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Arthur and Sadie Pethybridge PhD Studentship funded by Diabetes UK - Depletion of the phosphatase inhibitor, PPP1R1A, may contribute to beta-cell loss in type 1 diabetes

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  • Full or part time
    Prof N G Morgan
    Dr S Richardson
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The University of Exeter Medical School is seeking to appoint a highly motivated PhD student of outstanding ability to join an active research team studying the causes of type 1 diabetes in humans. The successful applicant will be supported by the Arthur and Sadie Pethybridge PhD Studentship funded by Diabetes UK.

Start Date: 1st October 2016

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) affects around 30,000 children and 350,000 adults in the UK. The incidence is rising, and this is especially true in younger children, where the rate is increasing by as much as 4% per annum. This is important because the disease has a significant life-long impact, adversely affecting both the quality of life and the life-expectancy of affected individuals. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the selective destruction of pancreatic beta cells by immune-mediated mechanisms although the precipitating events and the precise mechanisms that underlie beta-cell loss remain unclear.

This project aims to develop an improved understanding of the processes that lead to the selective killing of pancreatic beta cells in patients with type 1 diabetes. This process is still poorly understood in humans but a number of factors have been implicated. In particular, increasing evidence has suggested that the establishment of a persistent, low-level, infection of beta cells with a particular class of viruses ("enteroviruses") may be important in some patients and this project will examine this concept more closely. It will focus on one specific protein, known as PPP1R1A, which controls cellular anti-viral responses and which, unexpectedly, is depleted in certain beta cells during the development of type 1 diabetes. The successful applicant will undertake research to evaluate the hypothesis that: Regulation of beta cell PPP1R1A levels during enteroviral infection is critical to the development of islet autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes.

This goal will be achieved by a series of linked experimental approaches exploiting human pancreas samples from patients with type 1 diabetes as well as in vitro studies with human beta cell lines displaying altered expression of PPP1R1A isoforms. The principal objectives are to:

1. Discover the factors which mediate the loss of PPP1R1A from beta cells in type 1 diabetes
2. Develop human beta cell lines expressing PPP1R1A in a regulated manner
3. Assess the effect of PPP1R1A isoforms on viral response protein activation in human beta-cells
4. Study the influence of PPP1R1A expression on the development and maintenance of a persistent enteroviral infection in 1.1B4 cells

The studentship will be based within the Research, Innovation, Learning & Development Building jointly operated by University of Exeter and the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital. The successful candidate will join a team of active researchers comprising principal investigators, postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and technical staff who are committed to excellence in research. Details of the team and their current research activities can be viewed at: Interested candidates are encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion and to learn more about the team’s research.

Academic Supervisors:

Lead supervisor: Professor Noel Morgan ([Email Address Removed]; +44-(0)1392-408300)
Co-Supervisor: Dr Sarah Richardson ([Email Address Removed]; +44-(0)1392-408225)

Entry requirements:
Applicants should be highly motivated and have, or expect to obtain, either a first or upper-second class BSc (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline. International applicants must also have IELTS [International English Language Testing System] score of 7 and above (or equivalent qualification).

How to apply:

Please apply via the application link. Please be aware you will be asked to upload the following documents:
• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the specified project).
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English (see entry requirements

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email [Email Address Removed] Project specific queries should be directed to the lead supervisor.

We regret that only candidates shortlisted for interview will be contacted.

Funding Notes

This PhD Studentship is funded by Diabetes UK for three years. It is fully-funded for UK/EU students, including a stipend (£16,500 in year 1 based on the full-time rate), research costs, and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate.

Candidates from countries outside the European Union will be liable for the difference between 'home student fees' and 'international student fees' which was just over £14,000 in 14/15 but is likely to increase slightly each year. Non-EU students who wish to be considered must confirm their ability to pay the international portion of the fee. If selected, financial assurances will be required.


How good is research at University of Exeter in Clinical Medicine?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.50

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

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