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PhD Studentships in Chemistry, Biology, Pharmacy

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PhD Studentships in Biology


For details of how to apply for any of the projects outlined below please click on the following hyperlink:

The VDAC Channel/kinesin-like Protein Interactions In Programmed Cell Death and Autophagy

Voltage-dependent anion channels (VDACs) are the most abundant channels in the outer mitochondrial membrane. Throughout the life of the cell, different cytoplasmic proteins can interact with VDACs, regulating their open-to-closed state transitions and instructing the mitochondrion towards or against death processes. In addition to triggering death cascades, VDACs contribute to healthy fertilisation and embryo development.

We have recently identified a plant kinesin-like protein, possessing E3 ligase activity, and interacting with plant VDAC1. Similar interactions in mammalian cells are pivotal for the autophagy of defective mitochondria and the control of cancer and Parkinson’s disease. The project will explore the biochemical and electrophysiological implications of this interaction in vitro and in vivo. It will further aim to define the molecular basis of these interactions structurally.

The candidate will undertake training in an interdisciplinary collaborative research environment. Applicants should have at least a 2.1 honours degree (or its international equivalent) in a relevant subject. Previous research experience and developed skills in molecular biology and protein handling are desirable.

Contact Dr Georgios Psakis 01484 473934

Prostanoid transporters as therapeutic targets for human hair disorders

Prostanoids have prominent roles, including the regulation of skin inflammation and cutaneous immune function, in addition to control of hair follicle biology. Indeed, the PGF2α analogue bimatoprost stimulates hair growth, whereas PGD2 facilitates hair follicle regression. We recently identified the presence of a host of transporters capable of prostanoid movement in human hair follicles. This clinically-relevant project builds on such exciting recent evidence to examine the functional significance of prostanoid transport on hair growth and cycling, with the goal of identifying new targets for the treatment of hair disorders. This work will take place in an interdisciplinary collaborative research environment. Full training will be given in all techniques and no previous experience of hair biology is necessary.

Contact Dr Iain Haslam 01484 471734

Identifying Targets for Treatment of Alcohol Dependence using Electroencephalography

Developing new treatments for alcohol dependence is a priority amongst health professionals and researchers. The first step for developing successful treatments is to establish a reliable, sensitive and cost effective testing platform to be used for screening potentially efficacious treatments.

This project aims to develop and validate an electroencephalography (EEG) testing platform for assessing reward disturbances in alcohol dependence using both event related potential and single trial EEG techniques. It is expected that a successfully developed platform will be used for ‘proof-of-concept’ psychopharmacological studies. This project would be suitable for individuals with knowledge within cognitive neuroscience/neuropsychopharmacology. EEG experience is desirable although not essential as training will be provided.

This project with be co-supervised by Dr Anna Murphy of the Department of Biological Sciences and Dr Chris Retzler of the Department of Behavioural and Social Sciences, at the University of Huddersfield.

Contact Dr Anna Murphy , 01484 472158

Mining the metagenomes of extreme environments

The scarcity of resources in extreme environments generates a severe competitive pressure for the microbial communities present, making them ideal hunting grounds for novel microbial products. Unfortunately, the recovery of these products from these environments is hampered by the fact that only a fraction of the organisms present are culturable. However, metagenomics provide an alternative approach which overcomes many of these problems. This project will apply metagenomic approaches to a range of extreme environments in order to generate a comprehensive overview of the metabolic potential of the resident communities. These metagenomes will then be used to construct whole genomes of uncultured organisms, guide media development for the recovery of previously uncultured organisms and to identify novel microbial products. The successful candidate will be joining a large, interdisciplinary and collaborative research team and will gain a wide range of transferable technical and personal skills.

Contact Prof P Humphreys , 01484 472771

Biodegradable active films and coatings with protective photochromic additives

Active biodegradable film technology is an innovative concept to deliberately incorporate components that would release or absorb substances either into or from a packaged product or the environment surrounding the product. Biodegradable films that can protect either sensitive products or the skin from deleterious UV radiation have not been explored to date due to the difficulty of identifying functional UV-responsive, self-indicating, photochromic components. The present project will bring together the expertise in biopolymers and colour chemistry of two departments within the School of Applied Sciences to develop and assess unique biodegradable photochromic films for a range of industrial applications. The present project will utilise pectin as biodegradable film-forming material and a range of photochromic agents to form self-indicating film barriers to UV radiation.

Objective 1: Pectin film formation and characterisation by means of thermal, mechanical and microstructural characterisation.

Objective 2: Encapsulation of photochromic entities and assessment of the stability and compatibility of a range of photochromic agents with pectin.

Objective 3: Evaluation of the capacity of the active films to shield from UV radiation and kinetics of lipid oxidation

Contact Dr Vasileios Kontogiorgos 01484 472488

PhD Studentships in Biology

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