Postgraduate research students in Integrated Biosciences

We have a rich and vibrant PhD student community with students originating from a range of backgrounds and nationalities.  All students take part in a number of Group activities such as the weekly journal club and more important Friday bake club gatherings.

Follow the links below to see short project and biosketches for the students in our main subject areas:

infection and immunity Oral Neuroscience head and neck cancer

PhD Students in Head and Neck Cancer

Zulfahmi Said: supervised by Dr. Craig Murdoch and Dr. Helen Colley.

Title: Investigating drug delivery in in vitro 3D tissue engineered models of the oral mucosa.

Zul obtained his first degree in Biomedical Sciences and Masters degree in Pharmacology from University Putra Malaysia (UPM), Malaysia in 2005 and 2011, respectively. Zul commenced his PhD in October 2014.  He is investigating the delivery of corticosteroids, which are used in the treatment of mucosal diseases, such as oral lichen planus, using tissue engineered oral mucosa models.

Sarmad Al-Sahaf: supervised by Dr. Craig Murdoch and Dr. Keith Hunter.

Title: Differences in the immune response between HPV+ and HPV- oropharyngeal tumours


Sarmad graduated in 2004 from College of Dentistry of Baghdad with a BDS and in 2009 was awarded a Master’s in Oral Surgery from Sulaymaniyah College of Dentistry in Kurdistan Province. Sarmad then worked in the USA where he passed the NBDE part 1.  He is funded by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Iraq.

Xinming (Anita) Liu

Project title: Hitching a ride: Are vault RNAs selectively loaded into cancer derived extracellular vesicles?
Supervisors: Dr Stuart Hunt and Dr Dan Lambert
Anita completed her BSc in Biotechnology at Shandong Normal University, China. She then continued her studies at Sheffield University studying for an MSc in Translational Oncology. Anita was awarded a prestigious China Scholarship Council award to fund her PhD degree, joining the School in 2017.

Priyanka Prajapati:
Supervisors: Dr. Daniel Lambert and Dr. Craig Murdoch.

Title: Role of cancer associated fibroblasts in macrophage recruitment in Head and Neck Cancer.

Priyanka graduated with Merit in Masters of Medical Sciences from Newcastle University before joining a PhD at the School of Clinical Dentistry in 2013,
Email: pprajapati1@sheffield.ac.uk

Alice Pilborough
Title: the role of epithelial-fibroblast crosstalk in promoting lymph node metastasis in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Supervisors: Dr Ali Khurram, Dr Dan Lambert and Prof. Paula Farthing.

Alice graduated with a First in Molecular Cell Biology with a Year in Industry in 2014 before joining the department to study for her PhD.

Amir Zaki Abdullah Zubir

Title: ‘The functional role of chemokine receptor XCR1 and its bio-engineered ligand in oral squamous cell carcinoma.
Supervisors: Dr. Syed Ali Khurram (Dentistry), Dr. Tuck Seng Wong (Chemical & Biological Engineering) and Dr. Simon Whawell (Dentistry).

Zaki has a background degree of BSc Chemical Engineering Technology (Hons.) in Bioprocess and graduated from University of Sheffield with MSc Biological and Bioprocess Engineering before starting his PhD work at the School of Clinical Dentistry.
The research involves protein engineering of chemokine lymphotactin's metamorphic structure and investigation of its role in oral cancer.

Hannah Armes: Supervised by Lynne Bingle

Title: The role of WFDC2 isoforms in the development and progression of oral cancers.

Supervisors: Dr Lynne Bingle and Dr Colin Bingle.

Hannah graduated with a First in Microbiology from the University of Sheffield and is now in the first year of her PhD at the School of Clinical Dentistry. She is attempting to further elucidate the biological function of WFDC2 splice variants and explore their role in oral cancer development and progression.

Bethany Ollington

Supervised by Dr. Craig Murdoch and Dr. Helen Colley.
Title: Evaluating epithelial xenobiotic metabolism using a tissue-engineering proteomics approach for drug induced toxicity.


Bethany obtained a 1st Class BSc (hons) and a MSc in Drug Discovery from University of Dundee in 2017. Her MRC DiMeN funded studentship aims to create immunocompetent tissue-engineered epithelial models and use these to assess drug induced toxicity.

Amy Harding: supervised by Dr. H. Colley and Dr. D. Lambert.

Project Title: “Investigating the role of the extracellular matrix in oral cancer progression.”

Amy graduated with an MSc (Res) in Translational Oncology and BSc Hons in Biomedical Science, both from the University of Sheffield. Previous research at the School of Clinical Dentistry included investigating the role of LncRNA in myofibroblast differentiation.

Zulaiha A Rahman:
Project Title: The development of in vitro models of human salivary glands
Supervisors: Dr Lynne Bingle, Dr Aileen Crawford and Dr Colin Bingle.

Zulaiha graduated in Masters of Medical Sciences (Physiology) from National University of Malaysia before starting his PhD research at the Academic Unit of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, School of Clinical Dentistry in 2014. Her current research aims are to establish in vitro models of human salivary glands, to investigate the pathogenesis of salivary gland disease and to further understand the development of salivary glands for regenerative studies. She is funded by Malaysian government.

Mark Ofield
Project title: Does exosomal transfer of microRNA play a role in stromal-epithelial interactions?
Supervisors: Dr Stuart Hunt and Dr Dan Lambert


After completing a BSc at Swansea in 2012, Mark first encountered extracellular vesicles (EVs) whilst doing an MRes degree at Imperial College London. During this project he worked on EV's ability to transfer cisplatin resistance in ovarian cancer. Mark secured a highly competitive Cancer Research UK/Yorkshire Cancer Research funded PhD studentship to study at Sheffield, and joined the lab in March 2014.

Ben Peacock
Project title: The role of HPV-encoded exo-miRs in oropharyngeal cancer progression
Supervisors: Dr Stuart Hunt, Dr Daniel Lambert and Prof Keith Hunter


Ben studied for a BSc in Biological Sciences at The University of Warwick in 2013. A scholarship with the Sheffield Medical School allowed him to undertake an MSc in Molecular Medicine. Ben continued his molecular biology studies, focusing on the characterisation of extracellular vesicles in oropharyngeal carcinoma.

Areeg Elmusrati
Project title: Examining the role of cancer associated fibroblasts in bone invasion in OSCC


Supervisors: Dr Dan Lambert and Dr S Ali Khurram


Areeg was awarded a high distinction in her Masters in Diagnostic Oral Pathology at the University of Sheffield, having completed her project with us. She then rejoined Dr Lambert and Dr Khurram to complete a PhD in 2016.

PhD Students in Infection and Immunity

Hannah Clemmens


Project title: The ADAMs Family: bad neighbours in the tumour microenvironment?
Supervisors: Dr Dan Lambert, Dr Simon Whawell & Dr Will English
Hannah gained a 1st in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (MSci) from the University of Sheffield, having completed her research project component in our lab. She then worked as a research technician with Dr Heather Mortiboys in SITraN before rejoining our lab to study for a PhD in 2016.

Mohammed Al-Zubidi

Supervisors: Dr. Graham Stafford, Professor Andrew Rawlinson and Professor Ian Douglas.

Mohammeds project focuses on the isolation of Bacteriophage from the human and wider environment targeted against oral pathogens such as the red-complex periodontal pathogens and on the investigation of potentially antimicrobial amidase genes contained within Prophage of oral pathogens.  He is from Iraq and sponsored by a government scholarship.

Cher Farrugia
Project title: How do oral bacteria initiate cardiovascular disease?
Supervisors: Dr Craig Murdoch & Dr Graham Stafford
Cher is a Faculty funded student and is also part funded by an Oral and Dental Research Trust Award. Her project aims to identify important molecules expressed by oral bacteria that mediate vascular damage leading to cardiovascular disease using a zebrafish embryo model.

Ashley Gains

Project title: Determination of role of Outer membrane proteins of periodontal pathogens in modulation of human cell interaction during infection

Supervisors: Dr Graham Stafford

Ashley gained a first class MSci degree from Sheffield Hallam University and will work to continue our work on Omps and other surface proteins on P. gingivalis and its interaction with human cells.

Katherine Wong:

Project title: Mechanisms of bacterial community dynamics in oral biofilms.

Supervisors:  Dr Graham Stafford and Dr Joey Shepherd+ Dr J Pratten (GSK)

Katherine joins us after a stint as an RA in the team of William Wade at QMUL, after previously gaining an MSc (Manchester).  She will be working on using in vitro models of microbial communities and how glycans influence how these communities form in order to understand how we can manipulate them via targetting glyco-metabolism

Marianne Satur:

Engineering improved specificity and activity into oral bacterial
glycosidases for glycan biotechnology applications.

Supervisors: Dr Graham Stafford and Dr John Rafferty.

Marianne graduated with an MBiolSci in Biochemistry from the University of Sheffield in 2015 and is now a first year BBSRC CASE PhD student. Her research involves structural and biochemical studies on oral sialidases, in attempt to engineer these enzymes to improve their activity and specificity for glycan biotechnology applications.

web: http://stafford.group.shef.ac.uk/index.php/group-members/phd-students/marianne-satur
email: mjsatur1@sheffield.ac.uk

Nitin Kamble: Engineering E.coli for maximal efficiency of protein production via the Flagellar Type III secretion system

Working on the bioengineering of flagellar type 3 secretion and chimeric flagella production in E.coli for the maximal efficiency secretion of novel therapeutics and medically important novel bioglue synthesis that will help in (bone)grafting technology, under the supervision of Dr Graham Stafford (School of clinical Dentistry) and Dr Phillip Wright (chemical and Biological Engineering).

Email: nskamble1@sheffield.ac.uk

web: http://stafford.group.shef.ac.uk/index.php/group-members/phd-students/nitin-kamble

VISITING PHD student:

Magda Widziolek:- from Poland
Project Title: Defining Porphyromonas gingivalis interactions with endothelial cells using a zebrafish embryo model.

Supervisors: Dr Craig Murdoch and Dr Graham Stafford.


Magda is a visiting international PhD student from Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. Her study aims to examine the key role of gingipains, enzymes expressed by the oral periodontal pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis, in mediating endothelial damage in vitro and in vivo.

PhD Students in Neuroscience

Diana Tavares Ferreira: “Resolvins and microRNA in inflammatory and neuropathic pain”
Supervisors: Professor Fiona Boissonade and Dr Dan Lambert.

Diana graduated with a Masters in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Coimbra (Portugal) in 2013. She is currently studying the role of resolvins and microRNA in chronic pain. The main aim of the project is to characterise the expression of resolvin receptors and microRNA under different conditions of injury, using both pre-clinical models and human tissues. Her project is sponsored by the Faculty and Pfizer Neusentis.

dtavaresferreira1@sheffield.ac.uk