The purpose of this fellowship application is to allow me to achieve research independence in the field of cancer genomics. To achieve this I believe that I need to develop a niche area of expertise and to enhance my research management and dissemination skills. This fellowship would enable me to realize these ambitions through five main objectives: (i) To obtain greater experience in research project management by managing the financial and research aspects of the fellowship, with advice from the Scientist in charge, and by attending career development courses run by the host institution. (ii) To conduct the proposed research project to understand the role of non-coding mutations in cancer. The consequences of mutations in non-coding regions of the genome are not well understood in comparison to coding sequences. At present, there are no methods available for the prioritization of somatic non-coding variants in tumour genomes. Therefore I propose to develop and validate a method to prioritize non-coding somatic mutations that could contribute to tumourigenesis. My approach will be to use data from multiple tumour genomes to estimate somatic mutations rates across the non-coding genome, adjusting for confounding effects, and to prioritize regions with a high somatic mutation rate and with high evolutionary conservation. My hypothesis is that regions of the genome that are recurrently mutated in tumours and under evolutionary constraint are likely to be functionally relevant in cancer. (iii) To acquire a deeper understanding of the processes involved in genomic evolution by working with the Scientist in Charge. (iv) To develop my dissemination and outreach skills and activities by lecturing, supervising students and engaging with the public. (v) To apply for independent funding focusing in the niche of cancer evolution. I believe that as a Marie Curie Fellow I can accomplish these goals thus allowing me to embark on a successful independent research career.
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