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SupervisorDr Lisa Hinton, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences 

Co-supervisor: Professor Bass Hassan, Oxford Molecular Pathology Institute, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology

Co-supervisor: Associate Prof. Apostolos Tsiachristas, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences

Clinical Facilitators:     Miss Harriet Branford-White, Consultant Sarcoma Surgeon.

                                    Dr Lara Hawkes, Consultant Clinical Geneticist

Commercial partner:  Roche Diagnostics Information Solutions


Sarcomas are cancers that can appear in soft tissues and bone, at any age. Every day in the UK, 10-15 people are diagnosed with sarcoma, that’s over 5000 per year. Patients will be referred to a sarcoma specialist centre, such as in Oxford, where they will be treated by a multi-disciplinary team, and may have surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy

This study is based in the Oxford Sarcoma Service and is exploring whether the integration of new technologies that offer personalised or precision medicine can result in measurable improvements in care for patients with this rare cancer. These technologies include new cancer DNA sequencing tests that determine the molecular basis of an individual cancer, new analysis of body scans and new deeper integrated analysis of all the data obtained.

The wider Oxford Precision Oncology for Sarcoma (OxPOS) study aims to systematically and prospectively collect, analyse and integrate longitudinal genomic, imaging and clinical data with associated outcomes in 200-250 adult participants with the most aggressive sarcomas. These aims also include applying the data for discovery of new functional targets and strategies for treatment of sarcoma. To achieve these objectives, the OxPOS research team will operate a multidisciplinary meeting supported by the established Roche’s NAVIFY® Portfolio: a portfolio of workflow products and clinical decision support applications that utilises relevant data to personalise healthcare. Participants will be invited to complete questionnaires related to psychological wellbeing and quality of life before and after a clinic appointment that will communicate the personalised study results. The study will also examine cost effectiveness and the impact of the new results on the outcome of the patients.

By returning research results, OxPOS also aims to inform decision making in the standard of care NHS Sarcoma Cancer MDT. Currently, the decisions of the team are made by multiple sarcoma experts and support staff, but without formal incorporation of tools that assist decision making, such as guidelines, new genetic data, imaging data and AI amplified decision making, and are thus subject to inadvertent bias (seniority, expertise, advocacy).

This DPhil project aims to understand how the introduction of the OxPOS-Navify digital portfolio changes the ways that MDT work together as a team to offer options and make decisions and how these options and decisions are appropriately communicated with patients and relatives. Using questionnaires and interviews the study will explore how new ways of working with precision medicine impacts MDTs decision making and team working. Using social science methods and implementation science it will consider the implications of introducing OxPOS into existing health systems and clinical practice. 

The objectives are to:

  1. Understand how the introduction of OxPOS-Navify influences complex decision making and team working for MDTs caring for sarcoma patients
  2. Understand how to adapt current systems to support innovation and explore unintended consequences
  3. Understand how new precision medicine/genetic analysis is optimally communicated to patients
  4. Understand how personalised medicine changes care pathways for patient-centred care for rare cancers


Funding linked to this project will cover Home level university fees and a stipend of at least £20,775 pa for three years.

 Application deadline

The application deadline is Tuesday 12 March.