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Developing chromatin proteins as components of DNA data storage technologies

   MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS)

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  Dr T Warnecke, Dr T Heinis  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Synthetic DNA is predicted to become the next storage medium for arbitrary digital data. To enable encoding and retrieval of data, DNA must be stored in a manner that preserves integrity, is cost-effective and ideally allows easy and timely access to the encoded information. In current solutions, ease of access and preservation of integrity trade-off against each other, as the most common approach (for archival storage) is to embed DNA in silica which is cumbersome and builds on silicon, a precious, diminishing resource [1]. This project will explore alternative, evolution-inspired storage solutions. The PhD candidate will focus on a variety of chromatin proteins, which have evolved under similar preservation/access trade-offs: they need to wrap, compact, and protect DNA while allowing (at least occasional) access for replication and transcription. Some of these proteins, like those found in hyperthermophilic archaea, negotiate this challenge at growth temperatures in excess of >80ºC, where thermal damage and denaturation are a constant risk. The project will involve both biochemistry (to characterize proteins that could be used for DNA storage in vitro) and computational work to design new ways to encode arbitrary data in protein-wrapped DNA. The project would therefore be suitable for applicants with a background in math, physics, or computing who are willing to learn experimental biology or biochemists/molecular biologists with a strong grasp of computational work. During the project, the candidate will also interact closely with our industrial partners, Helixworks (, one of the key developers of DNA data storage technology in Europe.

To apply, please visit the link below;

Funding Notes

The funding for this studentship includes full (Home rate) tuition fees for 3.5 years as well as a generous stipend amounting to £21,000pa paid directly to the student for the same duration.
Please note that we are only able to accept applications from Home Fee rate students, which includes students with settled status or pre-settled status covering the duration of the whole studentship (until April 2026).


[1] Church et al. 2012 Science 337:1628
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