This programme is currently being reviewed as part of our revalidation process. Module choice details will follow in due course.
Biology of Cancer
The Biology of Cancer pathway offers students the possibility of undertaking research alongside internationally recognised scientists who are performing discovery led research to understand the mechanisms of cancer and find new ways to detect and treat the disease.
The programme offers opportunities for training in both fundamental and translational research. Fundamental research includes activities such as dissecting the roles of specific oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes, identifying novel biomarkers or genomic profiles that provide new insight into the mechanisms of disease and cancer progression. Translational research is more patient oriented, and includes activities such as examining patient samples for the presence of known diagnostic or prognostic signatures in patient samples DNA, RNA or protein biomarkers) to enable early detection of cancer or allow predictions of which patients are likely to respond to particular treatments.
Students in this strand are allocated research projects that maximise their skills in the key research techniques of molecular biology, protein biochemistry, microscopy, and the statistical analysis of patient data sets.
Examples of research projects include fundamental and translational research of pancreatic cancer, head and neck cancers, blood cancers, such as leukaemias and lymphomas and tumours affecting the eyes.
Biomedical Imaging and Biosensing
The Biomedical Imaging and Biosensing pathway offers students an opportunity to work with world renowned researchers who are using biomedical imaging and sophisticated image analysis techniques to answer basic physiological and biological questions for addressing clinical problems.
Expertise is available in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Multi-Spectral Optoacoustic Tomography (MSOT), which is a novel imaging method utilizing pulsed-laser light and ultrasound to generate imaging data. Investigators are also developing sophisticated image segmentation and registration methods for analysis of imaging data to solve major clinical and research questions. Ongoing research projects include MRI for applications in neuro-imaging, brain cancer, kidney function and liver regeneration; MSOT imaging for assessing kidney and liver function; tissue pH and electrical conductivity measurement of tissues using MRI.
Students will have an opportunity to develop skills in data acquisition, analysis and interpretation of biomedical imaging, a rapidly progressing field in the modern world of clinical research. Specific skills sets may include a combination of the following: (1) developing animal models of diseases (2) image processing and analysis (3) statistical analysis of imaging data (4) basic MATLAB programming and hands on experience in image processing software like AMIRA, FSL, ImageJ and (5) critical interpretation of imaging data.
The Cancer Medicine pathway offers students the possibility to undertake research alongside internationally recognised basic and clinical scientists.
Both fundamental and translational research is offered. Fundamental research includes activities such as dissecting the role of stroma in cancer progression and DNA repair mechanisms. Translational research includes development of biomarkers for early detection of cancer and treatment options.
Students in this strand are allocated to research projects that match the main strategic research areas of the newly formed Liverpool Cancer Research Institute, such as basic mechanisms underpinning cancers and pancreatic, lung, eye, haematological and head and neck cancers.
Examples of research projects include fundamental and applied research of the role of stromal cells, such as macrophages, in pancreatic cancer progression.
Projects in areas of medically relevant research can be drawn from any of the wide range of research areas covered by staff within the Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology (ISMIB).
As with the other pathways, projects will be allocated after consultation with students about their research interests. This pathway is primarily designed for intercalating medical or dental students, but is also available to non-clinical students.
Molecular and Clinical Gastroenterology
The Department of Gastroenterology provides excellent opportunities for laboratory and clinical research focusing on the pathogenesis of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract in humans and animals (www.liv.ac.uk/gastroenterology). Our focus is on “translational” research that will take advances in basic medical research out of the laboratory and into the hospital or veterinary clinic ‘from the bench to bedside’ in order to improve the health and welfare of people and animals world-wide.
Examples of research projects include: Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – role of bacterial factors, the development and assessment of novel therapies, and Gastrointestinal Cancers.
We employ the whole range of cutting-edge experimental techniques from mechanistic studies involving cell-lines and gastrointestinal tissues through to patient studies and clinical trials.
Pharmacology and Therapeutics
This pathway offers projects in 3 main areas, molecular and clinical pharmacology, drug safety and nanomedicine. In Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology, students are provided with the opportunity to acquire research skills and knowledge across modern pharmacological issues. This encompasses fundamental mechanistic studies, clinical analyses and mathematical modelling to understand the mechanisms that underpin pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, for the treatment of infectious diseases, cancer, immunological and CNS disorders. Students will have a choice of research projects that will provide training in methodologies to address key questions in these areas and opportunity to test a number of hypotheses.
Drug Safety is an exciting branch of experimental science that combines Pharmacology and Toxicology, which informs how to design safer drugs through knowledge of the mechanisms of adverse drug reactions. Drug safety research themes include: Development of novel preclinical test systems to identify toxicological potential in new drug candidates; Development of novel clinical genotyping screens to identify susceptible individuals and inform their therapeutic management; Informing the drug design process at an early stage to avoid incorporation of potentially toxic chemical motifs.
Nanomedicine research projects will cover a variety of ambitions, from development of novel methodological tools for evaluation of nanomaterials, to implementation of pharmacological techniques to accelerate the translation of bespoke materials towards clinical applications. Expertise available predominantly relates to drug delivery applications and includes methods for developing nanoparticles as drug delivery vehicles, which spans solid drug nanoparticles, lipid-based materials, or polymer nanoparticles. Expertise for in vitro and in silico characterisation of nanoparticle interactions with biological systems as they relate to the efficacy and safety of nanomaterials is a local strength, which is complemented by in vivo models to confirm nanoparticle pharmacokinetics and distribution.
Examples of techniques that may be acquired on the Pharmacology and Therapeutics pathway include: molecular biology, cell biology, immunology, mass spectrometry, genetic analysis, in silico approaches and/or cloning/transfection. Projects take place in research labs with strong international reputations in general areas such as hypersensitivity, drug safety and personalised medicine.
Example drug safety related projects include: Development of novel preclinical test systems to identify toxicological potential in new drug candidates; Development of novel clinical genotyping screens to identify susceptible individuals and inform their therapeutic management, and informing drug design at an early stage to avoid incorporation of potentially toxic chemical motifs.
Nanomedicine-based projects include: Synthesis of nanotechnology-enabled medicines for the treatment of diseases; Pharmacological evaluation of route-dependent nanoparticle pharmacokinetics, and early evaluation of nanomaterial safety (e.g. interactions of drug nanoparticles with the immune system).
The Neuroscience pathway covers a wide spectrum of research interests, encompassing studies of the basic cellular and molecular properties of neurons and neuronal signalling, analysis of the neurobiological basis of health and disease, exploration of the structure and function of the human nervous system, and investigation of the characteristics and underlying mechanisms of neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders in clinically-orientated research projects.
Projects are based in laboratories in multiple academic departments in the Institute of Systems Molecular and Integrated Biology. They can also be conducted in collaboration with brain imaging scientists at the MARIARC facility and with clinical neuroscience researchers at the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust in North Liverpool. Major areas of active research include epilepsy, demyelinating disorders, neuro-behavioural disorders, neuro-degeneration and MRI-based brain imaging.
Techniques utilised within this strand are highly varied and project-specific but are typically drawn from the broad disciplines of structural and molecular biology, protein biochemistry, pharmacology, electrophysiology, microscopy, genomics and epigenetics, structural and functional MRI neuroimaging, neuropsychological assessment, and clinical disease phenotyping.
Cellular and Molecular Physiology
The Cellular and Molecular Physiology pathway covers a wide range of different research areas, from fundamental studies of cell biology to translational work on the mechanisms of human disease. Despite this diversity, the various research areas share a common aim in trying to understand complex physiological phenomena at the cellular and molecular level. Students in this strand are therefore allocated research projects that maximise their skills in key techniques to address this, such as molecular biology, protein biochemistry, calcium imaging, genetics, microscopy and electrophysiology.
Examples of general research project areas include calcium signalling, cell signalling and ubiquitination disease related protein networks, cancer microenvironment and neuronal function/dysfunction.
Stem Cells, Tissues and Disease
This pathway is focussed on stem cell research and the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie a variety of human diseases. The research programmes span from single cell-based studies, investigating the molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis, to whole organism-based preclinical studies investigating the therapeutic potential of stem cells in disease.
Depending on their chosen research project, students in the Stem Cells, Tissues and Disease strand will receive training in various key techniques, such as stem cell and induced pluripotent cell tissue culture, embryo dissection, animal handling, immunostaining, ELISA, flow cytometry, histology and biomarker analysis, microscopy (including immunofluorescence and confocal), cloning and quantitative PCR.
Examples of research project areas include embryonic stem cell and induced pluripotent cell biology, mesothelial, endometrial and neural stem cell biology, calcium signalling in disease , and the role of the tissue microenvironment in cancer, and cardiovascular disease.