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PhD Research Project

Regulation of apoptosis-induced compensatory cell proliferation and its implications for cancer and tissue regeneration

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Institution Location

School of Biosciences
Dr Y Fan
Applications accepted all year round
Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

In multi-cellular organisms, coordinated cell death (e.g. apoptosis) and cell replacement is critical for tissue recovery in response to stress or damage. Although there is not much known about this process at the cellular and molecular level, recent studies including ours have discovered that apoptotic cells can actively induce compensatory proliferation of surrounding cells through a non-apoptotic function of caspases, a family of cysteine-proteases that normally execute apoptosis. Our research is to dissect the molecular anatomy of compensatory cell proliferation following activation of apoptosis. By taking genetic advantages of Drosophila, multiple assays have been developed to systematically identify regulators of compensatory cell proliferation. Because apoptosis-induced compensatory proliferation has been observed in tissue regeneration and tumorigenesis in multiple organisms including mammals, identification of its underlying regulatory mechanisms in Drosophila will significantly impact our understanding of its physiological role in tissue repair as well as its pathological role in multiple human diseases including cancer.

State-of-the-art technologies in Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, and Drosophila Genetics are employed in our research.
Enthusiastic applicants are welcome. Funding possibilities are available.


To find out more about studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham, including full details of the research undertaken in each school, the funding opportunities for each subject, and guidance on making your application, you can now order your copy of the new Doctoral Research Prospectus, at:

Please find additional funding text below. For further funding details, please see the ‘Funding’ section.

The School of Biosciences offers a number of UK Research Council (e.g. BBSRC, NERC) PhD studentships each year. Fully funded research council studentships are normally only available to UK nationals (or EU nationals resident in the UK) but part-funded studentships may be available to EU applicants resident outside of the UK. The deadline for applications for research council studentships is in January each year.

Each year we also have a number of fully funded Darwin Trust Scholarships. These are provided by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh and are for non-UK students wishing to undertake a PhD in the general area of Molecular Microbiology. The deadline for this scheme is also in January each year.

Please note the only funding available for our PhD is via the Scholarships mentioned. All applicants should indicate in their applications how they intend to fund their studies. Any academically suitable applicant that does not indicate how they intend to fund their studies will be considered for the Darwin and/or the Elite Scholarships if not already indicated. We can only consider applicants who have their own funding or wish to apply for their own funding or are successful in gaining a Scholarship.

Funding Notes:

Research Council Studentships are available for UK applicants. EU applicants resident in the UK may also be eligible. Non-UK students interested in molecular microbiology may apply for a Darwin Trust Scholarship. The deadline for applications for Research Council and Darwin Trust studentships is 31st January 2015.

We have a thriving community of International PhD students and encourage applications at any time from students of any nationality either able to fund their own studies or who wish to apply for their own funding (e.g. Commonwealth Scholarship Council, Islamic Development Bank).

For further information on funding see


1) Fan Y.* and Bergmann A.* (2014) Multiple mechanisms modulate distinct cellular susceptibilities towards apoptosis in the developing Drosophila eye. Dev Cell 30(1):48-60. (*corresponding authors)
2) Fan Y.*, Wang S., Hernandez J., Yenigun V.B., Hertlein G., Fogarty C.E., Lindblad J.L. and Bergmann A.* (2014) A model for identification of genes involved in apoptosis-induced proliferation in Drosophila. PLoS Genetics 10(1): e1004131. (*corresponding authors)
3) Fan, Y., and Bergmann, A. (2008) Distinct mechanisms of apoptosis-induced compensatory proliferation in proliferating and differentiating tissues in the Drosophila eye. Dev Cell 14, 399-410.
4) Fan, Y., and Bergmann, A. (2008) Apoptosis-induced compensatory proliferation. The Cell is dead. Long live the Cell! Trends Cell Biol 18, 467-473.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 42.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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