Department of Oncology and Metabolism projects

Intercalated BSc Medical Sciences Research available projects

An oncology student in the lab
Off

Projects: 

Antisense therapy as novel medical treatment for Cushing's disease

Main Supervisor

Dr Helen Kemp (e.h.kemp@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Professor John Newell-Price (j.newellprice.co.uk)

Aim and Objectives

Background

Cushing’s disease is a devastating condition caused by a pituitary corticotroph tumour that express pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) and secretes ACTH. The high ACTH drives the adrenal to secrete excess cortisol causing the clinical state. Pituitary surgery is the standard treatment but leaves approx 40-50% without permanent cure and new treatments are needed. Work in our laboratory in Sheffield has resulted in the successful design of antisense oligonucleotides (ASO) that result in highly efficient knockdown of POMC in an vitro model.

The main aims of this study are to:

  1. Investigate the effectiveness of the ASOs with respect to dose and time;
  2. Analyse the mechanism of action and stability of the ASOs; and
  3. Assess the efficacy of this approach in human pituitary cells grown ex vivo.

Research Methodology

The methods that the student will carry out are: cell culture; cell transfections; DNA and RNA techniques such as, DNA and RNA preparation, reverse transcription, PCR, qPCR and agarose gel electrophoresis; and ELISA.

Expected Outcome

It is envisaged that the work from this project will be suitable for submission to conferences and ultimately publication. Student membership of the Society for Endocrinology will be sponsored and as well as attendance at the annual congress. Participation in the Medical School Research Day is expected.

Type of Project

Lab/Bench Project - primarily working in a lab environment

Additional Training

All laboratory skills will be taught and carefully supervised with daily contact with supervisors. The methods will include: cell culture; cell transfections; DNA and RNA techniques such as, DNA and RNA preparation, reverse transcription, PCR, qPCR and agarose gel electrophoresis; and ELISA. Statistical analysis using GraphPad Prism will be taught.

How does cartilage respond to mechanical loading?

Main Supervisor

Professor Mark Wilkinson (j.m.wilkinson@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Professor Endre Kiss-Toth (e.kiss-toth@sheffield.ac.uk)

Aim and Objectives

To determine:
1) how the human chondrocyte transcriptome responds to mechanical loading
2) whether disease and normal chindrocytes differ in their responses

Research Methodology

The student will lead the project and will be supported by the supervisory team and the lab PhD students and post-docs.
The student will attend theatre to collect the tissue from the patients, will prepare the tissue for culture and loading using our dedicated mechanical testing jig.
The student will also take the lead role in the downstream processing of the tissues, including tissue and RNA extraction and in analysing the experimental outputs.

Expected Outcome

Expected outcomes will include:
1) Enthusiasm and confidence in laboratory skills, understanding scientific writing, and a passion for musculoskeletal research!
2) Oral and poster presentations at relevant local, national and international musculoskeletal meetings
3) Prominent authorship positions on manuscript outputs that will be submitted to leading journals in the field
4) A successful research dissertation
Previous intercalating students in our group have won local, national and international awards for meeting presentations and had their work published in leading journals including Lancet Rheumatology and Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

Type of Project

Lab/Bench Project - primarily working in a lab environment

Additional Training

This project will expose the student to many clinical and laboratory skills.
The student will learn about the ethics and consent process around biobanking of human tissue samples. The student will interact with the patient in the consent process.
The student will learn about tissue culturing and mechanical loading of cells and tissues, and how to extract cells from cartilage and RNA from the cells. The student willl also learn how to assess RNA quality and run PCRs for various genes.
The student will also be trained in research methodology and in cartilage and osteoarthritis biology.

Decoding Pain: Applying Artificial Intelligence to Pain Neuroimaging

Main Supervisor

Dr Dinesh Selvarajah (d.selvarajah@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Dr Kevin Teh (k.teh@sheffield.ac.uk)

Aim and Objectives

Pain is our body's alarm system, warning us either of danger in the environment, injury or the presence of disease. A unique and puzzling observation about pain is its distributed processing amongst multiple brain areas, informally called the pain matrix. Recently sophisticated new analytical methods that can decode complex patterns in data offer potentially more promising ways to interrogate pain related brain activity. Our aim is to identify a brain signature that characterises pain that can be used a biomarker for treatment response for clinical pain. If successful this will progress the development of personalised medicine and herald a major advance in the management of chronic pain.

Research Methodology

This is a clinical study involving patients with painful diabetic neuropathy. Each participants will attend two study visits. At the first visit we will performed clinical and neurophysiological assessments to characterise the severity of nerve damage and pain. On the second visit patients will attend for a magnetic resonance (MR) imaging brain scan to examine the brain regions involved in pain processing. You will be part of our research unit, working closely with our research fellow and MR data analyst to help with patient recruitment, perform clinical assessments and MR data analysis. We will teach you specific skills to perform neurophysiological assessments and how use machine learning algorithms to analyse brain imaging datasets.

Expected Outcome

Expected outcomes: 1. complete course objectives; 2. submit and present abstracts at conferences; 3. preparation and submission of manuscripts for publication.

Type of Project

Masters course

Additional Training

You will be taught how to perform detailed neurophysiological assessments e.g. quantitative sensory assessments, bedside nerve conduction studies using point of care devices and autonomic function assessments. You will also be taught to use machine learning algorithms to analyse MR imaging datasets.

Study of Pressure Sensing Insoles in Diabetic Foot Ulcer Recovery (STRIDER)

Main Supervisor

Dr Dinesh Selvarajah (d.selvarajah@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Professor Solomon Tesfaye (solomon.tesfaye@nhs.net)

Aim and Objectives

One in four patients with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer and one in five patients with a foot ulcer requires an amputation. This is devastating for the patient and their family. It is also costly for the NHS. Over £119 million is spent each year in England on diabetes-related amputations. The numbers of amputations are rising and urgent action is needed to reverse this trend.

The lynchpin of foot ulcer care is pressure off-loading. The aim of this study is to examine if the use of smart-insoles, which provides real-time feedback of in-shoe foot pressure will accelerate the wound healing process in patients with diabetic foot ulcers.

Research Methodology

We are conducting a 12-week, open labelled study over 6 months. Twenty participants will attend six fortnightly visits to coincide with existing clinic appointments. All patients will receive the FEETME Smart Insoles system fitted in a DH walker. Smartphone application alerts (visual, tactile and audible) will notify users when foot pressure exceeds safe limits. Participants will be asked to walk a few steps or simply lift their foot up until the alert is turned off. At each study visit a photograph of the ulcer will be taken. The area will be measured using the ImageJ software. Ulcer healing is defined as complete wound skin closure which is maintained for 4 weeks.

Expected Outcome

You will be working with our research podiatrists on this study helping with recruiting study participants, performing study assessments at each visit, collating and analysing study data.

Type of Project

Masters course

Additional Training

The research training you will be provided during this BSc will be sufficient to complete this project.

Production and Characterisation of a Long Acting PTH fusion for treatment of Hypoparathyroidism (HypoPT)

Main Supervisor

Professor Richard Ross (r.j.ross@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Dr Ian Wilkinson (i.wilkinson@sheffield.ac.uk)

Aim and Objectives

To test long acting PTH fusions for use in the treatment of hypoparathyroidism. To express, purify and test the bioactivity of these fusion molecules in a cAMP response assay. Evaluate the potential usefulness of these molecules to be taken in to in vivo work.

Research Methodology

The student will have ownership of the project throughout and will be trained in all necessary techniques in order to complete the project.

Phase 1: Growth & Expression of fusion molecules

  1. Grow & Express fusion molecules in a mammalian cell system.
  2. Purify fusion molecules using a combination of anion exchange and affinity chromatography.
  3. Assess purity using SDS-PAGE

Phase 2: Analysis and write up

  1. Test bioactivity of above constructs using a suitable in vitro bioassay measuring cAMP levels
  2. Conclusions & write-up

Expected Outcome

To fully analyse a PTH fusion in terms of purity and bioactivity for the potential further testing in vivo

Type of Project

Lab/Bench Project - primarily working in a lab environment

Additional Training

Training needs:

  • SDS-PAGE
  • Western blotting
  • PTH Bioassay (cAMP Assay)
  • Protein purification (Anion exchange & Affinity Chromatography)
  • Mammalian Cell culture technique
  • Teaching in use of various data analysis & handling packages: Lasergene, GraphPad prism (includes statistics package, ANOVA, t-tests), Excel
  • Effective report writing and presentation skills
  • Effective communication
  • Literature searching & Reading relating to but not inclusive:

Clinical need for a long acting PTH for treatment of hypoparathyroidism
Background to PTH: Mode of action
Competing commercial products

Targeting IL-1 signalling in bone: Novel treatments for breast cancer bone metastasis

Main Supervisor

Dr Penelope Ottewell (p.d.ottewell@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Dr Munitta Muthana (m.muthana@sheffield.ac.uk)

Aim and Objectives

This project aims to determine the effects of bone targeted small molecule inhibitors of IL-1 on breast cancer bone metastasis.

Objectives:

  1. Establish effects of bone targeted small molecule inhibitors of IL-1 on proliferation, migration and invasion of breast cancer cells in vitro.
  2. Determine the effects of bone targeted IL-1 inhibitors on tumour growth, metastasis and immunity in mouse models.

Research Methodology

The student will be taught common methodologies that are used to determine the ability of tumour cells to metastasis in vitro including: Proliferation assays, scratch (migration) assays and transwell (invasion) assays. These will be performed in the laboratory using cell lines on tissue culture plastics. In addition, under the guidance of the PI and PhD students, the student will learn how to analyse tumour growth and metastasis in mouse models, how to dissect relevant tissues and how to analyse effects on bone using uCT and immune cells using immunohistochemiostry and flow cytometry.

Expected Outcome

By the end of the project the student will have determined:

  1. How small molecule inhibitors of IL-1 affect different aspects of the metastatic process.
  2. If targeting small molecule Il-1 inhibitors to bone reduce or prevent metastasis of breast cancer cell to this organ.
  3. The effects of bone targeted IL-1 inhibitors on immune cells.

Type of Project

Lab/Bench Project - primarily working in a lab environment

Additional Training

Students will receive laboratory training in:

  • Culture and maintenance of cancer cell lines.
  • In vitro, proliferation, migration and invasion assays.
  • Analysis of data from in vivo models of breast cancer including tumour growth and invasion by live in vivo imaging.
  • Collection and processing of mouse tissue samples.
  • Analysis of cancer induced bone disease by uCT.
  • Analysis of immune cell composition using flow cytometry and FloJo analytical software.
  • Immunohistochemistry staining techniques and image J analysis software.
Fracture risk assessment and bone health in men starting ADT treatment for prostate cancer

Main Supervisor

Professor Janet Brown (j.e.brown@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Dr Jennie Walsh

Other supervisors

Mr Derek Rosario

Aim and Objectives

Prostate cancer (PC) is set to become the most common cancer in men. One of our main approaches to treatment, Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT), is effective against the cancer by reducing testosterone hormone levels, but has side effects, including weakening the skeleton, causing bone loss, which can result in osteoporosis and debilitating fragility fractures. Treatments to prevent bone loss (antiresorptive agents) are available, but we need to determine which patients are at the most risk of fracture and will therefore benefit most from bone antiresorptive therapy. Sheffield is a world leader in bone health and we have just completed the UK National Guidelines for bone health in prostate cancer. This project, which follows on from these guidelines, will involve direct contact with patients in a clinical project using an assessment tool called FRAX, which was developed in Sheffield, to assess the fracture risk in men starting ADT.

Aim: To determine whether the bone health of men who start hormone therapy for prostate cancer is managed in accordance with guidelines, and to investigate the feasibility of undertaking routine fracture risk assessment in standard clinical practice.

Objectives: To attend outpatient urology clinics to identify patients who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer who are starting ADT hormone therapy, and determine the fracture risk in these patients using the validated fracture risk assessment tool, FRAX. The project will include Identification of patients who require further evaluation by DXA scan (to measure bone density), review of scan results, and determining whether patients subsequently receive appropriate intervention.

Research Methodology

Students will initially undertake a literature review and be introduced to key clinical staff. The student will initially be based in urology clinics, and will work alongside clinicians and uro-oncology specialist nurses to identify patients starting ADT for prostate cancer, as well as gaining experience in oncology clinics in Weston Park Hospital. They will collect basic clinical data and fracture risk factor information.Depending on the number of men referred, this data will include 100-150 patients. When there is a significant risk of fracture, patients will be referred via usual clinical pathways to the metabolic bone unit at the NGH (for blood tests and a DXA scan). The student will follow the patients up and review blood test and DXA results, and whether anti-resorptive therapy was started.

Expected Outcome

This project is expected to lead to both a poster presentation (s) and publication in a peer reviewed journal. Students will gain experience in gathering clinical data from patient notes and clinic visits, in undertaking and interpreting fracture risk assessment, gain a better understanding of clinical pathways, and will gain a solid grounding in the clinical techniques used to assess bone health, as well as gaining experience in working in the cancer field.

Type of Project

Clinical project - based in the clinical environment with patients/including service evaluation

Additional Training

The student will need access to and training to use the Trust results server and have access to medical records. They will receive training in fracture risk assessment techniques. They will also have the opportunity to observe DXA scans, and learn how the results are interpreted, including assessment of vertebral fractures. They will be able to attend relevant teaching sessions at the metabolic bone centre at NGH, and the academic urology department.

Impact of cardiac dose on survival of thoracic cancer patients following radical radiotherapy

Main Supervisor

Dr Bilal Tahir (b.tahir@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Professor Matthew Hatton

Aim and Objectives

The RTOG 0617 trial identified cardiac radiation dose metrics as independent predictors of survival for locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients following chemoradiotherapy of conventional and dose escalated regimes. Alternative radiotherapy dose schedules such as continuous hyperfractionated accelerated radiotherapy (CHART) are widespread in the UK for NSCLC and their effects on cardiac related survival are yet to be fully characterised. Likewise, the effect of cardiac dose on radiotherapy for other thoracic malignancies which receive significant cardiac doses such as small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and oesophageal cancer are yet to be studied.

The aim of this single-centre retrospective study is to analyse the impact of cardiac dose on overall survival of thoracic cancer patients radically treated with radiotherapy dose schedules widely used in the UK.

Research Methodology

The student will review the records of NSCLC, SCLC and oesophageal cancer patients treated at our institution with radical radiotherapy between 2005 to 2017. Patient demographics, tumour characteristics, survival and dosimetric data will be collated. The heart will be delineated using commercial treatment planning software for a select cohort of these patients who were treated prior to the introduction of routine cardiac contouring. This will facilitate extraction of cardiac dosimetric parameters such as heart mean dose. The impact of these cardiac dose metrics on survival will be assessed using multivariate survival analysis via Cox regression.

Expected Outcome

We hypothesise that cardiac dosimetric parameters are independent predictors of survival following UK-based radiotherapy dose schedules for all three thoracic malignancies to be studied. Consequently, the results of this study may provide evidence of the need to minimise cardiac dose in thoracic radiotherapy, thus improving patient outcomes. It is also expected that the work will lead to conference proceedings at major national and international conferences and publication in reputable radiation oncology journals.

Type of Project

Clinical project - based in the clinical environment with patients/including service evaluation

Additional Training

Students will be trained in retrieving clinical prognostic information from patient notes and electronic records and contouring of thoracic structures including the heart using a commercial radiotherapy treatment planning system. Likewise, students will receive training in performing advanced statistical analysis including survival analysis (Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression) using SPSS software.

A pilot study to evaluate changes in the vaginal pressure profile during pregnancy and postpartum, using a novel intra-vaginal pressure sensing device (IVPSD).

Main Supervisor

Dr Swati Jha (S.Jha@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Dr Emma Ferriman (emma.ferriman@nhs.net)

Aim and Objectives

To determine changes in the vaginal pressure profile during the first, second and third trimester of pregnancy as well as the postnatal period using the intra-vaginal pressure sensor device (IVPSD/FemFit).

Research Methodology

40 Pregnant women who are medically fit and well in their first pregnancy will be included. They will be recruited when they attend for their booking visit. Consenting women will have their resting pelvic floor muscle pressure profile (standing/lying) measured during the first, second, third trimester and postnatal period (3 months postnatally) to determine the changes using the IVPSD. This will be done during maximal pelvic floor contraction for 5 seconds on 3 occasions and during coughing on 3 occasions. Patients will be sent an electronic Quality of Life questionnaire (ePAQ) during their first trimester and postnatal visits to assess their pelvic floor symptoms.

Expected Outcome

The differences in intravaginal pressure profiles throughout pregnancy and the postnatal period will be compared. The sequential change in the intravaginal pressure profiles for each trimester will be estimated. Patient symptoms will be assessed using the ePAQ. As some women will undergo a CS or an instrumental delivery we will also be able to see the difference in impact between Normal vaginal delivery , instrumental delivery and CS on the pelvic floor.

Type of Project

Clinical project - based in the clinical environment with patients/including service evaluation

Additional Training

Sample size calculation
Introduction to Qualitative research
Systematic reviews

Improving steroid hormone replacement in children and young people with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)

Main Supervisor

Dr Nils Krone (n.krone@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Dr Irina Bacila (i.bacila@sheffield.ac.uk)

Aim and Objectives

Individuals with CAH require life-long replacement therapy with glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids to prevent life-threatening adrenal crisis. Current replacement regimes are suboptimal and the pharmacological properties of mineralocorticoids in children are poorly understood. Under-replacement can lead to salt loss and hypovolaemic shock, whereas overtreatment results in hypertension. Recent evidence suggests that biomarkers used in clinical practice are suboptimal.

Therefore, this project the overarching aim to understand the clinical consequences of current mineralocorticoid replacement and develop novel biomarkers for therapy monitoring.

To solve these crucial clinical questions, the project has the following objectives:
1. To establish the current practice of mineralocorticoid replacement and therapy monitoring in the UK
Data from the international CAH registry (I-CAH) will be extracted and analysed. Additional data will be collected by directly contacting highly motived local PIs, with whom we have longstanding collaborations.

2. To define clinical consequences of mineralocorticoid replacement
This will be addressed by gathering clinical and biochemical data and we will perform 24-hour blood pressure measurements.

3. To develop improved biomarkers that will reliably inform on mineralocorticoid status in clinical practice
In collaboration with colleagues from biochemistry, we have developed novel liquid-chromatography tandem mass spectrometry measurements for novel biomarkers and mineralocorticoid concentrations in plasma.

Research Methodology

The student will be member of a very active and successful clinical and translational research team. By collecting and analysing data from the I-CAH registry the student will learn dealing with large data sets and acquire widely-transferable statistical skills. In addition, the active involvement in the clinical assessments and data collection and analysis will provide the student with a very good insight into clinical research. The implementation of novel biomarkers will provide valuable insights into general principles of the development of biochemical test. Overall this project will provide numerous broads transferable skills relevant to clinical research.

Expected Outcome

The result of the project will form the basis of improved mineralocorticoid replacement and potentially reduced frequency of co-morbidities. Importantly, this project will support the development of an urgently required improvement of biomarkers to assess the adequacy on mineralocorticoid replacement in children and young persons with CAH. There is a very likelihood of conference presentations and at least one research publication.

Type of Project

Clinical project - based in the clinical environment with patients/including service evaluation

Additional Training

The student will be able to acquire a multitude of skills highly relevant to clinical practice and clinical research, which can be widely used in the future. This will include the understanding of study design and practical deliver as well collaborative multicentre work, which is essential for answering clinical question successfully in the 21st century. In addition, the student will be trained in statistical analysis and interpretation of data. This will not only support the research, but also equip the student with future skills, which will help to critically appraise clinical data and studies.

Clinical trial development for improved radiotherapy response

Main Supervisor

Dr Helen Bryant (h.bryant@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Professor Sarah Danson (s.danson@sheffield.ac.uk)

Other Supervisors

Tim Mitchell

Aim and Objectives

Development of a phase one clinical trial protocol testing an Aurora Kinase Inhibitor combined with radiotherapy

Research Methodology

Clinical trial design methodology, Cell Tissue Culture, radiation assays Immunohistochemistry, Microscopy

Expected Outcome

The student will be part of the wider research lab group contributing to original research ideas. The student will be investigating the radio-sensitisation potential of two Aurora Kinase inhibitors. The student will also assist in the protocol design of a phase one clinical trial investigating the safety of combining an Aurora Kinase Inhibitor and Radiation. In addition there will be opportunities to assist with laboratory work investigating AURKA levels in cells and the mechanism of action of the combination therapy. The resulting work will contribute to at least one research paper and a poster/oral presentation at a meeting.

Type of Project

Lab/Bench Project - primarily working in a lab environment

Additional Training

Presentation skills, critical analysis, how to develop a clinical trial and lab specific skills will be taught by experienced staff within the supervisory team

Bone Cancer Awareness Initiative- Saving Lives Through Earlier Diagnosis

Main Supervisor

Professor Alison Gartland (a.gartland@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Mr Jonathan Stevenson (Jonathan.stevenson@nhs.net)

Other Supervisors

Dr Zoe Davison, Head of Research & Information, BCRT

Aim and Objectives

Primary bone cancer, also referred to as a bone sarcoma, is very rare and makes up approximately 0.2% of all cancers diagnosed in the UK. There are seven main types of malignant bone sarcoma, however, these can be further split into many, very rare, histological subtypes. There is limited data showing the incidence and survival across all forms of bone sarcoma, broken down by age, sex, staging and anatomical location of the tumour and across the distinct histological subtypes of primary bone cancer.
Awareness of primary bone cancer amongst healthcare professionals remains poor, meaning that referral and consequently diagnosis is often delayed. Patients are thus often referred to specialist sarcoma centres with advanced disease. Time to diagnosis is often protracted and a very stressful time for patients, which can have a negative impact on the rest of their treatment.
To date, however, there have been a limited number of studies looking at the impact of routes and times to diagnosis on the outcomes and overall survival of patients, and also, whether deprivation may further impact these.
In their 2017-2022 strategy, the Bone Cancer Research Trust committed to a number of key activities to improve awareness of primary bone cancer amongst key healthcare professionals, including GPs, Physiotherapists and Radiologists, with the ultimate aim of improving the speed of diagnosis and outcomes for primary bone cancer patients.
The aims of this project are to provide an accurate and up to date set of data on incidence, survival, and prevalence of bone sarcomas in England. The effects of routes and times to diagnosis, treatments, and local deprivation on patient outcome will also be determined.
Objective 1: perform a review of the literature for publications focused on bone sarcoma incidence, survival and routes and times to diagnosis to gain a comprehensive background to the problem. Objective 2: analyse data from Public Health England focusing on the impact of geography, age, sex and Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) on the routes to diagnosis, treatments received and overall outcomes. This will be broken down by the type of bone sarcoma, stage of disease and the anatomical location of the tumour. Objective 3 (time permitting): using the results from the literature review and data analysis to inform and plan a prospective, multi-centre, clinical study to further understand the implications of delayed diagnosis.

Research Methodology

A systematic review of the current literature on bone sarcoma incidence, survival and routes to diagnosis will be performed. Descriptive statistics will be used to analyse the data received from Public Health England. The focus of this data analysis will be aimed at understanding the impact of routes of diagnosis and Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) on the treatment and outcomes of patients.
The student will work as part of the newly formed 'BCRT collaborative awareness group’, which has representation from bone sarcoma clinicians, researchers and BCRT staff.

Expected Outcome

To collate a comprehensive review of the incidence, survival and routes to diagnosis of bone sarcomas and to analyse Public Health England data to assess the impact of routes to diagnosis and deprivation on the outcomes of patients.
To understand the impact of the diagnosis pathway has on patient experience and outcomes
The student will gain experience in conducting and analysing qualitative and quantitative data as well as disseminate the findings to BCRT in a report/presentation and also via medical education/academic publication.

Type of Project

Qualitative Project/non-lab based - primarily using qualitative methods

Additional Training

Training/experience in quantitative and qualitative methodology will be provided.

Improving Adrenal Function Testing in Children

Main Supervisor

Dr Charlotte Elder (c.j.elder@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Dr Miguel Debono (miguel.debono@nhs.net)

Aim and Objectives

1) To determine if an awakening salivary cortisone sample, performed at home, can be used as a screening test for adrenal insufficiency to reduce the number of Short Synacthen Tests performed and improve the patient/carer experience.
2)To determine normal adrenal function in healthy children under the age of 5 years, in particular babies and infants, using salivary glucocorticoid measurement .

Research Methodology

1a) The student will be overseeing the day to day running of a clinical study in which patients already attending Sheffield Children's Hospital for a Short Synacthen Test will be recruited to provide an awakening salivary sample for analysis of salivary glucocorticoids (cortisol & cortisone). Paired salivary and serum samples will be collected at 0, 30 and 60 minutes during the SST.
1b) A questionnaire will be completed by parents and children, comparing the salivary screening test to the diagnostic test (SST) which the student will analyse.
2) The student will assist in the recruitment and running of a clinical study to determine normal adrenal function in healthy neonates, infants and toddlers.

Expected Outcome

1a) Completion of 100 patient visits for SCAIT-junior (25 already completed ans study ongoing with current BSc student). Some statistical analysis, although the ROC curves etc will be perfomed by the study statisitican.
1b) Analysis of the participant questionnaires.
2) The student will be involved in the development of this study e.g. methodology and subsequently the recruitment and running of the clinical study. Some involvement in basic statistical analysis will be expected.

Type of Project

Clinical project - based in the clinical environment with patients/including service evaluation

Additional Training

Generic research skills to assist in the running of a clinical trial including GCP certification, upkeep of site files, recruitment, statistical analysis and (hopefully) presentation and paper writing.
Literature searching and critical appraisal skills
Time management skills, self-directed learning

The DNA damage response in Neuroblastoma

Main Supervisor

Dr Helen Bryant (h.bryant@sheffield.ac.uk)

Second Supervisor

Ruth Thompson

Other Supervisors

Dr Dan Yeomason, Dr David King

Aim and Objectives

Characterise the DNA damage response in Neuroblastoma cell lines
Test DNA damage response inhbitors in Neuroblastoma cell lines

Research Methodology

Tissue culture, RT-PCR, western blotting and immunohistochemistry

Expected Outcome

The student will contribute origional research to teh larger area of research in our lab. Specificalay they will identfy differences in the DDR between normal and Neuroblastoma cells. This will contribute to at least one research paper and a poster/oral presentation at a meeting

Type of Project

Lab/Bench Project - primarily working in a lab environment

Additional Training

The student will be trained in all the techniques above.

A world top-100 university

We're a world top-100 university renowned for the excellence, impact and distinctiveness of our research-led learning and teaching.