(MSc) Cancer Research

College of Science,
School of Natural Sciences

Course overview

This MSc programme provides relevant, hands-on training in a research setting and is aimed at life science and medical graduates who wish to specialise in the field of cancer research. The purpose of the programme is to provide these graduates with a broad and deep theoretical foundation of cancer biology, on top of which the key research laboratory skills and practical experiences are built. This knowledge and skillset will enable them to pursue a career as a research scientist in academia, in the medical field or in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector.

The MSc (Cancer Research) is a modular course consisting of 30% taught material and a 70% research element. The taught modules will be developed with an input from a number of academic disciplines and structured in a way that ensures that students will be provided with a comprehensive and overarching knowledge in cancer biology. The research element will encompass two full semesters. After an induction phase, the students will work on one research project throughout the two semesters, allowing them to acquire a broad range of research skills including use of state-of-the-art technology, experience in experimental design, data interpretation, and data presentation. You can read further information about the programme here 

Applications and selection: 

Applicants will submit an online application via the Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC) comprising of a CV (of maximum three pages) and personal statement (maximum one page) describing career plans and reasons for applying for this programme. Applicants will be shortlisted according to their third level degree, relevant experience and motivation. All shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview either in person or by telephone/Skype. Shortlisted applicants will be encouraged to attend the interview in person if possible and meet the course co-ordinator and take a site tour. Those who cannot attend will be interviewed by telephone/Skype. During the interview scientific knowledge and suitability of the applicants will be assessed.

Places will be offered on the basis of the written applications as well as the interview.

Programmes available


Entry requirements

Graduates who have a level 8, honours BSc degree (first class or second class honours, H1, H2.1, H2.2) in a relevant biological, biochemical or biomedical science field (e.g., pharmacology, biotechnology, biochemistry, microbiology, genetics) will be eligible to apply for this programme.


Medical graduates with honours grade will also be eligible to apply for the programme. 


Where an applicant has a lower than honours grade BSc degree qualification (i.e. a level 7 BSc), but at least 3 years relevant work experience (e.g., molecular biology/cell biology/biochemistry laboratory technician, biotechnology industry research laboratory staff, etc.), a special case for admission will be considered.


International students, whose first language is not English, will be required to prove their English competency through their school leaving examination or matriculation examination or by achieving the minimum standard in a recognised English language test, as outlined in the NUIG entry requirement documentation.

Areas of interest

Cancer research is one of the main thematic research areas in the Discipline of Biochemistry and the other academic units associated with the MSc in cancer Research programme. The over 200 researcher in Biochemistry and the adjacent National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) work on developing a comprehensive approach to cancer research and treatment, from basic, translational and clinical research, through to the ultimate goal of discovery-led improved patient care. The Centre for Chromosome Biology (CCB) led by Prof. Noel Lowndes and the Apoptosis Research Centre led by Prof. Afshin Samali (ARC, www.apoptosis.ie) focuses on basic cancer research. 


The Centre for Chromosome Biology studies chromatin structure, DNA replication and DNA damage response and the regulation of mitotic chromosome structure and segregation. Scientists within the Centre use key model organisms and cellular models of human diseases, especially cancer.


The Apoptosis Research Centre is active in both basic and clinically relevant investigation of this key biological pathway. Research areas include stress-induced apoptosis in relation to cancer and other diseases, and targeting the apoptotic machinery for cancer therapy. Significant biotechnology applications have arisen from the research of this unit through its efforts in cancer research and treatment, from basic to translational and clinical research, with an ultimate goal of discovery-led improved patient care. Inflammation and cancer research is a focus in the department of Pharmacology.


The National Breast Cancer Research Institute headed by Prof. Michael Kerin is affiliated with the Discipline of Surgery while the Discipline of Pathology is focused on both the molecular pathology of breast cancer and the identification and high-throughput validation of prognostic and predictive markers in breast cancer. The recently established Prostate Cancer Institute ) concentrates on developing better therapies for patients with prostate cancer and the pre-clinical testing of such novel therapeutics.


The research teams have a wide range of international collaborations. These collaborators visit the University regularly in the frame of a research seminar programmes running every year. The Discipline of Biochemistry with the other Departments and Institutes associated with the MSc in Cancer Research provide a cadre of scientists with the knowledge, research training and team-working skills, which produces a creative research environment where the students participating in the MSc in Cancer Research programme can learn and develop.

Researcher profiles


Corrado Santocanale (http://ncbes.nuigalway.ie/bio/corrado-santocanale.aspx)

Howard Fearnhead (http://ncbes.nuigalway.ie/fearnhead-group.aspx)

Ralf Zwacka (http://ncbes.nuigalway.ie/bio/ralf--zwacka.aspx)



Michael Kerin (http://www.nuigalway.ie/surgery/prof_kerin.html)

Richard Flavin (http://www.nuigalway.ie/faculties_departments/pathology/research.html)

Sanjeev Gupta (http://www.nuigalway.ie/faculties_departments/pathology/research.html, http://www.apoptosis.ie/sanjeev.html)

Prostate Cancer Institute

Frank Sullivan (http://www.nuigalway.ie/our-research/spotlight-on-research/prostate-cancer-institute.html)

Sharon Glynn (http://www.nuigalway.ie/our-research/spotlight-on-research/prostate-cancer-institute.html)


Centre for Chromosome Biology

Michael Carty (http://www.nuigalway.ie/research/chromosome/ccb/carty/)

Andrew Flaus (http://www.nuigalway.ie/research/chromosome/ccb/flaus/)

Bob Lahue (http://www.nuigalway.ie/research/chromosome/ccb/lahue/)

Noel Lowndes (http://www.nuigalway.ie/research/chromosome/ccb/lowndes/)

Brian McStay (http://www.nuigalway.ie/research/chromosome/ccb/mcstay/)

Ciaran Morrison (http://www.nuigalway.ie/research/chromosome/ccb/morrison/)

Stephen Rea (http://www.nuigalway.ie/research/chromosome/ccb/rea/)

Heinz-Peter Nasheuer (http://www.nuigalway.ie/research/chromosome/ccb/nasheuer/)

Kevin Sullivan (http://www.nuigalway.ie/research/chromosome/ccb/sullivan/)


Apoptosis Research Centre

Afshin Samali (http://www.apoptosis.ie/samali.html)

Adrienne Gorman (http://www.apoptosis.ie/gorman.html)

Eva Szegezdi (http://www.apoptosis.ie/szegezdi.html)

Michael O'Dwyer (http://www.apoptosis.ie/odwyer.html)


Glycoscience Group

Lokesh Joshi (http://www.nuigalway.ie/our-research/researcher-profiles/lokesh-joshi.html)

Find out more

Course co-ordinator:

Dr. Eva Szegezdi
Discipline of Biochemistry
School of Natural Sciences
E: MSC.cancerresearch@nuigalway.ie | eva.szegezdi@nuigalway.ie
T: + 353 91 495 037

PAC code


Current project

1. Study of Death receptor oligomerisation on the cell surface and its role in regulating tumour cell apoptosis

2. The role of endoplasmic reticulum stress in chemoresistance of multiple myeloma

For further examples of ongoing projects, please visit:
or www.chromosome.ie/


Fees for this course