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ADVANCE-CFTR: Advanced Diagnostic Validation and Novel Clinical Evaluation across the CFTR spectrum

Subject areas:

Gut Organoid technology, Imaging, pharmacology, Cystic Fibrosis, assay development

Funding type:

Stipend. Bench Fees / Research Training & Support Grant. Study costs.

Awarding body:

Cystic Fibrosis Trust.



This project aims to prove gut organoids as the best diagnostic tool and help establish a UK organoid program for faster diagnosis.

Award details

Diagnosing cystic fibrosis (CF) can be challenging, especially with rare CF genes. Without a clear diagnosis, patients often don't receive the correct treatment, leading to health deterioration. Some wait for years, even decades, causing significant distress. Accurate testing methods are urgently needed. Recently, CFTR-dependent tests in patient-derived intestinal organoids, pioneered at Beekman lab (UMC Utrecht), have shown excellent diagnostic capabilities and provide key phenotyping information. These organoids can also quantify individual responses to CFTR modulators and be biobanked for future research. Optimal use of these biomarkers for difficult-to-diagnose cases and modulator treatment requires further investigation.

Our research project aims to:

1. Perform comprehensive clinical phenotyping and build a disease-specific database.

2. Improve diagnostic performance by evaluating the accuracy of organoids compared to SCC, NPD, and ICM.

3. Assess intestinal organoid responses to CFTR modulators.

Develop the UK's first CF organoid facility for advanced CFTR diagnostics and drug responsiveness testing.

The candidate will learn to independently conduct research on primary intestinal organoids and develop assays tailored for difficult-to-diagnose individuals. This includes exploratory work to improve assay standardization, complex organoid feature extraction, and integration based on novel image analysis techniques for optimal in vitro measurements and clinical comparisons. To do this the student will be expected to spend some time training in The UMC Utrecht Netherlands (Beekman lab). Additionally, the student will be trained in associated support structures such as patient needs, informed consent, biobanking, ethical considerations, regulatory approval processes, statistics, and databases.

For enquiries please contact SCMMS-PGR@kcl.ac.uk 

Award value

  • Stipend: The studentships provide a generous stipend (currently £24,975 in Year 1/ £76,568 over the course of 3 years).
  • Bench Fees: An allowance will be provided for research consumables
  • Tuition fees: Home tuition fees will be fully covered by this programme.

Eligibility criteria

The programme welcomes applications from a diverse range of backgrounds. Applicants will be reviewed on qualifications, experience and potential to undertake a research degree.

To be eligible for consideration applicants must possess, or be expected to achieve, a 1st or high upper 2nd class degree (or equivalent) in a biomedical science subject. Applications from students with a relevant Master’s degree are also welcome.

English Language Requirements:

If English is not your first language you will be required to provide evidence that you meet the minimum English requirements of the Faculty details can be found on our website.  If you are unable to provide this confirmation before applying any offer you are made would be conditional upon you meeting these requirements prior to enrolment and no later than 4 weeks before the course starts.

Application process

To apply, please visit the King’s Apply website at https://myapplication.kcl.ac.uk/ and follow the steps outlined below.

  • Register a new account and login.
  • Open a new application.
  • Select the programme:
  1. Select ‘Research programmes’
  2. Enter ‘Cardio’, then Search
  3. Select: ‘Cardiovascular Medicine and Science Research MPhil/PhD (Full-time)’. Your application cannot be considered if submitted under the incorrect programme.
  • Complete and submit your application noting the following:
  1. Include a supporting personal statement, no project proposal is needed.
  2. 2 References
  3. CV

4.            Funding – select drop-down ‘4. Grant Awarding Body’.  For the award status, select 'Advertised Scholarship' and in the box marked ‘Ref No.:’, please enter: ‘CRTF24’.

 
 

Academic year:

2024-25

Study mode:

Postgraduate research

Application closing date:

17 June 2024