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Research Scholarship Project: Towards the identification of novel therapeutic targets in kidney cancer

Research Scholarship Project: Towards the identification of novel therapeutic targets in kidney cancer

PI: Asst. Prof. Hilary Cassidy

Introduction: Kidney cancer is one of the most common cancers globally, accounting for 40,000 deaths annually, with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) representing 90% of all cases. With increasingly sedentary lifestyles and rising obesity, kidney cancer rates are predicted to rise by 26% by 2035. Standard treatment for early stage, localised RCC is surgical resection, which is curative in 90% of patients. Unfortunately, symptoms of RCC are often silent until advanced metastatic stages and treatment approaches switch to chemotherapy and targeted therapies. Diagnosis at this metastatic stage is associated with decreased patient survival, with only 12% surviving beyond 5 years. With current treatments proving ineffective against advanced RCC, there is a clear need for novel therapies and an increased understanding of the mechanisms driving kidney cancer.

The project:

This project will have two main focuses: (i) investigation of the dysregulated signalling pathways in kidney cancer in vitro and in a clinical sample cohort to gain a better understanding of the onset and progression of the disease, and (ii) the identification and validation of novel therapeutic targets and early-stage biomarkers. The potential therapeutic targets will be further tested in vitro in a cell-based model and in vivo using xenotransplanation techniques in zebrafish.


The student will be required to take Conway PhD modules including the Engage and Postgraduate teaching module in order to achieve their module quota to graduate. The student will also be supported to apply for any funding from UCD and other sources to fund their work as all previous students have done. In addition, we will collaborate with Irish and international research groups to facilitate any expertise or training required to complete the project that is not already present in the lab or provided by core facilities in the Conway Institute. The student will also be supported to present their research regularly at weekly seminar series and encouraged to critique their lab colleagues research as part of their training and team building.

Minimum requirements:

The successful candidate should have a 1st or upper 2nd Class Honours degree in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, Genetics or a related subject. EU applicants only. The successful candidate should be enthusiastic, self-motivated and independent researchers capable of interacting well within a research team. Prior experience of working in a research laboratory id desirable. Computational skills in regard to analysing large scale data generated by proteomics is welcomed but not necessary.


  1. Start date 1st October 2022.
  2. Full EU fees and a stipend of €18,000 per annum for a maximum of 4 years.
  3. The successful candidate will be required to demonstrate in undergraduate practical laboratory classes for no extra remuneration as part of their funded scholarship.
  4. The student and supervisor are required to submit an application for an IRC Postgraduate Scholarship in the first year of their SBBS-funded research scholarship.

Enquiries and Applications: Please send your cover letter, CV and the contact details of two referees to Asst. Prof. Hilary Cassidy. Email: hilary.cassidy@ucd.ie

Closing date: Tuesday 21st August, 2022

Contact the UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science

H1.38 O’Brien Centre for Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 2130 | E: undergrad.sbbs@ucd.ie | Location Map