Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


PhD Studentship - International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED)

4-year PhD programme in cancer early detection at UCL

The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, University College London, the Canary Center at Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, the Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU, and the University of Manchester.

Earlier detection of cancer offers the greatest opportunity to deliver improvements in successful outcomes for patients. By diagnosing cancer earlier, it is easier to treat, causing less suffering to patients and could save lives.

ACED has the bold ambition to accelerate and revolutionise research in the in the early detection of cancers by uniting world leading researchers to bring together the best early detection science across the UK and US.

We are seeking candidates with an outstanding academic record with a first class or Master’s degree or equivalent in a discipline relevant to early detection research, including but not limited to: biochemistry/molecular biology, biophysics, computer science, engineering, epidemiology, public health, physics, mathematics, medicine.

Details of the Studentship

ACED is committed to training the next generation of early detection scientists and provides a world-class, supportive and flexible training environment. The ACED PhD programme provides unique support by offering a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional approach to training.

The programme comprises of the first year spent on rotational projects (with the potential to undertake rotations in different ACED Centres) as well as training in different disciplines relevant to cancer early detection. This will be followed by a 3-year research project.

ACED PhD students will also benefit from:

  • ACED online researcher community – a private virtual hub of information, resources and opportunities available to ACED researchers.
  • Regular programme of virtual events - including research seminars and Masterclasses from researchers across the ACED Centres.
  • Early Detection Summer School.
  • Annual Early Detection of Cancer Conference.
  • UCL Doctoral Skills Development Programme providing the opportunity to expand your research and transferable skills in order to support your research, professional development and employability.

Supervisor arrangements

The successful student will be expected to select the Principal Supervisor in a subject area of their choice from a list of approved UCL ACED PhD Supervisors. The Principal Supervisor and student will co-develop the PhD research project during the first year of the Programme, including selecting a suitable co-supervisor with complementary expertise to enhance the project from another ACED Member Centre.

UCL ACED PhD Supervisors September 2021


UCL Department

Areas of research relevant to cancer early detection

Prof Paul Beard

Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering

Photoacoustic imaging, ultrasound, lasers, biomedical optics, preclinical, clinical

Dr Aleksandra Gentry-Maharaj

MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, Institute of Clinical Trials and Methodology

Risk prediction, screening, ovarian cancer


Dr Yipeng Hu

Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering

Artificial intelligence, deep learning, image registration, medical image analysis, prostate

Prof Sam Janes

Lungs for Living Research Centre, Division of Medicine

Lung, airway, pre-invasive, basal cell, squamous

Prof Yoryos Lyratzopoulos

Behavioural Science and Health, Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care

Epidemiology, early diagnosis / detection, modelling studies, disparities, diagnostic pathways and intervals

Prof Usha Menon

MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, Institute of Clinical Trials and Methodology

Ovarian cancer, longitudinal biomarker algorithms, ovarian and endometrial cancer risk prediction,

Prof Caroline Moore

Targeted Intervention, Division of Surgery and Interventional Science

Prostate cancer, MRI, screening

Prof Geoff Parker

Centre for Medical Image Computing, Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering

MRI, imaging biomarkers, hypoxia, angiogenesis, cellularity

Prof Nora Pashayan

Applied Health Research, Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care

Mathematical modeling, risk-stratified screening, overdiagnosis, cost-effectiveness, risk-stratified screening, implementation

Prof Steve Pereira

Institute for Liver & Digestive Health, Division of Medicine

pancreatic cancer, cholangiocarcinoma, biomarkers, imaging, proteomics

Prof Shonit Punwani

Centre for Medical Imaging, Division of Medicine

Microstructural Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 13C Hyperpolarised MRI, Clinical Translation, Artificial Intelligence, Prostate/Breast/Pancreatic Cancer Characterisation

Dr Christian von Wagner

Behavioural Science and Health, Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care

Cancer screening, early diagnosis/help seeking/syptom awareness, behavioural science, inequalities

Prof Simon Walker-Samuel

Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging, Division of Medicine

Imaging, biophysics, modelling, deep learning, biochemistry


Due to funding restrictions, students must have UK “Home” status for fee purposes to be eligible to apply for this award. The funding for this studentship includes tuition fees at the UK home rate only (funding will not cover international fees). For eligible students, the studentship will provide running expenses and an annual maintenance stipend of £21,000 funded by Cancer Research UK for up to 4 years, subject to satisfactory progress.


Due to funding restrictions, we will only be able to offer studentships to candidates that have UK “home” tuition fee status (i.e. UK National or have EU “pre-settled” or “settled” status), self-funding of the international portion of the tuition fee will not be eligible. For more information on home tuition fee status please visit the UKCISA website. Candidates must meet the UCL entry requirements.

How to apply

Applicants must demonstrate a strong interest in early detection of cancer research.

To apply please complete the online application form. You will need to include the names and contact details of two academic referees.

If you have any queries about this studentship or the application process, please contact Prof Nora Pashayan, UCL ACED Training group lead (n.pashayan@ucl.ac.uk) or Dr Dan Kelberman, UCL ACED Programme Manager (d.kelberman@ucl.ac.uk).

Key dates:

Application deadline: 5th March 2021

Interview date: 25th March 2021

Studentship start: September 2021