Molecular characterization of galectin-ligand interactions in cancer and beyond


Galectins are multifunctional carbohydrate-binding proteins that are expressed by many types of human cells such as epithelial and immune cells. Changes of galectin expression occur in most common cancers (e.g. colon, breast, lung, prostate, pancreatic cancer and melanoma) and play divergent roles in cancer progression and metastasis via multiple mechanisms. Development of galectin-targeted therapeutic agents is a strategy currently been actively pursued by a number of biotech companies for cancer treatment.  This PhD project will use various biophysical and biological techniques to characterize the interaction of some galectin members with their binding ligands and with newly developed galectin antagonists at molecular and atomic levels. This will help to gain insight into the molecular actions of galectins in cancer pathogenesis and aid the development of galectin-targeted novel therapeutic agents for treatment of cancer and other galectin-associated diseases such as fibrosis and heart failure. 


Applicants with a good degree in any area of life/biological/medical science are welcome to apply. Successful candidate will be provided with excellent training opportunity in cancer biology and structural biology in this multi-disciplinary project. Our institution is equipped with various state-of-art research facilities and some of them (e.g. a super bright X-ray generator and a crystallization robot) are situated in our laboratories. You will join a dynamic research team and work in a multi-disciplinary environment. You will also be offered opportunities to get training of transferable skills by enrolling various training programmes run by the University of Liverpool.


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Self-funded project

This project is open to sponsored (or self-funded) PhD applicants only. If you have the right qualifications, aptitude and desire, and have secured funding for a PhD study, either from your government or other sources, your application will be considered.  Applicants are encouraged to contact the Principal Supervisor directly to discuss their application and the project. 

Details of costs to study at University of Liverpool can be found on the University website:



  1. Duckworth CA, Guimond SE, Sindrewicz P, Hughes AJ, French NS, Lian LY, Yates EA, Pritchard DM, Rhodes JM, Turnbull JE, Yu LG.  (2015). Chemically modified, non-anticoagulant heparin derivatives are potent galectin-3 binding inhibitors and inhibit circulating galectin-3-promoted metastasis. Oncotarget 6:23671-23687.
  2. Sindrewicz P, Lian LY, Yu LG. (2016). Interaction of the Oncofetal Thomsen-Friedenreich Antigen with Galectins in Cancer Progression and Metastasis. Front Oncol. 6:79.
  3. Pang Y, Maxwell E, Sindrewicz-Goral P, Shapanis A, Morgan M and Yu LG. (2022). Galectin-3 Is a Natural Binding Ligand of MCAM (CD146, MUC18) in Melanoma Cells and Their Interaction Promotes Melanoma Progression. Biomolecules 12:1451