MPhil / PhD / MD

The University has invested over £20million in cancer research which has been used for the creation of several new posts in the Department, and in the establishment of the University of Liverpool Cancer Research Centre (ULCRC) building.

Internationally recognised experts in Pancreatic cancer and Pancreatitis

The Department of Molecular and Clinical Cancer Medicine is the centre for large European pancreas studies aimed at examining the benefit of chemotherapy and chemoradiotherapy in the treatment of patients who have undergone surgery to remove pancreas cancer tissue.

The Pancreatology programme is led by senior scientists and clinicians internationally recognised for their expertise and their research achievements and contribution in the field of Pancreatology, supported by a team of enthusiastic post-doctoral researchers and post-graduate students.

Ionnis Sarantitis - Pancreatology PhD student
  • 100%

    4* and 3* in research environment in Clinical Medicine REF (2014).

  • 359

    postgraduate research students.

  • 309

    academic members of staff.

Research at Liverpool

Pancreatology is one of Liverpool’s recognised strengths with scientific expertise in Pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis and strong clinical and science leadership. 

Research themes

Our research themes include:

  • Clinical trials aimed at determining the overall benefits of current treatments and evaluating the benefits of newly emerging treatments for pancreatic cancer. The Division of Surgery and Oncology is the centre for large European pancreas studies including the ESPAC clinical trials aimed at examining the benefit of chemotherapy and chemoradiotherapy (the combined use of chemotherapy and radiotherapy) in the treatment of patients who have undergone surgery to remove pancreas cancer tissue. There are major clinical trials in advanced pancreatic cancer (such as Gem-Cap) and developmental trials focusing on new biological agents such as the use of targeted super-antibodies and gene therapy. In the palliative care setting we are at the forefront of assessing and optimising novel methods of symptom and pain control. These and other trials that are available to patients at Liverpool will hopefully improve our understanding of the currently available treatments for pancreas cancer
  • Development and Co-ordination of the world's largest collection of families with Hereditary Pancreatitis and Familial Pancreas Cancer. Researchers in the department are currently working with these families to identify the underlying genetic cause of cancer in patients where the disease is inherited. In young patients with Hereditary Pancreatitis and Idiopathic Pancreatitis we are trialling novel treatments to inhibit or minimize the frequency or severity of the attacks
  • Identification of novel drug targets or diagnostic markers for pancreatic cancer. In an attempt to identify suitable drug targets or diagnostic markers for pancreatic adenocarcinoma, we have begun a systematic comparison of protein expression profiles from highly purified specimens of pancreatic adenocarcinoma and corresponding normal tissue. We have established the feasibility of the approach of purification of normal and cancer cells of pancreas by laser capture microdissection followed by visualisation of proteins by two dimensional gel electrophoresis and have identified several proteins whose expression is abnormally high or abnormally low in pancreatic cancer cells. Validation and follow-up of these proteins is ongoing
  • Increasing the efficacy of currently used chemotherapeutic drugs for treating pancreatic cancer. Given the chemo-resistant nature of pancreatic cancer, we are investigating whether combining chemotherapy with other forms of therapy will more potently kill pancreatic cancer cells. We grow pancreatic cancer cells in the laboratory and investigate what factors make them more susceptible to drugs that could be offered to patients. In this way novel combinations of drugs have been identified which are more effective than the drugs used separately, for example inhibitors of the protein Hsp90 increase the sensitivity of the cancer cells to the commonly used chemotherapeutic 5-fluorouracil.

Research interests

  • Clinical studies conducted with the intent to advance therapies to the clinic or develop principles for application of therapeutics to human disease
  • Non-human or non-clinical studies conducted with the intent to advance therapies to the clinic or develop principles for application of therapeutics to human disease
  • Investigations in humans which define the biology of disease and provide the scientific foundation for the development of new or improved therapies for human disease
  • Any clinical trial of a therapy that was initiated based on the above
  • The biology-chemistry “bridge”.


The Institutes research infrastructure is designed to give researchers access to world class facilities in the best possible environment.

Our facilities give us the ability to drive biomedical research from patient samples to the laboratory bench and vice versa from newly generated drug compounds into clinical trials. The departments of the institute have the following facilities and resources:

  • Biomedical Imaging
  • Centre for Antimicrobial Pharmacodynamics
  • Centre for Drug Safety Science
  • Health Data Science Network
  • Centre for Preclinical Imaging
  • Clinical Trials Research Centre
  • Harris-Wellbeing Preterm Birth Research Centre
  • Liverpool Bio-Innovation Hub (LBIH) Biobank
  • Liverpool Cancer Trials Unit
  • MRC North West Hub for Trials Methodology Research
  • North West Cancer Research Centre – University of Liverpool
  • Pancreas Biomedical Research Unit
  • UK Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre for Children
  • Wolfson Centre for Personalised Medicine.

Postgraduate researchers also benefit from flexible access to world-class equipment and expertise through the Shared Research Facilities provided by The Technology Directorate.

Study options and fees


The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) can be thought of as a shorter version of the PhD. It requires the same research skills, training, planning, and project management. It can be a way to assess whether you wish to undertake doctoral research - or it can be taken for its own sake.

Duration Fees: Home and EU Students Fees: International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,195 £15,350
Part time 4-6 years £2,098 £7,675

A doctoral degree is awarded to students that have demonstrated the ability to conceptualise, design, and implement a substantial research project that results in new knowledge, applications, or understanding in their field of study. During your research, you can expect to draw on direct clinical and observational experience to produce an original thesis of 80,000-100,000 words. You'll be part of a research group which matches your research interests. Research groups offer opportunities for cross-disciplinary research collaboration, as well as support and expertise for your research.

Duration Fees: Home and EU Students Fees: International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,195 £15,350
Part time 4-6 years £2,098 £7,675

The Doctor of Medicine (MD) is a doctoral degree open to medical practitioners (technically, anyone holding a medical qualification registrable with the General Medical Council). It is equivalent in requirements and format to the PhD.

Duration Fees: Home and EU Students Fees: International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,195 £15,350
Part time 2-6 years £2,098 £7,675

Entry requirements

Eligibility and entry qualifications

Applicants for postgraduate research study at Liverpool are normally expected to hold a UK first degree with a First Class or Upper Second Class degree classification, or a Second Class degree plus a Master’s degree. Equivalent international qualifications are also accepted, and their equivalence will be evaluated on the basis of the information provided by the National Academic Recognition and Information Centre (NARIC) as well as internal guidance based on our experience of a qualification’s suitability as a preparation for our programmes.

English language requirements

To apply for this research degree, you must have reached a minimum standard of English. You need to be able to provide evidence of this.  See our English language requirements for international students for guidance on the different English language qualifications and evidence that you can provide. 

International qualifications

We welcome applications from within the EU and from around the world. You should ensure that your qualifications are equivalent to those which are required to study for this research degree.  See our guidance on international qualifications.

Additional requirements

How to apply

Research degree applications can be made online.  Before you apply, we recommend that you identify a supervisor and develop a research proposal.  You'll also need to ensure that you have funding to cover all fees.

Applications are open all year round.

More about applying for research degrees

Apply online

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Your supervisor is your main source of academic support and mentoring. You'll need to find a supervisor before you start your research degree. It's helpful to identify a supervisor and discuss your research proposal before you apply.

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