Development of 3D tumour models for radiobiological research

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Laura Bray
Senior Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Andrew Fielding
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Approximately 40 percent of cancer patients will receive radiation therapy as part of the management of their disease. Radiation can be used alone or in combination with other treatment modalities such as surgery, chemotherapy, and increasingly immunotherapy.

Optimising the delivery of radiation, to take advantage of new treatment planning and delivery techniques, or to test new combinations of treatment modalities in a pre-clinical setting, has traditionally been performed using single layer 2D cell cultures and small animal models.

Recently, it has become possible to engineer tissues and other cellular structures such as tumors in 3D scaffolds. This offers a promising alternative that can more accurately model the tissue or tumour micro-environment for pre-clinical studies of treatment efficacy.

Most of the research effort in this area has been for pre-clinical testing of new pharmaceutical drugs with little work on their use for fundamental radiobiology experimental work.

This project aims to explore the possibility of using 3D tumour models for radiobiological applications.

Research activities

  • Developing methods and techniques for irradiating 3D tumour models with x-rays.
  • Developing methods and techniques for analysis of the radiobiological response of 3D tumour models
  • Working closely with a multi-disciplinary team of biomedical engineers and medical physicists in university laboratories and clinical radiotherapy departments.


This project aims to explore the possibility of using 3D tumour models for radiobiological applications through the following objectives:
  1. Development of a 'phantom' set-up for irradiating a 3D tumour model under full scatter conditions with simple uniform kV and MV radiotherapy x-ray radiation beams
  2. Make measurements of the cell survival curves for a 3D tumour model in the phantom by irradiating to different absorbed doses at Orthovoltage (kV) and Megavoltage (MV) x-ray energies
  3. Investigate the effect of radiation delivery and tumour model parameters on the measured cell survival curves.

Skills and experience

  • Excellent understanding of radiation physics and basic cell biology.
  • Excellent experimental skills.
  • Excellent problem solving and analytical skills.
  • Excellent communication skills


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.