PhD Title

Defining the stem cell origins of brain tumours containing non-neural cells


Dr Heiko Wurdak (Leeds) and Dr Anestis Tsakiridis (Sheffield)


I graduated from Newcastle University with a MSci in Biomedical Genetics. During my degree I undertook a summer placement within the Northern Institute for Cancer Research investigating the role of ING3 in prostate cancer under Dr Olivier Binda. I also sought out charity funding from Luke’s Life Legacy to complete a placement at UCL’s Institute of Child Health investigating the sensitivity of low grade glioma to oxovanadium derivatives under Dr Andy Stoker. Through the completion of these placements I developed an interest in cancer and in particularly brain tumour research and confirmed my desire to pursue a PhD. 

My project is focused on developing a human organoid model to investigate the invasive potential of brain tumour cancer stem cells as well as explore the links between normal embryonic development and tumourigenesis. 

I knew there was benefits to the DiMeN scheme, such as it being such a collaborative programme and that having 3.5 years of funding means that I can concentrate in the lab properly for 3 whole years, but I didn’t realise how lucky I would feel to be a DiMeN student. I feel so supported academically with access to different facilities and expertise across all the Universities as well as through the variety of extra training we get through away days. I also find that being part of the scheme means I feel personally supported by the other DiMeN students who help out with the science as well as knowing other people going through the same process as me. I would recommend being a DiMeN student to anyone who is considering it.