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Epigenetic editing in human lung cells for discovery of novel drivers and treatments for chronic lung diseases


   Cardiff School of Biosciences

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  Dr Renata Jurkowska, Dr Tomasz Jurkowski, Dr Catherine Hogan  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Human lung is built by more than 50 cell types, which cooperate to create a beautiful organ essential for us to breathe. Critically, lack of regenerative capacity is a key feature of many human lung diseases (fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COVID-19). As we are emerging from COVID-19 pandemics, now more than ever, understanding molecular processes required for lung regeneration is of vital importance for biomedical research.

Epigenetic regulation translates the environmental signals into cellular phenotypes by regulating gene expression profiles of cells, and consequently their fate and function. Importantly, epigenetic patterns get changed in response to external insults (e.g., cigarette smoke or viral infection), and can cause disease. Excitingly, they can also be manipulated with potential to cure disease.

Our group investigates the role of epigenetic regulation in the development and progression of chronic lung diseases with the aim to discover novel diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic interventions. In the past, using sequencing-based -omics technologies, we have identified several key pathways associated with changed epigenetic profiles in lung diseases, suggesting that epigenetic modifications may drive disease development and lack of regenerative capacity of lung cells. However, currently it is not possible to know which epigenetic alterations are the cause and which are merely the consequence of the disease process without development of new methodological approaches for precise manipulation of epigenetic signals.

In this project, we will establish a CRISPR—based technology called “epigenetic editing” in patient-derived lung cells, pioneering the use of this powerful technology for respiratory diseases. We will use this technology to specifically introduce aberrant epigenetic changes and examine their relevance for lung disease development. Application of this versatile technology will accelerate discovery and validation of novel diagnostic and therapeutic interventions for chronic lung diseases. This project, hence, has a high clinical, economic, and social impact.

For more information on the details of the project, please contact Dr Renata Jurkowska: [Email Address Removed]

Techniques:

CRISPR-Cas9-based epigenetic editing, cell culture (established cells lines and primary cells), primary cell isolation from human lung tissue, fluorescence-activated cell sorting, Western blot, RNA and DNA isolation, RCR, quantitative RT-PCR, molecular cloning, transfection and lentiviral transduction of cells, high-throughput cellular assays (proliferation, wound repair), 3D organoids, RNA-sequencing, confocal imaging.

Candidate requirements

A 1st or Upper 2nd class UK honors degree or equivalent. Please visit the School of Biosciences Postgraduate Research for more details.

For those whose first language is not English, IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or equivalent. Please see our English Language Requirements Guidance for more details.

How to Apply 

To submit a formal application via Cardiff University’s online application service, click the 'Institution Website' button on this advert; in the ‘Apply’ box at the top-right of the page, select Qualification (Doctor of Philosophy), Mode of Study (Full Time) and Start Date. This will take you to the application portal.

Candidates must submit the following:

 • Supporting statement detailing why you would like to join our group and work on this project

 • CV

 • Qualification certificates

 • Proof of English language (if applicable) 

In the research proposal section of the application, specify the project title and supervisors of the project. If you are applying for more than one Cardiff University project with the same entry intake, please note this in the research proposal section as the form only allows you to enter one title.


Funding Notes

The studentship provides a stipend, tuition fees and bench fees for 3 years and is funded by the Academy of Medical Sciences (2 years) and School of Biosciences, Cardiff University (1 year).
This studentship is open to Home, EU or international students. UK students: Home fees and maintenance stipend will be covered. International/EU candidates: UK fees and maintenance stipend. Please noted that fees will be paid at UK rate, any deficit will need to be paid by the student.

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