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Hannah Spencer

PhD, Institute of Cancer Therapeutics

Hannah is currently in the third year of a four-year PhD.

She joined the University in 2012 as an undergraduate on the BSc (Hons) in Clinical Sciences, before going on to achieve an MSc in Biomedical Sciences.

This is her story…

Why I chose to study a PhD

“Spending a year working in research made me realise I wanted to do a PhD.”

“I’ve been at Bradford since 2012, and after completing my Master's, I spent a year working in research at the University.

“I worked with my MSc supervisor for the first six months, and spent the second six months in the chemistry department."

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Throughout the year, I really developed my skill set. The research I undertook made me realise I wanted to go on to do a PhD.

Finding new ways to fight cancer

“My research will help create kinder cancer treatments.”

“I was extremely lucky, as I was recommended for the PhD I’m doing, and it is being fully funded by the Bone Cancer Research Trust.

“I’m researching the field of peptide prodrugs and looking at how they can be used to fight cancer without damaging other, healthy cells within the body.

"Methotrexate is the drug I’m focusing on, which is a type of chemotherapy routinely used to treat osteosarcoma patients, and I’m looking at ways to reduce its side effects using a prodrug approach.

"My aim is to create a kinder, more effective drug that destroys cancer cells without negatively affecting other parts of the body. It’s a really important and rewarding area of study.

"Because I’m using a prodrug approach to further develop an existing, approved drug, I hope it will be able to be put into the field much more quickly than completely new drug that would take years to develop and test."

Developing better cancer treatments is something I’m hugely passionate about, and I hope my research will play a fundamental part in achieving this.

The research community

“There’s a tight-knit community of researchers at Bradford.”

"Within the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics, there is a very tight-knit community of researchers.

"Although we all work on different things, we are very close and often collaborate, which promotes a brilliant and motivating research atmosphere.

"I’d recommend Bradford to anyone thinking of completing a PhD. It's such a fantastic place to conduct research and there’s a good work/life balance.

"The team of researchers all work extremely hard, but we also enjoy each other’s company and support each other both in and outside of University."

Being surrounded by a brilliant team of researchers, who really push me and teach me new things every day, has taught me so much.

Facilities at Bradford

"The facilities are cutting-edge."

“There is everything I could possibly need to undertake my research.

“There’s a brand new HPLC machine that is used to purify drugs before testing them in our DMPK lab, a peptide robot that allows you to streamline the process of creating prodrugs, and cell culture and immunohistochemistry facilities where you can grow cells and identify target proteins."

A person wearing protective lab clothing, using peptide synthesizer equipment in a lab.

The University has excellent facilities and cutting-edge equipment, which has played a fundamental part in the success of my research so far.

Preparing for the future

“My PhD will open so many doors for me.”

“I’d like to stay in academia. I'll potentially take on a postdoctoral role to develop my skills further, before gaining some experience in industry.

"I’ll make full use of the University’s careers department when I’m ready to make my decision.

“You can access the careers department up to five years after you graduate, which is fantastic if you want to take your time figuring out your next steps.

"The team matches you up with a person who specialises in your preferred line of work, and they help you with job applications and preparing for interviews."

My studies will open up so many doors for me, but I’m going to take my time deciding on what I want to do next and fully focus on the final year of my PhD.


“I’ve received so much support from the University.”

“When you start at the University, you have the opportunity to get screened for disabilities, by way of a questionnaire, and asked if you need any additional support.

"I was going through the process of being diagnosed with ADHD at the time, and the team helped me through it.

"They really are there to support you every step of the way."

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When you need help, it’s always available. I have ADHD and the disability support team have been fantastic.

A welcoming and friendly city

“Coming to Bradford is the best decision I have ever made.”

“I came to Bradford from Liverpool, and it has been the best decision I have ever made.

"It is such a welcoming and friendly city, and there is a really tight-knit student community here.

"You always feel seen and heard at the University, and help is always available if you need it. I definitely recommend it.”

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Interested in studying a research degree?

You can apply for an existing project or submit your own PhD research proposal.