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(A*STAR) Programming human pancreatic progenitors for endocrine differentiation

Project Description

There is an exciting opportunity for a PhD student to undertake highly distinctive, interdisciplinary research on human pancreatic beta cell differentiation. Cell therapy for type 1 diabetes is an international priority and great strides have been made in this area since the discovery of human embryonic stem cells twenty years ago. The supervisory team of Hanley, Jennings and Dunn, with additional collaborators, has unique skillsets in human development and stem cell biology, including cell programming. Their specific focus is pancreas and pancreatic beta-cells, where they have international reputations.

Specifically, the student will discover and refine those factors which are capable of eliciting cell programming to a human pancreatic progenitor fate, including onward differentiation to insulin-secreting beta-cell. We already have exciting preliminary data in this area based on a current, successful Manchester-A*Star PhD student and other data. The successful applicant will learn pancreatic differentiation from pluripotent stem cells, transplantation of cells into murine recipients, and advanced human progenitor organoid culture, combined with comprehensive molecular biology skills in characterising cell phenotype.

Entry Requirements:
Applications should be submitted online and candidates should make direct contact with the Manchester supervisor to discuss their application directly. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Funding Notes

This project is available to UK/EU candidates. Funding covers fees (UK/EU rate) and stipend for four years. Overseas candidates can apply providing they can pay the difference in fees and are from an eligible country. Candidates will be required to split their time between Manchester and Singapore, as outlined on View Website.

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.


1. Jennings, R. E., Berry, A. A., Gerrard, D. T., Wearne, S. J., Strutt, J., Withey, S., Chhatriwala, M., Piper Hanley, K., Vallier, L., Bobola, N. and Hanley, N. A. (2017). Laser Capture and Deep Sequencing Reveals the Transcriptomic Programmes Regulating the Onset of Pancreas and Liver Differentiation in Human Embryos. Stem Cell Reports 9, 1387-1394. Developed technique of laser capture, RNA amplification-seq and informatics on very early post-implantation human embryos. 5 cites.
2. Gerrard, D. T., Berry, A. A., Jennings, R. E., Piper Hanley, K., Bobola, N. and Hanley, N. A. (2016). An integrative transcriptomic atlas of organogenesis in human embryos. Elife 5. Editorial: 'How to build a human' and highlight in Nature Genetics Reviews. Transcriptomics and computational biology. Data accessed by >100 international labs. >4,500 views, 19 cites.
3. Jennings, R. E., Berry, A. A., Strutt, J. P., Gerrard, D. T. and Hanley, N. A. (2015). Human pancreas development. Development 142, 3126-3137. 73 cites.
4. Cebola, I., Rodriguez-Segui, S. A., Cho, C. H., Bessa, J., Rovira, M., Luengo, M., Chhatriwala, M., Berry, A., Ponsa-Cobas, J., Maestro, M. A., Jennings, R. E., Pasquali, L., Moran, I., Castro, N., Hanley, N. A.*, Gomez-Skarmeta, J. L.*, Vallier, L.* and Ferrer, J.* (2015). TEAD and YAP regulate the enhancer network of human embryonic pancreatic progenitors. Nat Cell Biol 17, 615-626. *co-corresponding. 76 cites.
5. Jennings, R. E., Berry, A. A., Kirkwood-Wilson, R., Roberts, N. A., Hearn, T., Salisbury, R. J., Blaylock, J., Piper Hanley, K. and Hanley, N. A. (2013). Development of the human pancreas from foregut to endocrine commitment. Diabetes 62, 3514-3522. 118 cites.

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