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phd students lab


The Department has limited access to funding and is able to award Research Studentships to Home students when the funding is available. Research Studentships are awarded on a competitive basis and are funded by the research councils, charities, and sometimes by industrial sponsors. We will update this page when funding information becomes available.



 Dr David James scholarships

davidjamesBWDuring his life, Dr David James was a well-respected Departmental Administrator. His legacy provides scholarships for the most gifted postgraduates to pursue focused and original research. The David James Studentship has provided full financial support for a number of PhD students within the Department since October 2011.

And through PhD studentships, the David James Fund is supporting the next generation of Cambridge pharmacologists, whose work will be crucial to developing better treatments for diseases such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes and Parkinson's.



PhD position in Cardiovascular Toxicity, University of Cambridge – Department of Pharmacology and AstraZeneca

Vacancy reference: PL06111

Start Date: 1 October 2015

Duration: 4 years

Application deadline: 15thJune 2015

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD position for Home (UK)/EU students in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Cambridge. The studentship is fully funded by AstraZeneca and will be based within the Department of Pharmacology, which offers comprehensive facilities for research in a modern building located in the centre of Cambridge The student will also have access to state-of-the-art facilities at AstraZeneca laboratories in Cambridge.

Project Information

A new drug must be effective but also safe. Cardiovascular toxicities associated with drugs, including vascular damage, thrombosis and heart failure, are a major reason for drugs to be withdrawn from development or after approval. A further important challenge is to predict the risk of cardiovascular toxicity in patients with an already higher risk of cardiovascular disease, such as diabetic patients. Therefore, there is a pressing need for new models that accurately predict human vascular injury in healthy and at-risk patients.

In this project we will use human blood vessels in a new ex vivo model of drug-induced vascular damage and thrombo-inflammation. We will use high-resolution imaging and biomarker analysis to investigate how drugs influence vessel reactivity, inflammation and thrombosis in healthy and diseased blood vessels. In this way we will provide new mechanistic insights into how drugs cause blood vessel damage.

Applicants must have, or should expect to gain, a minimum of a 2.1, or equivalent, in pharmacology (or a related subject such as biochemistry, physiology or cellular and molecular biology). UK students who meet the UK residency requirements will be eligible for a full studentship (stipend currently £17,000 p.a.). EU students will also be eligible for a full studentship.

Further information can be obtained from Dr. Matthew Harper (,

Applications should be made on-line via the Cambridge Graduate Admissions Office before the deadline: with Dr Matthew Harper identified as the supervisor.

 The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.


MRC ITTP PhD Studentship (Fixed Term)







6 May 2015

Closing date

15 June 2015

Molecular mechanisms of bile salt export pump (BSEP) inhibition in drug-induced liver injury

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a PhD student to work on a project funded by the MRC Integrative Toxicology Training Partnership (ITTP) in the research group led by Dr Hendrik W. van Veen at the Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge. More information about the research group is available at

Bile acids are synthesized within hepatocytes and excreted into bile by ATP-dependent active transport proteins located in the apical plasma membrane, most notably the Bile Salt Export Pump (BSEP, ABCB11). Impaired BSEP activity results in accumulation of bile acids within hepatocytes, which can cause cholestatic liver injury. Our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of BSEP inhibition is still very limited.

The PhD project will aim to study molecular mechanisms of BSEP inhibition in more detail. This knowledge will aid in the design of molecules that are unlikely to inhibit BSEP, and thereby inform and guide in vitro testing strategies, as well as molecules that can stimulate BSEP activity in the treatment of cholestatic disorders.

The project will use molecular modelling as a basis for mutational analyses, aiming to reconstitute purified wild-type and mutant proteins in proteoliposomes, and to characterize these proteins through measurements of substrate transport and binding. This research will be in collaboration with Dr Dominic Williams within the Translational Safety Department of AstraZeneca in Cambridge, where part of the research activities will be carried out.

Applicants should have or shortly expect to obtain a minimum of a UK II.i Honours Degree (or equivalent) in Pharmacology or a related subject including Cellular or Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Competition is intense and successful applicants are likely to demonstrate high academic achievements. We are looking for a highly motivated, enthusiastic individual, capable of thinking and working independently, with an interest in, and possibly some knowledge of, molecular modelling and the purification and reconstitution of membrane proteins.

In accordance with the MRC Studentship guidelines and residence requirements, to be eligible for a full award a student must have:

Settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay and been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship.

This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences) and not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full time education. This does not apply to UK or EU nationals.

Funding: Full funding covering the University Composition Fee, Maintenance (currently £14,057 pa), an allowance for conference attendance and consumables is provided for up to 4 years, with effect from 1 October 2015.

Informal enquiries about the position can be made to Dr Hendrik W. van Veen (

To apply, please e-mail the following at

1) your CV with full contact details of 2 academic referees (max two A4 pages), 2) your academic transcript, and 3) a cover letter (max two A4 pages) highlighting (a) your background/research interests, (b) how you will fit in with this project, (c) what you hope to achieve in the programme and your career aspirations beyond the programme, and (d) why this programme at the Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge is the best place for you to pursue your interests.

Applications will be assessed as and when they are submitted. Face-to-face and/or telephone interviews will take place up to 24 June 2015.

Please quote reference PL06039 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.