Current Student Research
Kamila Schmidt: 1st Year PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA).
Project: Measurement of Volatile Organic Compounds from Cancer Cells
I am a first-year PhD student in the School of Environment & Life Sciences. The aim of my project is to investigate potential cancer biomarkers of childhood cancer. Specifically, I am interested in so-called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are substances produced (or consumed) by cells in vitro. VOC patterns may be different for normal and cancer cells and the aim of my project is to find such differences. The project involves cell culture and SPME-GC-MS analysis. SPME (solid phase microextraction) is a relatively new extraction technique and currently I am developing a method that will work for my cell cultures. My journey at the University of Salford started when I studied for a Masters in Biotechnology. I really enjoyed the course content and because I was impressed by the professionalism of the teaching staff, I decided to apply for a PhD project here under the GTA (now GTS) scheme. As a GTA, I deal with students on a daily basis during the teaching weeks and I find that working as a lab demonstrator is really a fulfilling experience. The School of Environment & Life Sciences at the University of Salford is a place full of helpful, friendly people. I found here my second home.
Soran Mohammed: 1st Year PhD student
Project: Purification and Analysis of Novel Lectins with Activity against Cancer Cells
The people here are extremely friendly and easy to get along with. The academics are also very good and enthusiastic about their subjects, and just as important, they all truly respect their students. In terms of my project, the anti-proliferative and cytotoxic potential of lectins extracted and partially purified from a variety of novel sources will be evaluated against cancer cell lines derived from different human tumours. Furthermore, the properties of selected lectins to bind selectively to cancer cells will be exploited in order to design lectin-fusion proteins that can deliver a toxic peptide or siRNA specifically to the cancer cells. This project will involve a multidisciplinary approach to a topic of much current interest, i.e. how to specifically target emerging biotherapies to cancer cells.
Ryan Joynson: 2nd Year PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA)
Project: Metagenomic Analysis of Gut Microbiota of a Lignocellulose Degrading Gastropod: A Route to Improved Biofuels
I am a GTA in my second year of doctoral studies and my project comes under the biotechnology part of the Research Centre, focusing on the identification of new enzymes that are involved in the sequential degradation into simple sugars of the well protected polysaccharide chains in plant cell walls. The target of my study is the gut environment of a common gastropod whose diet is mostly made up of lignocellulose. We are studying this in the hope of finding enzymes with high levels of activity across various pH and temperature ranges in order to aid formation of a more robust system of lignocellulose degradation which could provide enough simple sugar feedstock for the biofuel industry. I have really enjoyed my time at Salford University; I’ve learnt a lot, both from experiences in the lab and from the academics here who are always more than happy to help us out. In accordance with my position as a GTA student I have undertaken a laboratory based teaching role over the last two years which has given me valuable experience in Higher Education, one that I have no doubt will give me an edge when applying for future jobs in academia.
Patrick Killoran: 2nd Year PhD student
Project: Novel oxepines as vascular targeting agents.
I am currently in the 2nd year of my PhD, funded by the children’s cancer charity KidsCan. The aim of my project is to improve the therapeutic effect of a recently discovered anticancer agent. By modifying some of the drug’s components we shall change its shape and therefore its potential interactions with target molecules. This novel drug does not kill a tumour directly but kills the blood supply to the tumour whilst not interfering with the normal blood supply. Unfortunately, this type of compound can cause damage to the heart and children can be particularly sensitive to this type of toxicity. By changing the shape of the drug we aim to reduce or eliminate this cardiac toxicity and I have synthesised and tested a battery of related compounds for their ability to kill cancer cells. My final year will involve developing a method for testing the cardiotoxicity of these compounds. At the end of the project we aim to have an improved drug which shows little or no heart toxicity that would be suitable for clinical development by a pharmaceutical company. I have enjoyed my time here so far and have gained valuable experience teaching students, working in a team and working to deadlines.
Nanda Ayu Puspita: 3RD Year PhD Student
Project: Natural Products of Phyllanthus niruri L. as New Anti-Platelet Drugs
My research is focused on the isolation of active compounds from the tropical plant, Phyllanthus niruri L. that show potent activity in inhibiting platelet aggregation. To achieve this, I apply various extraction methods from traditional procedures to advanced methods such as HPLC. The work is also supported by various analytical instruments that are available in the Biomedical Research Centre. Working on human platelets has also given me valuable experience to develop and use a bioassay for platelet aggregation, which is new to our group. It has also introduced me to the field of proteomics, which I use to understand how the plant extracts alter the protein expression on platelets upon activation. During my PhD I have attended numerous training courses and conferences within the University of Salford, which have given me the opportunity to improve my research and presentation skills. I have always had the full support of my supervisors, colleagues and other academics while doing my project. Finally, being a PhD student in School of Environment & Life Sciences has been a wonderful and valuable moment in my academic life.
As a postgraduate research student at the University of Salford, you are required to meet a number of milestones in order to re-register for each year of study. These ‘progression points’ are an important aid for both you and your supervisory team and it is essential that you complete them on time.
Learning Agreement: this is completed by you and your supervisor collaboratively in the first 3 months of your research programme. It encourages both of you to develop a thorough and consistent understanding of your individual and shared roles and responsibilities in your research partnership.
Interim Assessment: this is an assessment of your progress by a panel. It takes place towards the end of your first year (FT), and is designed to ensure you have reached a threshold of academic performance, by assessing your general progress. The assessment comprises a written report of approximately 4000 words and an oral examination by a Panel. You must successfully complete it in order to register for your second year.
Internal Evaluation: this will take place towards the end of the second year (FT) and successful completion is required in order to continue onto your third year of study. You will be expected to show strong progress in your PhD study reflected in the submission of a substantial piece of work of approximately 15.000 words, generally at least 1 chapter of your thesis.
Annual Progress Report: this report is completed by your supervisor at the end of each year of study, and reports on your achievements in the past year, the likelihood that you will submit on time, confirmation of the Learning Agreement and relevant training undertaken.
Self Evaluation Report: this is completed by you at the end of each year of study. It asks you to comment on your academic progress, supervisory arrangements, research environment, research training, and relevant training undertaken.