University of Dundee

Targeting DNA repair pathways for personalized cancer treatment

University of Dundee, MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit, Dundee, United Kingdom

Our chromosomes are frequently subjected to insults that damage DNA, and if not rectified the resulting DNA lesions can cause genome mutations and human disease. Mutations in the major DNA repair pathways - such as homologous recombination (HR) – cause heightened susceptibility to a range of human cancers. These HR-defective cancers become highly dependent on minor, accessory DNA repair pathways that are not required in normal tissues. Switching off these minor pathways thus represents an effective way of treating cancers, such as those caused by loss of HR, without affecting normal tissue. The BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes encode HR proteins, and mutations in these genes cause a range of cancers. The project on offer will explore a new pathway that becomes essential in cells with mutations in the BRCA genes, and will explore the therapeutic potential of the pathway. This may ultimately lead to new treatments for cancers caused by mutations in HR genes. A range of lab techniques will be involved including CRISPR-mediated human genome editing, confocal microscopy, and analysis of chromosomal recombination and DNA repair in cells.

At the MRC PPU, as well as the possibility of a PhD in one particular lab, we offer the possibility of two 4.5-month rotations in labs of their choice. A range of other projects from MRC PPU scientists are advertised on this website. Rotations provide valuable experience and help with deciding on the choice of PhD project and research group.

Please send a CV with contact details of three referees to and a cover letter explaining why you have chosen to apply to MRC PPU to mrcppu-phd-admin@dundee.ac.uk. The closing date for applications is 30th April 2021. Application from overseas students are welcome. 

Eligibility