University of Edinburgh Featured PhD Programmes
University of Oxford Featured PhD Programmes
University College London Featured PhD Programmes

Biochemical and subcellular investigation of caspase functions

Sir William Dunn School of Pathology

Dr L A Baena-López , Prof M Freeman Friday, January 08, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The evolutionarily conserved protein family referred to as caspases has been studied over the years for being the major regulators of cell death via apoptosis. However, recent investigations have highlighted their ability to modulate other basic cellular tasks without causing cell death. Although the regulation and function of caspases during apoptosis are well described, their non-apoptotic roles are poorly characterised at the biochemical level in most of the cellular scenarios. In addition, the subcellular localisation of these novel caspase functions remains largely unknown. Addressing these questions is crucial in order to get a comprehensive understanding of caspase biology in physiological and pathological situations, as well as developing efficient therapeutic approaches based on caspase-modulating molecules. This project will aim to investigate these fundamental biological questions by combining innovative biochemical and mass-spectrometry approaches, high-resolution imaging (confocal microscopy and super-resolution), advanced genome engineering (CRISPR-Cas9), and molecular cloning. The project will be developed using Drosophila cellular models and mammalian cell lines. The experimental work will be done within a friendly and multicultural team where everybody receives help and support from others. The prospective student will be primarily supervised by Luis Alberto Baena-Lopez, with Matthew Freeman acting as co-supervisor. The project will be performed in one of the most prestigious research institutions in the world (The Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford). Collectively, these factors ensure a unique environment to complete an enjoyable and successful DPhil.

Funding Notes

4 Year DPhil Prize Studentships cover full University fees, a tax free enhanced stipend of ~£17,285 pa, and up to £5,300 pa for research costs and travel. The competition is open to applicants from all countries. See View Website for full details and to apply.


Non‐lethal message from the Holy Land: The first international conference on non‐apoptotic roles of apoptotic proteins.
Eli Arama Luis Alberto Baena‐Lopez Howard O. Fearnhead
FEBS Journal.

Learning on the fly: The interplay between Caspases and Cancer
Xu DC, Arthurton L, Baena-Lopez LA. Biomed. Research International. 2018 March 14.

Widespread non-apoptotic activation of Drosophila Caspase-2/9 limits JNK signaling, macrophage proliferation, and growth of wound-like tumors.
Derek Cui Xu, Kenneth M. Yamada, Luis Alberto Baena-Lopez. bioRxiv 2020. 07.27.223404; doi:

Non-apoptotic caspase activation sustains ovarian somatic stem cell functions by modulating Hedgehog-signalling and autophagy. Alessia Galasso, Daria Iakovleva, LA. Baena-Lopez. BioRxiv. 2020 August. bioRxiv 722330; doi:

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