Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

FUNDED MSc: Dr Simon Furney - Cancer Genomics and Bioinformatics

This MSc project will investigate mutational signatures in breast cancer genomes to identify mechanisms of tumour development, evolution and response to therapy.

Project title

Bioinformatic identification of mechanisms of tumour evolution in breast cancer genomes.

Project description

Genome and exome sequencing studies have confirmed vast heterogeneity in mutational rates and signatures in cancer genomes, and have facilitated the tracking of tumour development and evolution.

This MSc. project will investigate mutational signatures in breast cancer genomes to identify mechanisms of tumour development, evolution and response to therapy. The student will combine data from thousands of publically available cancer genome sequences and whole exome sequencing data from patients using existing and novel bioinformatics approaches. The project builds on the Principal Investigator’s expertise in Cancer Bioinformatics and Genomics and Next Generation Sequencing Data analysis [1-4].

The position is funded by the Irish Cancer Society BREAST-PREDICT Collaborative Research Centre.

The student will be based in the Cancer Genomics & Bioinformatics Research Group under the supervision of Dr Simon Furney.

Please note the following important points:

  1. Due to funding conditions ONLY EU applicants are eligible to apply.

  2. This is a bioinformatics-based MSc.

  3. This is a fully-funded, full-time, 12-month position.

  4. Depending on funding, the position could be extended into a PhD subsequently.

The successful candidate should be able to demonstrate the following: 


  • An Honours Bachelor degree (First Class OR very good Upper Second Class degree) in Genomics, Genetics or Bioinformatics or similar subject

  • A passion for biology and genomics

  • Strong interest in cancer research

  • Expertise in/aptitude for programming and scripting

  • Good communication skills

  • Strong organisational and administrative skills

  • Ability to work on one’s own initiative as well as in a multidisciplinary, team environment

  • Willingness to undertake training and career development

  • English language requirements for candidates who do not speak English as their first language: an IELTS score of 6.5 or above


  • An aptitude for mathematics/statistics

Application process

Please apply with an up-to-date CV, a 500-word statement outlining your interest in and suitability for the position, complete the application form and go to the RCSI School of Postgraduate Studies recruitment portal to apply for this scholarship.

Informal enquiries can be directed to 

Application deadline: Monday, 1 May 2017 at 5pm.

Interview date: early May 2017


  • Department: Physiology and Medical Physics

  • Tenure: One years

  • Reporting to: Dr Simon Furney

  • Salary: €18,000/year (plus fees) for one year

  • Start date: October 2017

  1. Piraino SW and Furney SJ*. Identification of coding and non-coding mutational hotspots in cancer genomes. BMC Genomics. 2017, 8(1):17.

  2. Toomey S, Madden SF, Furney SJ, Fan Y, McCormack M, Stapleton C, Cremona M, Cavalleri GL, Milewska M, Elster N, Carr A, Fay J, Kay EW, Kennedy S, Crown J, Gallagher WM, Hennessy BT, Eustace AJ. The impact of ERBB-family germline single nucleotide polymorphisms on survival response to adjuvant trastuzumab treatment in HER2-positive breast cancer. Oncotarget 2016, (46):75518-75525.

  3. Viros A, Sanchez-Laorden B, Pedersen M, Furney SJ, Rae J, Hogan K, Ejiama S, Girotti MR, Cook M, Dhomen N et al: Ultraviolet radiation accelerates BRAF-driven melanomagenesis by targeting TP53. Nature 2014, 511(7510):478-482.

  4. Furney SJ, Pedersen M, Gentien D, Dumont AG, Rapinat A, Desjardins L, Turajlic S, Piperno-Neumann S, de la Grange P, Roman-Roman S et al: SF3B1 mutations are associated with alternative splicing in uveal melanoma. Cancer Discov 2013, 3(10):1122-1129.