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Tarl Prow

Prof

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

PhD Research Opportunity (1):
Project Title: Advancing Melanoma Diagnostics and Understanding Disease Progression
Partners: Dr. Ian Katz, Southern Sun Pathology, Australia
Background:
Melanoma, the UK's fifth most common cancer, is on the rise, with a worrying increase of 32% over the past decade and projections indicating a further 9% surge by 2040. Alarmingly prevalent in individuals aged 85-89, it presents a unique clinical challenge due to its often asymptomatic nature. This reality underscores an urgent need for improved patient education and effective screening methods. Our research focuses on a groundbreaking discovery: a series of novel biomarkers in the skin's top layer, offering a promising pathway for early melanoma detection.
The Challenge:
The main challenge is improving how doctors diagnose melanoma in patients at high risk. Doctors often have different opinions and confidence levels when diagnosing certain types of lesions, like atypical moles or very early-stage melanomas. It's important to make these diagnoses more consistent and accurate so that this deadly disease can be stopped early in those that have it and spare those that do not from disfiguring excision.
Innovative Solution:
We have discovered novel biomarkers from the skin surface that have the potential to enable a new series of unambiguous molecular tests for melanoma that would be an ideal companion to the current diagnostic procedures. In parallel we have invented and commercialised a novel, minimally invasive microneedle device to painlessly capture small pieces of skin. Linking these two innovations together has the potential to shape the future of melanoma monitoring and enable large scale research studies.
Objective Options:
* Pioneering the advancement of new technologies to detect melanoma at its earliest stages.
* Delving into how differences in gene expression influence the progression of melanoma, providing vital insights that could shape future treatments.
Your Role:
Exceptional PhD candidates will translate groundbreaking research into tangible, life-saving diagnostics. You will be at the forefront of this innovative field, contributing to a project that not only enhances our understanding of melanoma diagnosis but also paves the way for more effective interventions.
Unique Selling Points:
* Precision diagnostics for skin cancer detection.
* Novel diagnostic platform development.
* Potential for molecular pathology and/or device development project.
* Rapid clinical impact.
Impact:
Individuals at high risk for melanoma, especially the elderly, will benefit from more accurate and early diagnosis due to the development of new molecular tests using novel biomarkers. This advancement will aid in detecting melanoma at its earliest stages, significantly improving treatment outcomes and potentially saving lives. By exploring the variations in gene expression linked to melanoma progression, this project will provide crucial insights that could revolutionise future treatments. PhD candidates involved in this research will be instrumental in translating these findings into practical, life-saving diagnostics, contributing to a deeper understanding of melanoma and enhancing the overall approach to skin cancer care.
Why Join Us?
* Impactful Research: Be part of a interdisciplinary team dedicated to detecting this elusive and deadly disease.
* Cutting-edge Science: Engage with the latest advancements in cancer research and diagnostics.
* Collaborative Environment: Work alongside leading experts in a dynamic, supportive setting.
Applications are now open for this exciting opportunity to redefine melanoma diagnostics and treatment. Join us in making a significant difference in the field of cancer research.

PhD Research Opportunity (2):
Project Title: Using Hormonal Signalling to Fight Skin Cancer
Partners: Prof Anna Mandinova, Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Harvard, USA; Prof Wayne Tilley, University of Adelaide, Australia
Background:
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) stands as a significant health threat, particularly for the immunocompromised community of organ transplant recipients. These individuals are at a substantially higher risk for aggressive SCC due to immunosuppressive medications required post-transplant. With non-melanoma skin cancers like SCC being widespread in the UK, the limitations of current painful treatments have led to poor patient adherence and outcomes.
The Challenge:
Organ transplant patients face a dual threat: the superficial nature of current SCC treatments and their debilitating side effects, alongside an increased susceptibility to infections. The critical need for treatments that can penetrate the skin sufficiently to target cancer cells is unmet by existing topical applications because they all rely on a functional immune system to clear the cancer, which immunosuppressed patients do not have.
Innovative Solution:
We have clinical evidence that supports the repurposing of a selective hormonal modulator, to treat SCC without immunomodulation. This project is centred on developing this drug for targeted skin cancer treatment in transplant patients, minimizing side effects with our pioneering transdermal delivery system. Our cross-disciplinary team's clinical insights endorse this tailored therapeutic strategy.
Objective options:
* Investigating the mechanism of action.
* Developing a precision delivery approach for topical drug delivery.
* Working with clinicians to assess efficacy in organ transplant recipients.
Your Role:
The project marshals a team with varied expertise, dedicated to establishing proof of concept for the efficacy of selective hormonal modulators in SCC treatment. Our approach is inclusive of both immunocompetent and immunosuppressed patient populations.
Unique Selling Points:
* Precision medicine for skin cancer patients with compromised immune systems.
* Novel skin cancer mechanism discovery.
* Rapid clinical impact.
Impact:
This project has clear potential for clinical and commercial impact. The potential is supported by a clinical pilot (n=19) and molecular pathology data. Individuals with weakened immune systems, particularly organ transplant recipients, will benefit from this project through access to a new skin cancer treatment specifically designed to be effective without relying on a strong immune response. Patients undergoing skin cancer treatment will experience a significant improvement in comfort and safety, as this project aims to deliver medication directly through the skin, effectively targeting cancer cells while minimizing overall side effects, like red, itchy, peeling and painful skin, that are caused by todays skin cancer treatments.
Why Join Us?
* Impactful Research: Be part of a team dedicated to tackling one of the UK's most prevalent cancers.
* Cutting-edge Science: Engage with the latest advancements in cancer research and diagnostics.
* Collaborative Environment: Work alongside leading experts in a dynamic, supportive setting.
Applications are now open for this exciting opportunity to redefine skin cancer treatment as an option for everyone. Join us in making a significant difference in the field of cancer research.

PhD Research Opportunity (3):
Project Title:
Smart Microneedles for Enhanced Skin Sampling and Disease Diagnosis
Partners: Prof Drew Evans, University of South Australia, Australia
Background:
Skin sampling, a cornerstone diagnostic tool, traditionally relies on invasive biopsies and blood tests. Our project is set to revolutionize this practice by developing new microneedles for electrochemically assisted skin sampling, allowing for simultaneous biopsy of skin tissue and extraction of interstitial fluid. The technology has potential for novel electronics embedded in this microneedle for onboard sample processing and disease detection.
The Challenge:
The metal, silica and dissolving microneedles work well for single tasks but do not have the capability to carry out a programmed series of processes or adapt themselves . To address these concerns, we have identified a novel organic conducting polymer, which is electroactive, mechanically flexible, and biocompatible, to coat onto plastic microneedles. This innovative material choice aims to provides a platform for pushing the boundaries of what a microneedle is capable of. We envision microneedles with onboard electronics offering significant advantages, including multi-functionality, allowing them to perform various tasks. We want to explore microneedles that can be made to be programmable and customizable, suiting individual patient needs. These devices could provide real-time monitoring and feedback for immediate insights into a patient's condition, and their improved diagnostic capabilities enable more accurate and quicker diagnoses. Integration with other systems facilitates seamless data sharing and coordination in healthcare settings would be a step change in healthcare.
Innovative Solution:
We have engineered variants of conducting polymers to coat on plastic microneedles. These microneedle platforms are designed to work in pairs, with their performance being rigorously tested through various electrochemical techniques. This gives the project a firm platform to build on in terms of modular electronics and molecular capabilities.
Objective options:
* Develop a device capable of performing a range of medical tasks, adaptable to different clinical scenarios.
* Create a platform that allows for easy customization and programming of the device to meet specific patient requirements.
* Implement advanced sensors and algorithms to enable real-time monitoring of patient health, providing immediate feedback to healthcare providers.
* Refining the device's diagnostic capabilities for quicker and more precise medical assessments.
* Ensure the device can be easily integrated with existing hospital information systems for efficient data transfer and management.
* Design the device with updatable software to incorporate the latest technological advances, extending its relevance and functionality over time.
Your Role:
You will utilize cutting-edge electrochemical techniques, advanced fabrication processes and molecular diagnostics platforms. This interdisciplinary project will pair engineering with molecular pathology to make step change improvements in healthcare.
Unique Selling Points:
* Advanced medical device development.
* Truly interdisciplinary project with clinical outcomes.
* Potential for commercialisation experience.
Impact:
This research has the potential to set a new standard for skin sampling diagnostics. By integrating advanced materials with sophisticated analytical techniques, we aim to provide deeper insights into skin conditions, leading to more accurate diagnoses and personalized treatment plans.
Why Join Us?
* Impactful Research: Be part of a multidisciplinary team dedicated to innovation in healthcare technology.
* Cutting-edge Science: Engage with the latest advancements in advanced manufacturing and cancer diagnostics.
* Collaborative Environment: Work alongside leading experts in a dynamic, supportive setting.
Join us on this cutting-edge project that combines material science, bioengineering, and clinical diagnostics. Apply now to contribute to a future where disease detection is safer, quicker, and more informative.

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