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PhD Research Project

Tissue-specific epigenetic programming of mesenchymal stem cells


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Institution Location



Related PhDs


Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Australia
Department of Medical Biology
University of Nottingham
School of Clinical Sciences

Dental Institute
Prof P Sharpe
No more applications being accepted
Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

PhD Studentship available - Stem Cell Biology

Project: Tissue-specific epigenetic programming of mesenchymal stem cells

Supervisor: Prof Paul Sharpe, Department of Craniofacial Development & Stem Cell Biology

Programme: The PhD Programme in the Department of Craniofacial Development & Stem Cell Biology at King’s College London attracts students and staff from around the world. There are strong links with industry, as well as with clinical and other basic science departments across King’s, in the UK and internationally. Students are guided by expert supervisors and classes are taught by international experts. In the first year, students attend taught courses including Experimental Approaches, Project Design and Developmental Biology. At about nine months, students prepare a report and oral presentation for upgrade from MPhil to PhD status. After the upgrade, students spend the remainder of the PhD working on their research project.

Project: This PhD project will focus on investigating the in vivo differentiation of perivascular-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) following tissue damage. Perivascular cells (pericytes) are a recognised source of MSCs in most tissues (Feng et al 2011, PNAS 108, 6503-6508). Although MSCs in vitro can differentiate into multiple cell types, in vivo, differentiation is restricted to cell types specific for individual tissues. The aim of this project is to test the hypothesis that pericytes are “programmed” according to their tissue of origin and this programme restricts their differentiation potential during repair of tissue damage. The latest approaches in epigenome analysis will be used with pericytes isolated from different tissues and together with gene expression profiling will identify tissue-specific pericyte chromatin signatures. Experimental models of tissue damage together with cellular reprogramming approaches will be used to identify genetic switches that are responsible for the restrictions of MSC differentiation. The project will combine a wide range of cell and molecular techniques that include, flow cytometry, cell culture, tissue dissection, RNASeq, epigenome analysis and histology.


Closing date for applications 15 January 2013.

For further details and informal inquiries, please contact Professor Paul Sharpe (paul.sharpe@kcl.ac.uk)


Funding Notes:

The Dental Institute studentship is a fully funded four-year studentship, covering UK/EU tuition fees, annual stipend at the MRC rate (currently £15,740/year)



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