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Drosophila as a model to study redox signalling and diet-induced obesity in ageing

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, December 01, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

A PhD Studentship is available under the supervision of Dr Helena Cochemé (Redox Metabolism Group) at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences, Imperial College London.

Human life expectancy is increasing and populations are ageing, which has important social and economic implications. Ageing is also the biggest risk factor for a wide range of pathologies, such as diabetes, neurodegeneration, cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, the ageing process itself is still poorly understood. Recent progress with model organisms, such as the fruit fly Drosophila, has shown that genetic mutations (e.g. within evolutionary conserved nutrient-sensing pathways), environmental interventions (especially diet), and pharmacological treatments can dramatically affect lifespan.

The successful candidate will use Drosophila as an in vivo model system to explore the biological mechanisms behind ageing. Our group focuses on two complementary lines of research:

1) Investigating the role of redox signalling in metabolism and ageing:
Redox signalling operates through specific post-translational modification of cysteine residues on target proteins, integrating cues from nutritional status, mitochondrial function and stress (e.g. ROS, redox cofactors), and acts as a reversible switch to regulate cellular processes. Using redox proteomic approaches and genetic redox-inactive mutants, we can manipulate redox-sensitive targets to extend lifespan and gain mechanistic insight into redox signalling in vivo.

2) Studying the impact of diet-induced obesity on lifespan:
Like humans, high sugar and high fat diets induce obesity and insulin resistance in Drosophila, and are used to model diabetic complications. These obesogenic diets also shorten lifespan, however the underlying mechanisms are complex. We use the powerful fly system to understand how diet-induced pathologies affect ageing, in order to uncover new potential therapeutic strategies for health and longevity benefits.

Lab websites:

To Apply: Please visit our website ( to download an application form.

Funding Notes

This project is one of multiple available projects potentially funded by the MRC. If successful the studentship would cover all tuition fee payments and includes a tax-free stipend amounting to £21,000pa (paid in monthly installments directly to the student) for 3.5 years.

Whilst this funding is available to students worldwide, due to the higher tuition fee rate of overseas students competition is higher and so only exceptional OS applicants will be considered.

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