Biffi wishes to appoint a student to work on the project entitled: Fibroblast Heterogeneity in Pancreatic Cancer. For further information about Dr Biffi’s group, please go to

Project details:

In pancreatic cancer, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) have been shown to promote tumour growth, chemotherapy resistance and immunosuppression by secreting ligands and extracellular matrix proteins. More recent evidence indicates that targeting of CAFs in pancreatic cancer might also have tumour-restraining functions. These studies underscore the need to better determine the nature and roles of CAFs, to identify effective therapeutic targets. This project will determine the interplay between cancer cells and fibroblasts in pancreatic cancer with diverse tumour genetic landscapes, as this may have both prognostic and therapeutic implications. The research project will involve the use of in vivo genetically modified and transplantation mouse models, in vitro three-dimensional, pancreatic tumour organoid/fibroblast co-culture models, genetic and pharmacological targeting of pancreatic tumour organoids and fibroblasts, bulk and single-cell RNA-Sequencing, flow cytometry, immunohistochemical and RNA in situ techniques, and standard molecular biology and biochemistry.

Further reading:

Ohlund D, Handly-Santana A, Biffi G, Elyada E, et al. Distinct populations of inflammatory fibroblasts and myofibroblasts in pancreatic cancer. J Exp Med 2017;214(3):579-96.

Biffi G, et al. IL1-Induced JAK/STAT Signaling Is Antagonized by TGFbeta to Shape CAF Heterogeneity in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma. Cancer Discov 2019;9(2):282-301.

Elyada E, et al. Cross-species single-cell analysis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma reveals antigen-presenting cancer-associated fibroblasts. Cancer Discov 2019.

Preferred skills/knowledge

Applicants are expected to have experience in laboratory techniques utilised in cellular and molecular biology. Also, experience in some of the areas mentioned in the project description would be highly desirable. The successful candidate must be strongly motivated to drive an independent research project, but also be a highly collaborative individual.


This project is funded by a Cancer Research UK studentship that includes full funding for University and College fees and a stipend of £19,000 per annum.


No nationality restrictions apply to Cancer Research UK funded studentships. 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 on-line 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: If you wish to be considered for more than one studentship, please enter the names of all of the supervisors you wish to consider your application in the ‘Research summary’ text box. If you only wish your application to be considered by a single supervisor, then please enter their name 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 15 November 2019, with interviews expected to take place in December/January.

Please quote reference SW20731 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.

18 Sep 2019
15 Nov 2019