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University of Reading Featured PhD Programmes

Dynamics of Mitochondria in Health and Disease


School of Mathematics

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Dr F Spill No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Mitochondria are the energy factories of the cell. The production of energy in healthy cells depends on the availability of oxygen. However, in many diseases, e.g. heart attacks or cancer, oxygen availability is limited. This may lead to cell death through specific molecular pathways that also involve the mitochondria. Interestingly, mitochondria are also highly dynamic, moving around in cell and undergo fission and fusion.

In this project, we will develop mathematical models to uncover the coupling of dynamic mitochondrial organisation, energy production and cell death. We will predict how mitochondrial organisation is altered in diseases, and how this alteration may contribute to cell death. Ultimately, we aim to uncover how we can target mitochondrial organisation with drugs to decrease cell death e.g. following a heart attack, or how we can increase cell death during cancer therapies.

Experimental Collaborations:
To maximize the impact on experimental research, the student will be co-supervised by Dr Daniel Tennant from the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research. The student will therefore gain access to cutting edge experimental data, and the predictions will be validated by experiments in the Tennant lab. Further collaborators for this project will involve Dr Vijay Rajagopal (University of Melbourne), Dr Melanie Madhani (Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences), Prof Michael Mak (Yale University).

Methods: The project may involve several of the following methods: differential equations, metabolic flux analysis, optimisation, agent based models, stochastic processes, image analysis, statistical analysis. Which methods are ultimately employed on this project will depend on the skills and interests of the successful candidate, and training on methods the candidate wishes to learn will be provided. The only essential requirement are strong academic performance (e.g. evidenced through an excellent 1st class degree in Mathematics, Theoretical Physics or related subjects), and motivation to work in an interdisciplinary environment.

Funding Notes

For UK and EU candidates:
funding may be available through a college or EPSRC scholarship in competition with all other PhD applications;
early applications are strongly recommended;

For non-UK/non-EU candidates:
strong applicants with external scholarships are encouraged to apply;
exceptionally strong candidates in this category may additionally be awarded a tuition fee waiver (for up to 3 years) in competition with all other PhD applications.

References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006349517303788

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1478-3975/13/3/036008/meta
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