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University College London Featured PhD Programmes
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Drug Discovery for Targeting the RNA-Binding Protein QKI in Diabetes Using the Remarkable Technology of iPS Cells

Project Description

Diabetes has become a major health problem worldwide leading to suffering and disability to patients and costs to society. Vascular endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction plays a key role in the occurrence of diabetic complications, while RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) appear to be implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetes. We have recently discovered that significant upregulation of Quaking (QKI) is induced in ECs exposed to hyperglycemia, mimicking the diabetic environment, and in human induced pluripotent stem cells differentiated to ECs (iPS-ECs) from diabetic patients. Remarkably, when hind limb ischemia was induced in diabetic mice and the QKI was knockdown in vivo in ECs, reperfusion and blood flow recovery was markedly promoted. As an RNA-binding protein, QKI regulates the expression of multiple genes related to EC functions and plays significant roles in the ontology of diabetic EC dysfunction underlying, thereby, its potential for clinical application. In this PhD studentship we will build up on our solid pilot data and we are proposing to identify a drug to target the QKI expression levels in diabetic vascular cells. This studentship will provide an excellent opportunity for an enthusiastic and highly motivated student to be training in the cutting-edge iPS cells technologies of patient specific cells in a petri-dish, and the discovery of novel drugs for diabetes.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

INTO Queen’s English Language Courses offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained at:

Funding Notes

*FUNDING CONFIRMED – Department for the Economy (DfE) Award*

Eligibility for both fees (£4,327 for 2019/20, 2020/21 TBC) and maintenance (£15,009 for 2019/20, 2020/21 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

For further details re eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the following link: View Website


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Experimental Medicine, website for further details about the Centre:

When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School.

Related Subjects

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