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Developing novel mitochondrial therapeutics to prevent sight loss

Institute of Inflammation and Ageing

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Dr Jose Romero , Dr G Wallace , Miss S Rauz No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
Birmingham United Kingdom Biochemistry Bioinformatics Cell Biology Endocrinology Immunology Molecular Biology Neuroscience Ophthalmology Pathology

About the Project

Research interests/description of main research theme:

Mitochondria are fundamental for tissue homeostasis, by regulating central processes involved in metabolism, oxidative stress and cell death. In health, mitochondrial quality control (MQC) ensures that damaged mitochondria are quickly eliminated and replaced by new functional units. As such, the failure of MQC has emerged as a major cause of mitochondrial impairment, underlying the pathophysiology of numerous disabling and life-threatening conditions.

A major interests of our research group focuses on understanding how damaged mitochondria can be repaired in the diseased eye (10.1172/jci.insight.129760). Translating this knowledge into clinics can offer a novel class of therapeutics, with huge potential to protect vision in diverse conditions. The selected candidate will pioneer an exciting and multidisciplinary PhD program, with the goal of (i) identifying and mechanistically validate drugs capable of rescuing MQC in the eye; (ii) determine their therapeutic potential to alleviate pathology in the diseased eye, using in vitro and in vivo relevant models.  

This programme will offer a great opportunity for a student to become part of a translational team in ophthalmic research. The student will also obtain access to state-of-the art models of MQC, as supported by our collaborator Dr Ian Ganley, a world-renowned expert in mitochondrial autophagy from MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (University of Dundee). Relevant multidisciplinary training will be provided to the successful candidate, including: 

- Translational research, using representative in vitro (primary culture, cell lines) and in vivo (mouse) models of human disease.

- A broad range of laboratory histologic and molecular techniques, including immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, western blot, real time PCR and metabolic assays.

- Deep learning of microscopy technologies, their application and bioinformatic analysis.

- Gene editing (CRIPSR).

For more information about research in our laboratory, please visit:

Person Specification

Applicants should hold or realistically expect to obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in Biomedical Sciences or a relevant subject. 

How to apply

Informal enquiries should be directed to Jose Romero 

Applications should be directed to Jose Romero (email [Email Address Removed]). To apply, please send: 

• A detailed CV;

• A covering letter highlighting your research experience/capabilities;

• Copies of your degree certificates with transcripts;

• Evidence of your proficiency in the English language, if applicable.

Funding Notes

Tuition fees (at UK rate) and a stipend for 3 years covered. International candidates will be considered, but we will not be able to support PhD registrations fees.


1. Hombrebueno JR, Cairns L, Dutton et al. (2019). Uncoupled turnover disrupts mitochondrial quality control in diabetic retinopathy. JCI Insight. 4(23):e129760.
2. McWilliams TG, Prescott AR, Villarejo-Zori et al (2019). A comparative map of macroautophagy and mitophagy in the vertebrate eye. Autophagy. 15(7):1296-1308.
3. Hombrebueno JR, Ali IHA, Ma JX et al. (2018). Antagonising Wnt/β-catenin signalling ameliorates lens-capsulotomy-induced retinal degeneration in a mouse model of diabetes. Diabetologia. 61(11):2433-2446.
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